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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Peace on Earth

"I'll be home for Christmas" by Josh Groban

Home for Christmas

While I was out today, I stopped at a local Italian grocery store chain where I've recently been purchasing a few things. This one was at a different location than my usual. It was so European in flavor, customers and product, that I kept thinking about the stores in Budapest.

I think my mind went to Budapest because I was watching customers who were obviously from widely varied parts of the world: Asia, Eastern Europe, the Mideast as well as the U.S. Families were shopping for Christmas food and looking for traditional ethnic things they were accustomed to. It reminded me of our week in Hungary, looking for breakfast food in the store when we could not read the name of the product. "Is this cheese, Cream cheese or butter?" we'd ask one another. Sometimes we chose well; sometimes we ate sour cream with our bread and jam!

The shoppers would read the ingredients aloud to one another, ask questions and either nod or shake their heads. Since the labels and the conversation were in Polish, Italian, Slavic or some other language I could not identify, I only guessed at the content of their conversation. But I recognize that search for something to remind one of home and traditions while living in a new land. Been there, done that. It's readable in the faces, the anxious pose of the body, the pitch of the voice.

And then there are those American young men and women who are away from home serving their country. I want to remember them too, remember that in their loneliness, discomfort and danger they are protecting me and the freedoms we enjoy.

God this year as we celebrate, help me to remember to be thankful. Protect those men and women who are serving us well in far away places, giving us the privilege of living here in relative luxury. Give comfort and peace to those who wander far from loved ones and home. Help them to find solace in this hectic time. Give us all a thankful heart. God bless us everyone!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Plastic Surgery Check Up

"All Much Better"

When she was three, M1 used to say "All much better now," if we'd kiss her ouchie. My nerves are "all much better." The Dr. pronounced everything normal. My symptoms were just side effects of the Femara. So...that yearly exam is over for the next...oh, 15 months or so. :) It was a bit funny though. He could not spot the reconstruction. Because the plastic surgeon did a bit of repair to the other "girl", the reconstructed one looks better than the other!! My plastic surgeon is obsessed with making a matching pair. Makes me laugh... I can recommend a really good plastic surgeon if anyone is in need of one!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Company's Coming!

As a small child, I remember the excitement those words would evoke: "Company's coming!" It also meant I had to clean my room. We had a small two-bedroom cottage in the country. When anyone came to visit, they slept in the bedroom that belonged to my sister and I. As the oldest, I was responsible to be sure the room was completely clean, including the closet, under the bed, and in that corner I loved to stash things to use "later." I was never very good at cleaning; my mother always had to help me.

It occurred to me today that that's exactly the message Mary received, so long ago. "
Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name, Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:30-33)

Which interpreted (PJ's Version) says, "Mary, you have company coming, very important company who will be very important now and in the future." Hmmm

Mary knew she wasn't prepared for this impressive guest to arrive, so she went to get counsel from her good friend and cousin, Elizabeth. Upon arrival, Elizabeth confirmed the angel's message and affirmed the value of Mary to the future of the Kingdom.

In response to Elizabeth's blessing, Mary responded with the very well-known marvelous Magnificat:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name. " (Luke 1:46-49)

PJ'S Version: I will give thanks to the Lord from the bottom of my heart, and be joyful because God has chosen to take me, a nobody, and give me this honor. Although in my community being with child and unwed is ordinarily a disgrace, now and forever, my name will be honored because God has chosen to do this great thing for me.

"His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts."
(Luke 1:50-51)

PJ's Version: God will extend forgiveness and mercy to people who love and serve him. He is a strong God who will scatter those who will not accept the Work of God, who will choose to make fun of me, choose to believe that I have brought disgrace on myself and my family and refuse to believe that this anointing (child) is from God. God will use his mighty strength against those who "imagine" that they are holier, and can speak for God Himself.

"He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty."
(Luke 1:52-53)

PJ's Version: God has ushered in a new paradigm in which ordinary people will accomplish His great work. God will fill hungry hearts even though they come from poor environments; he will make them part of His Kingdom. But those who believe they have it all and are self-sufficient, he will send away.

"He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
(Luke 1:54-55)

PJ's Version: God has remembered to extend mercy to the Jewish people and to Israel. He will continue to do so according to His promises, even to those spiritual descendants, the church, who will later receive the promise.

And Mary stayed with her cousin, Elizabeth, for three months. Together, they prepared to receive the promises of God: John the Baptist and Jesus. They cleaned house and prepared for Company.

God as Christmas approaches, I recognize that I need to clean house. And I'm not very good at this cleaning either. There are attitudes, behaviors and relationships that I need to work on, to "clean up," but I need your help. We're celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ our Savior who lives in my heart, and I want to embrace this Season with the idea that I must prepare for that very important personage. I recognize that I am powerless to "self-improve", I need your grace and mercy. With David, I pray:

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
(Psalm 51:7-12)

May you have a Blessed Christmas!
Pastor Phylis

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stopping by the Park on Rainy Day

A Rainy Winter Day

We had an ice storm starting about midnight. The roads were a sheet of ice until after 9 a.m., so school was canceled. About 10 a.m. things were fairly passable, but the weather is bleary: gray, dreary and leaving me blue. So I decided to start looking for beauty as I drove. I shot the photos above, but it didn't help much. Pictures don't do justice to that tangible feeling of a gray curtain descending on everything one can see. Vision is dim; the light is dim. It feels like driving through a damp gossamer world of gray veils.

So I decided to go to my favorite spot in Elgin. Anytime I'm feeling blue, the beauty there cheers me us. So camera in hand, I stopped by a park on a rainy winter day.

Stopping by the Park on a Rainy Day

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Driving To Work On a Snowy Morn
December 5, 2007

Enjoying God's handiwork
Pastor Phylis

Thursday, November 15, 2007


It annoys me so much when my pictures disappear into cyberspace. I'm nothing if not persistent!

Here is my attempt at keeping things NORMAL by cutting my hair very short after it started to all out. (You can see it was a vain attempt) This DO lasted less than a week. I had already lost so much that the receding hairline is glaringly obvious.

Here are M (she's 6 here) and I looking freaked out about the upcoming shaved head!! (M at age 4 is the photographer)

Somehow I felt compelled to blog about the hair loss. This getting a new and almost normal hair do is a big deal for someone who spent several months totally bald and several more with miniscule hair growth.

Breast cancer strikes at the heart of all that is feminine. (although my plastic surgeon is AWESOME -- the new one looks better than the other, though he has been obsessed with giving me a matching pair. LOL!) No pictures of that here!! First there's the loss of a breast (or two as the case may be) and then the treatment. The side effects of the treatment are almost worse. One can hide the initial effects of a mastectomy and the beginning of reconstruction. One cannot hide a bald head so well. The wig does a reasonable job...but it doesn't feel REAL!

All the while, I recognized that the illness, the nausea, the neuropathy, the hair loss were necessary evils, although I cracked my share of jokes that some day we'll look at chemotherapy treatment for cancer the way we view leeches for fever now! At this time, improving the odds of a long life was more important. Still, the hair really bothered me.

That sort of startled look that of have in the photo with M is how I felt the entire time.

Finally, I feel real. The new hairdo has done that for me. (Although the bangs in front are still too short -- another few weeks!) But I'm REAL!

Pastor Phylis
THis is from a picture of me with Victor, Marta and Sammy before the liver transplant -- December 2005. This is what my hair had been like for several years.

Last October, chemo effects began. Exactly three weeks after the first infusion, my hair began to fall out.
After a few days of clumps of hair on the pillow in the morning, I went and got a very short haircut. It was an attempt to stave off the inevitiable just a little bit longer. (That picture disappeared into cyberspace) And then one evening, even more fell out all at once and I was left with this.
So Brad and the girls came over for him to shave my head.

M and I are both apprehensive about this head shaving to come!! (the 4 year old is the photographer here!)

Brad finished the job by shaving my head. Both girls helped -- taking pictures and movies (the 6 year old took this one) You can see M's sad face. I had him leave the bangs and a fringe in back that still hung on. For about a week I could wear a hat and it wasn't terribly obvious that I was bald. Howevever that hair, too, soon fell out. And then I donned this wig. Occasionally I'd wear a hat or scarf or both, but most of the time I wore this wig. I'd though about getting a funky one for fun, but somehow when it's necessity, the fun is gone and I just wanted to look NORMAL.

By summer, I was tired of the wig and just started wearing it short -- I really didn't like the short in front stuff. was better than sweating in the wig.

It's been growing since March and by the end of October, it was very shaggy!!
It had gotten so shaggy and long. I liked the feel of the longer hair, but it was getting unmanageable because it was short on the sides, long in back, longer on the right side -- kind of a lop-sided mullet. It's still very curly...this was taken blow dried. I've been wearing it curly, but now it's too long.


Pastor Phylis

Monday, November 5, 2007


One year ago -- October 31, 2006
Me with Chemo eyes, sicker than a dog!
Bald and pale

Me with the grandaughters
October 31, 2007
With my newly grown curly hair.
Feelin' oh so much better!!

God is good! I'm truly thankful.
Pastor Phylis

Sunday, October 28, 2007

No RollOver Minutes

The Psalmist here is talking about the value of the minutes in a day. Some phone plans allow you to use the minutes unused in one billing period in the next. You may rollover your minutes. But with God:

Each morning God gives me exactly 1,440 minutes or 24 hours in which to live my life. There are no rollover minutes. As many things as I have to do, as much as I want to accomplish, it isn't possible to borrow from yesterday's unused minutes. That time is gone forever. Neither can I borrow from tomorrow's minutes. I have only 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. That's it.

Here is Psalm 90:12 paraphrased:
The paraphrase speaks for itself.

So with the Psalmist, I ask God to teach me to number my days. I need to gain a heart of wisdom.

The Cat's in the Cradle
Artist: Harry Chapin
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

So whose life will you touch with your allotted 1,440 seconds today? God, help us to make a difference.


Condensed from this morning's sermon by Pastor Bob.

Slides are from his sermon. Used by spousal privilege!
Shamelessly plagairized!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lives of Quiet Desperation

Lives of quiet desperation

Teaching this year has been a struggle that I've mentioned in several blogs. But about three weeks ago God and I had a good conversation and we decided that if I'm to keep teaching, I have to conqueror my own fears and disappointments and concentrate on meeting the needs of students in my classroom.

One of the first things I did in that new frame of mind was begin to find those unnoticed students (the quiet ones, the pensive ones, the ones who create no difficulty, but neither do they seek help or attention) and simply say something nice to them, give them some extra attention. Since I teach Middle School, I teach 140-150 students every day (30 at a time in 40 minute periods) so it is a challenge to find time to talk to students other than "write this in your planner", "do you have your homework", "you'll find the answer in this paragraph," "yes, that's a verb," etc. Privacy is also an issue; we're constantly surrounded by dozens of other students so personal conversation is not easy.

But this week I collected journals to record grades. In one of the quietest student's journal she had written, "Mrs. Huerta talked to me!"

I remember that day, she was the last one out the door. She looked sad, quieter than usual and I just stopped her on the way out the door. "Are you okay? You look very sad today. Is there anything I can do to help you?"

She just shook her head "no", sort of smiled and moved on. I had forgotten about the incident until I read her journal. It had to have been written later, either in another class or the next day.

I've been working to make opportunities to connect with the kids, but I'll have to redouble my efforts.

Henry David Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Our challenge as Christians is to touch the lives of men and women so that they may find release to sing that song. Even other Christians.

Pastor Phylis (as a Public School Teacher!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quote for the day

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

Gibran's words from The Prophet:

Monday, September 3, 2007

An afternoon at the park

What a lovely way to end a three-day weekend. The girls were able to spend the afternoon with me. We ate a late lunch, played Webkinz (for the uninitiated, that's the internet craze for the primary school child!), did some marker painting, climbed about in the park for as long as the mosquitoes would allow, spent some time on homework, had an ice cream and then called it a day.

Saturday was a bust for me. The anesthesia wore off my stitches and I was in a great deal of pain. I made the Saturday night Hispanic service, but did no pastoral duties. I was just there! Sunday was better. I woke up feeling refreshed and not much pain. I actually hurt more today than yesterday, but then I was more active with the girls too. It wasn't intolerable, just a nuisance. But the good thing is -- it's over. I keep wanting to sing a song with that title!! Mattea did make up a song today for her memorization. It worked well. She was happy practicing!

So ta-ta for now. It's back to the weekly grind tomorrow. NO! I mustn't approach a new week with that attitude. I shall be back to inspiring youngsters to greater heights tomorrow! How's that for a positive attitude??


Pastor Phylis

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Family Secrets

Several situations lately have started me thinking in the direction of family secrets again. I had studied the topic several years ago, taught some lessons, and acquired a level of healing. Recent events have pointed me in that direction again.

I re-read parts of John Bradshaw's Family Secrets: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You. He expounds on the three laws of a disfunctional family (with secrets): Don't Talk; Don't Trust; Don't Feel.

Children raised in abusive or alcoholic families, families with hidden crimes or addictions, just to name a few of the potential "secrets," grow up believing there is something wrong with themselves. They have feelings that are allowed no expression, or outlet. Adults in the family are unreliable, not trustworthy, yet nothing is ever said or done about it. The situation is not even discussed. This kind of secrecy is toxic. (There are healthy secrets as well: children should not be pulled into marriage discord or adult sexual issues.)

One particular case study involved the young father of a family who had lost his job but didn't want to let his wife or children know. He kept his regular routine and left for work every morning, but his family began to fall apart. Even though his wife and children were unaware of the specific problem, they were reacting to their sense that something was very wrong.

Recently at a family reunion, some younger members of the family had the courage to speak about a family secret, in this case alcoholism, and the generational reaction and subsequent isolation. As a result of breaking the silence, new connections with family and a support system is evolving. But the story is far from over. Alcoholism doesn't evolve in a vacuum, and deeper secrets may need to be revealed. It's much like the peeling of an onion. But understanding and empathy are gained by following the trail and discovering generations of hurting humans who reacted in the only way they could tolerate.

Around me, some family systems are deteriorating in inexplicable ways. Could it be that a family secret is at the center of the crumbling foundation of human relationships? Family secrets leave wounded souls, broken hearts, may lead to a skewed power base, disrupted relationships, and unhealthy decision-making.

Yet, the answer is not the ever-popular reveal-all talk shows in which participants drop these bombs like B-52's coming in for the kill. There is a time, a place and a manner in which to address such issues.

In an interview with Randy Peyser, John Bradshaw, who is one of the foremost authors and recognized experts
particularly in the fields of family systems, co-dependency, and addictions and recovery, talks about the process of discovering the roots of family disfunctions. "Suddenly, all these problems that you think are your own are seen in this larger light. It's hard to blame anybody for it. You see that your mother had it and your grandmother had it and then, god knows, how many generations before that had it. It makes us realize that we're up against something very profound."

If you want to read more, try these resources:

Pastor Phylis

Friday, August 31, 2007

All Much Better Now!

My 7 year old granddaughter used to say this when she was 4 or so after I'd kiss her "Owie": "All much better now!"

And that's me today. Surgery was at 10:30 this am. I was done by 11:15. He didn't have to use general anesthesia, just a local and a bit of a relaxer. Although at one point when that wand was hitting my rib, I was wishing for a general. I came home and slept from noon until about 4 or so. I'm a tad sore now, but doing well. I don't do well with strong pain pills, so I just have Keterol, but it's enough to relieve most of the pain.

This was the last of the surgeries...I go back in 10 days and have the stitches out. That's the end of re-construction. I will have a matching pair!! (I know...too much information!)

I was counting surgeries in the last 20 months. There have been more than I realized. First the liver biopsy, then the liver donation. Then the breast biopsy (a lumpectomy) followed by a left radical mastectomy ten days later. The mastectomy wasn't as long as the liver re-section, but they also did the basic reconstruction at that point, so it took a few hours. Then the port was inserted. (That's five, but who's counting?) Then came 6 months of chemotherapy. When my blood count was so low, the doctor ordered a colonoscopy because he was concerned that I also had colon cancer. I didn't, but the colonoscopy requires anesthesia and is technically a surgical procedure, not to mention that he removed some polyps. The next surgery was to take out the port. Then one to change the saline implant for a silicone one. Oh, wait! Those were done at the same time. So that makes seven. Then today makes eight (8), five (5) with general anesthesia, three with just locals and a relaxant. (And I'm wondering why my memory has some gaps??? I must have lost a few million brain cells just from the anesthesia!) I'm hoping for no more surgeries for a LOOOOOOOOONG time!!

But God is good. I have a wonderful support system. My husband could not possibly have been more helpful. From taking over household duties (the ones he didn't already do), to preparing me fresh squeezed orange slushes at 2 a.m. when I was so nauseous, to being sure I had someone to care for me whenever I needed help; he has been a trouper. My children, too, were available whenever I needed anything. Even my little granddaughters understood that I wasn't very energetic and were content to snuggle and watch movies with me when their natural inclination would have been for more activity. Then there was the church who provided food, sometimes personal care and lots of prayer. People at work pitched in too with food, flowers, cards, phone calls and prayer. It really is amazing the way people pulled together. God has been very good to me!!

Zoe, I'm really feeling very well tonight. Thanks for your prayers and your concern. I've been praying regularly for you, too! I'm headed over to music practice at the church in just a few minutes. (I'm tired, but I can handle an hour and a half of music practice.) I"ll take my camera and take some shots of us -- all in casual clothes -- practicing! (That's me with my head right under the exit sign!)

God bless!

Pastor Phylis

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Finally final

My last surgical procedure is tomorrow morning -- will be finished by noon. I'm already officially in remission. After this surgery, I will be complete -- remade! I didn't think I was terribly anxious about it. But....

Today I really over-reacted with a situation at work. I calmed down fairly quickly, but I was absolutely furious over some information that I hadn't bother to check out yet! Duh! I know better than to take a 13-year old's word for something. He wasn't even deliberately deceitful; he just gave me the final piece and I was missing the middle transaction. I only vented to a few friends via email and quickly sent a correction -- is there a correction to a vent??? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, anxiety. I let my students know that I was having a surgical procedure, that it was minor, that I was still in remission from cancer, etc. I reassured them I'd be back on Tuesday (Thank God! Monday is a holiday)

But one precocious young man says, "But Mrs. Huerta, can't things go wrong, even with a minor procedure?"

"Yes, it could" I responded. "But it won't".

And it won't. I know that. Still, the anxiety lingers. One more anesthesia, one more....

I really freaked when I went for the mammogram this year -- I think it was Saturday, the 18th. I know I waited until the last possible moment...and didn't even put it on my calendar on the computer!! I was so tense that when it was obvious by the technicians manner that everything was fine, I nearly burst into tears. (Last year, I knew just by her manner -- and the three thousand views of x-rays and the ultra-sounds that the radiologist kept sending her back for, that it was very bad news. Her manner was artificially bright, happy. "Well, we'll just take about 100 more routine views. The radiologist couldn't see the last 600 views very well." Right! She probably needs glasses.) I was so braced for the bad news that I nearly fell apart when it was good this year. I suppose mammograms will be tense for me from here until eternity. After all, that is how my cancer was discovered. I was clueless until then.

So...after tomorrow, I have only one more visit to the oncologist -- the hormone treatment may have to be adjusted --then checkups should be??? quarterly?? semi-annually? something like that, for awhile. Whew.

By the Grace of God, I dodged the bullet this time!

Pastor Phylis

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Middle School
Elgin, IL

Here's where I'm spending all my days. Since school started the 20th of August (for teachers), I've spend nearly every waking moment concentrating on preparing for the year, for meeting students' needs and maximizing classroom time. I've been at school by 7:30 or 8:00 every morning and have left sometime after 4 p.m. But the story doesn't end there. Each day I cart home with me: papers to grade, files to sort, lessons to plan, PowerPoints to prepare, etc. I've put in somewhere between 12 and 14 hours each day. But today was different.

At 4:45 p.m. today, I said, "Enough is enough." I need at least one evening to do something besides kids papers, lesson plans and files. I left school with only my purse on my arm. Whew! I do feel relieved. One whole evening to read and answer e-mail (which I have woefully neglected!), blog and maybe even update the JCC website. (Does that qualify as work??? I said I wasn't doing any work tonight!) Ah yes. And I have clothes from the laundry which has been living in neat stacks. Tonight it will make it home to my closet!!

Don't worry. I'll make up for it tomorrow night. I will have to stay until everything is ready for Friday. I take the day off Friday for my final surgery. It will be fine with me if this is the last time in my life I see a surgeon's knife or don that mask thing for oxygen and whatever else they run through through mysterious tubes! As far as my bout with cancer, this should be the last little skirmish. (not even a real battle) The finishing touches will be in place and I'll be almost as good as new. In remission, rebuilt and ready to go on!


Pastor Phylis

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Just Thinkin' 'bout things

Deuteronomy 33:25
"As your days, so shall your strength be."
This scripture has always been a comfort to me.
It's a blessing given to the tribe of Asher,
but also a promise from God to be applied to my life.
He gives me sufficient strength for each day.
No matter what!

Yesterday was an interesting day. I managed to mess up on my disability paperwork here at the last minute and had to go see my doctors for re-certification. The questions made me start thinking about this past year and my state of health. Funny. The human psyche likes to forget unpleasantness and goes to great lengths to do so. that I'm feeling so much better than before, sometimes I think I'm really back where I started.

When I had to write it all down on paper, I had to focus on the deficits. The thing that worries me most about going back to work is the cognitive glitches I still have. If I didn't know it were chemo-effects, I'd be headed for the neurologist to see if I had early onset Alzheimers. I still can't multi-task. One thing at a time is all I can manage. At one point, I couldn't put a meal together (cooking requires simple multi-tasking); I can do that now, not as efficiently as before, but I can do it. I still haven't figured out how I can teach a class of 30 14-year-olds and not multi-task. My memory is "iffy" at best. I've always been a certifiable "space cadet", but it's serious now. I also have difficulty focusing on a complicated task. Hmmm. Is teaching complicated? When I mentioned the cognitive concerns to my doctor, he just commented that chemotherapy is very hard on the body. Normal function is supposed to return -- but he didn't say when. Then there's still the hand and foot neuropathy. Most of the time it's just a nuisance, but when I have to climb to the third floor quickly several times a day, and be on my feet all day every day, it's bound to flare up. Oh well. We shall see.

I was thinking that the class I'm taking next week (for four consecutive days) would be a good test of how I'll function in the classroom. But in reality taking a class is much easier than teaching one. But I will see if I can actually function for four full days without the stress of teaching.

I thought I did really well on vacation. For the most part I was my usual self. On the 1 hour hike, I was much slower than usual. I didn't go to the top--which was very difficult for me to accept that I had to stop before getting there! (Thanks Tom for staying with me all the way!) And there were lots of slow days with the girls, swimming and such. Even so, when I got home, I managed to get through a normal Sunday. Then for the next three days, I did very little. I did get pictures posted, but that was about it.

So....I'm going to be very happy to get back to school. I'll be even happier if I'm doing reasonably well after the first 6 weeks. (Report card time is always the most difficult)!! I'll just have to trust the Lord for that strength for each day!

Thanks for your prayers!

Pastor Phylis

Monday, July 23, 2007

Deal or No Deal
by Pastor Bob Huerta

Bob's sermon yesterday morning:

And the temptations of (a) Do it yourself (self-sufficiency),
(b) Take the easy way (accept counterfeits),
(c) Failure to believe until you SEE it on your own terms
(Making God serve us),

Was it....Deal, or No Deal?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bob, Teklemarian, Maria, Phylis

Facing Life's Difficulties
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

I met three amazing people these past two weeks. The first was a friend in Phoenix whose son has *tuberous sclerosis complex, with the resultant developmental delay, retardation and autism. As a psychologist, a teacher and a pastor, I have observed many parents interact with disabled children. Never have I seen a parent use the level of understanding, tenderness and care with which this single mother interacts with her son. (Name omitted since I haven't asked permission.) She regards her son as a gift from God given in order to teach her about life. I learned much from observing her! (*Information about this condition is given below.)

The next two people are a couple from Ethiopia: Teklemarian and his wife, Maria. I first heard this story more than twenty years ago at a Conference in Louisiana at which Princess Sofia from Ethiopia spoke. Teklemarian was a pastor at a time when the church was being rigorously persecuted. Armed soldiers came to them demanding that he desist preaching the Gospel of Christ, and that he renounce his faith or face imprisonment. He refused. They then threatened his family. Again he refused. Then a soldier snatched their infant daughter from the arms of Maria and killed her in front of them. Steadfastly, they refused to renounce Christ. Teklemarian was imprisoned; his wife was left with their baby to bury and other children to care for. (And some days I think I've had a rough two years!) To this day, I weep at the retelling of this story. Maria, however, listened with serenity, having made peace with that portion of her life long ago. Her demeanor gives new meaning to the word serenity!

However, Ethiopia had a sweeping revival. Today millions of believers experience freedom in worship due to the sacrifices of people like Teklemarian, Maria and Princess Sophia who also was imprisoned at that time.

Understanding that choosing the path of faith does not always mean an easy road is central to maintaining faith in the face of adversity.

My prayer is that in reading these stories you are encouraged through whatever difficulty you may be facing. Meeting these people was an inspiration to me. Thank you Teklemarian, Maria and my newfound friend.

Blessings to you and yours
Pastor Phylis

*Info from:

*What is tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)?
Tuberous sclerosis complex is a genetic condition characterized by lesions of the skin and central nervous system, tumor growth and seizures. The disease affects some people severely, while others are so mildly affected that it often goes undiagnosed. Some people with tuberous sclerosis experience developmental delay, mental retardation and autism. However, there are also many people with tuberous sclerosis living independent, healthy lives who are enjoying challenging professions such as doctors, lawyers, educators and researchers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From the Huerta Family Reunion
in beautiful
Bayard, New Mexico
alt. 5,862 ft