Monday, April 14, 2014

April 13, 2003

Eleven years ago on April 13, we opened the doors of Nilgiris Tea House.

Yesterday morning my Dad came over after church and cut up all my potatoes for the evening meal - the first time he's done that since October ...

Dad and Mum were with me when we first opened the doors at 7:00 a.m. on that fateful April 13, 2003. We were woefully unprepared and ludicrously naive as to how it would all work.

But by the grace of God and the kindness of Nilgiris' friends, the little TH perseveres still.

Yesterday evening Dad came  back with a box of cookies he had made that afternoon: sugar cookies, his mother's recipe.

Attached to the box was this note, summing up the last decade-plus-one as only Dad can:

My dearest Karyn,

[Eleven] years ago today the "Nilgiris Tea House Adventure" began.

There have been so many experiences and challenges. I want to congratulate you today, for under God, great blessing and life have proceeded from this mountain stream.

Congratulations for pressing on and touching many lives ... May [our Lord] continue to guide you as to the future, knowing His way is the best. There are no surprises or unexpected events with our Lord.

May our Heavenly Father bless and provide - as He will - for all the future holds.

My love and prayers,

Dad xxoo

Thanks to my artist sibling for infusing the present
with the past for the perfect cup of tea ...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Holding the Ropes

The story is told of that great pioneer missionary to India, William Carey. A minister to a congregation in England, he was in a meeting discussing the spiritual needs of various places, and the secretary of the committee remarked, "There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the centre of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?"

"I will venture to go down," Carey responded, "but remember that you must hold the ropes." 

In April 1793, he sailed for India. Through his work and example, and with his oft-repeated challenge ringing in their ears ("Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God"), others like David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor left their homelands to care for the physical and spiritual needs of others. Many years later, in 1959, Allan T. Ironside also followed God's call to India.

He and Mum officially "retired" in 1999; but the reality is that almost without fail they went back to India every year, trying to plan their trips so that they could participate in the graduation conferences.

This year, Dad will not be able to make it back for the graduation conferences at those beloved colleges in which he and Mum invested their lives. Although he's better, he is not strong and the travel would be too much for him. Our winter has been so long and the super bugs making their rounds throughout Alberta have been particularly merciless.

And so this year he will be holding the ropes all the way from Canada for the men who are scheduled to speak. 

Prayer time at the Manor: taken
two days before he became so ill ...

Deb and I also got a mild version of what Dad has been enduring, so we too will be doing our best to hold the ropes from this end as well.

As you know, every year Reading the Leaves and the Tea House work on a project for one of the children's homes associated with a college in India. This year, we discovered an urgent need for the children's home where our little buddy Chetan lives.

The Powers That Be have decreed that the Children's Home needs to have a vehicle with separate seats and seat belts for each child. Now, for anyone familiar with travel in India, we know that there is always room for one more person in any type of vehicle! However, we also know that the kids would be much safer if they had a reliable vehicle to transport them to school each day.

Ed and Sarah Chelli have spearheaded the research and the most economical, practical van with 15 passenger seats is this one, manufactured in India:

Brand new it costs $14,000-15,000 - a great price compared with what we would pay in North America, but still staggering for our little Children's Home!

Thanks to the amazingly generous response of last year, after the mattresses and bedding were purchased we had a surplus of $2,000, which I left with Ed to be used for the Children's Home. He is putting that money toward the van. In addition, in the last few weeks we have received $1,490 from people who have asked what this year's project is. (A goodly portion of that was given with much love and prayer from the Oldies who attend Dad's Tuesday morning Bible study group at the Robertson Manor!)

So I'm putting it out to you all who have held the ropes for these children's homes right from when we raised money for the bunk beds for the Tsunami Children's Home: if you feel that you are able - in these tougher economic times - to help toward the purchase of this van, the TH will once again be accepting donations. As always, ALL the money goes directly to the project. And because this is not what's called a "soft" project (which apparently bedding and bunk beds are!), we can get tax receipts for donations over $50. If you would like more information, please email me at

Dad is back in Three Hills, and this week he once more took the Robertson Manor Tuesday study. This coming week he hopes to be able to resume the Wednesday evening study at the Tea House. Please continue to pray for continued restoration of strength and health. God promises that His strength is made perfect in our weakness and we see Him working even through this time of Dad's suffering.

Today would have been my Mum's 77th birthday. Dad always would sing to her that old song "Have I told you lately that I love you?" Today he had no voice for singing, so he played Jim Reeves' version of it for BA and me as we sipped tea and remembered a truly great woman.

But oh how he longs - how we all do! - to be back in what we consider in many ways to be our true home land ... to rid ourselves of this bitter cold, these mountains of snow; to be in the place of great congregational singing and outstanding preaching and unquestioning welcome and unwavering love.

To be in India.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If a Picture Is Worth 1000 Words, What Are 1000 Prayers Worth?

This picture, for starters ...

Yesterday morning an anxious 22-year-old grandson made his way to Deb's home. He opened the front door and was greeted by a dear, familiar voice:

"How's my boy?"

"There's my Poppa!" he exclaimed, his voice catching in his throat.

And indeed, our beloved Dad / Poppa / Grandpa / Bop / brother/ uncle / pastor / teacher / mentor / friend is showing remarkable signs of unmistakably improved health. 

We often quote the words of that ancient sage, Job: The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away ..." 

Sunday morning the Lord gave - "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."

" ... Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Who Am I Going To Call On Sunday?" - Bernice Anderson McComish

Yesterday we laid to rest one of the best women I know.
Here is the obituary for Bernice:
Bernice McComish (nee Anderson) – The memorial service for Bernice McComish is scheduled for 11:00 am, Saturday, February 8 at Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church, 123 4th Ave S, Three Hills. Bernice Elsie McComish was born the fifth child of nine to Alfred and Elsie Anderson on July 29, 1931.  She lived on the Anderson Farm in the Lake Thelma district and attended a one-room school to grade nine.  For high school she stayed in a dorm in Castor, returning to the farm on weekends. The farm was a busy place without the modern conveniences of today so Bernice did her share of farm and house work, including milking cows, stooking, and driving her own team hauling bundles. During the years of high school and of sharing an apartment with other young ladies while working in a bank in Coronation, Bernice made friends that lasted a lifetime. At 23 years old on Feb. 19, 1954, she married a local rancher, Arden McComish, They worked together on the farm for 20 years, raising four children.  In 1974, they moved to Three Hills where their children finished their general education at Prairie High School.  Bernice lost her spouse in July, 2002.  She lived her final years at the Golden Hills Lodge and felt so blest to be surrounded by wonderful friends and staff. It was in her early twenties that Bernice realized the importance of having God in her life and accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour and Lord. During her years on the farm, she was very involved in her small local church.  Bernice was a devoted wife and mother who gave her time to her family, while also providing encouragement and help to extended family and friends. As she got older, her conversation turned more and more toward heaven.  On Friday evening, January 31, 2014, after a few hours in hospital, God took her home. She leaves many who will miss her greatly but also rejoice with her in the new life she is enjoying:  her sons, Wallace (Bonnie) of Stettler and Bryan (Eileen) of Erskine; her daughters, Deanna (Glenn) Odland of Singapore and Arlene of London, Ontario; three brothers, Lawrence (Edith) Anderson of Hanna; Ken (Lil) Anderson of Calgary, and Cliff (Helen) Anderson of Calgary; one sister, Edna Kary of Irricana; one brother-in-law Dave (Mary) of Three Hills; eight grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; in-laws through marriage to Arden, numerous nieces, nephews and friends. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Arden, four sisters, seven brothers-in-law and two nephews.

I got to know Bernice through my parents. Bernice and Dad had grown up in the same area; she was a year older than he and never failed to delight in that fact.
She and her husband, Arden, befriended my parents as they worked in India and helped support them financially and with their love and prayers. After Arden passed away, Bernice continued on. 
It was always a delight to have her in the TH - she would give me both a hello hug and a goodbye one. She liked her coffee black, the mug set down on the left side of her place setting, with the handle of the mug to the left, because of her poor arthritic hands. And she liked her chocolate Ovation served to her not at the time of the bill but with her last half cup of coffee. She would come to the TH with her friends; but what would make her light up were the visits with her family - she, Edna, Lynette, Dave and Mary were often together at one of our corner tables for Sunday dinner. She unfailingly made me feel that what I was doing was important and that she was grateful.
Her funeral was a tribute to a gracious, godly woman. Not only her children but her grandchildren spoke about her as the one they wanted to spend time with, the one who loved them unconditionally, the one who was always there for them.
At the funeral I sat next to my Uncle Clark, who had known her his whole life, and who said this about her: "She was always smiling. You never saw her without a smile on her face ..."
Pastor Dave Lanigan brought a very fitting word for this extraordinary woman who never pretended to be something she was not; she didn't have to because who she was was courageous, loyal, loving, happy, caring. But one part that particularly gave me pause was when he was talking about Bernice departing this world for the next. 
The word depart, he said, has several different applications. First, it was used for a ship sailing out of the harbour. We can watch that ship travel further and further away from us until it's a dot on the horizon, and then it disappears. It doesn't mean the ship has vanished; it's still sailing toward its destination, getting ready to drop anchor in another port.
Secondly, Pastor Dave said, the word depart also applied to a soldier pulling up his tent pegs and packing up his tent to move to the next destination.
Lastly, the word is evocative of oxen who have been labouring under their yoke from the start of the day, methodically ploughing field after field. Finally, as the sun starts to set the farmer approaches his team and with his own hands lifts the heavy, cumbersome frame from off his animals' shoulders.
As Pastor Dave talked about Bernice being released from her burden and care just as surely as the oxen were, my mind darted off to the words the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples: "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls" (gospel of Matthew chapter 11 verse 29). Bernice of her own volition answered that challenge - and on January 31, Jesus lifted the yoke off her faithful shoulders and said, Well done!
Toward the end of the service her son Wallace spoke, a deeply moving tribute to this mother who loved her children with every fibre of her being. He talked of how he always called her every Sunday night, not because he had to but because he knew she enjoyed that special time they had set aside. Even if he'd talked to her on Saturday, he would call her the next night. One of the things she used to love about this particular son is that he has an uncanny way of imitating singers, much to her delight - music was one of Bernice's passions.
As he closed his remarks, he said he was going to sing for her one last time - just his voice this time, singing to his beloved mother.
And the song he chose? Johnny Reid's poignant "Who Am I going To Call On Sunday?" Just a boy, longing to talk to his Mom.
Just like each one of us who've lost someone so precious to us we can't imagine quite how life can go on without our beloved one. We would never wish them back to this world of care and pain and suffering; but oh, how we'd love to hear their voice one more time ...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Where Two Or Three Are Gathered Together ...

It had been a particularly tough day, Tuesday. Dad was almost motionless all day: he could barely open his eyes, barely eat or drink anything, barely speak to us.

Even Matt, when he came over, was unable to capture his interest.

We called our dear Naomi and our dear Navaid, who reassured us of their constant support and availability.

Later on Elliot and Oliver, and an assortment of Dad's children, filled up the house and the space with sound, with laughter, with conversation; and he managed to sit up for a while, to half-enter into what was going on, to walk around behind us when the swirl got too fast.

Wednesday was slightly more promising. He was more alert and he could move around with greater ease. But his eyes were dead, glassy, no light or spark in them.

Then Brian came over to visit.

Brian may as well be another son to Dad. They have known each other since Brian was about 16, and Mum and Dad loved Brian as though he was their own from all those years ago.

He sat across from Dad, not saying too much or forcing the conversation, his penetrating, loving gaze never leaving Dad's face. 

And suddenly Dad began to talk.

"You know the verse, The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous shall run to it and be safe?" he asked Brian, who nodded.

"I've been giving these kinds of verses to people for decades. I need them for myself now ..."

Deb said to me later, "When you can't talk to your best Friend, who you're used to talking to throughout the day every day, you just want to die ..."

"They're still there," Brian replied confidently, with conviction.

"Yes," Dad whispered.

Wednesday evening Bronwyn came over with the boys; and she brought Ian Trigg, the lead pastor of Foothills, with her.

Ian sat on a little stool that had been drawn up next to the couch where Dad lay. He took Dad's hand and started to ask him questions about India, about his ministry.

They began with Dad arriving back in 1959 and teaching a few students in Chembur, Bombay. They went on to how the college moved to Bangalore but how Dad stayed in Bombay to continue studying with the students there, to work in the churches he had become involved with.

We talked about coming back to Canada on furlough ... the educational systems for us as third culture kids - "Fourth culture kids, really!" Bronwyn exclaimed when we looked at it through the eyes of Ian ... what it was like for Dad and Mum to leave us in Canada  - "The worst kind of pain," he admitted.

We talked about how, through the seeds planted by two men who sent letters requesting Dad to join their work, John Teibe and Jake Johnson, Dad went to India to fulfill God's calling for his life.

And as Dad told Ian about churches planted, colleges started, orphanages and children's homes flourishing, work with prostitutes and victims of HIV, deaf schools, music ministries, Ian marvelled at how God had worked and continues to work because Dad and people like him were and are so faithful to their call.

Bronwyn told Ian that the verse that has governed Dad's life, that has comforted him and directed him and sustained him, is the one found in the first letter to the Thessalonian church, chapter 5 and verse 24: "FAITHFUL IS HE THAT CALLETH YOU, WHO ALSO WILL DO IT."

"It's about His faithfulness," Dad replied to Ian. "He is the One who does it all."

As he prepared to leave, Ian asked if he could pray for Dad. These two godly men linked hands and Ian thanked God for the ministry Dad has had that has impact all over the world today. He thanked God for the ministry that Dad continues to have, preaching, leading Bible studies, counselling, sharing, helping to shape the characters of those who will seize the baton and carry on with the race. He prayed for strength for Dad in a huge ministry that he has and that will continue to develop: that of praying for people, of holding them up before God, a ministry of intercessory prayer.

And then Dad prayed for Ian - for his ministry, for his family, for him.

And in the hush, all of us in the room knew that we were standing on holy ground.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name,
there am I in the midst of them.
(Matthew 18:20)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Of Para-flus and Paracletes

The results are in: Dad's H1N1 test came back negative, but he tested positive for para influenza, which in most healthy people will run its course in 3 - 10 days.

But Dad has pulmonary fibrosis and struggles for breath now ...

Certain words fascinate me. For example, cleave means both to cling together and to slice apart.

Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.

And para has a number of meanings and uses. Wikipedia gives a succinct summary of two definitions that seem contrary, that seem to be at odds with each other:

- a prefix widely used in various compound words (para-olympic, para-medic, para-gliding etc.) which can signify alternately: "alongside, altered, beyond, contrary," originating from the Greek preposition para that means: "beside, next to, near, from," and also, "against, contrary to," similar with Sanskrit para "beyond." 

Para influenza has made my Dad's heart race far too fast; has made his concentrator pump out oxygen levels at a rate of 4 litres rather than 2; has made him cough up vile green gunk; has forced him to sleep 18 hours a day; has zapped his strength; has almost curtailed even minimal movement. It is certainly against, certainly contrary to, what we want for him. It might even have altered the course we thought was charted for him.

But through it we have seen many people come alongside, beside, next to, and near him. Paracletes have encircled him with love and concern and practical guidance.

Wikipedia, again, describes paraclete as follows:

Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος (paráklētos, that can signify "one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court"). The word for "Paraclete" is passive in form, and etymologically (originally) signified "called to one's side".

Let me give you just a few examples:

Dr Rimmer - his pulmonologist who, after assessing Dad and wanting to admit him, went and checked the realities of the bed situation in the hospital and reluctantly decided that he would receive better care and rest at Deb's home ("You're sensible," Dr R said to Deb!). From that time she has called frequently to check up on her patient, exhibiting the same level of care and compassion she has always given Dad over these years. Last night she called at 7:45 - what other doctor does that any more?! - and discussed with Deb the plan of care and action that she feels would be best for Dad in the short-, medium- and long-term.

What other doctor calls at 7:45 in the evening? Dr Husain, that's who - Dad's family doctor in Three Hills and someone whose family we have grown to love as an extension of our own. Deb apologetically called him at home, and he immediately phoned a late-night pharmacy in Calgary with a prescription to ease the excruciating cramps that Dad was experiencing from the Tamiflu. He called upon the recommendation of

Dr Naomi Chelli Gunti, the eldest of the Chelli kids, who called from the States to see how Uncle was doing. She listened while Deb went over the symptoms and as they were discussing treatment options, she said, "Deb, what about the drug that's used for the unbearable cramping caused by Crohn's disease?" Deb called Dr Husain, who agreed that this could work and called the Rx in. Dad has not suffered that terrible pain since.

Zeba Husain - Zeba, Dr Husain's wife, cares very deeply for Dad and on Saturday she called me just as I was closing the TH to head up and see Dad. "Karyn, I've made some khichdi [kitcheree] for Uncle Allan - will you take it to him?" I gladly agreed. When I got to Deb's house I said to her, "Zeba made khichdi for Dad ..." and she immediately took it, saying, "Dad asked for khichdi this morning!" Zeba, you were the direct answer to what he needed that night and I thank you for your sensitivity to the promptings you felt to make that ultimate comfort food for Dad.
Almost too weak to eat, Dad managed to swallow some of Zeba's khichdi

Flowers and flags - Peter and Mel Mal's girls came to the TH on Saturday: "We made a picture / a flag for your Dad!" He has them on his window sill ... And that same day Naomi and John, and Sue and Les, sent beautiful flower arrangements, reminding us of all the beauty to be appreciated in the ashes of the situation we were facing. Debby cleaned the TH for me so that I could get to Calgary. Don and Norma came over and got me back on my feet again on Sunday afternoon.

Dozens of you have called, left messages, sent cards, written words of encouragement for Dad and us - and he has read EVERY comment, asking about the people he doesn't know personally and asking God to bless them for their kindness.

There are five very special paracletes who have come alongside their Grandpa / Poppa / Bop whenever they can. Luke, Craig, Matthew, Elliot and Oliver - how he loves you boys! His spirits brighten measurably upon a visit from you guys. There is no doubt how much you love each other and him. 

And THOUSANDS of people are praying. You are all paracletes as you have come alongside Dad, bringing him before the throne of grace around the clock.

The most valuable Paraclete of all for Dad - for all those who have trusted in Christ - is God the Holy Spirit. This is how He is described in the gospel of John: counsellor, helper, encourager, advocate, comforter ... the one who makes free. As you all pray, Dad feels the presence of God and the power of all your prayers in a very real way.

I and my family - siblings, nephews, aunts and uncles - have derived much comfort and love from your outpourings of sympathy. But two special reassurances were given to me personally that have brought me peace regardless of whatever lies ahead.

The first was a comment left by Sumitra. Sumitra was in the group of men who met Dad as he disembarked off that ship 55 years ago in the port of Bombay. He and Dad studied together, prayed together, served together, preached together, ate together, laughed and cried together. He has always held a very special spot in my parents' hearts,

This dear man's comment read: "Dear Karyn, sorry to learn of your dear Dad's ill health. Be assured of my prayers for recovery of his health. I praise the Lord for Bro. Allan's input in my life. I remember welcoming him in Mumbai 55 years ago. God has made him blessing to many through his and yes through your Mum's simple life style and teaching because of which many are serving the Lord and I am one of them. Be encouraged, Dad will be well soon."

I could not help but think of the story recorded in the gospel of John chapter 4 about the nobleman whose son was dying. He sought Jesus out and begged Him to come to the house to heal his son. Jesus said only six words: "Go thy way; thy son liveth" (verse 50). And the child did. When I read Sumitra's last seven words, it was as if the Lord Jesus Christ himself spoke them to me. Those last seven words broke through my grief and despair.

And then Tuesday morning, Dad was too weak to read, so he asked me to read the morning passage from the Daily Light devotional that Mum read and recorded events of note in for years.

The captioned verse was this: As Your Days, So Shall Your Strength Be

My breath caught in my throat and I checked the date. You see, last year, on February 27, I boarded the plane a few days ahead of Dad, BA and Deb as I was flying on points and had to leave on that day. I had been worried about Dad's low energy levels and the long flight ahead. God brought this verse to my mind, and I have claimed it on behalf of Dad almost every day since then. "As many days as You want him on this earth, give him strength for each one," I ask. 

Yet for the past few days, since Thursday, I must confess to my shame that I had completely forgotten about it.

But my Paraclete gently reminded me that God is in control by sending the verse I had been praying for almost a year directly back to me right when I needed it most. Not only that, the entire reading is of encouragement and strength. Truly God's timing is impeccable ...

Sitting on the floor beside his bed:
"someone to watch over me"
There are two more paracletes I must mention. The first is our beloved Deb, who faithfully cared for Dad and continues to care for him. She it has been who sat up with him on those first critical nights, monitoring his pulse and O2 levels, giving medicine, holding the straw to his mouth so he could take a few sips of liquid, washing him, cooling his forehead and piling on hot water bottles and blankets as he shivered his way through his fever until it broke. She has had very little sleep in the last week, but she never once expressed even that she was tired.

As a matter of fact, at the conclusion of Dr Rimmer's most recent phone call, Dr R applauded Deb: "You managed very well the care of a patient who should have been admitted." Thank you, Deborah Joy, from all of us who love him and you.

The last paraclete is our beloved Dad himself. In an almost whisper he marvelled at the prayers offered up on his behalf from the people of God all over the world. "I am so blessed," he murmured. That Tuesday afternoon he finally felt able to pray aloud, asking God's blessing on our simple lunch. And after he thanked God for the food, these are the words he said next, the ellipses indicating where he had to pause for a breath:

We remember others ... just as sick ... weaker ... more needy ... without people to pray for them ... Hold them in your tender mercies ... Heal them ... Forgive them ... Restore them ... Comfort them ... Meet their needs ... today.


Monday, January 27, 2014

If a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words ...

... here's 2000 words, with a full heart of gratitude:

Dad at the lab this morning ...

Dad, home at Deb's, this afternoon.

Bronwyn reported the words he was reading, from the gospel of John chapter 10:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

He is still very weak, but he has turned a corner; and his pulmonologist called and the H1N1 test came back negative! They have to find out what is wrong, but for now we are so grateful for what is wonderful ...

OK, you get 3000 words - per Bronwyn, "Now that the patient is doing better, the cute little nurse can rest!"

On the floor, next to the couch he's lying on ...

THANK YOU, all who have prayed and continue to pray for him. When Dad's reading his Bible again, all's right with the world!

Power In The Blood

Just a brief post - this morning Dad has to go to the lab for blood work. He is having extreme pain in his right hip, which makes weight bearing difficult. Bronwyn and Deb are going to take him as Bronwyn's van will be easier for him to negotiate.

His wonderful doctor has ordered that the blood work be processed instantly and the results sent to her STAT.

There is knowledge in what is going on in his blood. And, as we have heard so often, knowledge is power. Therefore, there is power in the blood.

Which we, as children of God, already know. It was the shedding of Jesus' blood that has the power to give us all eternal life. And because of that life, even though Dad is so ill, so frail, we KNOW that the One who shed His blood for Dad that awful day is with him now, is watching as Dad gives some of his blood today. 

Make no mistake - God is in control of all of this; He, who knows the end from the beginning, loves Dad more than any of us do; and we are so thankful.

RtL just received a comment from the girl I have been waiting to hear from. This 16-year-old girl adores Dad as much as any of his grandchildren do, both Ironside and Chelli grandchildren:

Dear Aunty Karyn, All of the youth at Berean had a special time of prayer after the service yesterday for Grandpa. I continue to pray and hope for a speedy recovery. May God give all of your family His grace during this difficult situation. Psalm 91:1,11 "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." Give my love to Grandpa. 


Please pray for him today; please remember him.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Words To Rest By

I closed the TH at 4 pm today. I needed to see Dad.

He is very weak, frighteningly so. However, some wonderful things occurred to make his suffering a little easier, and I will tell you about them tomorrow morning; but suffice it to say for now that the prayers of literally thousands of people around the world were heard last night and he passed a relatively peaceful night - no real sleep but at least no debilitating pain.

It's about time for the awful side effects of the medicine to take their best shot at him again. For any of you up, please do pray ...

Before I say good night, I want to share the Psalm I was privileged to read to Dad this evening. He reads a few Psalms every night before he goes to bed, and this was where he is up to. He reads the King James Version, but I'm also including the English Standard Version for another beautiful reading:

Psalm 4

King James Version (KJV)
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4

English Standard Version (ESV)

Answer Me When I Call

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.
Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

As my voice faded into the stillness, Dad's voice, almost a whisper, said, "Read that last verse again."

And as he prepared to sleep, he commented, "What comfort can be derived from the Psalms! What a comfort to know we can simply rest in Him ..."

I, along with all of you I know, claim that last verse for him tonight. My family and I thank you for praying, thank you for caring about him. As one of Dad's favourite songs says, "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God!"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Not Above What You Are Able To Bear

It was a very rough night for Dad; and Deb being the resident RN, the majority of the responsibility (she would say privilege) fell to her.

Dad has been prescribed Tamiflu and its side effects can be daunting for people who are healthy. For someone with pulmonary fibrosis the side effects can be staggering.

He managed to keep down some electrolyte-spiked beverages and a small bowl of thin oatmeal gruel this morning. He spoke a brief birthday greeting on the phone to his beloved Lloyd, friends for over 60 years now.

But then this afternoon, when I was in the grocery store getting ready for the weekend at the Tea House, I got an urgent text from Deb at 4:41:

Really bad cramps - please pray

And in the aisle that holds basmati rice and dosai mixes and coconut milk and mango juice I stopped and forwarded on her text to a few of you whose numbers I have in my phone. 

Immediately the responses came back:
  • Praying
  • We're on it
  • Praying
  • I will pray for him. I'm sorry to hear that
  • xoxo
Two of my Chelli sisters, Salome and Naomi, called me, and others of them called my Ironside sisters.

Then at 4:47 I heard from Deb again:

Seriously ... subsided within 5 mins of sending out a text for prayer! 
He's almost resting now

I got back to Deb's house as fast as I could and went up the stairs to see him.

He was ashen against the sheets, and utterly exhausted. In a very muted voice he said that the pain had been so intense he thought he couldn't bear it.

"But then God brought two thoughts to my mind," he said. The first was of Mum."

One night, at about 2 a.m., Mum's pain was so eviscerating that she groaned, "Dad, the pain is too much ..." 

"There was nothing I could do," he whispered to me with tears rolling down his face at the memory of that awful night.

The second thought that came to him were these words from the Bible, found in the apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10 and verse 13:

There has no [testing] taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be [tested] above that you are able, but will with the [trial] also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.

"And I thought to myself, 'Just think how Christ suffered - He has felt every pain that we go through and far more!' " he exclaimed.

"And as I concluded that verse, the awful pain started to subside."

"God is able, honey," he said. "He might even want me to go to India - He is already providing ..."

I must have reacted adversely, because he hastened to assure me that he wouldn't go if he felt like this. "Dr Rimmer won't sign off on you," I interjected dryly. 

"Not only that, but I would have to gain a lot of strength. I feel so, so weak right now," he acknowledged.

We talked briefly about how many people are praying for him all over the world, how many people love him and are rooting for his recovery. And then I had to leave, to come back to the TH and unpack the groceries that this evening seem like sandpaper and sawdust to me.

I kissed him on his forehead, our family's traditional "blessing kiss" started by my grandmother or her mother or hers before that.

"I love you, Dad," I murmured as his eyes drifted shut again and he settled more deeply back into the pillows and covers.

Deb had to give him his second dose of Tamiflu later this evening. The worst of the effects should hit him between midnight and 1 a.m. Please remember this man, a treasure in so many of our lives, as once again his already frail, tired body has to battle the medicine that is supposed to help him.