Friday, April 24, 2015

Goodbye for now!

Dear Friends,
I had hoped to continue the writing of weekly devotions through the one year anniversary of the publishing of Great Expectations: An Adoption Story and Devotional.  God, however, had other plans, and I find myself in a hospital on chemotherapy fighting Leukemia.  God is good and is my fortress. He will not forsake me and will help me to fight and overcome this battle.  I will occasionally write notes on my Caring Bridge site to update friends and family of my progress.  I so appreciate your support this past year and encourage you to:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3: 5-6, ESV).

Love in Christ!

Meta Wohlrabe-Nelson

Thursday, April 16, 2015

For years, my morning routine has been the following: I wake up early, make myself a steaming double espresso, don my jogging clothes that change depending on sun, rain, snow, etc. Off on my run, I am free from the demands of the world as I escape onto county roads, passing farmhouses and fields lined with grazing cattle or beautiful horses that run with me short distances along their fence-lines.  Looking to the sky, I watch birds sitting on tree branches or see hawks spread their wings as they soar through the sky.  Once the endorphins kick in, I too am flying (rather slowly though, and more so as I age) and my thoughts take over. I pray and thank God for the new day.  I talk with Him about my husband and each of my children and then I start to plan my day.  If I’m about to write a devotional, I ponder what I might relate with you about. If I’m preparing a lesson, this is where the ideas begin to gather and take shape.  If I’ve read material for classes I’m taking and have writing prompts to reply to, the initial development of ideas takes place in my mind while running.

Last Tuesday, April 7, I had a week off from my graduate classes.  I had lined up myriad tasks that I wanted to accomplish during that time. I began with the final project for the Masters TESOL program I’m in.  I have one last class to fulfill, the submission of the portfolio and then, I will have another Masters Degree.  I worked on my portfolio for a few days and then had plans to move onto the next item on my list.  That Tuesday morning, I drove my daughter to high school and then drove further to the Poudre River trail on which I enjoyed a glorious run of over 8 miles.  I felt exhilarated and ready to meet the day.  As I drove home, I mulled over my plans.  I showered, made another frothy espresso, grabbed my Greek yogurt and set down to work.  But the original delight I had been feeling became a fatigue with which I wasn’t familiar.  I lay down to fall back asleep and woke up with a pounding headache, low-grade fever and chills. 

The next few days brought more of the same along with abdominal issues.  I figured I had come up with a bug or some sort of runner’s colitis, but thought that, if I could just wait it out, the un-pleasantries would subside.  Finally, almost a week later, I made an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner at a Gastroenterology clinic.  After answering her detailed questions, I headed off to the lab to get a blood tests run and then drove to have some CT scans of my abdomen performed. This procedure took up an entire day and the pounding head was worse than ever.  I went home, contacted my choir section leader to let her know that I would not be at the dress rehearsal that evening for a Brahm’s Requiem concert I would be singing in this Saturday and Sunday.

I lay down and tried to sleep.  When I woke on the following day, head still pounding--one week from that last glorious run, the phone rang. “Can you come right down to Radiology? We’d like to run another CT Scan of a specific abdominal area.”  “Sure,” I replied.  Without washing my hair, I donned my jeans and shirt, got into the car and drove to the hospital.  During the drive, the Gastroenterology Clinic called to ask if I’d return to the lab after the CT Scan was complete to get another CBC Blood test run. 
Everything went much more quickly that Tuesday morning, April 14 sans the run. After being scanned, the Clinic called a second time, and the kind nurse practitioner told me I would would be admitted to the hospital for a day to receive IV antibiotics to fight off an  infection in my colon. Assuming it was diverticulitis or runner’s colitis, I asked if I might quickly drive home, take a shower and grab a few things. “No,” she replied.  “It’s important we get the antibiotics going and get rid of this infection.”  I complied only to spend the next two hours waiting in frustration for the emergency antibiotics to appear. Instead a young Internist, sat down and started to ask me questions while my husband sat next to me. I hadn’t figured out that this was the hospitalist I was told would visit.  After asking a few questions, he sat down and said, “ We think you have Leukemia.”  I was shocked—wasn’t I told I was there for my abdominal issues?  How did this happen? The next few hours become a blur as a bone marrow biopsy was performed, my now bruising arms were repeatedly poked to gather more blood, my temperature checked, blood pressure taken, brain scan and heart ultrasound completed.  I didn’t have time to think this through and process that I would not be going home for weeks and that my life would turn upside down. I wanted to encourage these dear people who are trying to help me and show my positive side.  It wasn’t until after the first night in the hospital and the second day that it sunk in that I am really sick.

I ask for prayers from you, my friends.  My caring bridge site is:
Christ is my rock and my salvation.

Love in Christ!


Friday, April 10, 2015


Dear Readers,
Since last summer, it has been my goal to write one devotional a week. Lately, I have not fulfilled this ambition.  My kids had Spring Break while I was taking online classes, and we flew out of state to look at a college for my son.  I could not find the time during that week.

This week, I also did not write.  I've had a one-week break from classes but came down with a fever, body aches and a mind that seems to be in a fog.  I noticed while feeling lousy how hard it has been for me to smile and be chipper around others. Then, after the third day of being sick, a fear sets in.  What if I don't get better?  I couldn't stand feeling like this long-term.  I contemplated what it must be like to have cancer and wake up each morning, knowing you will not feel well and yet must put your best foot forward to exhibit a positive attitude.

Often, when we experience pain, we react with fear which only compounds the pain. Fear of pain then leads our mind to imagine layers of new symptoms.  

Being alive includes experiencing pain - both physical and emotional. Often, the emotional pain is more frightening than the physical. We worry about our children, our jobs, our future, money, our relationships. What do I do when I'm filled with fear? First, I fret. Then, I worry.  I'll lose sleep and feel depressed. As a last resort, I finally go to God. Corrie Ten Boom wrote:
"If you look at the world, you'll be distressed.  If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest." 

Why does it take so long to figure out where true peace can be found?

In 1 Peter 5: 6-7, we read: 
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Prayer: God - I cast my anxiety on You!

Philippians 4: 6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Prayer: God, I am anxious about so many things. Yet, I am thankful I can come to You and let you know my requests. Please fill my mind with your peace and keep my mind and heart in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27: 
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Prayer: God, I'm sorry that my heart is troubled and I don't bring my fears to you.  Give me Your peace. 

May you seek peace and fulfillment in Christ Jesus and lean on Him when fear overtakes you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

This week, we reflect on the death of our Savior. Then on Sunday, we celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead. I remember Easter in my house as a kid. Each of us five children would clamber down the stairs to get breakfast. As we entered the kitchen, Mom would cheerily chant, "He is Risen!" to which she expected the reply, " He is Risen Indeed!" If our response were not filled with enough enthusiasm, she would repeat the phrase till we got it right. We would roll our eyes as we slurped our cereal. "Not again!,"we thought.

Now that Mom has passed, I yearn to hear her Easter ritual once again. And, because of the sacrificial love of our Savior, who died so that we can enjoy life eternal with Him, I will hear Mom repeat this phrase when I see her in heaven. Better yet, I will proclaim that Jesus is Risen today, knowing that Mom is celebrating Easter in the presence of our Risen Lord.

When their brother, Lazarus, died, Mary and Martha were distraught that Jesus hadn't been with them to heal him. Lazarus lay four days decaying in the tomb when Christ finally showed up. Martha even reproached Jesus, telling Him that He could have prevented her brother's death. Now, she felt, it was too late to do anything but mourn.

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she replied, "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world." (John 11: 17-27)

When Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again, she most likely thought He was talking about seeing her brother when she too passed away. Yet, Jesus was telling Martha that she had the substance of all life and hope with her at the moment--in Him. Jesus confirmed that the victory over death is not a future expectation: it is present with us in our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the resurrection and the life. And through Him, we have victory.

"Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 55-57)

As we celebrate Christ's victory over death, may we respond like Martha: "Yes, Lord, I believe You are the Christ, the Son of God who came into the world (v. 27).

Happy Easter!  He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guard Your Heart in Jesus

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ( Proverbs 4:23)

My moods and outlook on life fluctuate depending on my emotions at the moment. If things are going smoothly and everything is taking place in a way that pleases me, I tend to have a positive outlook on the day. If the opposite is true, and I don't feel I have the ability to steer situations to my advantage, I go into a negative tailspin. Should my attitude really be determined by my surroundings or by a sense that I can manage what is taking place in my life? How do I guard my heart from my own emotions? It appears I need to check my heart and direct my thoughts away from myself and my circumstances and back into a focus on what Christ has done for me and the promises He extends to me, His child in faith. 

We can't solve life's deepest problems when separated from God. Our quandaries are not usually due to external factors; rather our problems often come from within us and are related to our spiritual frame of mind. Although we may not be able to change our circumstances, we can guard our hearts. 

The future is not in our hands; it is in God's. When we pass from this life to the next, we will no longer face the evils and injustices of this world. God tells us, "See I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17). 

How do we guard our hearts from our own fickle emotions and from pessimism at our circumstances? "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12: 1b-4). 

When I want to stop wallowing in self pity and find joy in something other than my own situation, I need to guard my heart by fixing my eyes on Jesus.  He died for me, forgave me, and placed His Spirit within me. He endured the cross so that you and I might not be encumbered by the sin that entangles us. When I put my life and my future into Christ's hands, I understand His promise: "I will give you a new heart and put my spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekial 36:26).

Dear Lord,
Help me focus on Your promises rather than on  circumstances over which I have no control. Teach me to guard my heart from my emotions so that I do not grow weary and lose heart. I want to trust in You, for You are the my foundation! Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Thank You for the hope I have in You. In Jesus' Name. Amen

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22, NIV)

After having brought my daughter home from Vietnam, I assumed that I had conquered the "patience battle" or that patience became easier to access with age - Wrong!! It is not easier or less frequent a problem. Nor do I get less frustrated with the stress it causes. One thing I have perhaps learned: to expect struggles in life. What sort of patience battles consume me at present? When our kids get older, we deal with their waiting issues in addition to our own. It is painful to watch our children struggle as they try to understand the consequences of living in a sinful world. My 17 year old son tore his ACL 17 months ago.  His first ACL repair was not successful and the second ordeal was more complex than the first.  He recently had a revision ACL and meniscal repair.  We are fearful that he isn't healing well once again.  I grieve for him and perceive his sorrow at all he wants to be able to do and can't; it is as if I experience his loss with him. It seems that each of my children has issues of sorrow to deal with or questions about their futures that I don't have the answers to. What do I do when I am impatient or grieving over my children's sorrows? I fuss, I fume, I get angry, I try to inform myself about possible treatments, causes, ways to help them attain their goals.  These attempts to understand and deal with pain give me a sense of control. It is not until after I am exhausted from my own fussing that I finally lay my burden at the cross and ask Jesus to carry it with me.  Jesus said:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)

Dear God,
When I am impatient or full of sorrow at the trials I experience, rather than lean on You, my first response is to try to fix things by myself. Teach me to come to You.  Take my burden from me, and guide me to rely on Your strength. Help me take refuge in You. In Jesus' Name. Amen

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Freedom in Christ

I used to drive my kids around to their after school activities and listen to political talk radio. Although I still attempt to stay politically informed, I found these radio shows caused me to become frustrated and angry; the negativity began to cloud my perspective about life. I then started to listen to audio books. Presently, I'm almost finished with Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher-Stowe. Uncle Tom, a slave, is repeatedly promised his freedom. His strong faith gets him through many a trial, and his hope is anchored in Christ. In a sense, Uncle Tom symbolizes Christ. As the story comes to a close, Tom gives up his life so that other slaves can escape to freedom. Like Christ, Tom is obedient to his master, even unto death: "And being found in appearance as a man, he [Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8) Tom dies at the hands of a brutal slave beater who kills Tom because of His faith in Jesus and obedience to Him. As Tom is dying, he remarks that he dies with joy in the knowledge that he will be united in death with his Savior. Tom understands that, "the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). 

Just as Christ died for Tom, He died for each and every one of us. Yet, we get so caught up in our daily frustrations, such as a sense that we have no power to change political corruption, or that our life is unfair, or that it is just plain not easy to deal with day to day dilemmas. Paul reminds us that, although we encounter hardship on earth "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

How do we not remain burdened by fear, anxiety, stress and sin? Christ wants us to enjoy freedom. Our freedom does not depend on the daily decisions we make about whether we should stay at a job we aren't enjoying or which school we send our children to, or which neighborhood we hope to live in, etc. Our freedom depends on fully surrendering our life to Christ and, like Tom, living a life of obedience to Him: "whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:5-6). Yet, even when we try to be obedient, we fail. Fortunately, it is not our goodness that saves us but our faith in Christ. He gives us freedom from our failures. He gives us everlasting hope. "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). God is merciful. He forgives us and removes the burden of sin we carry with us. Christ died, and rose, and sent us His Spirit to set us free. If we trust in Him and give our burdens to Him, He will lead us in freedom and guide us to obedience in Him.

Dear God, You are a gracious God. Even when I become burdened by day-to-day complications, You are with me extending Your hand of freedom from these burdens. Help me to take Your hand and submit my life to Your Lordship so that I can be free indeed in You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.