Category: faith

Well, I’m sure it’s not news to you: life is full of twists and turns and the inevitable ups and downs. It’s just not often that you hit both a high and a low in the same day.

Yesterday evening, we found out that Grandmother Nancy’s pathology report came back. It was a good-news, bad-news situation all on its own. The good news is that the lymph nodes that were taken out during her surgery all came back clear, no cancer! This is great, because it indicates that the cancer was localized in the tumor and had not had a chance to spread. YAY for early detection! (Reminder, ladies: do those Breast Self Exams and if you’re of age, you’d better be having your yearly mammograms.)

The bad news is that the tumor was 2 centimeters in size. Surgeons use the size of the tumor to place patients in the “stages” of cancer (Stage 1, Stage 2, etc) and to help them determine the appropriate course of treatment. If you want the long, complicated version of that information, email Chris – he is actually in the midst of a breast cancer research project right now at the hospital, so he knows LOTS about this subject. A tumor that is less than 1 centimeter is the best, lowest stage of cancer and often requires no chemotherapy — so that, of course, is what we were all hoping for. As it is right now, it looks like Nancy’s doctors are going to coordinate both radiation and chemo treatments for her. She’ll meet with them soon and I’ll have more information about the length of treatment and exact dates at that time.

For now, please continue to keep Nancy and the family in your prayers. Pray that she will be free from any anxiety about the treatments and that she will continue to mend and recover after her surgery. (She’s already gone back to work, so she’s feeling pretty good – she’s a trouper, that one!)

So that, dear friends, was our low last night. But then a few hours later, we hit a high! (And I saw it on a certain someone’s MySpace page this morning, so I know it’s okay to post about it. 😉 )

My brother Jason is engaged! 😀 It’s so exciting. He bought a beautiful ring a while back – oh, this boy is so romantic, you just wouldn’t believe it – and had the jeweler ADD more diamonds to it (girls, are you swooning yet?) so it was (a) a completely one of a kind, customized ring, and (b) he had to wait to pick it up. While he was waiting, he hatched his proposal plan (actually there were several and I’m lucky enough to have heard most of them! It was so cute!) and met with Sharon’s parents to ask for their blessing ask for their permission to propose (he corrected me in comments!) (again, with the swooning, right?) Last night, he proposed over a game of Monopoly — he slipped the ring into the bag of playing pieces, and he said Sharon literally did a double take when she saw it. And of course, she said YES! They’re planning an April 2009 wedding, as far as I know. (Which is good for me, because the gift I want to give is going to take some… uh, time and effort. So I need to get cracking!)

Ah. The high point – young love, excitement about a wedding, hearing their voices sound so happy.

I’m hoping for less of a roller coaster today, though, how about you?

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We got an update last night – Grandmother met with her surgeon, and she is scheduled to go in for the procedure on Thursday. The doctor feels good that they caught it early, probably at Stage 1, and that she’ll be able to go home Thursday afternoon! The plan is to remove the lump, and inject the sentinel node (which will tell them if any of the lymph nodes are affected with the disease).

After the surgery, she’ll do six weeks of radiation treatments. (If the lump turns out to be larger than 1 cm, or if any of the nodes turn out to be affected, then they’ll add a course of chemo treatments to the plan. Let’s pray that that is NOT the case.)

Please keep the family, the surgeon, the nurses and support staff, and of course Grandmother Nancy in your prayers this week.

…and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16b

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When we lived in Florida, we participated in an awesome Sunday School class led by Gay Robinson. One Christmas season, she gave us all a handout with information about Jesse Trees. A Jesse Tree is a simple tree (often just a bare branch anchored in a pot of sand; but it can also be a fabric “tree”, or a real or artificial Christmas tree) that is decorated with one ornament each day during Advent. The ornaments represent characters and themes from the Scriptures.

The thing I love about the Jesse Tree is that it’s not just a “chocolate-a-day” Advent countdown. It’s a way to focus on the great truth of the Bible: that God loves us and that He sent His son to save us. The story of Christmas doesn’t occur out of the blue, you know. It’s not like one day God suddenly thought, “Hey, that Mary chick looks cool. I’ll send an angel her way and see what happens!” No. He had a plan all along, from before the world began, from the moment that He breathed life into Adam. The Jesse Tree makes it clear and poignant that the entire story of Scripture points toward Christ and the salvation we can only receive through him.

From the research I’ve been doing, it appears that Jesse Trees can either emphasize the lineage of Messiah from Adam to Christ; or they can emphasize Old Testament themes, events, or covenants; or they can trace Old Testament prophecies about the First Coming of the Messiah.

This list is slightly modified from the one that Gay handed out. I wanted to primarily trace the members of Christ’s lineage who are mentioned in Matthew 1 (#1-14, 20-23); to fill out the list and have one ornament for each day of Advent I added the Old Testament prophets (#15-19).

Day

Ornament Character/Meaning Scripture
Jesse Tree Isaiah 11:1
1 Earth God/Creation Gen. 1:1-31
2 Apple/Snake Adam & Eve/Fall of Man Gen. 3:1-24
3 Ark/rainbow Noah/Flood Gen. 6:11-22
4 Tent/camel Abraham/Covenant Gen. 12:1-7
5 Ram Isaac/Offering Gen. 22:1-14
6 Ladder Jacob/Promise Gen. 27:41-28:22
7 Coat of many colors Joseph/God’s Providence Gen. 37:1-36
8 Stone tablets Moses/God’s Law Ex. 20:1-17
9 Trumpet Joshua/God’s Leadership Joshua 1:1-11
10 Wall with Red Cord Rahab/God’s Protection Joshua 2:1-21
11 Wheat Ruth & Boaz/God’s Plan Ruth 1-4
12 Crimson Robe with Staff Jesse 1 Sam 16:1-13
13 Harp/Slingshot David/Shepherd for the People 1 Sam. 16:14-23
14 Crown Solomon/Wisdom 1 Kings 3:3-28
15 Stone Altar Elijah/Threat of false gods 1 Kings 17:1-16
16 Hot Coals Isaiah/Call to Holiness Isaiah 6:1-8
17 Watchtower Habbakuk/Waiting on the Lord Hab. 1:1-4
18 Tears Jeremiah/Exile Jeremiah 31:31-34
19 Temple Haggai/Return & Rebuild Haggai 2:1-9
20 People Zechariah & Elizabeth/Joy Luke 1:5-25
21 Scallop John the Baptist/Call to Repentance Luke 1:57-80
22 White Lily (or rose) Mary/Hope for the Future Luke 1:26-38
23 Carpenter’s Tools Joseph/Trust in God Matt. 1:18-25
24 Angels Angels/Good News Hebrews 1:1-14
25 Star of David (or Chi-Rho) Jesus/Fulfillment of Messianic Promise Luke 2:1-20

Now that I’ve chosen the Scriptures, characters, and stories I want to include, I’m making my own ornaments. A handful are wooden shapes, painted with acrylics; the rest are felt and embroidery details. I’m not quite finished (but hey, it’s only January!) Here’s what I’ve done so far:
Photobucket
For more information and additional character/ornament ideas, as well as more about the history and tradition of Jesse Trees, check these resources:
Jesse Tree: Messianic Prophecies
Christian Resource
King of Peace
Domestic-Church
RCA

And if you want to buy a complete set of Jesse Tree ornaments, or a set of patterns to cross-stitch your own ornaments, take a look at Jesse-Trees.Com

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Oh, dear friends. I am so sad tonight. I’m trying really hard not to worry. Not to fret. Not to be anxious.  I’m trying to remember:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

Grandmother Nancy, who was here to visit us just before Christmas, has just found out that she has breast cancer. This is a brand-new diagnosis, so we don’t know much just yet. She’ll be meeting with her surgeon at the beginning of the week, and they’ll schedule her surgery at that point (probably for the middle of next week).

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid… for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

It’s hard to hear that someone you love is sick. It’s really hard, when another person you love has already battled cancer -even if it’s a different type. My heart is heavy tonight. I feel the ache of every mile that separates us, and I wish SO BADLY that I could be there.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

I know that our God is strong, and mighty to save. I believe that He is our Great Physician, and I believe that he knows – and feels – the pain of everyone in our family. I know that He can, and will, bring peace and serenity to our hearts. I know that, even more importantly, He will give Nancy a peace that passes our human understanding – He will let her feel the width and depth and height of the fullness of His love for her – for all of us.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

Please keep us in your prayers: Nancy, and her husband Ron; her daughter Donna (Jonas’ “Nonna”) and son-in-law Karl; grandkids (and grandkids-in-law) Missy, Manuel, Chris, Michelle, Laura, Scott, and Andrea; and her great-grandsons Jonas and Ethan.

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A dear friend of mine found out yesterday at a midwife appointment that her baby’s heart has stopped beating. She faced that haunting news, staring at an ultrasound screen, with her two young sons nearby. Her doctors are planning to do a D&C on Tuesday.

If you’ve lost a pregnancy, you know how her heart is breaking right now. If you have little ones, you know that she is busy and stressed and doesn’t even feel like she has time to process her grief. If you’re a person of faith, please pray for Courtney & Ryan, and their boys Nolan & Simon, this weekend.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4
“Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.” Ezekiel 24:16
“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” Psalm 30:11

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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