ISAIAH 61:1-4

ISAIAH 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to
Preach the good news to the poor. .
Bind up the brokenhearted,
Proclaim freedom for the captives,
Proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners,
Comfort all who mourn
Provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them
The oil of gladness for mourning
And a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

Monday, November 27, 2006



I had a really good week last week with only two down days. Tuesday was a wipe-out. But I was active and felt good the rest of the week. I helped my granddaughters make a gingerbread house; M did the little tree in the entry way all by herself; I decorated the tree for the living room; Friday night the choir decorated the church. My contribution was the tree in the Narthex with the help of Christy and Bismarck. Saturday I finished the stuff at the house.

It caught up with me Sunday afternoon though. After lunch I took a really long nap (uncharacteristic for me) and didn't do anything else all evening, except eat. I started taken the steroid prepping for today's treatment and did it ever give me the munchies!!

Today is the first of the new set of treatments. The Doctor is positive about this med. He says it has less side effects than the first. (But then he said the first one wouldn't cause nausea! Ha!) So...we shall see. These are also supposed to be further apart, three weeks instead of two. I'm not sure how to reconcile that schedule with the idea that this one is less toxic. Hmmm.

Pastor Phylis

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

This came to my box yesterday...a relevant devotional. Thought I would share it.

A Question of Ownership
TGIF Today God Is First, by Os Hillman
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. - Matthew 10:39

Otto Koning was a missionary in New Guinea. He worked among a native tribe that had known only their village ways. One of those village ways was stealing from others. When Otto and his wife arrived and moved into a hut, the natives often came by to visit. The Konings would notice that after the natives left the missionaries' home, various household items had disappeared. They saw these items again when they went to preach in the natives' village.

The only fruit Otto could grow on the island was pineapples. Otto loved pineapples, and he took pride in the pineapples he was able to grow. However, whenever the pineapples began to ripen, the natives would steal them. Otto could never keep a ripe pineapple for himself. This was a frustration, and he became angry with the natives. All during the seven-year period in which this took place, Otto preached the gospel to these natives, but never had a conversion.

The more the natives stole, the angrier Otto became. Finally, one day Otto had a German Shepherd dog flown in from another missionary to protect his pineapple garden after other frustrated efforts failed. This only further alienated the natives from him.

Otto took a furlough to the United States and attended a conference on personal rights. At this conference, he discovered that he was frustrated over this situation because he had taken personal ownership of his pineapple garden. After much soul searching, he gave his garden to God. Soon the natives started having problems among their tribe. They discovered that Otto was the reason for their problems because he gave his garden to his God. The natives saw a correlation between what Otto had done and their own lives being affected by calamities in their village. When Otto gave his garden to God, he no longer got angry and was free from worry. The natives started bringing him fruit from the garden because they didn't want any more calamities to come into their village.

The light came on one day when a native said to Otto, "You must have become a Christian, Otto. You don't get angry anymore. We always wondered if we would ever meet a Christian." They had never associated Otto with the kind of person he was preaching about because his message did not line up with his life. Otto was broken in spirit when he realized he had been such a failure.

At the end of seven years, he witnessed his first conversion, and many began coming to Christ once he fully gave his garden to God. The fruit grew so abundant that Otto began exporting it and growing other types of fruit, such as bananas. His village became the most evangelized in the whole region, yet for seven years he had not one convert.

Otto realized something each of us must realize: To gain your life you must lose it, along with your possessions. It was only when he gave all his possessions to God that he became free from them. God measured back to him manifold once He had complete ownership.

Do you have some possessions that you need to give up to God today? Let God have all that you have. Become a steward, not an owner. You will be surprised at how well God can take care of His possessions.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006



Capturing those memories! (This family is a bit camera nuts. That's almost 5 year old M2 with the digital, almost 7 year old M1 with the video, Rob and I both also manned cameras. It's Bob's birthday!   (And that's me in the wig!)

We've been married for more than 37 years and during that time have had a variety of Thanksgiving experiences. The first year we spent in the jungle (1976), I didn't have a stove yet, so for Thanksgiving we ate fruit, salad and chicken I grilled in an electric skillet. Some years we've had Thanksgiving with my Dad and eaten wild turkey, sometimes fried instead of baked, and venison for dinner. Or other times we've spent with Aunt Lois and had traditional turkey and all the trimmings. Last year my sister and her kids and grandkids were here and we had a traditional meal here.

I was just looking at the words to "Inconvenient Christmas" and began thinking about Thanksgiving adventures. This year will be calm. The kids are coming Wednesday night -- They're cooking. (No one lets me cook these days. They say I look too tired.) Then Thanksgiving Day they go to their in-laws and it will be Bob and I with Bismarck. Should be very laid back and easy...Except in the evening the little girls are coming to spend the night so Mommy and Aunt Christy can hit the early morning shopping of "Black Friday". (I'd rather poke a stick in my eye than brave the crowds that day!) But we've had our share of "inconvenient" Thanksgivings. But somehow they turned out to be Thanksgiving blessings!

I can't remember exactly which year it was that we got stuck in Bloomington on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. The boys were young -- high school students -- and Wesley was with us. Our car broke down as we were taking the bypass through Bloomington intending to stop and eat. Instead we just stopped. It was right in front of a car lot. So while we tried to decide what to do, the boys played hide and seek in the car lot and the ditch beside the road.

We finally got the car started, and it sputtered to the nearest hotel. Early next morning we were trying to get it started again and decide whether to try to return to Elgin or keep going to St. Charles, Mo. Another guest ready to leave the hotel helped...he actually knew a bit about car mechanics. We mostly stood around with the hood open and looked on in despair. He said it was the alternator, helped us find a mechanic shop open that would sell one on Thanksgiving morning, and he put it in. Come to find out they lived in St. Charles and were headed to Chicago. For several years afterwards we exchanged Thanksgiving cards, but have since lost track of such nice people sent by God to be a blessing to us.

Then there were a couple of snowstorm Thanksgivings. When Rob was just a baby we were driving back to Chicago on Sunday. A huge snowstorm hit. We had to park for awhile. Then ran out of milk for the baby and nearly out of gas for the car. Nothing was open on that deserted stretch of Rt 55. Finally in desperation we pulled off into a small town. A restaurant was open, but had no milk. The lady went to her house and got some for us. Then she called the owner of the gas station alongside who came and let us fill up the car. (This WAS 35 years ago!!)

Another snowstorm, the boys were elementary school age. The snow was so bad, again we had to pull off. But this time we cut off the car for awhile so we wouldn't run out of gas. That time it was also terribly cold....waaaaay below zero. I remember reading later that several stranded motorists had died from the cold. We did have blankets in the trunk. So we wrapped up and huddled together in the car for awhile to let the snow clear a bit. God was merciful. The snow cleared and we made it through without further incident.

Another year, another adventure. May your Thanksgiving be filled with blessings. May you find adventure and blessing in those unexpected events. Look for God's hand in all things, even the apparent disasters. You will find that his blessing is there, just reach for it.

Pastor Phylis

Friday, November 17, 2006

An Inconvenient Christmas

Did you know that as of tomorrow there are five more Saturdays before Christmas? And there have been 47 Saturdays since the last one?
I know this because the Christmas season just arrived at my house...It's arrival was signaled by "The Most Inconvenient Christmas." Now I know my non-Southern Gospel friends will sneer a bit...but that song is still one of my favorites since I discovered it a few years ago. Somehow at Christmastime I need a bit of my roots to remind me just where I come from. While "The Oak Ridge Boys" may not be your cup of tea, you really should listen to that one song at least. I must confess though that the hard rrr's on the "forever" in the Hallelujah Chorus does strain even my Southern a bit. My older granddaugahter (with all the wisdom of her six years) reminds me occasionally when those rr's trip me up! But I'm with her, on a recording "foreva" just seems more appropriate, linguistically speaking.

I think I have welcomed the Season early this year for several reasons. Due to my computer problems, I've been downloading and transferring Pictures and Music.  The Christmas ones caught my attention.   Secondly, with my good days and bad days, I've been trying to find ways to make this season meaningful, but I must do it a little at a time.

But more than that, I don't think I've ever been more grateful or happier to celebrate the Season. This year has been full of such ups and down. So many times I thought that emotionally (or physically) I would crash and burn...but just at the right time, a Word from God arrived. Sometimes it was an email, sometimes a card in the mail, sometimes a plant or bouquet of flowers reminding me that someone cared. Sometimes it was the kind act of a friend or acquaintance that reminded me that He is still in control. 

More often, it was Bob offering to get me a fresh glass of water, or bringing me a freshly peeled orange when I couldn't sleep at 2 AM. Sometimes it was the pitter patter of small feet and a "Grammie?" that came rushing in the door of the house or the church that lightened my heart and made me realize that though this has been an inconvenient year, I'm here. And I'm grateful.
If you want to hear/see the song click on the link at the title of this blog for my own homemade video version of Inconvenient Christmas

Okay....just for you really non-Southerners out there who will never listen to the song even for a minute, here are the words from "The Most Inconvenient Christmas". Prepare to belly laugh!! It comes across much better WITH the music. Trust me!

"Among the bills that I'd received
Was a postcard marked "Apologies"
The Christmas gifts you've ordered aren't in stock
So I packed up the kids for Grandpa's House
Then a blizzard blew in and the car broke down
So we shared a quart of eggnog at a truck stop
And I said; Kids, this is unfortunate
You think it's bad? Well, it's inconvenient

But the most inconvenient Christmas ever was
Was the first one when God came so far
To give Himself to us
So when stress hits each December
How it helps me to remember
God is with us most when things just can't get worse
The Most inconvenient Christmas ever was...
Was the first

By the time we got to Grandpa's house
His Christmas lights had burned it down
So we had to take him home to live with us
But he couldn't stand to leave the farm
So now there's cattle in our yard
Sheep on the rug, Pigs in the tub and a rooster at dawn
And I said: Now Honey, this is unfortunate
You think this is bad? Well, it's inconvenient

(Repeat Chorus)

A young girl expects a child she can't explain
Forced to walk a hundred miles just to give birth in the hay
Wile the king at that same hour
Fearing challenge to his power
Sent his troops to track them down and wipe them out
Yep, hand down...

The most inconvenient Christmas ever was
Was the first one when God came so far
To give Himself to us
So when stress hits each December
How it helps me to remember
God is with us most when things just can't get worse
The most inconvenient Christmas ever was...
Was the first.

A a very Merry 5 Saturdays to you!!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hair Loss

I said someday I'd post the hair cut pictures. So here they are. At the top I had cut my hair really short because it had just begun to shed. The picture is when it was shedding still more, even short. The short "do" lasted for a week. (I lost the pictures of the first hair cut when my computer crashed). That night it was bald on the right side where I sleep. So I just stood over the sink and combed and patted the hair out. It came out by the handfuls, leaving me with about 20 hairs. I asked Brad to come with his shears to finish the job. My granddaughters recorded it all! One on video, the other on the SLR.  The last photo is of me the evening of Oct 31st at the girls' celebration. My "chemo" eyes are evident. That's about what I look like today.
Later I'll post one with the wig...I don't have one handy at the moment -- and maybe one now, when I'm totally bald. :)


Pastor Phylis
I have arisen! As usual nausea and illness hit 36 hours after infusion...that was about 4:00 a.m. today. I spend the morning in a chair, napping and trying to keep various nausea and headache pills down. About noon, after Bob came in with iced tea from Panera (I don't know what they put in their tea, but it is very mild and calming) I graduated to the couch with enough energy to watch TV Land for awhile. (Bonanza still reruns!) Before I went totally brain dead from old TV, I managed to stagger to my computer and answer a few emails. Voila' I have arisen! Hopefully, the worst of this episode is behind me.

Monday was the last of this series of four. Now there is a new series of four that I will learn about next Monday. (Along with more booster shots for red and white blood cells! I am a veritable pin cushion -- correction, that would technically be needle cushion!)

I'm so hoping that the effects of the next series are less severe. I really need to get back to work after Christmas. One semester is all I can do on disability. After that it's the poor farm. But God has it all in control!

Now the holiday season is upon us. First Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Not to mention that four of these eight Huertas have birthdays in November with one in October and one more in January. Christy and Bradley had the good sense to be born in June and July! So we shall be celebrating regularly for the next several weeks.

Last Sunday was our "Christmas Child" shoebox collection. That's always a precious time. Filling shoeboxes to be sent to all four corners of the earth as gifts for children who have not even the basic necessities.

And speaking of basic necessities...My dear husband is here. So let's have a cup of soup for dinner!

Pastor Phylis

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Looking up

There is something wonderful about a good night's sleep. I've actually had four consecutive nights. Not last night, but that's okay. I'm still feeling better. Yesterday I had the last infusion of this protocol. I see the doctor on Monday, and we'll set up the next protocol. Change of drug...maybe change of timing. But this week is the last of the hangover from this particular drug. 

In two or three weeks, it's a new ballgame. I'm now halfway through the infusions, although the next set may take more time. He's talking about three weeks between treatments.

I will look to the hills from whence cometh my help.  My help comes from the Lord."  
Psalm 121:1

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

On the Mend

Finally! Good news. I feel better. I was beginning to wonder if I had developed an "invalid" frame of mind and would mope through the rest of my life. Then, after a last bit of "sick" this morning, I believe I'm on the mend. I still have a bit of a cough, but I feel like I can face life and the next treatment.

I did go back to the Doctor this afternoon for another CBC (blood test), and my counts are moving up. Not enough yet, but up. (Maybe another reason I feel less "sick". Having a few red blood cells makes one feel a bit more lively.) Both the white cells and the red cells had been terribly low. But I've already had a blood booster last Monday (10 days ago) and another this Monday (3 days ago) and they said they can't give me anything else right now. I'm supposed to go back on Friday to see if the improvement continues. I suspect it will be better since the flu is gone and that was affecting me as well. I don't know if there's anything they can do on Friday or not, except delay the last treatment. Wait and see.

God is good. All in His time. Today, I'm simply grateful that I feel alive!

Pastor Phylis

Monday, November 6, 2006

Another week passes. Some days it seems my life is in a holding pattern, yet I know that in this, too, God has a purpose. Life isn't really passing me by while I remain static. Even at this slower more painful pace, life happens. Such an interesting lesson. Life is today.

I so recall anticipating our arrival in Ecuador as missionaries. It seemed to me that at that point, my life would start. I'd be doing "real" ministry. As I look back now, it's almost funny, nothing really changed except geographic location and the nature of some day-to-day activities. But those activities still including caring for two very young children, preparing meals, shopping, doing family activities, teaching classes and going to church. In truth the same tasks I'd spent time doing here in the US.

The proverb, "Life is a journey, not a destination" holds true now, as then. Life is in the living, the daily grind, the mundane activities of living. More often than not, it takes vision and purpose to see past the mundane, to see the purpose in what we do. So I'll leave you to ponder that thought. I don't think I can prose on about the purpose in suffering right now. Maybe later.

Besides Chemo last Monday, I got the flu. It seemed as though all the symptoms just morphed and I spent most of the week groaning and wondering if and when things would get better. I think I'm out of the woods now. I go get a CBC this afternoon; those blood count numbers tell all. I'll know then if indeed I'm on the road to recovery and ready for another session next Monday or if some other intervention is required.

On a positive note, I made it to church Sunday...missed Friday night. The service was wonderful. God never disappoints! Our youth group had participated in "Acquire the Fire" on Friday and Saturday and they were excited as never before. It's great to see the youngsters lively and participating. I also managed to sing, a bit breathlessly, but I made it through the songs thanks to our team who knows how to cover for me!

Jehovah Rapha!!

Pastor Phylis