Category Archives: Autobiography

When Faith Brings Unexpected Joy to the Cancer Journey

If you’ve had any experience with cancer, you can’t read Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die without feeling the profound weight of grief Becky Baudouin experienced as she walked through the great shadowlands with her mom.

My husband appears to be healthy today, but he’s a survivor of prostate cancer, and once “The Big C” enters your life, it never quite leaves, hanging like a gloomy cloud perceived somewhere at the edges of your peripheral emotional vision. The husband of my dearest friend from childhood is going through chemo treatments right now, so the fear is fresh again in me…the hope for healing…the longing for health…the insecurities about the future…

Becky’s book is like a basic 101 course in dealing with life and death issues!   However, it’s also like taking medicine, so I was very ambivalent about starting. It’s painful to reflect on past losses; it’s even painful to process present challenges! And, it’s downright terrifying to consider possible future worsts while hoping for bests. Therefore, reading Becky’s book was an exercise in faith and hope…hope that faith could bring unexpected joy even in such tragic circumstances as the loss of an irreplaceable loved one.

Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy was truly therapeutic! Becky opens the doors of her heart and takes you on a journey with her through her own childhood, her mom’s illness, grieving the loss of her mother, and coming through the depths of grief back to life. Interwoven throughout the book are some of the treasures she learned from her mother about faith, life and death. The author’s motivation is obvious—she wants you to know that you are not alone in your suffering, that all the crazy stages (such as grief brain) are pretty much universal, and that (as her mom taught her) you don’t have to be afraid of death.

Shining through the weight of grief is the weight of glory. One of my favorite thoughts was this: When we were little, sometimes our mothers would call us home, but we wouldn’t want to stop playing. However, at other times, we would realize how hungry and tired we were and would be glad for the dinner bell! Reflecting on this, Becky writes, “…surrendering in death is accepting God’s timing when he says, ‘It’s time for you to come home now.’ When we live a surrendered life, when we’ve learned to listen to his voice and follow where he leads, we trust him because we believe he loves us and knows what’s best. And hopefully when he calls us, we will realize how hungry we are for heaven, how ready we are to go home.” Amen? Amen. I think that will be the greatest unexpected joy for each of us as we anticipate death! We will see Jesus coming for us, and suddenly, we’ll be overjoyed to go!

Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour” (Isaiah 43:1-3).

What’s the Cost for An Asian Harvest?

Ready to be blessed and challenged…to have your heart broken but also filled with joy? If your heart bursts with the love of God and you have a passion to share his love with others so that they, too, might experience salvation by faith in Christ, you’ll love this book. Through Paul’s ministry, millions have received Bibles over the past twenty-five years.  Although his story is monumental compared to the quiet, quite insignificant path of my life, I really resonate with his love for Jesus and his desire to share God’s good news, and I’m hoping you will too!

Paul wasn’t just your average kid. He suffered from a loveless home life and was such an underachiever that one of his high school teachers told him his life was “a waste of oxygen.” From his days as a high school dropout in New Zealand and living as a homeless kid hiding out on the top of a public toilet in Australia (in an effort to keep warm and evade vagrancy charges), through his conversion and life of walking by faith, Paul tells his amazing story of grace with humility, candor, humor, and passion.

Some of the low lights include his first job scrubbing toilets, his first “apartment” (chicken coop) with a stench so awful that some of his friends refused to visit, the night he almost died from altitude sickness in the mountains of Nepal, green flies for lunch in Indonesia (and the discovery that mangy dogs served as the family dishwashers by licking the bowls clean), the years of harassment from his exposing a pedophile posing as a minister, and a sudden stroke that left him with only half a brain. Some of the highlights include his challenging romance with the love of his life, all the miraculous ways that God provided for him through the years (despite specific instructions from God that he never ask anyone but God for money), and the great joy of working in his Father’s vineyard so that others may come to know the love of God.

Was it worth the cost? Paul says, “I have been the beneficiary of a completely lopsided exchange. I handed Jesus my futile existence, and in return He gave me a life of purpose and fulfillment…If all the pain and struggles we endured were necessary to open the doors to fruitful service for Jesus, then it was all worthwhile, and those experiences have proven inconsequential compared to the overall plan of God in my life.”

I will very gladly spend and be spent for you” (2 Corinthians 12:15).

I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields;
for they are white already to harvest
” (John 4:35).

 

 

 

I’m the Daughter of Adam: Are You Surprised?!

Although compiling a family genealogy (or “family history,” as it’s more popularly called in Europe) has been going on for all of recorded history, tracing your own family tree is a pretty daunting task. In the U.S., most of us were too proletarian to pursue genealogical connections until Alex Haley’s 1976 novel, Roots, took America by storm. Today, it’s all the buzz! I read in one source that up to 42% of leisure research on the internet today is related to genealogy (don’t know if that’s correct). To be sure, it’s become very popular, particularly since 1999, when internet resources made researching so much easier.  The largest resource for genealogical research in the world is free and is called FamilySearch:   https://familysearch.org/ It was started back in 1894. They have over 3.3 billion records and 12+billion names from over 100 countries, with over 150 million users. This is the resource I’ve been using, although there are several others out there.  My journey took me back through many lines. Some trailed off almost immediately, and some lasted hundreds of years before disappearing.

Other lines were more promising. Following various trails, I appear (perhaps)  to have descended from King Arthur,  Constantine the Great,  Joseph of Arimathea,  Hyrancus II,  Cleopatra,the Caesars,   Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt (BC 210-181…the Rosetta stone describes his coronation),  Pharoah Psamteck I of Egypt,  and even back to Helen of Troy and Paris.

I was feeling a little dubious about the whole Trojan War thing (although history suggests such a battle may have occurred), but when I got to generation 80, which said I was the daughter of Zeus, and that was the end of the line…well, I disbelieved the last bit for sure. I’m not sure who was the father, but I don’t believe it was a god!  Another line from Greece back to Turkey ended after 97 generations with Simeois the River God of Acadia ben Oceanus… “son of Oceanus,” another mythological God. Hmmm.  One line from William the Conqueror went back to Halfdan the Old of Norway (whose relatives also populated Iceland). My Norwegian line goes back 52 generations to “Vifil” the Sea King and ends up after 60+ generations suggesting that I’m the offspring of Thor. Not.  My Irish line ended up being the most promising. Although it’s commonly taught that St. Patrick brought writing to the Irish in the fifth century, they apparently had a rich oral tradition of genealogies, which were recorded by professional families of historians known as senchaidh. I’m guessing it was through this source (although I’m not sure) that my lineage went back through the centuries, sometimes with only names listed, way back to the eighth century BC, where after 92 generations the record says that Princess of Judah, Tamar, Tephi ha-David Bat Josiah, was born in Jerusalem but married Eochaidh Buadhach mac Duach, the King of Ireland around 736 BC, and died in Obhdah, Meath, Ireland. Fascinating! The English do have ancient legends about “the lost tribe of Judah” and their ties to the Jewish people. Once on a London bus taking a tour of London, they played a ballad telling all about it, but it never made the least bit of sense to me until I saw this entry in the genealogical records.  As a believer, I would love to think I have some Jewish roots. That line took me back through the kings of Judah to Adam and Eve after 141 generations. The genealogy was biblically accurate, although they had left out 4 names, which would bring the total to 145 generations.  Through another line, my lineage went back to Moses and Aaron. Of course, all these lines merged at Noah and then went back through the patriarchs eventually to Adam and Eve.  Fascinating? To me, yes!! Fun? Absolutely!! How likely? Well, I absolutely believe in the validity of the biblical genealogies, and so I do believe we’re all descendants of Adam and Eve, but I reject the theory that I’m an offspring of Thor or Zeus.  🙂  I also noticed that the sources suggesting that humans sprang from gods (rather than being created by God) trailed off much earlier than the Jewish record. The Jewish narrative is by far the longest, and goes back to roughly BC 4000. This is consistent with the calculations of James Ussher…but that may have to wait until next week!

What do you think? Do you have any opinion about “In the beginning…”?

If you’ve never heard the biblical account, this is how it starts: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” (Genesis 1:1-5).

 

The Daughter of a Puritan: What’s in a Name?

My son Joel mentioned not long ago that I’m the most conservative person he’s ever met. He said it kindly, but I don’t think he expressly meant it as a compliment.

Do you know what your name means? If so, has that knowledge impacted your life? My first name is “Kathryn,” which comes from the root word for “pure,” and I’ve always attempted (with plenty of failures!) to live up to my name. However, for the first twelve years of life, I didn’t associate my name in any way with God, because since my father professed atheism and my mom agnosticism, we were never exposed to religious teaching. Still, both my parents ascribed to a very high morality, and I wanted to live up to their “gold standard.” I wanted to be pure!

This was on my mind when my daughter-in-law was visiting and showed me how to access genealogical research online. Various friends and relatives have been very involved in researching their roots, but until lately, I never seemed to find time. This week I want to share with you what I’ve been learning, and the first exciting revelation is that I’m the great great (make that 7 more greats) daughter of two Puritan ministers! So, maybe that’s part of the reason I’m motivated to be pure! Reverend Nathaniel Ward (the earliest record I can find, back in 1572) was a Cambridge-trained Puritan minister who helped his son, Reverend John Ward (also a Puritan) buy  16 acres for 3 pounds along the Merrimack River, where he became the first minister of the the colonial settlement named Haverhill in Massachusetts back in 1640.

Have you looked into your history? I’m finding so many interesting things! Despite my father’s lack of faith (until he came to believe in his 80’s), the description of  Nathaniel Ward fits my dad to a T: “He was an exact Grammarian, an expert Physician and which was the Top of all, a thorough Divine, accompanied with a most Healthy, Hardy and Agile Body which enabled him to make nothing of walking on foot, a Journey as long as Thirty Miles together.”

Names are precious, and roots help ground us, but over the years, I’ve learned to cherish the name “Christian” (little Christ, or son of Christ) above any other name, and I find it even more compelling than the name Kathryn, because Christ was pure and holy to be sure, but He is so much more as well! No matter what our earthly names or roots may be, for all who believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can be called by his name—the name above all names!

God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name
” (Philippians 2:9).

“Jesus, Name Above All Names”

“Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.” (—Naida Hearn)

(PS—The likeness is of Increase Mather, a Puritan minister from the same era. I couldn’t find any likeness of Rev. John Ward.)

Coffee, the World, and Jesus, But Not Necessarily In That Order

It’s such a catchy title that I couldn’t improve on it for my post, and frankly, Ron DeMiglio’s entire book continues to live up to expectation! It’s easy to read and hard to put down, makes you laugh and makes you think. What’s not to love?

Ron spent twenty-five years traveling the world selling coffee for a living but following Jesus for a life. His book,  Coffee, the World, and Jesus, But Not Necessarily In That Order, is a collection of 28 loosely spun tales with clever titles like “The Hypocrite Oath,” “A Tale of Two Pities,” “His Grapes, My Wrath,”  and “An Affinity for Salinity.” Ron not only has a way with words, he can spin gold from coffee grounds!

Each reflection starts with a title geared to pique your curiosity and then lists a location (which pretty much includes every continent but penguin territory) and the purpose for his trip. With that fabric, he weaves tapestries from around the world (super fun for me as a travelogian), explaining what he learned with insightful charm and light-hearted transparency. Every story made me smile; every object lesson made me ponder; every chapter ended with this mantra: “Shun Common!”

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur (or church planter or missionary), I’ll share one particularly helpful bit of wisdom from the book to whet your appetite. In the context of explaining how businesses are unpredictable and don’t all succeed despite outward expectations, he mentions what makes for a prime location: “High visibility, easy access, ample exterior signage, adequate parking, great foot and drive-by traffic, a high per capita income, and good mix of residential and retail, low crime, some form of mass transit nearby, and a favorable lease rate.” Obviously, if you have ministry instead of money in mind, then your CEO is the Holy Spirit, and He might direct slightly otherwise in some areas, but even thriving ministries have to be financially sustained somehow, so I think this list is worth considering no matter what your objective.

Last, but not least, a few quotable quotes. I hope you read the book (if you’re local, you can borrow mine), but if you don’t, I know Ron has a heart to share the abundance God has given him, so here are a few samples from his espresso bean:

“Spotting the Savior’s hand in the obscure and trivial makes me feel uncommonly loved.” (And, I hope it does that for you too!)

“Correction without a Holy Spirit-led concern for the individual is as useful as barbed-wire dental floss.”

“The history of a person has absolutely no bearing on the authenticity of their salvation. If they have truly repented and taken and passed the Jesus-acceptance exam, they are clean and right before God.”

“Life and joy are in the obedience, not the outcome.”

“I don’t feel intellectually inferior for recognizing the divine. I refuse to cower to fiction dolled up as logic.”

“Only the ethically blind can’t recognize and acknowledge their own duplicity.”

“But grace isn’t an excuse for me to bleed my casual sin all over those around me. Based on my acknowledgment of the monumental sacrifice that was made on my behalf, grace should be the tourniquet that stems the flow of my unholy activity.”

One last pearl of wisdom, not from Ron’s coffee table but from our Father: Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established
(Proverbs 4:26).

Waiting for Baby

I’m waiting for a baby again,
But it’s not nearly as hard as it was when
I was waiting for my own, because even though I don’t know how long it will take,
I know it’s not exactly my body that’s at stake.
Nevertheless, it is the body of my son’s wife,
And for them…I would give my own life,
So it’s still very stressful, particularly since last time was more nightmarish than dreamy,
And they ended up with a 1.5-pound micro-preemie.
Still, their first baby is now a happy, chappy two-year-old,
Who might sass his mom but so far for me has been good as gold.
However, I get P.T.S.D. at the mere thought of babysitting
And every time I even think about it I break out in a sweat and imagine quitting
Before I even arrive at their door
Which will doubtless happen more and more
Because the more babies you have, the more help you need,
And even though it might be easier to lay down my life than do a good deed,
I’m pretty sure what they’re going to need are more good deeds
Rather than a grandmother  in absentia without any leads.
BTW, am I the only grandmother out there who’s paranoid of crying toddlers?
Are the rest of you seasoned babysitters and able toddler jogglers?
Maybe it comes from being the baby in my family and my dad hiring me to grade college exams for more than people paid babysitters,
Or maybe it comes from never having any time off for thirty years when my own seven kids were wild and woolly little kidders.
Whatever the source of my anxiety, you couldn’t pay me to watch kids for a mountain of cash,
But I’ll do it for love’s sake…though I’d feel more at ease spending an afternoon with Ogden Nash.

(You guessed it, I wrote this while my daughter-in-law was in labor on April 18, 2017. On the bright side, I won the family guessing game concerning what day the baby would be born!  🙂  )

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5).

(P.S.—Actually, Sammy’s being a doll for me, and we’re doing just fine!)

Happy Ninth Anniversary, Summer Setting!

April 8 marked the ninth anniversary of my blog, Summer Setting, and it’s still one of the highlights of my daily life! Although my primary goal in writing is an attempt to be faithful to the calling I feel like God has given me, it’s been super rewarding and motivating to check in on my “Stats” page every once in a while. For instance, this past week people from over 60 countries looked at blog posts, and in the last 3 days Summer Setting was accessed over 1,300 times. That sounds like a lot to me, but given that I now have close to 2,000 followers, it also seemed like a curiously small number until I learned from WordPresses’ “Happiness Engineers” that their statistics don’t include any of the followers who have asked to have my posts sent directly to their email accounts every day, since they don’t have a tracking system to know who has opened those emails.

Now, you may be alarmed that I’d notice or care about “how many” people are interested in my blog, since ultimately whatever we do should be “heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). You are right, and I should not be driven by human approval. However, the reason I’m passing this along to you is because it occurred to me that you might be a lot like me…trying hard in your own way to make a positive impact on your world without getting a lot of obvious response. However, beneath the surface, every good and right thing you do will add value to our world, whether or not anyone recognizes it, and it may be that there are more people who are being positively impacted than you realize. (Which is sadly also true when we make selfish, sinful choices.) Think of us as being blood cells in a body. As individuals, we have a minuscule role, but what we do affects many to most of the other cells in the body.

Feeling discouraged? If you’re a believer, know that Jesus is our “boss,” our Lord and Savior. If He’s smiling, that’s really all that matters. However, if He’s smiling, there are probably others who are feeling warmed by the sunshine as well, whether or not you can see them.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).