Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Tribute to Courage Under Fire

Photo courtesy of Mission Park San Antonio

My dear friend Frank heroically battled an unusually treatment-resistant strain of multiple myeloma (MM) for two years. He left no stone unturned, courageously enduring multiple proven and experimental chemotherapy treatments as well as two stem cell transplants. Believers from around the globe prayed fervently. Frank was determined and resolute about beating this cancer.

Despite every effort, nothing kicked the disease into remission for very long. Finally, the MM raged out of control. When just drawing breath required Herculean effort and a massive infection had developed, Frank, ever the Colonel, took control. Avoiding a rout, he implemented strategic surrender and made the decision to stop all treatment. No more! Enough.

As I prayed for Frank that day, Luke 4:18-19 kept scrolling through my mind:

"[The Lord] has sent me
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed
and announce that the time has come
when the Lord will save his people."
Luke 4:18-19

Twenty four hours later Frank soared from this earthly life, no longer held captive, no longer oppressed by multiple myeloma. The strong, take-charge, infinitely caring USAF pilot, Colonel Frank Andreus is now striding alongside Jesus and joins Paul in saying,

“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7

I thank God for Frank’s shining example of courage under fire, determination despite the odds, and victory through faith. I will miss you, my friend.

Please keep Frank’s wife, Cheryl, and their grown children, Eric and Jen and their families, in your prayers.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ministry of Music

Photo by Pam Williams

Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs;
sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts.
Ephesians 5:19
Hymns and praise songs often bring to mind vivid memories of special times, people, or occasions. Whether in church, at camp, or during a revival, the Holy Spirit often speaks through music to change hearts and offer a fresh start in life.

Every time our congregation sings “How Great Thou Art” I think of my dad. I can almost hear his voice joining in. Daddy frequently sang “How Great Thou Art” standing in our kitchen with my mom, his brother, and his sister-in-law. With their arms draped around each other’s shoulders, the four of them would sing beautiful four-part harmony.

When I got older, Daddy and I sang “How Great Thou Art” as a duet. He carried the lead as a tenor while I added the alto. We, too, would put our arms around each other’s shoulders and lean our heads together. It is a precious, intimate memory of time spent with Daddy, made all the more extraordinary because singing together was one of the very few levels on which Daddy and I connected.

For Daddy, “How Great Thou Art” articulated his thoughts, feelings and mental image of God. For him, a walk in the woods evoked the same praise and reverence for God as a sanctuary.

What song holds a special place in your heart? What makes it special to you?
©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blessings of Waiting

"But these things I plan won’t happen right away.
Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow, do not despair,
for these things will surely come to pass.
Just be patient!
They will not be overdue a single day!"
(Habakkuk 2:3 LB)

Like many of my fellow A to Z blog challenge participants, I have had a rather hectic time since April 30th. My mom has been in and out of two hospitals in an attempt to remove her gall bladder. She still has it. Seems her heart doesn’t want to part with the darned thing. When they put her under, the heart goes into a-fib, her blood pressure drops, and the doctor says “Whoa, Nellie!”.

So she is currently staying with me and rebuilding her strength after seven days of being confined to a hospital bed. While I am enjoying the time, it is kind of discouraging for her to be still waiting to have gall bladder issues resolved that began January 20th.

Personally, I have reaped several blessings from all the waiting we have sown. First, my sister Lisa and I have gotten to spend a lot of time together. Though there is a 13 year age difference, she and I have always been kindred spirits. As in many families, life hasn’t given us much time together since we both got married and had kids. Although we wish it were for other circumstances, we are both happy to share these hours recently, even if they are spent in hospital waiting rooms.

I also have a better understanding of the importance of respect in dealing with elders, even when they are exasperating. How something is said is as critical as what we are saying.

And third, truly caring doctors and nurses are a gift. Dr. Waddle (gastroenterologist) and Dr. Shaw (surgeon) both showed extreme compassion for my mother. Dr. Waddle smoothed Mom’s Phyllis Diller hair, held her hand, and reassured her that they will get these issues resolved. Knowing Mom wanted to stay local, Dr. Shaw truly hated to tell her he couldn’t complete the surgery in Huntingdon. Unwilling to put Mom at risk, he referred her to a hospital an hour away where there is a cardiologist on board 24/7. Both dedicated and skilled men have blessed our family more times than we can count.

God is good—trials and tribulations merely assure us of that fact. So, while I may not have had much time to blog the past two weeks, God has been busy teaching me and molding me and blessing me over and over through waiting.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In Invitation to Idleness

Gray Tabby Cat in Sunbeam

Spring sunlight shines through the windows
Casting patches of gold across the carpet.
Heat radiates in welcome waves,
Dispelling a lingering chill.

Old gray cat reposes in a sunbeam, his fur aglow.
Resting his head on his front paws,
He luxuriates in warmth,
The consummate connoisseur of comfort.

Oh, to put aside the tasks vying for my attention,
And curl up around him in cozy idleness,
Matching his soft, deep breathing
With slow, even breaths of my own.

Like my cat’s need to physically recharge, sometimes I just need to stop and spiritually recharge--be idle for a bit and allow the blessings that God has poured out on me to really soak in.

How we recharge varies with each individual. I find a quiet time observing nature renews my faith and fills my heart with gratitude. Author Beverly Lewis sits at her piano in the mid-afternoon, taking a break from writing deadlines, to give a "praise offering" to God through music. Beverly says, “This daily act of worship rests my mind and heart and can even recharge my muse.”

Today I extend an invitation to idleness—to stop moving, doing, going, planning, worrying, and working—and recharge. I would love to hear what renews you spiritually. 

©2013 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Are You Molting?

Did you know that many creatures, not just birds, molt (or moult)? Creatures molt routinely to cast off old feathers, old hairs, old skin, and sometimes their entire exoskeletons.

Locust by aophotos on
Most of us know that birds and snakes molt. And lots of us have picked up locust shells. However, did you know that lizards and blue crabs molt, as well?

On a recent family trip to the Maryland Science Center, we saw a newly molted blue crab and a Savannah Monitor lizard that was in the midst of molting. The lizard spent a lot of time rubbing his chin and head on the rocks in his habitat. Unlike snakes and crabs, the Savannah Monitor didn’t just slither out of his old skin and leave it behind practically intact. His skin peeled off just like ours does when we get sunburned—in annoying and itchy bits and pieces.

Oddly fascinated, I watched the lizard for quite a while. As I stood there, I sensed God was showing me this for a reason. Scriptures started to come to my mind:

When we become Christians, spiritually we become new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17) But as we mature in our faith, God asks us to let go of those old, sinful things that hinder our growth as Christians. (Hebrews 12:1)

Just like the molting of a healthy Savannah Monitor, our ongoing spiritual development takes time, patience, and effort. Studying God’s Word, talking with Him, and getting together with other Christians can help us shed bad habits, discard misguided thinking, and separate ourselves from ungodly influences.

Can you identify areas where you continue to struggle to shed the old self? Do you have a Christian friend you can turn to for accountability? Let's encourage one another to molt for Jesus!

Copyright © 2013 Pamela D. Williams