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Thursday, January 18, 2024

Memories of Mary

Prior to the very clear Gospel message giving the reasons why Mary had the hope of heaven, three speakers gave eulogies/memories of their relationship with Mary Alyce (Elfstrand) Wavinak. They all brought laughs and tears. But only one made me have to stifle sobs at the end. The one by her brother Mark. 

You can find the video of his remarks HERE

When we learned of Mary’s stage 4 cancer at the end of October 2023, we did not know she would be gone within 3 months. Please, if you don’t know that you will be in heaven after your last day on earth … talk with someone who knows! 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Father Knows Best

Who remembers the old TV program, Father Knows Best? Our family watched it from time to time. You just don’t see families like that on TV anymore. Ah, but I digress.

It’s been several days since I felt like logging any activity, and frankly I don’t really feel like it right now. But here goes.

First off, how can I even begin to enumerate the friends and family who have been praying for me? It is humbling. THANK YOU, each and every one!

Secondly, having Mark and Ingrid be my eyes, ears, mouth, during the whole process has been so incredibly helpful. I appreciate them so much! If you are on FB (or perhaps Instagram), you are no doubt up to speed on the happenings of the last five days or so.

Thirdly, although they will probably never see this, I want to publicly thank my surgical team and hospital team. God was so good to get me in to a specialty surgeon. This particular surgeon is so well known around the hospital that he has his own set of supplies to treat his patients, lovingly called “The Salti Pack.” He has hand chosen a wing of the hospital to care for his patients. Thank You, Lord, for good care.

Okay, so when we make a Christmas list, we’d like everything on it, but don’t always get what we want. Father knows best. The surgery was more complicated than expected. But the mucocele DID stay intact, praise God! As of yet, we don’t know about malignancy, so still praying that God would be merciful and gracious with this request. Other than some nausea, I didn’t have major concerns with the anesthetic. 

It takes a while for the digestive system to “wake up” after a surgery like this. I’m still in a slight bit of pain, but I get a really cool cover for my incision, as well as a waist binder to hold me together (I admittedly was singing “Breath of Heaven, Hold Me Together” from time to time.) Please pray for the nausea to abate and that I can tolerate what I need for nourishment.

For the time being, my diet has to be very restrictive: all soft foods for at least a month. That’s quite a shift from what I’ve been eating, so care is the name of the game. We’re trying to think of things that fit this new requirement. 

I am thankful to be home. Thankful for electric recliners! And thankful for Christmas music. 

As I have to constantly preach to myself about shifting the “what ifs” to “even ifs”, I also have to remind myself that Father Knows Best!


Monday, December 11, 2023

Gratitude List BEFORE Surgery

1. Almighty God knows what I need 

2. God has the power to provide peace, comfort, protection, and healing

2. Praying family and friends

3. An expert surgical team

4. A daughter and husband who will give up their time to accompany me before surgery

5.  This stuff … that I’m supposed to start drinking at 5:15 tomorrow morning, and another one at 1 PM … oh my!

Friday, December 08, 2023

My Christmas List

Where shall I start?

Today has been a gorgeous fall/meteorological winter day! Sunshine. Mild. And God’s hands have been all over my day. 

A month or more ago I gathered the Christmas lists for kids and grandkids and had fun pressing links for Christmas presents. Shipping here, there, and everywhere.

Then I wrote a short Christmas letter to send to those few with whom we don’t have contact through Facebook. A small group indeed. In that letter, I wrote a line that will probably haunt me for a while: Neither one of us have been hospitalized, praise God!


In early fall, I had begun having discomfort on the right side of my abdomen. No sharp pains, so I wasn’t concerned about appendicitis. But it felt like bloating and pressure, so I started consulting “Dr. Google.” I think we all have a love/hate relationship with Dr. Google.

I let it go for a couple of months, and noticed that I could palpably feel a mass deep on my right side. Still no real pain.

But right about this time, Mark’s sister came to visit. This is important in several ways. A couple of weeks before she came down from Minnesota, she was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. We were all shocked and praying. Because of her painful symptoms, she encouraged me (no, she pushed me!) to at least go to my general practitioner to get it checked out.

Forward to November 22. My GP felt the mass and suggested that it could be a hernia, but she sent through a referral for a CT scan. I felt in no hurry, and scheduled it for Tuesday, December 5. Mind you, I’m writing this on Friday, December 8.

My Chart is an incredible tool. Scheduling, messaging, test results … and all in a flash! 

Bottom line of the CT results: consult a surgeon.

Five and a half years ago, I went through major surgery for breast cancer, and my surgeon was the best! Dr. Klade. She is a general surgeon, so I thought it appropriate to schedule with her. I got a time slot for Thursday, December 7. Amazing.

After showing me what she saw on the CT scan, she cautioned me that this could be more major than just an appendectomy. She told me of a surgeon who was well known for this kind of surgery: Dr. George Salti. She volunteered to call him as I was leaving her office, and … shocker … he had left me a message before I even got back home. 

“I will get you in on Friday.”

Okay, now the wheels are spinning awfully fast, but that’s definitely an answer to prayer.

So at 10:30 this morning, I met Dr. Salti, the surgical oncologist. Something about “oncology” is foreboding. His demeanor is caring. He is an expert in the field of complex internal oncology surgery. And once again, we looked at the CT scan.

A mucocele tumor attached to the appendix. The danger is rupture. God has been gracious to get me this far!

As of right now, the doctor does not think it is cancer, but only pathology after surgery will rule that out.

And again, a major blessing that he would get me in for surgery … Tuesday, the 12th.

Surgery was NOT on my Christmas list! But God has moved schedules to get this taken care of, and even though I can tend to worry, deep down I know Who holds me for now and eternity! 

What IS on my Christmas list is a prayer request:

  • That the mucocele will stay intact.
  • That I have no adverse side effects from the anesthesia and antibiotics (I’ve had issues before).
  • That the mass is benign.
  • That no resection of the colon would be necessary.
  • That there be no infection.
  • That my heart and head would remember God’s power, provision, and love for me.
  • That I would be a godly representative to all with whom I come in contact.

Thank you! Now … what’s on your Christmas list?

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Groanings to the Father through the Spirit

It has been a LONG time, blogging friends! I am more prone to “micro-blog” via Facebook, but this was just too long.

Last night was one of those nights I couldn’t stay asleep. Unfortunately, when I’m wide awake in the middle of the night, my default is to check Facebook. I’m sort of glad I did.

Although I don’t know the circumstances, I can guess. An acquaintance from long ago had posted that her 30-year-old daughter passed away that day. Crushing. Horrific. No words can help.

My first thought was Romans 12:5. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

But then, when I couldn’t sleep, and I had exhausted what I knew to pray for this heartbroken mama, the words of what’s known as “The Lord’s Prayer” just kept playing on repeat in my head. 

About the third time around, I started breaking down the parts of Jesus’ prayer. I don’t ever want to take Scripture out of context or make it say something it doesn’t, so I pray that the Spirit will change whatever words are not in keeping.


    LORD, thank You that You have chosen me to be Your child through the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus. This allows me to call You my Father. What an unmerited honor.


    You are the Creator of all the universe. Nothing in the created world can house You. Our physical skies are not truly Heaven. Your dwelling place is beyond human comprehension.


    You are wholly set apart: holy. Your name cannot even be expressed by Your chosen people. You are utterly perfect and can abide no sin. I am not to take Your name lightly or disrespectfully. You say You are the great I AM … same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


    We ask that You come quickly, Lord. You are the Sovereign, to Whom we owe our very lives and Who is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving, and all-wise. We want that Kingdom to be established.


    You have shown us Your will in Your Word. I ask to be a willing participant in that will…that I would seek and follow Your will, just as the heavenly beings do Your will.


    I tend to want more than I need. But You have given me everything I need for each day. That is enough.


    This very much sounds like an “if-then” statement. I’ve been forgiven much. I owe it to all around me to give them that same grace and mercy. Conversely, am I forfeiting forgiveness if I fail to forgive others?


    I know that You do not tempt anyone to sin. I am asking that You lead me AROUND and THROUGH temptation so that evil (or the evil one) cannot get its claws into my life. I do not want to trample on the grace and mercy You have shown me.


    Oh for the day when I see that Heavenly Kingdom! You alone have the power to get me there through the blood of Jesus. He glorified You. He asked that I, too, would glorify You. Eternally!


    I agree. I concur. Your will be done. 

I’m praying for this woman’s heartache on the loss of her daughter. I cannot afford (nor can you, dear reader) to go a single day without accepting the gift of salvation that ONLY comes through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. There is no other way. Don’t turn your back, or fall for the “all roads lead to heaven” lie. There is no “rest in peace” for those apart from Jesus.

And if you don’t know what to say … The Spirit translates our groanings that have no appropriate words.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

At What Price?

 If you have seen some previous Facebook posts, you’ve noticed that I’ve been reacquainting myself with this series by Jack Cavanaugh. The series follows a family from 1620 to present day. Wars. Intrigue. Family highs and lows. I have been thoroughly engrossed in the stories and educated at the same time. 

Until this one.

I don’t mean to say it isn’t well written. It is. The difference is the timeframe. You see, all the previous novels have harkened back to an era in which I had no personal experience. You know … I didn’t live through it. 

This story covers the Vietnam era. I DID live through this one. So it is hitting me in a different part of my gut. It is uncomfortable. Both the story and the feelings it dredges up as I think back over those tumultuous years … for me and for this country.

A scant year after the assassination of John F Kennedy, my father determined he would take a last ditch opportunity to enter the Air Force as a chaplain. 35 years of age was the cutoff. He was 34. 

Unlike most military families, where the inductee enters service right after high school or college, this was an anomaly. I was 10.

At the end of 1964 (hello, Beatles!), we left the pastor’s parsonage in Conrad, Montana, and made the trek to Duluth, Minnesota. Get the picture? Bleak midwinter. Northern states. And tears for leaving the known for the unknown.

Fast forward to 1967 and my father’s new assignment. Yokota Air Force Base, Japan. 

What’s going on in the South Pacific? You got it … Vietnam. 

My father left for overseas, but there wasn’t enough housing available, so the rest of us moved in with my maternal grandparents in Bellingham, Washington. I started 8th grade, not knowing when my roots would be pulled up yet again. 

Three months into the school year (end of October, 1967) we got the call that Dad had purchased a “paddy house” off base for a grand sum of $5000 US. Time to pack our bags and head to Travis AFB, between Sacramento and San Francisco. 

One of my uncles (Ed Sawyer) was getting his doctorate at Berkeley at the time, so he and his family said they’d show us around until we had to board the plane. And yes, THAT Berkeley. Pretty much the headwaters of brainwashing at the time.

I remember the drive through Haight-Ashbury (you might want to look that one up, too). I can’t say I’d had a sheltered life, but that was an eye-opener. I had picked up a Haight-Ashbury “news”paper and was thumbing through it. The columns and the artwork would have appealed to their hippy, drug-stupored readership. Psychedelic nudity ruled the day.

For the years of 1967-1970, we lived in the relative safety of the Air Force base and its environs. There were some times when Japanese dissenters would threaten the base and throw Molotov cocktails over the fences. We always got advance warning and, as a teen, we’d joke, “See you at 5 for Molotov cocktails!”

Unrest doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on Stateside during those years. It didn’t take me long to be grateful that we were not anywhere near it. 

My father ministered to airmen and soldiers who had been injured in Vietnam and were on their way back to the States via Yokota. Our youth group went to the hospital to sing to them at Christmas time. It was the first time I saw a person’s midsection held together with giant staples. 

Our family always knew that we (the US) were involved in Vietnam to hopefully keep it from succumbing to communism. We all knew that threat was very real. No deserters or card burners where I lived.

It was also the advent of the “Black Power” movement. Since the Air Force was an integrated service as far as I could tell, it seemed like a moot point to me. However, the black power fist was frequently used in greeting.

Yes, that was a tumultuous time. The sixties were a cultural revolution from which we have never recovered. And reading about it in a novel pulls up all that sludge. I’m only 150 pages in, and already I’m steeling myself for the challenges that lie ahead.

If this were a book report, I’d tell you to start in 1620 and follow the thread  

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it (or something to that effect). 

Monday, January 31, 2022

I’d Rather Dye!

Why in the world would I be showing you this silver streak down the top of my head? I’ll admit that I’m vain when it comes to the color of my hair. Kudos to my friends who rock the gray, but I’m not there yet.

You see, this particular gray streak is important to me.

In July of 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a single mastectomy that same month. God is good no matter what. He walked me through that, providing family and professionals along the way. And I got through it without chemotherapy … all hair follicles intact.

In December of 2021, I had the obligatory mammogram. The images came back “inconclusive.” A survivor doesn’t like to hear or see those words. So I was scheduled for another mammogram at the beginning of January 2022.

“Distortion.”  Now scheduled for a followup ultrasound that same day. 

“The radiologist will meet with you shortly.” Oh great…

BI-RADS 4A. This is a designation of how concerned the radiologist is that the findings may be cancerous. The last time I had a BI-RADS number, it was 5. You don’t want a 5.

So now I would be scheduled for a breast biopsy on January 27. Unlike my previous ultrasound biopsy in 2018, this one has to be done at the hospital with a different type of machine: Stereotactic Mammogram-Guided Biopsy.  (linked if you are curious)

At that point my mind started going in all directions. All the “what ifs” that I’ve been through before, and yet I was at peace with the “whatever comes.” 

One of the “what ifs” would be malignancy. And next step would be “what if chemotherapy?” 

And that brings me to this picture. I had determined that either a) I’d be declared NED (no evidence of disease) and schedule a much needed hair appointment OR b) I’d be told I have a malignancy and need surgery and/or chemotherapy. If so, I’d hold off on dyeing my hair, because … what if it will all fall out anyway?

I went through the biopsy. Not horrible, and the staff are always so compassionate. They told me I should receive the pathology report within 2 business days. 

About 20 minutes ago I got the notification of test results coming through My Chart. I stopped. I prayed. God prepared me for whatever I would read there. I opened up the My Chart test results and read:

-No evidence of malignancy in the submitted material.

And now we breathe a huge sigh of relief … and make a hair appointment!!!

Thank You, Lord! In the meantime, would you pray for a friend of mine who will be going through mastectomy surgery this Friday? Whether God takes us AROUND the challenge or THROUGH it, we can trust Him.