MEMORIES


Photo Album

All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall [fade] because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall [fade], but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40: 6-8)

Memories are a beautiful thing.

My father was called home to heaven when I was eight years old. After a few years I realized that I could no longer recall his face or remember the sound of his voice. I am thankful for pictures. The pictures refresh my memory of his face. There are no videos to help me recall the sound of his voice, but the pictures are a true blessing.

Memories are precious, but I know from my own experience that memories fade with time. In recent months/weeks I have been putting together memory books for my five grandchildren who lost their dad to brain cancer on April 6, 2017. All that remains for them now is “memories” of their dad.

When my son was getting close to the end of his life, his social worker suggested he make memory books for the children. She gave him five hard covered books which were a blank slate. She inked his hand and put his handprint on the front of each book. He wasn’t able to do them himself, so he dictated to his sister and I notes of memories that were precious to him and that he wanted the children to remember. I have been busy making a book of memories for each child. It includes his notes and many pictures of him with them while they were growing up.

As time passes I know their memories of him will fade, but the books will give each of them a reference. The pictures will preserve the memory of his face in their minds. In the pictures they will see his mannerisms and remember the way he played with them. The pictures reveal many of the fun things they did together i.e. fishing with the boys, carnival rides, birthdays, and Christmases. He loved his children. After God they were his top priority. Every life decision he made was made with their best interest in mind.

The verses above from the book of Isaiah remind us that this life is only temporary. Like the grass and flowers of the field, humans have a life cycle also. From the moment of our birth death is a shadow that hangs over each of us. Sickness, tragic accidents or old age will eventually touch each of us and our loved ones. But the last line states that though the grass withers and the flowers fall [fade], the word of our God stands forever.

This life is sometimes sad. People we love die. Death creates an emptiness in our hearts and lives. Thankfully the promises of God never change. Jesus promises to never leave us. He says, and surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He is present in our lives watching over us and guiding us His children, along the road of life.

He promises that this life is not all there is. He tells us, do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-3)

All who believe in God through faith in Jesus His Son, will live forever with Him in heaven. Our heavenly home is ready and waiting for us. There will be no more death or sadness, no tears or pain. We will see Jesus face to face and we will see our loved ones who died in the faith also. What a beautiful thing to look forward to!

I pray that my grandchildren will retain their faith in Jesus and be reunited with their dad in heaven someday. I look forward to seeing him again also along with other loved ones who have gone before me in faith, where the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21: 3, 4).

This life on earth pales in comparison with what is to come. We live here by God’s grace. His deep love for sinners brought His only Son to the cross where He offered himself as a sacrifice for sin. What a wonderful gift! It offers hope to a dark world of sin, suffering and death.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2: 8, 9).

Gloria Dei!

By Christine
The memory books were put together with love and are meant to be a treasure to the children. They are a little piece of their dad – a reference. When they miss him or are feeling sad they can reach for the book and see him. It will reassure them of his love for them and be a little part of him to keep close to their hearts.
This life on earth is very fragile. We, or someone we love, can be here one minute and gone the next. Our minds have trouble grasping it. After we lose someone we love to death, it often feels like their life with us was just a dream. Time seems to stand still for us, but the rest of the world keeps moving forward. We see our friends and relatives continuing as normal and feel like we are left stuck in time. We wonder, was that person real – was he/she really part of my life? Does anyone remember or still think of him/her? Pictures are a reality – something we can see and touch. They are a comfort to the grieving.
As an adult I have made a memory book of my own father from the pictures I have. It would have been very precious to me as a child to have had a collection of picture memories of my life with him to go to when I was lonely. I pray that these books will promote healing of the heart for my grandchildren and be something they can share with their own children someday.

 

 

 

What is Decision Theology?


Many church denominations today push the idea of “Decision Theology”. Maybe some who are reading this blog post do not know what Decision Theology means. It is possible also that many who are reading this do know what it means and feel or have been taught that it is the only way to heaven.

The purpose of this post is to define “Decision Theology”, state the truth, and most importantly, to offer comfort in the knowledge that the way to heaven does not depend on anything we do, say, or feel of our own decision. Salvation is a free gift of God’s love and mercy for lost sinners.

 

Decision Theology

Catechism

(Luther’s Catechism, Anniversary Edition pg.186)

Can people decide, by the power of their own wills, to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

Unfortunately, many today speak about faith in Christ as a personal decision. They believe that people must ultimately decide whether or not to accept what God has to say and whether or not to invite Jesus into their hearts.

The Bible doesn’t teach this. Rather, it teaches that we are all by nature spiritually dead. Our human wills, in any spiritual sense, are also dead. What is dead cannot contribute toward becoming spiritually alive. Those who view faith as something brought about by a human decision are placing confidence for salvation in something other than God. Such misplaced confidence opens the door to uncertainty and doubt, leaving them to wonder if they truly believe or if they are sincere. We place our trust in God, who alone has the power to work the miracle of faith through the gospel.

There is no need for anyone to make a profession of faith to any church body or pastor, or make a personal decision to accept or receive Jesus into his heart or follow Him. No; it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

So take comfort dear friends and be confident in the knowledge that Jesus did it all for you. There is nothing you can do on your own to come to Him. It is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. No one can say, Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

I urge you to pick up your Bible and begin reading. Let the Holy Spirit take it from there. You will be blessed!

Gloria Dei!

Living in the Shadow


"Funny" - Really?
Shadows of Evening

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…  (Psalm 23: 4)

Death is a scary thing isn’t it? I mean, we all know we are going to die someday right? Every human dies. Every living thing dies. Some die young and some live to a ripe old age, but death is no respecter of persons. There are no exceptions. When thoughts of death creep into our consciousness, we tend to push them aside as something to deal with later. We tell ourselves that death is in the far off future for us. We don’t need to think about it right now. But that isn’t always the case. This life we live here on earth can be over in an instant. We can be here one day and gone tomorrow. It is something we have no control over.

Our bodies are tough, but also fragile. We can be perfectly healthy and be killed in a car accident instantly. We can think we are healthy and strong only to find out that we have a hidden illness which has not yet manifested symptoms. These are constant reminders to believers and unbelievers alike that this physical life is temporary. It is only a baby step away from eternity.

  I think it safe to say that all of us have had the false misconception at times that tragic accidents which cause fatal injuries, and/or illnesses that cause death, happen to others not to us or to our family. As we travel through life we eventually learn that death touches every family sooner or later.

It has touched my own family in recent months. My husband passed away this past February after being ill for over 3 years. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness in October of 2012. At that time the doctors told us he had months, but God had a different plan. He lived for 3 ½ years after his diagnosis. During that time we always felt a shadow above our heads. It followed us everywhere.

At first I cried every day. But at some point I realized that I couldn’t live life that way. It wasn’t healthy for me or for the rest of the family and especially for my husband. So instead of crying I made up my mind to go on with life, keep it as normal as possible and enjoy our time together. I continued to work, and on my off days we did normal, and often fun things together as long as he was able. The last year of his life wasn’t so much fun, especially for him, but we made the best of it. We lived life.

My husband passed away February 2, 2016. As difficult as it was and still is, it was a relief that his suffering was over. In Jesus we have a living hope for eternity. He promises; I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11: 25, 26) I am sure that Bob is now experiencing the joys of heaven. I miss him terribly, but am confident that I will see him again when the Lord calls me home.

After his death my life settled back into a “new” normal…until April of 2016. God wasn’t done with us yet. The evening of April 9, 2016, I received a text from my 40-year-old son informing me that he was in the ER. It read; “I am in the ER, but don’t worry mom, I am okay.” That was it – that’s all it said. I immediately dialed his number. He answered and informed me that he had a severe headache and that they were giving him what is known as an IV cocktail for migraines, then he would hopefully be sent home. “ok”, I said; “just keep me posted”.

I hung up the phone and thought to myself; “That’s strange. He has never had a migraine before that I can remember.” I set that thought aside however and decided it best to just wait and see. I talked to him several times throughout the following week and he seemed to be doing somewhat better, but still had a headache. On Friday, although his head still hurt, he felt he should try going back to work.

Robert
Robert “Cruise”

That evening I called to see how his day had gone. He said; “My head is still hurting really bad and every time I move I get sick. I must have been sick at least six times at work today.” I replied; “Robert, something is seriously wrong. You need to go back and get checked out again. He replied; “I will if I’m not better tomorrow. The kids will be here soon for the weekend.” He hung up and when I tried to call him back, I got no answer. I texted Sean and informed him that his dad was feeling really bad and waiting for them to arrive. He texted back that he was waiting for his sisters to get their things together. They would be on their way soon.

When I called again later Sean and the kids were with him. His Dr. had prescribed him something for the upset stomach, so at least the vomiting had stopped. My granddaughter Toree said to me; “don’t worry grandma. We are taking good care of dad.  He isn’t throwing up anymore.” Bless her heart…I love her for being so brave.

They made it through Saturday, but on Sunday as soon as I got home from church. I texted Sean to find out how things were going. He replied; “We are in the ER again grandma. They are doing a CT scan of his head to see what is going on.” The next text read; “He has a mass.” I immediately called and asked; “do I need to come?” The answer of course was “yes”.

Milwaukee is a 6½ hour drive from Grand Blanc, MI and I had never done it alone before, but I had a good car. I called it my “smart” car because it had turn by turn navigation through OnStar. What a blessing! I packed my clothes, made arrangements for family members to care for my menagerie of pets and by 3:00 pm I was on the road.

I arrived at the hospital at 9:45 pm (10:45 Michigan time). At that time, he was finally resting comfortably in NICU (Neuro Intensive Care Unit). He had been given medication to relieve his pain and steroids to reduce the swelling in his brain.

We were told the next day that he would need surgery. He had 2 masses in his brain, both on the right side. One was on his right temporal lobe and was displacing his brain, which was what had been causing the excruciating pain. It would have to be removed. The other mass was deeper and a little more to the left, but still in the right lobe. They would not remove the second mass. Because of its location they would not touch it unless they absolutely had to, in order to prevent further injury to the brain.

In spite of the seriousness of it, we were told he was fortunate he hadn’t had a seizure – and also that it was a good thing the masses were on the right side of his brain. Had they been on his left side it would have been much more debilitating. His motor skills would have been affected. He may not have been able to walk or even stand.

In all of this, I was thinking to myself; “This can’t be real!” I just lost my husband, now my son too?” I asked the Dr.; “Is this cancer for sure? Could it possibly be benign tumors?” He said; “This is cancer. We just don’t know for sure what kind until the biopsy comes back.

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There is Hope

The cancer turned out to be Glioblastoma stage 4. It is the worst kind of brain cancer. It is fast growing, (which the Dr. said is good, in the sense that it will respond well to treatment), but it is terminal. We were told; it is not a matter of “if” but “when” it will return. Statistics give him 14 months to 5 years. It seems the “shadow” has returned.

We are encouraged because Robert has done very well since his surgery. He just finished his first round of treatment (Radiation and Chemo) on Friday July 1, 2016. He has a month off now to rest and regain his strength and then he will go on a maintenance dose of Chemotherapy for a year. He hopes to be able to go back to work during that time.

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Five good reasons

He has five good reasons to live. They are Sean (age 17), Kevin (age 15), Bailey and Caitlyn (twins age 13), and Toree (age 11). He loves them so much and they need their dad. At the same time, we must remember that God knows what is best and we must trust Him.

So the Pocza family is living in the “shadow” once again. But we all live in that shadow from the moment we are born and before. We hope to live a long life here on earth, but no matter how long we live, physical death will always be the end result. God did not create us to die, but because of sin it is certain.

Death is not something we should dwell on and be worried about every day. God gives life and it is a blessing. He wants us to serve Him joyfully each day and enjoy our life. But He also wants us to be prepared at all times for the day He will call us home to eternal life. Being prepared means loving Jesus and living to glorify Him. He died in our place and paid our debt to God for our sins. Through faith we are covered in robes of righteousness and are holy in God’s eyes and fit for heaven.

Without faith in Jesus, our physical death means we will live eternally separated from God. That is a big deal because eternity is forever. Here on earth believers and unbelievers alike receive blessings from God. Being completely separated from God means there will be no light, laughter and love. Without His presence there will only be darkness, pain and sadness for eternity.

God has perfect timing and we trust His timing knowing He loves His children with an unconditional and perfect love. He will always do what is best for us. Knowing that however, shouldn’t keep us from asking, even begging Him for a miracle. I pray each day, for God to heal Roberts brain and extend his life. But at the same time Robert, through faith in Jesus is sure of where he is going. He said to me one day shortly after his diagnosis; “Mom, I am not afraid to die”. My mother’s heart however does not want to let him go. May the LORD’S will be done.

Jesus promises to never leave us (And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20), and He promises to carry our burdens for us. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30) We must let go of the things in life which are out of our control and trust Him.

Robert feels it an honor to be disciplined by the Lord in this way. My son do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son (Hebrews 12:6). He is using his illness to reach out to those who don’t know the Lord and is setting an example of faith and trust in his God. His strong faith and love for the Lord are his strength.

So my new normal now is living in Oak Creek, WI with my son. I am happy to be here and we are enjoying this time together. I am enjoying seeing and spending time, with my 5 grandchildren who have always lived so far from me. I am learning to find my way around Milwaukee and the surrounding areas. I have connected with an old friend from my high school and college days. I am spending time with my dear cousin and her husband who have been wonderful support for not only myself, but for Robert also. My sister, who was alone in California has also come to live nearby which is a true blessing.

I was lonely in Michigan. I missed my husband so much and life was just not the same. I still miss him, but I have other things to think about and other people who need me. Although I wish I would have come here under happier circumstances, I feel blessed to be here. I would have never made the decision to come here on my own, but this is where God wants me and He knew how to get me here. He just keeps me moving and I am willing to go wherever He sends me. I don’t know what the future holds but God does, so there is no reason for me to worry about it. The shadow still follows us closely, but we are ignoring it and enjoying this time God has given us.  When/if tears and sadness come, the Lord will be right there by our side.

…for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me…surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:4, 6)

 

Gloria Dei!

by Christine