Dec 14, 2013

Loving the Blue Mountains

Here I am at home in Australia! At last I am in the Blue Mountains, soaking up the beauty, my family and all the memories. There is nothing like the atmosphere of this place and it evokes such peace and a sense of belonging.
My nieces keep climbing into my lap sharing their stories, my mother is feeding me buckets of fruit including apricots from her tree. The cockatoos and parrots fill the trees and the air is as pure as anything I have known.  Today we leave though for Brisbane, my first time there and a new adventure.....


Nov 14, 2013

Calm and Character Lines

At last I have my home to myself again, it has been a long and busy two weeks. It is pleasant to lie snugggled in a warm bed with silence as my only company. For many this is not a happy state but after a house teaming with people it is nice to enjoy this moment.  Quiet and space help to give my mind rest and time to process all the events and conversations. Many have been significant, but there have also been challenges and life has it's usual high's and lo's. Fatigue always follows a time like this and it tethers my ankles in it's endless attempt to trip me up, but I am thankful for what I can still do.

I am glad to feel that my work is significant and even though I practically do less, the conversations and times of teaching are often satifying and appreciated more.  As the body wears down with age, I do think that the maturity of years has definite benefits as life's lessons can bear fruit. These lessons are hard won and carry their scars and worn edges, adding a sense of character along with the lines. I hope I end up with a lovely face like this lady as life etches itself onto my face.  

Oct 17, 2013

Solid Rock

"If you don't have solid beliefs you cannot build a stable life. Beliefs are like the foundation of a building, and they are the foundation to build your life upon."

Alfred A. Montapert


Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alfredamo158078.html#46vIpFIYU5Cv1EhP.99

Oct 14, 2013

Wentworth Falls

I am  very fortunate to have lived as a kid near this place.This is where I think of as home. My father's ashes were sent over here and I spent many happy hours climbing around these rocks and discovering all it's cool quiet places with my dog. Sadly it is now a top tourist attraction whereas I used to think it was my own private paradise. Still I am glad the world now gets to enjoy it's beauty. I can no longer climb down the stairs that go to the bottom but I can still make it to this viewpoint. I will soon return to this place again when I go to visit my mother.

Oct 13, 2013

There's no place like home...

These are my lovely new slippers that were given to me by a kind friend. She is taking care of me while I recover from the effects of radiation, cooking me meals, taking me on drives, raking the leaves - there is no end to her generosity.

These slippers are apt as I am driven forward by thoughts of home. The plans have fallen wonderfully into place and my whole family is excited with me to get together agian. My sisters have rented a house by the beach in Forster again, we will spend a week on a yacht with my husband's old friends, and will be in the Wentworth Falls with my mother for a week. We also will be in Sydney for a week, so everthing looks perfect for a wonderful time. 

My skin is pretty burnt from the radiation and I am having to change tthe dressings 4 times a day. This isn't fun so dreaming of home is carrying me through this challenging time. There is no place like home.....
 

Oct 4, 2013

Fallen Ego

I am resting in bed after falling at the clinic in a very public way. As I went down I looked up hoping that no one was watching. It took just a split second before quickly looking at the ground and trying in vain to not hit hard and sprawl on the shiny hard floor. Ah my ego and vanity, obviously they are more important to me than my physical well being. The next thing I knew I was surrounded by hospital employees, lifting me up and getting me a wheel chair, with a crowd of faces checking to see if I was OK. I just wanted to hide in embarrassment but eventually I regrouped enough in order to thank those who were helping so kindly.

Ah, the humiliation I feel when my weaknesses are exposed. Even recounting this experience is making me want to cry. MS and the helplessness it can induce are hard pills to swallow. I feel sure that it would not be quite so hard though if I understood more fully the fact that my value and worth are not only tied to my abilities but are tied primarily to my intrinsic value as a person. I am worthwhile because I am made in the image of God, and I should be more concerned with bringing Him glory than trying to build up my own. My worth is in being His child and His love is all the honour I need. My weakness due to having MS and radiation for cancer is nothing to be ashamed of, I am crazy for letting it make me feel that was.

p.s.
I AM DONE. Ringing the bell of radiation completion!

Sep 20, 2013

Radiation waiting room

Here I am in the waiting room of the clinic, as I am each morning in the work week. It is a beautiful place but also a very sad place.  As I am surrounded by many people with tragic lives I feel both deeply fortunate and guilty as my prognosis is often vastly different from others here. Yesterday I was drawn into conversation with 2 women and as the one whose husband has just received the news that his days are drawing to an end was comforted by the other who had stage 4 melanoma, I found myself unable to speak into this sea of tragedy. Here was a circle in which I didn't belong and I wished that I had the right words, but instead I could only listen.

This also reawakens the sorrow I feel as I recently heard of the death from cancer of a friend from college. She was one of the nicest people I know and it is taking time to digest. She was so full of life, very active and health conscious, it is hard to believe. She was 53 and she has left behind 3 kids and a lovely husband. It is all taking time to digest and for the shock to progress to grief.

As for me I am halfway done with 3 weeks to go. My skin is starting to darken and I am getting tired, but what is that in the big scheme of things? There is so much to be thankful for and I am challenged to not feel sorry for myself. I can do this.

Sep 3, 2013

Living in the now

I find that the anxieties of life can be such a distraction from being present. I am reading a novel about time from the eastern perspective, and though I see time and space somewhat differently, the act of being present is an important one to learn. This here is always the only place we can inhabit - the NOW, and being aware of our immediate surroundings, the place, the people, the things happening now helps me to live within the finiteness of my being. I cannot see the future, though I have a long term hope, but I am called to live in the here and now and this is always where I function best. Even if this is not where I want to be it is where I am, and not being God, I have to stay here in this moment.

I don't want to go for radiation today, but I must and so I won't fight it but focus on the other things I can also do today, I can also notice the good things that are happening too. A lady has offered me juice in the waiting room, someone gave me a ride and another person made lunch. I have much to be thankful for. This morning was beautiful with the early morning horizontal light shining on the garden and the little hummingbirds were stretching their cold wings in the early rays. My hens were sure they wanted some of my coffee and were clucking around me and the coffee was so warm, rich and good. There is a fullness to this moment, and as I hope and dream I also try to keep my feet planted on this earth and sink my toes into the rich ground. We are to be rooted people, not just dreamers and there is much to extract from this rich soil, despite the rocks and briers.

Aug 30, 2013

Fatigue coping strategies


A helpful discussion of MS fatigue strategies: http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/guide/ms-related-fatigue at Web MD.
This heat and humidity stretch in the midwest is getting overwhelming and along with the radiation treatments my fatigue is very high. I found this article to be a helpful reminder of what I need to do.

Aug 26, 2013

My garden this August


This year I have done very little gardening but I am thankful that things are not looking too bad anyway. Perennials are just what their name implies, and the past years of work have carried over into this year of cancer and fatigue and the flowers have been blooming all year. I wonder how long this grace will last. I will try not to look at the weeds and just enjoy the blooms.

Aug 10, 2013

Reality

Definition of Reality
n. pl. re·al·i·ties
1. The quality or state of being actual or true.
2. One, such as a person, an entity, or an event, that is actual: "the weight of history and political realities"(Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.)
3. The totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence.
4. That which exists objectively and in fact: Your observations do not seem to be about reality.

The subject of reality has been coming up quite a bit lately. It seems that it is a common longing that folk have; to be more real, to have friends that are real and to know what is real. Reality TV initially tapped into this longing but quickly became anything but real as the very nature of the medium squashed the possibility.  We know that we want reality but we do not always know what reality is. How do we know that someone or thing is authentic? We often sense it but we are not immune from being duped and sadly in life we often are. We trust someone to be who they present themselves to be but find that we were mistaken. The problem is that we ourselves struggle to be real, to even know who we really are. We can be caught up being who we think we should be, forgetting who we are, just as capable of fooling ourselves as well as others.

I have been thinking that it is hard to separate the idea of truth and reality, and maybe this is how we have been sliding down this slippery slope. As the notion of Truth with a capital T has been lost (vs. just my truth or your truth), we are also be losing the notion of Reality (not just my reality or your reality). Reality and Truth have to be rooted together as stable anchors that do not shift and thus can give substance to the things which are anchored to them. Reality needs to be solid, foundational, unchanging, a reliable reference point just as Truth should be as well. These realities can be hard to find these days but I do believe that they do exist and can be recovered,  but they need to be rooted in something much bigger than us people, or even society. We need to look out and back and up and beyond. I think that the place that Truth starts is with an Infinite God that has to be really there and does not deceive and has made himself known to us in our finite state. Where do you find a place for reality? Personally it truly bothers me when I find Christians being fake, superficial and unreal, it is the opposite of who God is, it dishonors Him and denies the reality that he has called us to live in. I want to be real all the way to the core, even when the reality of life is not all that nice and I know that I am not all that nice.  I need to try to truly change for the better, but should not pretend to be better if I haven't changed. Our goodness and beauty should be real and not veneer and thanks to God's help they can be. But in this life I will never be perfect, I will always be less than I should be, I need to constantly try to do bettter, but I need to be honest about my failures as this is the begining of change. Unreality is a bottomless pit of falsehood and lies.

Unreality is not just the same thing as fiction or imagination, these can be wonderful pointers to truth and can illustrate reality. Creativity is part of how God made us and even Jesus used parables too. I am talking about deception, faking and unhelpful escapism that denies reality. Reality is infinitely rich and varied, we each see and experience it differently and can share with eachother to get a fuller and more rounded understanding. I was just listening to Beethoven and was struck by how his music helps me to know a richer reality with his brilliance and he communicates things I couldn't know for myself, but when I hear his music I can say oh yes, I get it, that is so real. It is like we are looking from different perspectives but the whole is the same and we are sharing the same space. Are we seeing what is there or are we deceiving ourselves about what we think is there? I think that is the question.

Aug 2, 2013

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are a constant source of fascination, such frail and delicate creatures that are also incredibly strong and feisty. I did not grow up with them and take delight in all their antics, just yesterday as I was arranging flowers at my kitchen sink I looked up to find one hovering at the window in front of me trying to get in. These are not timid birds and quickly become used to my presence as their feeder is on the other side of the glass. When I am outside they will happily drink from the bee balm near my porch and dash with a squeak past me as they engage in warfare over rights to the feeder. For several years one would always greet me each morning on the wire outside catching the early rays, preening off the cold of night and limbering up for a day of acrobatics. They have charmed me and my goal is to feed them by hand, I have seen pictures of this amazing feat.

Nature is a great mental escape from the confines of the house and mind. It helps to bring life into perspective and to fill me with awe, it is just so marvelous.

UPDATE:  a hummingbird landed on my head yesterday and looked all around my pink teeshirt for food as the feeder was empty!

Jul 28, 2013

Life with breast cancer

The surgery is over and thankfully they got all the cancer as it hadn't spread. I am now recovering in my own bed and being taken care of by my dear husband and friends. The drugs are making me dizzy and tired and it is good to just take time doing not very much. I have a steep learning curve with breast cancer, there is so much to take in; stages, grades, in situ, the treatments etc. I have been given a large team and lots of information, so no I am processing in all. This takes time as there is not only the cognitive learning, but also the emotional processing. This has to take it's natural course and cannot be forced or avoided, however much I would like to give that a miss. The roller coaster is natural and I am trying to go along for the ride.
The muffled rumblings reach out tendrils from my soul. The words have yet to form, they are preceded by a yearning, an ache, a fear that has not crystallized in the cotton wool that is my brain. 

Denial only lasts so long.


Breast C A N C E R.

The biggest help in all this world of uncertainty is all the love and prayer I have received, it is humbling and heart warming to not feel alone and to know that I am loved. My husband has been right by my side and friends and neighbors have brought food and are praying. I don't know how I would manage without their support and it is a privilege as I know that there are many who go through this alone. There is much to be thankful for and it is interesting how this seems so evident when  things are also so hard. Goodness is brought into relief by the shadows, darkness shows up how bright light is, like the contrast setting being set on high.

Jul 24, 2013

I am sitting at the clinic, between appointments. The Mayo has such an organized breast cancer set up, so different from the multiple sclerosis department. I have been assigned a team with an oncologist, surgeon, radiologist, nurse practitioner, nurse and probably others I have forgotten. They are all in communication which is great. I was sent home with a book, folder, lots of pamphlets and I am over saturated with information. This has been overwhelming but it is good to know that my prognosis is fantastic and I will get through this. They are being thorough for which I am glad but there are many complicated aspects to the treatment and this will last for 5 years. I am disappointed to have to take tamoxifen but I need it so will do what it takes.

I had little margin for more medical problems and this has been eaten up and then some. I have little patience and am overwhelmed by everything that is happening to me. I have a clip in me and now they are putting in a radiation pearl to prepare for the op.

Sitting here in the foyer I see people passing with obvious health difficulties and I know that they are  all dealing with very hard things too. The worst is the sick children, it is so heartbreaking to see them.  
At least we have excellent care and this is such a privilege. I can't believe that I get to live just 10 minutes away as most of these people have travelled across the country or round the world. Thereis much  to be thankful for even while grieving the things that are so hard. Life is like being stretched like a rubber band, both good and evil at work on me and pulling at my head, heart and body. I do not feel sufficient, but The Lord is my sufficiency and I will rest in him

John 16:33 

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jul 11, 2013

More medical problems.....

Having MS does not make you immune from other medical problems, but it was a comfort when my doctor agreed with me that I get more than my fair share. What this time? Breast cancer, the most innactive kind, but it is still a blow and it means more medical interventions which are getting very tiresome. I am learning all about DCIS  and am thankful that it doesn't look like I will need a mastectomy. I was encouraged by this passage this morning;

Psalm 37:23-24

23 
The Lord makes firm the steps

    of the one who delights in him;
24 
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.



Jun 11, 2013

Finding Hope in Illness.

There is a story behind these beautiful tulips growing in my garden. They were planted in 2005 and now it is 2013, eight years later:

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March of 2005. As you can imagine it was a complete shock and a very traumatic time. I was told in the emergency room that I either had a tumor on the spine or MS, and then I endured a barrage of tests including a spinal tap and MRI.  In the midst of the trauma I was comforted by the love and care of many friends and felt that I was being taken care of by God in so many ways. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay with whom I worked at English L’Abri for many years sent me a basket of spring bulbs which were joined by many other beautiful flowers. I later happily planted out the tulips in the basket as the other flowers faded, around 8 of them in all and hoped that I would see them again the following year.

 Bulbs symbolize hope for me as they lie underground for most of the year, only to erupt in spring with their joyous proclamation of renewed life after a long winter. Dear Susan cared for me beyond the initial diagnosis and even though she was across the Atlantic she sent me books and letters and promised to pray for me every day. Both she and her mother would call to see how I was doing and assure me of their love. After a hard year the following spring I was delighted to see the tulips come up again, just as beautiful as ever (this is no sure thing in Minnesota). Once again that next year Susan would pray and call and write, faithfully caring beyond the initial trauma and helping to encourage me through the challenges. I found that over time I could see many blessings along with the challenges and felt that I was seeing some spiritual growth despite and even through my circumstances. I was learning about grace and God’s love in weakness, finding that the Lord was indeed sufficient. There were many difficulties; having to learn to ask for help, humility of not being able to do what I once could, trusting others, living with uncertainty - there were so many things. 

The next year once again the tulips came back and this time to my surprise there were even a few more. So time passed and Susan kept praying and caring and the Lord kept proving himself faithful, teaching me more about his love all the time. Year after year the tulips kept coming back, each year with even more, so 8 years later I now have 30! If you do not garden you probably do not know that tulips usually last for only a few years and then die off, and I have never known of them multiplying, yet that is what they keep doing. Year after year there are more and their beauty just increases. 

Year after year Susan has faithfully prayed and her prayers, I am confident, have borne fruit. I know that the Lord has been faithfully bringing fruit out of this broken and difficult experience of MS. I am able to better empathize with the suffering of others and am seeing more fruit in their lives as I pass this love on. I have learned to know more joy and peace as I see so many ways that I have been taken care of and I am feeling a greater contentment as I realize that not being in control of everything is not frightening but liberation. Christ’s love, which I know more fully through the love, care and prayers of others, has brought fruit and the tulips to me are a symbol of this love triumphing over brokenness. No, I am not healed, but I hope that I am a better person and by the grace of God I know that I will break into bloom whole, healed and perfect when that final Spring of Christ’s return comes once for all.

Jun 1, 2013

A physical disconnect: dreams and reality.

Sometimes my head and my body get so disconnected from each other. In my head I make plans for the day, informed by what I need to accomplish and what I would enjoy doing. This is what I need to do: laundry and clean the bathrooms which I have put off for far to long and can no longer be ignored. This is what I want to do: garden, putting compost on the fruit tree, weeding the dandelions, clearing the weeding I did yesterday and then if I have energy this is what I want to do most of all: look for morels.

The sun is shining on a Saturday for the first time in so very long and I am excited to get out, so eagerly I had breakfast, got dressed and ready for the day. I tried ignoring the fact that I had a whopping headache but by the time I was ready I felt like death and could no longer ignore the fact that I was terribly sick. Just walking down to the basement and back upstairs nearly floored me so reality came pounding on my door. So now I am in bed blogging.

Every one has days like this, but with MS they happen too often. Things pile up and objectives too often are failed. There is a disconnect between my mental identity and physical reality. Most of the time this serves me well as MS is not who I am, it is what I am dealing with. I am much more than my physical abilities, I have many relationships, creativity, chickens, a pretty garden and a meaningful relationship with my creator God. I have a great deal to be thankful for. I also know that one day I will have a renewed body in heaven with no illness, all things will be made right. Until then though, I will have to deal with this disconnect and learn to listen to where I am at today, today I have MS and a bug and need to rest, maybe I can birdwatch out the window? I am thankful though that today will not ultimately have the last word.
I will content myself with looking out the window at my garden.

May 28, 2013

Watchers

Watchers
Behold the fleck of ant
bearing with diligence his large
load of crumb down the long
mile of floorboard.
By observation we become
part of an insect's life. Is he
aware of us? What thread of vision
links antic and observant?
What false criterion of size?
And who is it who, watching us,
whispers Watch for Who it is
Who watches you?

Luci Shaw Copyright

May 24, 2013

Tired and Oversaturated

My brain is tired and does not have the energy to think. It is full of too many things that are jumbled and I don't have the energy to sort them out. I am sick with shingles and a sinus infection and just meeting responsibilites is taking way too much energy. Sorry for the whinge but life is just like that sometimes and I do try to be honest.  I know there is a lot to be thankful for but right now I am just too tired. MS does that and that is all there is to it. Just found this on MS World....

May 8, 2013

Where am I?

Last week on Monday it was 60 degrees, then this is how things looked on Thursday May 4th, the biggest snow storm in May EVER, then on the next Monday it was 73! I just can't figure it out and neither can the chickens, they have gone off the lay and I can't blame them at all. We went to Mexico to a beach wedding for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and escaped for a little but I feel it just added to the sense of being turned around. It is a strange world where we can lurch from such extremes, from country to country then back, from snow to heat. To add to it all I am sick with the shingles. I feel like I don't know which way is up or where I am. I am looking forward to getting back to being settled and in a routine. This weekend we are putting on a memorial and reception for Edith Schaeffer which is a big challenge in itself. What next? I am afraid to ask, but I know that without friends and faith I wouldn't be making it.
May 4th
Postscript: May 11th the forecast is for 90 degrees (32 C) and the memorial went well. I am still sick, I over did it on the weekend and now in bed resting up at last.

A whirlwind of a wedding

This is the wedding that we just went to in Mexico. Our 'adopted' daughter got married and it was just beautiful and we love her husband Grant too. We are so happy for them. My husband preached and looked pretty good too, he did a great job as well.
Kelsey and Grant Gardner
My husband Jock and Kelsey

Apr 30, 2013

Spring at last

We are back home for a few days and it has warmed up at last. I found myself overcome with the feverish Spring spirit and went a bit crazy in the garden spreading out all the previous years compost over the flower beds. I felt like the animals who all seem desperate to build nests, feed and get OUT. A rabbit is hanging out and fearless, happily grazing on the grass as I work, which I like but also know that I will pay for not scaring it off, it has already munched off a few tulip heads. The Coopers Hawks are back and are nesting, thankfully they are not as close to the backyard as last year but they are still hanging around, they do not seem bothered by me either.

I am wondering if we will get any morels this year and keep checking online to see when they will appear in our area. We have had them on a slope in our woods but it is hard for me to walk down there so am checking online first. They are the highlight of spring and my mouth salivates just at the thought of them. The ramps are just starting to show their heads so it won't be long now.

When we were in Missouri we saw a porcupine there for the first time. I did not know what it was at first and it was wonderful to see clambering around in the woods. Everything seems to be enjoying getting outside and it is a wonderful celebration to rediscover the great outdoors.
P.S. Oh how premature this was. One month later and it has snowed, rained and flooded and stayed COLD. Highs in the 50's and only 5 days this month without precipitation. I am hoping that it will warm up before the fall!

Apr 17, 2013

Friendship and Support.

The farm in Missouri
These weeks have been very full. My husband just returned from a week in Switzerland and tomorrow we head out for Missouri for 10 days.  3 days later we are off to Mexico for 4 days to help our "adopted daughter" get married and then back to the beginning of a new term of people coming to our home. I don't know how I will do it all, but I am only given one day at a time and so I will take it as it comes. The failure of Spring in Minnesota makes me hopeful of having a taste of it further south. I want to go mushroom hunting, but this time I will try to avoid chiggers and ticks, the scourge of Missouri woods.

I am feeling buoyed by lots of love and support lately and it makes such a difference when tackling hard things. Knowing I am not alone and am loved is very sweet and I do not take it for granted, as there have been many times in life when loneliness was a bitter pill. I am sure that is true for many, and knowing how that feels makes this moment all the more sweet. Friendship is a balm to the soul and makes things so much more bearable. My limitations do not make me feel despair, but I am seeing it as an opportunity for God through friends to make what is needed happen. He is doing that already. Thanks Susan and JoEllen.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them." Hosea 11:4

Apr 16, 2013

Edith Schaeffer Obituary -from her son-in-law Ranald Macaulay



EDITH SCHAEFFER :    1914 - 2013


Every generation produces individuals who seem larger than life. Like meteors they blaze into life and become something of a wonder to those looking on. ‘What remarkable talents,’ we say, ‘what energy, what achievements’ This is what Edith Schaeffer was like and for 17 years Rochester was her home.

Like many coming to the Mayo Clinic the reasons for her arrival were hardly auspicious. Her husband, Francis, had just completed filming in Switzerland for his second major documentary series called, ‘Whatever Happened to the Human Race’. At the end of a gruelling day on the slopes near their alpine home, his dramatic weight loss over the previous week led Edith to telephone a medical friend at Mayo to seek advice. ‘Get him here as quickly as possible’ he said. So on the 9th October, 1978, Edith and Francis arrived in Rochester. Within hours he had been diagnosed with lymphoma and put on chemotherapy. It was to be the beginning, for Edith certainly, of a long association with the city and its people. Happily, Francis responded well to treatment and continued to be active and influential throughout the world for another seven years. By then Edith had moved their home from Switzerland to Rochester and it was there, on the 15th May 1984, that she heard his last quiet words… “from strength to strength” – taken from the sentence ‘they go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion’ in Psalm 84:7. Her days as the wife of one of the world’s most significant evangelical leaders in the 20th century had come to a close.

However, her surprise at finding herself living in Rochester was hardly her last! She seemed to specialise in surprises in fact. The next one came within weeks of her husband’s death and through what had been the major part of her life’s work, namely L’Abri Fellowship. She and her husband had founded this Christian work in Switzerland in 1955 and one of its half-dozen branches (now ten world-wide) had moved from California to Rochester to provide, amongst other things, practical support for them in their medical need. Not long after the funeral in Rochester came the new surprise - a Steinway grand-piano no less. This was a gift to L’Abri in memory of Francis Schaeffer and it held pride of place in her gracious living room. But the surprise contained yet another surprise and one which opened up a new chapter in her life. For what she quickly realised was that the actual piano involved, discovered not far from Rochester incidentally, had been manufactured the same year as her marriage – and came into her home the 6th July 1984, 49 years exactly after the very day she and Francis had their wedding - 6th July 1936! This piqued her already vibrant curiosity. So the next time she was in New York she arranged to call at the Steinway factory. Quite unexpectedly she found herself in the midst of a red-carpet-welcome and all because the company’s senior piano-voicer, Franz Mohr, had for many years been one of her avid readers and admirers. The visit began a lasting friendship and even resulted in a new book called ‘Forever Music’. Amongst other things it was a paean to the wonder of God’s creation. It also provided her with a medium to express one of the leading characteristics of her life, namely her delight in anything and everything beautiful. She herself was a beautiful woman and always dressed impeccably. When she provided meals it became an occasion not just for good food but for a ‘work of art’ – hence the title of another of her books, ‘Hidden Art’. But ‘Forever Music’ also described how God works into our individual lives – in this case via the biography and conversion of Franz Mohr himself. This in turn led to a concert with the Guaneri Quartet in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Centre, NY, and to personal friendships with some of the world’s most illustrious musicians like Rudolf Serkin, Vladimir Horowitz and Yo Yo Mah.

Her ongoing life continued to be part of the ‘Rochester L’Abri’ for more than a decade and it enabled her to put her gifts of teaching, hospitality and creativity to good use. Many, for example, were the musical soirees in her living room around the Steinway. She spoke regularly at the annual Rochester L’Abri Conferences in February. But she also served as an international Trustee of L’Abri until 2001 making a grand total of 46 years within the life of the Fellowship. She also went on with her writing. Already she had completed nearly a dozen books, some of which, like ‘The L’Abri Story’, ‘The Tapestry’, and ‘Christianity is Jewish’ had sold almost as successfully as her husband’s – as they still do. The scope of her activities went well beyond Rochester, though, both within the United States and abroad. For example, she had been instrumental in the formation of the Francis Schaeffer Foundation based in New York and Switzerland and also in the Francis Schaeffer Institute in St. Louis, an adjunct of Covenant Theological Seminary. Her speaking itinerary was extensive.

Then followed another major surprise when she returned, now aged 80, to the very place in China where she had been born. Once again she found herself the subject of an official red-carpet welcome laid on, believe it or not, by the secular city dignitaries! The third and last of three daughters born to missionary parents, she was only five when they returned to the United States. Like all her memories, however, her recollections of China remained vivid and these she put into a children’s book bearing her Chinese name ‘Mei Fuh’.

For all her fizz and sparkle, however, and despite frequent displays of energy and creativity, even in old age, which left her younger colleagues in L’Abri breathless, the time came for her to return to her beloved Lac Leman in Switzerland. There she lived in a flat in a small lakeside village beside Vevey where she and her husband had spent many happy years. In due course she needed more care and one of her daughters, Mrs Debby Middelmann, with her husband, Udo, graciously provided a home in the mountains not far from where she and Francis had first founded L’Abri Fellowship in 1955. There, after a long decline in health, she died on the 29th March 2013 - aged 98.

It was a long and remarkable life – truly meteoric. But when all is said and done the best thing about Edith was who she was as a person: she never became big-headed because of her successes; she was always generous (even to a fault!); she consistently, and however inconveniently, treated all who came within her ambit with a gentleness and love both radiant and deeply genuine. In short, she was ‘real’ - a true Christian lady whose first desire was to glorify her Maker and Saviour. What she and her husband took as their life-long goal was to try to demonstrate and declare to all they met that the Bible really is true and that the Judaeo-Christian God is a kind and gracious Saviour to those who come to Him. She never swerved from that object. Nor, right until the day she died, did she ever flinch from the costliness of that call. She obeyed the apostolic summons to ‘present your body as a living sacrifice to Christ’ (Romans 12: 1). And now she is with Him. Hallelujah!
                                                ***********************

A funeral service is to take place in Gryon, Vaud, Switzerland at 2pm on the 19th April. Then, since it was their joint wish to be interred together, Edith’s body will be buried beside her husband’s grave, in Rochester Cemetery at 1pm on Thursday the 25th April. Her son-in-law and pastor, Udo Middelmann, will officiate on both occasions and all are welcome.

On the 11th May there is to be a larger Memorial service in Rochester led by Larry Snyder, who until recently directed the Rochester L’Abri. The Rev. Jerram Barrs, of the Francis Schaeffer Institute in St. Louis, will be the speaker. All details to be found on the L’Abri website -  www.labri.org/rochester


Ranald Macaulay MA Cantab ------   Ranald@christianheritage.org.uk  --------   The Round Church, Cambridge.

1374 words
 

Apr 3, 2013

Backyard Reverie

I am currently enjoying space and quiet in the outdoors. The fact that there is still a sea of snow in my yard and that it is only 40 degrees is not stopping me from spending time in the sun on my deck. The thermometer reads 80 in the sunshine and that is keeping the chill at bay. I am enjoying watching the frenzy of bird activity as my feeders and trees are full of juncos, chickadees and sparrows. I can hear the bicycle whir of the warbler but can't see it. The female cardinal is flying backwards and forwards from her nest with no sign of her mate. I hope that he is sitting on the nest as it is unsual to see her out without his careful attention. The Coopers Hawk is back, returning each spring for years, and it greeted me with it's commotion of sharp cacking. I am hoping it did not eat the male cardinal as it feeds on squirrels and birds. I saw a squirrel with a chunk missing from it's tail just this morning. The chickens have finally ventured out on the snow and have made it to the deck. They are currently gathered around me, probably wondering how they will get back home across the snow. It took and hour of coaxing to get them here; they like their feet warm and dry as do I. Ah, a pileated woodpecker just showed up, he is so dramatic in his call, size and appearance. He is over one foot long and has a bright red cap with black and white stripes. When he makes a hole it sounds like an axeman going at a tree.

This kind of back yard reverie reminds me of Annie Dillard's, On Tinkers Creek and I am thinking that I need to read it again. I guess that we are all craving fresh air and sunshine after a very long winter and I am connecting with the rest of nature in this rediscovery of the world around. This connection feeds my humanity and makes things feel as though they are assuming their proper place.  The hens are a little jittery at the birds so close by and they are clustering around my legs. They have had a few unpleasant encounters with the hawk who is not at all phased by my presence. She swoops at them right in front of me and sits in my tree boldly facing me down. I have mixed feelings about it, it is rare for them to be so bold with humans and I like that it has come to know me, but I feel guilty feeding the birds as this only encourages the hawk and it keeps the chickens sticking under the bushes and trees. Sigh, my fingers are getting stiff with cold so I must end and help the chickens back over the snow.
Post Script - the chickens were each happily carried back home and I am about to put my feet up too with the pleasant tired that comes from all that sunshine and fresh air.

Apr 2, 2013

Attracting hummingbirds

http://www.birdsandblooms.com/Birds/HummingBirds/Five-Steps-to-Feeding-Hummingbirds-in-Your-Hand
This is something I would love to try, I just need to have a Summer where I can be outside often. One year I was on my deck a fair bit and one hummingbird that had taken up residence there became tame enough to hover 1 ft from my face when I wore bright clothes with flower prints.  I find them fascinating and watch them just outside the window in my kitchen all Summer. I plant flowers that attract them and keep my feeders clean and full.

Apr 1, 2013

Edith Schaeffer - Memories

As the intense pain of grief  slowly fades, I feel the need to say more about this dear woman who I was fortunate to count as a friend. There has been much that has been written about her accomplishements which are many, and Frank descibes his relationship with her from his perspective. Edith's love for her children was great, that was very evident. She was a woman who loved all of her children fiercly and her relationship with them is for them to talk about. But even though I only new Edith better in the later stages of her life, I witnessed her life for 25 years in L'Abri and have, along with my husband given those years to the ministry l'Abri.  She first impacted me through her writing,  reading L'Abri in my early teens. I guess the fact that I came from a family in Christian ministry with 3 older girls and a younger son like her children made her story grip me and I went on to read all I could of hers. I then went to Switzerland at 21, the day on thanksgiving that Dr. Schaeffer was rushed to hospital. I witnessed there an integrity between belief and practice that fed the longing of my soul, as it seemed possible to live as a christian at last. I was loved by the people who worked there, both intellectually  taking me seriously and practically by being welcomed into their lives. I became a part of the story as I participated in the Monday prayer meeting and listened to Edith's long prayers. The work of L'Abri began with an act of faith that marveled me, and the evidence of Edith carried on in all her life.

We celebrated Edith's 90th Birthday here in Rochester, here you can see the rose petals, candles and cream puffs, all in her honour. It was a happy time with old friends and was followed with her dancing to B.B.King. She was beautiful, even at 90 and I found it hard to keep up with her energy even at that age. There are many who knew her better and worked with her longer, but I am so thankful for the influence she had on my life.
My husband would read to her from P.G.Wodehouse everyday that she was with us and she loved it. He is great with all the accents and she adored his reading. She also enjoyed listening to Frank Sinatra as it would take her right back to her youth and the days that Fran would play her music to romance her. By this time her short term memory had become much worse, but she never lost her long-term memory. She loved the familiar - white table cloths, rice pudding, cups of tea and songs from long ago.

She was still able to enjoy new things, such as getting to know a dog and she loved our Bella and Bella loved her as you can see. She had a very real faith and the truth of christianity was central to her. All that is good, true and beautiful were her delight to the core. She said that she did not want to be veneer but to be solid wood to the core, and that she was.

Breakfast in bed - Edith Schaeffer




Edith stayed with us for several weeks each year for a time and became firm friends with my dog. One morning she asked if she could have her cereal without milk, and when I asked why that was, she explained that it was so much easier to feed it to the dog that way! No wonder my dog loved her so much, she could never resist the dogs pleading looks. I was amazed at how beautiful she could look, even in bed, and one morning she exclaimed with a glow in her eyes that she had been dreaming of heaven and enjoying the company of those that had gone before. At last she is having that wonderful time that she so longed for. 

Easter and Edith


This was the passage preached from in Edith's church, Trinity Presbyterian here in Rochester, MN yesterday. Chris Harper had prepared his sermon before hearing of her death and did a great job. Easter was a wonderful encouragement in the midst of tears. This was Edith's firm hope as it is ours.
1 Cor. 15:50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

It was so appropriate to mingle our sorrow with this joyous hope as we live in the shadow of Edith's work that was indeed not in vain. Christ's Resurrection is the reality around which all of life revolves. Many people have so many lovely memories of her 18 years here in Rochester, MN.
Edith Schaeffer, aged 90