Maralyn's Updates

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Invincible No Longer

As a kid I always liked the story of Moses as he sent his warriors out to fight the Amalekites. During the battle Moses, Aaron, and Hur were on top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites would be winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would gain control. But eventually Moses’ hands got tired, so Aaron and Hur held them up for him, and the Israelites won. (Exodus 17:8-16)

Moses needed help…and so did I last weekend.

In the spring of 2007 I received an invitation to do a workshop at the April 2008 Women’s Ministries Convention in Appleton, Wisconsin. I answered an immediate yes because I love doing those workshops.

A couple of months later came my diagnosis.

What to do.

I heard the grim prognosis and wondered if I’d even be able to speak by then. The organizers of the convention also heard my news, so they contacted me and asked what I wanted to do. I didn’t know.

Then my friend Ruth (in whose home we were living while Jim was doing our remodel) had an idea. “Say yes,” she urged me. “Then if you’re having a hard time communicating when April comes, I’ll be your voice.”

Wow! What a lift.

So, I said yes.

Now fast forward. The conference was last weekend (April 18-19).

The topic for my workshop was “Bumps in the Road: Managing the tough things in life.” I went through the writings of my blog and worked to summarize the lessons God has been teaching me.

A few days before the conference I e-mailed the workshop director and asked how many to expect in my session. I needed to make handouts. She indicated that we could probably expect about 70 women, but that there were even more chairs in the room, so I might want to be safe and make handouts for 110.

Thirty minutes before the session, the flow of women began. We ran out of chairs, and handouts, and even floor space, as about 170 ladies crowded into the room.

Remember my entry called “Two Tracks”? That was my premise. Everybody always has something hard and something to be thankful for in their life. I summarized all of the writing of my blog into six bits of advice…three for managing the “left rail” and three for celebrating the “right rail.”

Tips for managing the left rail:
1) Let the hard things push you toward God.
2) Realize that your view is limited—God’s is unlimited.
3) Let yourself go through the grieving process.

Tips for celebrating the right rail:
1) Celebrate that God is trustworthy. He’s everything you need.
2) Celebrate the Body of Christ. Be thankful for those around you.
3) Celebrate that God made you special. He has a good plan for you.

I did the introduction and the conclusion, and I ran the Power Point, but “my voice” (Ruth) did the rest of the talk, and she did a phenomenal job! She read the words I had written, and I threw in my two cents every now and then. It was fun, and the ladies loved it.

Looking back, it is so obvious that I couldn’t have done it alone!

Ruth was my voice.
Carol helped me build my Power Point.
Jim helped me sell cookbooks afterwards. (We sold about 90 books!)
Mary Beth helped me replenish the cookbooks when we ran out.
And there were others, too, who helped with this or that.

It made me realize how much we as human beings need each other.

Unfortunately, when we’re happy, healthy, and energized we don’t always realize how much we need our friends. We’ve all seen little 2-year-olds say, “I can do it all by myself!” But I shudder when I think of how many times in my adulthood I have felt the same way. Projects, workshops, courses, even fancy meals…”I can do it all by myself!” I’ve thought (and even said!) dozens of times.

Now, I have neither the endurance nor strength to carry off things alone. Maybe it’s a gift, because now I realize that I’m no longer invincible. I never was, but I sure thought I was.

Needing help all the time is still a bit hard for me, but I’m beginning to see this as another of God’s lessons—one of those things I probably would have never learned without this illness.

When Linda and Leata offered to put new sheets on my guest beds this week, I thought of Moses. A year ago I would have said, “No thanks, I can do it later.” This time I accepted their help.

Twice a month Joy, Rita, Judy and/or Lois come clean our home. I need them.

Many others in our church are helping us. We need them.

I like the words of a Christian song, “No one of us has got it all together. But all of us together have got it all.”

I Corinthians 12:12-31 teaches this lesson beautifully. I've read that passage dozens of times before, but now I understand it!

Okay, who needs your help this week?


P.S. This is funny: I even needed help blowing out my candles this week, because my "blower" doesn't work anymore! (smile)

Jim helped me with this one...

...and Reuben helped me with the other one.

(Copy the link below into your browser and you can see the video on YouTube.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Who Could Have Ever Imagined?--The Sequel

From 1984-1986 our family lived in the Twin Cities because Jim was a student at Bethel Theological Seminary. We knew that God had called us to missions, but we hadn’t yet been appointed by our agency. My part of the arrangement was to be the breadwinner for a couple of years. Miraculously in October I got a teaching job at a lovely school in Andover, Minnesota.


I taught at Crooked Lake School for two years, the exact length of time that the school needed one extra first grade teacher. It was clear that this job was a “God thing” and that He had made supernatural provision for us. The principal later told me that I had been chosen from over 200 applicants for that job.

In the spring of 1986 I said my final goodbyes to elementary school teaching, knowing that college teaching was my future. But that year would also be remembered for another reason. In that very last class was a little girl named Rochelle who had fallen in love with her teacher Mrs. Mathias.

On the last day she asked me if she could write me letters when I lived in Belgium. (By then we had been appointed and knew we’d be going to teach at Continental Bible College in Brussels.) I agreed to write to her, of course, but I assumed she would be like other children who would write one or two letters then move on to other favorite teachers.

No so!

She continued to write through the years. Through grade school. Through the awkwardness of junior high. Through finding her identity in high school. Through trying to make ends meet in college. Each time our itineration took us back to the Twin Cities, I'd call her and we would meet somewhere for a treat. I could see that she was developing into a lovely young woman, and I strongly encouraged her to wait for the right man to marry...someone who would love God wholeheartedly...a guy who would be a strong Christian example for their children.

Rochelle is now 29. She and her husband Mike came to see us last weekend. We hadn't yet met him, but boy were we pleased! He is exactly the kind of young man we had hoped she would choose.

She says that I’ve been a very important person in her life, in fact, she recently compiled all of the letters we’ve written back and forth over the 23 years. The notebook of letters is over 3 inches thick! (photos below)

Who could have ever imagined? I couldn’t have. But as the “random” class lists were made for the “new teacher” at Crooked Lake School in the fall of 1985, I know God made sure Rochelle was in my class. He is so amazing!

My current situation? We continue to marvel at how my condition seems to have stabilized. My speech is slurred (more in the evening) and my walking is awkward (more when I’m tired) but other than that, I’m feeling quite normal—whatever normal is--I’ve almost forgotten. ☺

I just know that God is good and that he is taking very good care of us...arranging things for our good and his glory!

I love this scripture: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a purpose." Jeremiah 29:11


Rochelle took me back to the two letters that she read and re-read as she formed the ideals for her life.

Sweet girl...!

...and she married a great guy.

Here's the back of the book of letters...THEN and NOW photos

Rochelle is one of our girls!