Maralyn's Updates

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Look


You probably arrived at my site and thought you were in the wrong place. But no. Today I changed the background color because several people said that with the dark background and white letters it made it too hard to print out to give to friends. I'm so pleased that God is using my words to encourage others, so I want to make it easier to do that.

Just for your information, my Shingles didn't develop into a full-blown case. I had to take the "nasty pills" for one week (yuk!!) but then the Shingles went away. They were very itchy that week, but they weren't painful. Praise God!

A new blog idea has taken root in my mind, but it isn't ready to blossom yet. FYI, I never plan ahead what topics to write about, I just wait to see what grows in's more fun like that. And I don't pressure myself about the time. When it's ready, it's ready. Not before.

Thank you for your continued prayers.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oh Man!

The expression OH MAN! has a fun history in our family.

Already at 3 years old, Reuben talked like a little adult. So when he was telling Uncle Daniel the rules for playing the children’s card game “Go Fish” he said, “…If you don’t draw the card you want, you just say, ‘Oh man!’ then it’s the other person’s turn.”

Then last week Elliana (now 2½) thought her daddy was coming home from his conference the next day. So when she popped out of bed in the morning she began searching through every room of the house. Her mommy didn’t realize what she was up to until Elli finally exclaimed, “Oh man! Where...Daddy?”

Well, yesterday about midday I said it to myself when my internist told me that I have Shingles.

Oh man!

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Evidently this virus lays dormant in your body for years…following childhood Chicken Pox. It resurfaces then--usually in old people. (Smile!) It appeared on my body yesterday as a circle of VERY itchy blisters on my back. Since last Thursday I’ve been having pain and phantom itchiness dancing around the left side of my abdomen—robbing a good share of each night’s sleep. I was wondering if I had a pinched nerve in my back maybe from my scoliosis? But I hadn’t.

It was Shingles.

Oh man!

I don’t know which is worse—the insane itching or the gigantic pills I’m supposed to swallow three times a day for the next seven days.

Oh man!

My dad and brothers would concur that I’ve never been good at taking pills, and Jim would agree that I’m as bad as ever! It’s a real sideshow when I’m trying to swallow pills, and these are the size of horse pills. There’s absolutely no way I would be able to get them down, so I smash them and try to gulp them down in applesauce. It's still hard, though, because the powder is SO bitter. So it’s still not a pretty sight!

Oh man!

One thing I know for sure: I didn’t need Shingles on top of ALS, TMJ, IBS, and A-Fib (Do we have all of the alphabet covered with my diseases? --Smile!)

But as I told the ladies Tuesday night, “We can’t control what lands in our plate…only how we react to it.”

Oh man!

I also saw my neurologist last Thursday and we both agreed that my strength is waning, my walking is less steady, and my talking is more slurred. But then, caring doctor that he is, he reminded me that I’m at the one year mark and that I’m doing amazingly better than most people with Bulbar ALS. Okay, that was encouraging.

Over these next few weeks I will be working with a speech therapist to choose and program my voice machine—the one that will talk for me when I can’t. And soon I’ll be going to a wheel chair clinic to choose my future transportation. I don’t need it yet, but I likely will someday.

These things are hard, especially for a person like me who is an “arranger.” As you can tell from previous posts, I’ve been grappling with my gradual loss of control. The truth about me is that throughout my lifetime I’ve been one who has liked to MAKE things happen…now I’m beginning to learn to just LET things happen.

I’ve enjoyed being a leader…but will I gracefully be able to become a follower?

I’m not sure.

A few weeks ago, my friend Ruth Collins forwarded to me a devotional written by Rick Warren. I love his writing, and this one touched a nerve. His point was that this is not my battle but God’s.

The pivotal scripture was II Chronicles 20:17 (NLT) “But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

Here’s part of Warren’s devotional:
“In today’s passage, God is talking to King Jehosphaphat and the Israelites. They’re about to be attacked by three enemies: the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites. Jehoshaphat had to be worried about how his people could defend themselves in such a battle, but God knew exactly what Jehoshaphat was thinking. He said, ‘You will not have to fight in this battle.’ Now that’s the kind of battle I like! What God tells Jehoshaphat in this passage, and what he would remind us today, is this: ‘The battle is not yours; it’s mine. You don’t have to fight in it.’ In other words, it’s God’s problem. Let him solve it. The fact is if you are God’s child, then your problems are his problems. And he’s much better at fighting your battles and solving your problems than you will ever be. Your job is to trust him to work it all out. Perhaps the reason we have so many tired, fatigued, and discouraged Christians is because we think, ‘It all depends on me.’…”

Warren continues: “Twice in this passage it says, ‘Don’t be afraid,’ and ‘Don’t be discouraged.’ When you face a seemingly impossible situation, don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged. Has God ever lost a battle? No. He doesn’t lose battles.”

Then he gives some advice to those of us who are trying to fight our own battles:

--Stand firm. In other words, have a mental attitude of quiet confidence. Don’t run away from the problem.

--Be confident. God wants to teach you that in every situation he is sufficient.

--Have faith in the nature and character of God. He’s faithful, and he hasn’t brought you this far to let you down.

--Dig into the Bible. You can count on the promises found in Scripture.

--Stand still. Remember who the battle belongs to. Trust that he is able to deliver you, and then watch him do it!

I’m trying to learn to let go…I really am! And sometimes I’m successful…


The phrase in Warren's devotional that jumped out and grabbed me most was this:

“The day you resign as General Manager of the Universe, you’re going to find that it doesn’t fall apart. You can relax in faith, trusting that God is able to run things without your help.”


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Powerful Peace

To my blog readers: Sunday we got back from Alaska, and Monday I sat down at the computer and wrote to our kids to thank them for the anniversary surprises that awaited us on our cruise ship. Below is that letter slightly modified (with photos added) for you to “listen in on.” As you can tell we had a great time celebrating our 40th.

"Hi Kids,

Well...I think it's safe to say that our trip could not have been better! What a wonderfully fun, relaxed week it was. There were many highlights including...

...arriving at our room to find that the whole room was decorated! There was a banner saying "Happy Anniversary" and there was a string of collapsible bells strung all around our room...and there were balloons. Plus there was a beautiful cake

and it also tasted delicious! Our hearts melted at the realization that our kids love us SO much! the ship was pulling out of the port our phone rang and it was our friends, Jim and Jeanne Lowell, saying that they were also on the cruise--a total surprise for us!

...We had already had a lovely week with Pasi and Tuula at our home. We had had fun showing them some of the highlights of Central Wisconsin…like the cheese factory.

but our time with them on the ship couldn't have been sweeter either. We had several times of caring, loving prayer with them.

They also know Jim and Jeanne, so every evening we all dined together.

So fun!

The six of us also enjoyed playing Mexican Train dominoes.

...The food on the ship was magnificent

and it was fun being able to go to several venues. They were like restaurants where you could order whatever (and however much) you wanted. Yes, we both gained five pounds! :-)

...Then on our third day came another surprise--the gift certificate for the spa. And once again we talked about what great kids we have! :-) We ended up spending the certificate in two ways: I had my nails and toenails done (including hand and foot massages) and we both spent a morning with our four friends at the spa's "thermal suite." This lovely relaxing room (with soothing music) had a jacuzzi, a warm pool where you could just float, a steam bath, a sauna, a water massage, and chairs all across the back of the ship where you could just sit peacefully watching the sea. Oh my! It was lovely!! Thank you--thank you! My camera was on vacation that day! ;-)

...Our day trips at Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway were really great. At Ketchikan we saw The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.

They had the crowd divided into two sections and we each cheered for our guys as they chopped and sawed wood, rolled logs and shinnied up poles. Really great fun!

Then near Juneau we went out to see the Mendenhall Glacier.

These lovely Lupine flowers graced the mountainsides. We bought seeds to see if we can get them to grow in our back yard.

Later the same day we cruised past the Sawyer Glacier.

I enjoyed watching the light blue pieces of glacial ice float past our boat.

There was an 11 minute video about the glacier and I loved one comment by one of the researchers. He said, "In studying this glacier, it makes you realize how short life is. It gives you a sense of eternity." I had just been thinking the same.

In Skagway we had our BEST tour ever. At Dean's suggestion, we took the Yukon Scenic Drive instead of the Klondike Train (as hundreds of people did) and we're SO glad we did. Our guide was Pete, a mid-30's forest ranger who knew this part of the Yukon intimately. He had hiked, kayaked, photographed, fished, and climbed many of the natural wonders that we saw that day.

He also had an incredible eye for wildlife. We saw Dall Sheep, mountain goats, and bear. First we saw a beautiful, healthy male black bear;

the driver said it was the biggest he'd ever seen that close. Then five minutes later we saw a mother bear with two cubs.
We just sat in the bus, maybe ten feet from the bears, and watched them eat dandelions. It was simply delightful.

...All in all, it was the most relaxing vacation we've ever had. It was lovely being in the same bed all week--not having to pack up a suitcase to see a new place. Our suite was really spacious compared to most ship's quarters that I've ever seen, and we had our own private deck. I loved waking up each morning to new scenery.

...The ship's crew were from about 60 different nations, and they were all so service oriented. We really connected with several of them.

...The most amazing thing about the ship was how relaxed and comfortable it all felt. There were people of all ages, several young families, and many our age and older. Our line, Norwegian Cruise Lines, advertises their "freestyle" cruising. That means that there are no restrictions as to where or when to eat, nor what to wear to meals, what type of food you have, nor where to sit while eating. (That's different than most cruise lines which are usually more directive and controlled.) There were multiple ways to entertain yourself on the ship including evening shows, live music, movies, the spa, a game room, a library, and an entire fitness center. It had an amazing variety with something for everyone.

"All of those highlights, Mom, and no lowlights?" Okay, there were a couple. First, I tripped on my way into one of the nice restaurants one evening and fell headlong. The sore knee and fat lip weren't bruised nearly as much as my pride! :-) Then Friday morning, after a rough night on the sea, Jim was queasy. A couple of pills from the ship doctor, some dry toast, and a nap were the cure--and he was ready for dinner in the evening.

I almost forgot to tell you that we totally enjoyed Seattle on our way in. Mike (Jim's spiritual son) and his wife Sue met us at the airport, then took us to the hotel where we spent the night. They treated us to a lovely seafood dinner at one of Seattle’s oldest restaurants—McCormicks. It was fabulous.

The next morning the six of us went to Pike Place Market. Through one of the windows of the market, we saw the ship we would be boarding in a few hours. So exciting!

The whole week I got along amazingly well. My little “shopping cart” was really a help, since my walking is becoming a little bit tipsy. In Seattle, and several times on our side trips, when I would tire out (or the slope would be too steep) Jim would have me sit down on the cart, and he would push me. I’d have to grasp the backs of my pant legs to hold my feet off the ground.

Our laughter always inspired a smile from those we met. That little thing was a lifesaver! I don’t think it was designed to be a wheelchair (smile) but it worked for us! (Thanks to Grace for the cart recommendation—you’re right it was a BIG ship!)

All of this to say thank you for making our trip so memorable! The surprises were so well chosen, and filled with love. So now we send back that rush of love to you...our amazing kids!

Mom and Dad"

P.S. In one of those prayers for us, Pasi prayed that we would have “God’s omnipotent peace—powerful peace.” I’ve always thought of peace as being a gentle, mild thing, so this was a new picture for me. I’ve been tossing this around in my mind over these last few days, and that’s exactly what God has given us—powerful peace. It’s as magnificent as his creation.

If you're crossing over a rough spot in the road, I wish for you also His Powerful Peace!