Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
My dear friends, Jake and Felisa Stein, have a precious baby boy that has been to Riley Children's Hospital many times since his birth in Feb of 2008 and still doesn't have a definite diagnosis. He is at home with his family - has a feeding tube, oxygen, and can't walk or talk. Those are only a few of the symptoms. He couldn't ask for better parents, a brother who adores him, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a lot of extended family.
I'm sharing this with you to ask you for your prayers for this beautiful child and his family. They have been selfless in their support and love of me. Felisa created this blog page for me - she took time away from her extremely busy schedule to think of me. So please visit Nicolas' blog - http://nicolasstein.blogspot.com/ - pray for them, send them a comment. They know the power of God, they have amazing faith, but I know, first hand, how much the love of others gives you strength. Sometimes God's love needs a face - an encouraging word. I've attached some pictures of Jake and Felisa and precious Nicolas. I don't have a picture of his brother Garret - but there are pictures on Nicolas' blog. Thank you - your prayers for them mean a lot to me.
That's my blog for tonight. I'll update you on the details of my recent "journey" tomorrow. The Stein family are an inspiration to me - and very much a part of my journey. I felt moved to right about them tonight. As always, God is good!
Love, Mary Jo
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Not everyone is able to do this with grace and dignity. Not everybody is able to feel blessed in the midst of their trials. Not everybody recognizes that this life is but a vapor, here for a moment and then gone. Not everybody can cling to the promise of eternity while suffering the pain of our human mortality.
It has been many years since I have seen Mary Jo. I have recently reconnected with her through Facebook. In the few late night chats that we have had, I see Mary Jo in these verses. Greg’s post describes her faith much better than I ever could. Towards the end of his post, these words really caught my attention:
“God has not abandoned my sister, He has appointed her, knowing full well that her faith will see her through this and her love, hope and commitment to that faith will inspire others.”
This speaks to Greg’s trust in God, as well.
So what can we do?
Every one of us knows or has known somebody with cancer of some type. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine had his five year old daughter diagnosed with leukemia. He told me that there were times when the treatments (chemo) would cause her nose to bleed so badly that they would have to take her to the emergency room for blood and blood platelets. The chemo destroys the platelets that help our blood to clot. At that time, I had never heard of apheresis. It is a process where the platelets are separated from the blood for donation. Most of today’s platelets go to patients that are receiving chemo therapy. The shelf life is only 5 days so there is need of a constant supply. You can contact the American Red Cross or your local blood center for information. I’ve been a donor since that time and am on the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. It takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to donate a double unit. It’s a small thing, I know...but it is something that I can do when I feel completely helpless to do anything else.
To say that we should pray for our friends seems like stating the obvious. Go one step further-- make sure that they know that you are praying for them. I know that it has to strengthen them knowing that others are bringing their name before God our Father. Call, write, send a card or an e-mail...just let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Mary Jo is my little sister and I love her dearly. I don’t know how to even start with this blog but I felt compelled to write about faith. Mary Jo is a person of great faith. If you have read her blog she says things like “have a blessed day”, “God is good”, “you are loved” even the blog sight is maryjowolf-ibelieve. I’ll tell you what, I am also a person of faith as many of you who read this may be but do you have questions, do you have doubts about a loving God.
Do you ever think how can the God she believes in so strongly, the God that supposedly loves her so much – how can He allow this to happen, how can He just watch her suffer. He can do anything right? Mr. All Powerful!! So what’s the deal, does He even care? Why her? She does not deserve this? When is enough, ENOUGH!!
Mary Jo has been betrayed by those she loved unconditionally, abandoned by those she needed the most, devastated by the husband she loved, lost her home, lost her job, has been overwhelmed by unexpected disease, horribly mutilated by surgery, poisoned with chemicals that leave her sickened and helpless beyond anything that we can imagine. Left alone, alone in the depths of despair, crying until she has no tears, sleepless, pain filled and left with no ability to even think clearly, barely able to take care of even her most basic needs. And yet, she still believes. She still loves God. She not only remains committed to her faith but is growing in her relationship with God. How can we question her faith? How can we question the God she believes in. I can’t, I won’t - through her faith, my faith has been strengthened.
So when you hear Mary Jo say I believe – what do you think she means. I will speak for her but be assured that these words are from her heart:
I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to earth and gave his life for my sins, He is my Savior
I believe that Jesus died, that he rose from the tomb and that He lives today
I believe that the Bible is the Word of God given to us to teach us the way to live our lives
I believe that God knows me personally and listens to my prayers
I believe that only God knows everything, I can not know enough to question His purpose or His love
And now, I know what it means to lose everything, I know what it means to truly suffer. Yet, I still believe that God loves me and that great good can come from great suffering.
If you are reading this blog, maybe YOU are the great good that can come from this. Maybe this is the one thing that will wake you up and make you realize that your time is very limited and this life is your only opportunity. Do you know where you are with God? If you know my sister you know what a kind and loving person she is. You know how smart and talented, how generous and giving she is. You know that she always sees the best in every person and truly believes in their goodness. She sees people as God sees them with the ability to love without bias, prejudice or judgment. You also know that she believes with all that she is, in a loving God. She believes that Jesus Christ is her personal Savior and that even through her suffering God is with her and that somehow her ordeal is serving His purpose. If she can believe in the midst of this horrible trial, can you believe? Can you find your faith? God has not abandoned my sister, He has appointed her, knowing full well that her faith will see her through this and her love, hope and commitment to that faith will inspire others. Will you be inspired? Will you take this opportunity to start or grow your relationship with God? If you want to do something for my sister, if you want to give her suffering meaning – all you need to do is BELIEVE.
Friday, April 17, 2009
She's had a rough week. She lost her job Tuesday. You can contact her for the details, but she had been in talks with her employer over the last few weeks on coming to some kind of an agreement about her taking a leave of absence. She was hopeful she could take a leave and come back to her job. But her company couldn't make it work on their end - for whatever reason, I'm unsure. They had lots reasons, now that I think about it... She didn't have any sick leave or vacation to use, she didn't qualify for Family Medical Leave Act because she hadn't been with the company a full year, it was against company policy to hold positions for people, she couldn't tell them an exact schedule of when she could work, etc. Lots of reasons to let her go. BUT, MY GOD, THE WOMAN HAS CANCER. Where is the heart of this company who promotes their Christian values. It's beyond my understanding. I don't get it.
The first reaction she gets from people is "are you going to fight it?!" People are outraged over this, as am I. The reality of it is, she's really weak right now and needs her strength to build herself up physically and mentally. She took quite a blow. Unemployment screws with your head - you doubt your value, your self-esteem takes a dive and you are humiliated because you have to "live off the system". On top of the self-esteem issues she's going through with this, she has MOUNTAINS of paperwork to fill out. MOUNTAINS. And, we can't forget about the chemo treatments that caused her to lose all her hair and keep her in a cycle of nausea, headaches, pain and fatigue.
This is my first experience watching a loved one go through this. Cancer is such an ugly, ugly disease. Chemotherapy is equally as devastating.
The silver lining in all of this pain and hassle for Mary Jo is that she is blossoming spiritually and has grown as a person. She's humbled by the support of friends and family and talks regularly about being able to "pay it forward" when she feels better. She attends church regularly and wants to become more involved. She is volunteering with Cancer Services, too. I see her determination grow stronger weekly and she's no push over.
With your encouragement, love and support, she'll soar to new heights.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the benefit. It's only 2 weeks away. Please plan to show your support at Columbia Street West on May 2 from 4-8pm. Dinner starts at 5pm and entertainment starts at 6:30. We've collected many great silent auction items and raffle items. There's something for everyone! Purchase tickets at the door. If you can't make it to the event, please consider sending a donation to Mary Jo at 6833 Point Inverness Way, Fort Wayne, IN 46804. Every little bit helps.
If you are interested in contributing to her blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.