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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Life Happens

I first heard about the "She Speaks" Conference the other day when Linda over at 2nd Cup of Coffee mentioned it. "What an opportunity," I thought. "I should see about going." And in the hurry and scurry of life, I tabled the thought. Tonight, surfing through blogs, I found this contest posted by Lysa at Proverbs 31 Ministry. I decided to post an entry!

From as early as I can remember, I have always wanted to write a book. I was never sure how to proceed. In the meantime, I have filled spiral binders and journals with thoughts, ideas and even stories, but have never really been serious about it. It was always one of those "someday" ideas.

In December 2005, I donated half of my liver to a friend and decided to blog the experience. That would be the start of my book, I thought. I came through the surgery, but my friend died February 22, 2006 from complications. I was far too sad to write anything that would be uplifting to others. No book for me, I thought.

On one occasion I talked about it with a friend who served many years as an editor with a Christian Publishing Company. "You need to go to a Christian writers' conference," she advised me.

But life happens. Six months after liver surgery, I went to the doctor to have a mole removed and woke up three weeks later with a mastectomy. First came the surgeries followed by an agonizing six months of chemotherapy. During this epoch from liver donation to mastectomy to chemotherapy, a metamorphosis has occurred in me, a paradigm shift, a growth of faith unequaled in my life. Don't get me wrong, I don't walk on water. Occasionally I manage to get wet or dabble a toe here and there.

I'm like my younger granddaughter. As a toddler, she was an adventurer. She energetically explored her world sometimes encountering difficulties. At that point she always screamed, loudly. A piercing sound that brought any adult within earshot running to rescue her. At times we'd be met with a cherubic smile while she pointed to her little black patent Mary Jane hanging from her foot by an ankle strap. Other times, she had to be plucked from a high shelf of the bookcase or extracted from beneath the couch cushions. One day I came running to find her squatting on a lamp table with her head under the shade of the lamp. She seemed to know when she had reached an impasse with her explorations and knew it was time to scream.

And then one day, things changed. Instead of the scream, I heard a very loud, "I 'tuck!" There she was in the living room wedged tightly behind the sofa. As usual, she smiled as soon as her rescuer appeared. I pulled her out and gave her a big hug. From that day, Mikaela's bloodcurdling scream was no longer necessary. With more and more finesse, she learned to express her needs, call for help, and establish understanding.

During those long weeks and months of illness and recovery, something in my being changed. The old independent me didn't like having to be waited on, to be assisted to do so many ordinary things, but I learned to appreciate the hand of God in those small moments, those daily trials. My faith is different in character, in depth. God and I have a different relationship.

Oh, sometimes I still find myself pleading with God to rescue me from some place my stubborn nature has led me, but it doesn't have that desperate screaming quality. Along with my growing granddaughter, I can express my needs, call for help, and establish understanding with my rescuer, my Savior.

As for writing a book, She Speaks Conference 2008 would be a good place for me to be able to obtain direction to build a writing portfolio, understand what publishers are looking for, how to write a proposal, and how to impact readers. For me, this seems like the next step. The scholarship would be a wonderful blessing and enable me to get there!

Thank you, Proverbs 31 Ministries, for this opportunity.

Pastor Phylis

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why should I worry or fret?


Tuesday night was a full moon. I've always believed that the phases of the moon have an effect on human emotion. I was in a blue funk most of the week...over nothing in particular, everything in general.

Surfing about various blogs tonight, it seem that an inordinate amount of people were reporting bad moods, dreary days, disappointment at events, and distressing emotions.

Last weekend was glorious. I was happy, elated even, with life, with God, with everything and everyone. By Tuesday, I was in a blue funk and have had a hard time pulling out of it. More so than usual. (I am also talking to the Doctor on Monday about the effect of Femara on my mood swings.)

"Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us." It's a Pema Chodron quote. She's Buddist, of course, but the idea isn't un-Christian although stated differently.

I'm reminded of the song: "In Everything, Give Him Thanks" (I just looked it up and to my amazement, it's written by Lanny Wolfe.) I couldn't find a sound bite to connect so the words will have to suffice:

Chorus 1
In everything give Him thanks
Give Him thanks
In everything give thanks
Give Him thanks
In the good times praise His name
In the bad times do the same
In everything give the King of kings
All the thanks

Verse 1
With all the good things
That had come His way
It's no wonder
You could hear Job say
The Lord giveth and He taketh away
I'll give Him thanks
But when the tables were all turned around
And Job's world came crashing down
His faith in God caused Job to say
I'll still give Him thanks

Verse 2
When trouble comes
And there's no one around
Satan tries to tell me
That God's let me down
Through ev'ry dark hour
The best thing I've found
Is to give God the thanks
For He has never never
Failed me yet
So why should I start now
To worry or fret
In eve'rything I won't ever forget
To give God the thanks

Misc 1 (ENDING)
King of kings all the thanks
In ev'rything give the King
Of kings all the thanks
So, today, I'm thankful that it's all in God's hands: my life, my health, my moods swings and all of the irritating trivia that attempts to derail me!


Pastor Phylis

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hazardous work

Real World Hazards of Teaching

I always thought it could never be me, never be my school, never be my district. This one has hit way too close to home. The high school that our middle school feeds into.

She is not someone I know, although I might recognize her if I were to see her. Chances are we have been at the same meeting at some point in time. She's not someone I've taught with, although she very well could have been. Moves between middle school and high school are done regularly, especially in the arts areas. She's a colleague, somebody's friend, somebody's co-worker. Soon I'll discover that I know someone who does know her. A friend of a friend. It's happened here.

The perpetrator (according to those who know, because no one is telling the name of a juvenile) is not from our school, but he went to middle school somewhere. He's not someone I know or have known, but I may have a dozen more almost like him.

Last week I ran into a former student working at a local crafts store. He recognized me and inquired about other teachers and the school. He's out of prison now having served his time for accessory to murder. He was a passenger in a car from which a drive-by was committed. And there are others that we know about. Crimes committed after leaving our hallowed halls. The rapist who ran to Mexico. The murderer who served time in a mental hospital. Not to mention the armed robber of convenience stores and gas stations. Those are the ones we hear about, recognize the names in the paper.

Then there are the National Merit Scholars. The graduates from college who choose teaching as a profession. Other graduates who contribute to society in various ways. These students too pass through our hallowed halls on their way to other things, getting on with life.

Dear God, help us as public school teachers to nurture the good in students, to teach character and ethics along with reading, writing and mathematics. Help us to care enough to attempt to alleviate the pain that some experience, to recognize the call for help before it is too late. And God, give us hope. We need an extra measure of Faith, Hope and Charity. By Your Grace!!,elgin012008.article

For those in truly dangerous positions (Policemen, Firefighters, Soldiers)

Pastor Phylis

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good New - Bad News

Good News - Bad News

Good News: I had a wonderful time with my granddaughters this afternoon. We went to eat at a fast food place before I took them home.

Bad News: I couldn't find my car keys when we were ready to leave.

Good News: I dumped my purse and found my phone.

Bad News: The car keys were still not found.

Good News: My car was parked in front of a window, so the girls could stay inside while I checked the car.

Bad News: They were not in the car.

Good News: Mikaela said she was positive that I had the keys in the restaurant. They were on the tray of food, she said. (This is the 6 year old. Neither the 8 year old nor I could remember anything)

Bad News: The only place left to look was in the garbage.

Good News: A wonderful young man who was just getting off work went to get a glove and searched the garbage.

Better news: He found them

Thank God, I've never thrown one of the babies (children or grandchildren) in the garbage. But the 8 year old reminded me that this is the SECOND time I've done this--thrown the keys in the garbage at a fast food place--both times she was with me!!!

Pastor Phylis

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Snow

More Snow in Chicagoland

More of my infamous snapshots through the windshield of my car!! I took the long way home through the residential neighborhood. I do love the clean crisp beauty of the snow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

If I Perish, I Perish

What I needed???

"If I Perish, I Perish"

Back to God's sense of humor: After school today I was blog surfing and found an article about Queen Esther and her quote in Esther 4:6.

Everything Moms.

Thinking about it did indeed soothe me. But I'm already soothed. Why didn't I find it yesterday??? Probably because I would have screamed back at God, "But that's the point!! I don't want to perish."

Now, when my crisis of anxiety is over, I see. I understand. It's my false sense of control. Did it really matter when I got the news??? Not really. If I perish, I perish.
Aaaah! The irony! I'm willing to give the control back to God when the danger is over.

Forgive me God!! I know I do not control the universe; you do!

Pastor Phylis

The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story

After my freak out spell yesterday (an internal freak out because one must maintain composure with 30 13-year olds 3 inches from one's face!), I came home to prepare for the evening children's class and discovered through a series of misfortunes, the DVD I needed wasn't here. I had no time to think about doctors; instead, I was devising a new class that would make sense, not destroy the continuity, and still be interesting to the primary class at church. God was good; the kids had a great time; I had no time to think.

At 3 am I woke up with a migraine. My brain was still freaking while I was sleeping. Hey! That sounds like the title of a book -- or movie! A zomig, an Anaprox, and 3 hours of sleep later, I dragged myself to school. The logical side of me says I was not worrying about the pending 1 pm phone call, but I managed to lose my cell phone, spend 40 minutes looking for it, and then find it had been lounging in my coat pocket the entire time, spend 20 minutes on hold with the doctors office and get back to afternoon class still with no news.

At this point I'm barely hiding my "I'm freaking out!" state from the kids. Interpreted that means, I was not sobbing, screaming or pulling my hair out. My voice was tight and controlled, and my eyes were very watery. My patience was wearing thin with student misbehavior. They were amazingly good. (The not-so-little critters just know when they would be risking a broken neck!!)

So I manage to make a quick cell phone call.

I have to go back in 6 months for a new test. (instead of a year). Still not enough cells to get a good read. The good news was: no pre-cancer cells, no infection, etc. Just not enough cells. Which is reasonable, they say, considering I have just passed through what would be about 2-3 years of normal menopause in a few months, and a year of chemotherapy. However, I did tell the Dr. that when calling a cancer survivor, some consideration should be shown about timing. I'm not exactly an optimist about test results. She did apologize (You know, that soothing, we're-so-sorry-but-you-are-over-reacting voice!) Ah!! Doctors!

So, if no news is good news, then it's good news!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I know that God has a sense of humor. After my last euphoric post, I have a come back to earth moment. Waiting is not my strong suite. And after my last couple of medical experiences, I'm a tad anxious about waiting for medical test results.

To begin with, I mentioned that I had to go re-do that awful yearly test at the Gynie's office. That was Friday. He said, "Call in a week for the results. If there's any problem, we'll call you."

So while I'm teaching this morning the office left a message on our home phone saying that the results are in, please call.

And I have an absolute freak out moment. (A sister is such a lovely thing to have. She calmed me down considerably in a few minutes of rapid email exchanges.) I call the office, but by now it is afternoon. Everyone is in the office in (another town); she doesn't have my chart, doesn't know about the call, and a Dr. isn't there at the moment. Please call us tomorrow afternoon at the office in (my town), when both a chart and a doctor is available.

For a brief moment I wanted to argue. Don't you know I just survived breast cancer last year? I don't want to wait another 24 hours for test results! I want it now!!

I stopped my mouth just in time. Sure. I'll call the (my town) office tomorrow afternoon. But I couldn't resist adding, "If I don't die of a nervous breakdown before then!"

Besides my sisters sage assurance, "There are several reasons for an abnormal PAP. Most of them are not serious." I did recheck the message which said, "The results of your test are in. Nothing major. Please call the office."

Nothing major!!!

But I still don't want to wait!!!
Sigh! Sigh! Sigh!

Pastor Phylis

Sunday, January 6, 2008


"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12) KJV

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

I'm in pondering mode. God is doing awesome things!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Jingle Bells

Driving around, taking snapshots!

Is that the ghost of Christmas Past floating by???

Jingle Bells ala Currier & Ives!

Only the outdoors still looks like Christmas. Inside, the last of the decorations are returning to the attic. Sigh! There's something sad in that. Next year!!

January 1, 2008

Still January 1, 2008