The Blessing of Daughters in Old Age

“Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.” Proverbs 17:6

“A son is a son till he finds a wife; a daughter is a daughter all her life.”

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Cheryl and I have been blessed with two beautiful Christian daughters. Yes, they are attractive on the outside, talented in a variety of ways, and incredibly bright, but what blesses me most is their inner beauty and never-ending love for their dad. It’s nothing I deserve. I didn’t cultivate it, nor was I the best of fathers. I made countless mistakes in child-raising. They are simply gifts of God’s grace amazing grace.

One example is this past week. My hematologist/oncologist scheduled me for a bone marrow biopsy to see why my white cell blood count has been elevated for over a year. Both girls immediately asked if they could go with me. They didn’t want me to endure it alone. But since Cheryl wanted to take me in and both Heidi and Rebecca are busy with work and child-raising, I said, “No, it’s not necessary. You can come to the appointment when the doctor gives me the results.”  I’m not sure when that will be. “7 to 10 days is what the nurse practitioner told us.”

So we wait for a call from the doctor’s office and some clarification as to why my levels have been so high. Diane, the nurse practitioner, who has performed this test hundreds of times, said from eye-balling the blood and marrow she collected, it looked perfectly normal to her. She wasn’t supposed to give me that information, but she wanted us to be hopeful about the results. The other highlight of the biopsy was the pain. We were told that it would take 20 to 30 minutes and that is usually highly painful, but that I shouldn’t wiggle or we might have to do it all over again.

So I laid as still as a sleeping baby. The initial lidocaine shot stung a bit, but that was it. The rest of the biopsy was without any pain whatsoever. In fact, throughout it, she and her assistant kept asking if it was hurting. “No. No. No.” was my consistent reply. They marveled because they’d never seen anybody get through it so comfortably. I should tell you that I prayed for God’s strength before the procedure began and was confident that He would empower me.  He did because I was never tempted to flinch. They finished the biopsy in record time and kept remarking what an abnormally high threshold of pain I must have.

Whatever the reason, I was thankful for the ease of the procedure and now await a clear diagnosis and good prognosis from the doctor. Please join me in praying for that. Having mentioned my daughters earlier, let me share the prayer requests they posted to friends on Facebook. I appreciate their thoughtfulness and all the support we’ve been given.

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In light of how much peace I feel regarding both my eternal future and that of my beloved family because of Jesus Christ, I really am okay. But from an emotional, present moment standpoint – it’s very hard on a soul to be constantly confronted with the mortality of one’s very loved, very “young,” very physically unwell parents, who roller coaster from one life threatening health crisis to another. Drained heart here. But Jesus is the Life, the Truth, and the Way. He can and will sustain we, me, us, them throughout whatever trial and difficulty we may face. To God be the glory, and God’s will be done. Becca Danielle Schnabel

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Hi Friends. I don’t know if you’re people who pray, but even if you’re not, maybe you could still say a prayer for my family today or tomorrow. This is a photo of my sweet parents Gary & Cheryl Schwarz when they were pregnant with me. Well, my dad has been battling Parkinson’s and spinal stenosis for a while now, and tomorrow he’s having a bone marrow biopsy to assess if he has cancer. He’s been such a tender guy through all this. We’d love an answer to his medical problems, sometimes not knowing what’s wrong is harder than a bad diagnosis. So…thanks for caring. Heidi Beth Sadler

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Pink Bikes, Birthday Parties, and Depression: Lessons from a 3-Year-Old

Guest blog by Heidi (Schwarz) Sadler heidiprofile-300x221

Because we have multiple medical appointments this week, our daughter, Heidi Beth Sadler, has agreed to share her blog with us here. Heidi  is a musician, writer, and cat lover in Portland, OR. Visit her on Facebook or chasingebenezer.com

Depression sucks. A lot of you know this firsthand. Personally, I’ve been walking through serious depression for some time (I’d suggest you go back and read my previous blog, Loved in Depression?). I’m glad to report that while I’m still working through it, things are much better. It’s certainly not been a quick fix. Some situations are fixed instantly, but sometimes the slow, holistic method is required. The benefit is that I’ve received some beautiful gifts on this healing path that I hope encourage you on whatever arduous path you might be traveling today.

The Soul

Whimsy. It’s not a word we use very often. We’re so focused on technology and science that the idea of mystery and childlike wonder is hard to come by. Well, over the past six months, there is a special little girl who has taught me so much about whimsy and joy and wholehearted living. She’s modeled better than many adults what it means to wait with wonder and great expectancy, and that has brought healing to my heart. (Here’s a photo of my precious niece Mo and her curly little head next to Uncle Ben during a little recording time).

Mo turned three years old in April, and for the six months leading up to her birthday, she was waiting for the gift of a lifetime: a pink bike. Now, in adult terms, that may not seem very long, but for a 2.5-year-old, six months is an eternity.

But here’s what’s so cool about Little Mo. She didn’t just wait a long time for her pink bike; she waited with hope and expectancy. Every time you saw her before her birthday, her eyes would light up, she’d flash her contagious grin, and she’d tell you she was getting that pink bike. Not maybe. Not she sure hoped she would get it. Not what an awful time she was having as she waited in agony. No, Mo was sure her parents would get her that bike. And the fact that she can’t do math means she had no real idea of how long she was waiting. She simply trusted that the pink bike would come at the right time. What an amazing opportunity it was for us to be at her birthday party as my brother-in-law wheeled out the long-awaited pink bike and we bore witness to her joy in receiving it, along with an awesome helmet from her big brother.

As we age, we lose our ability to have childlike confidence in God and His promises. Pain can crush the soul. We lose whimsical joy in our mysterious Creator who has good plans for our future.

Watching Little Mo’s pink bike journey makes me long to be filled with an unexplainable hope that believes in impossible things. I long to wait with wonder. When I am full of wonder, my heart is full of hope.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.  Selah. Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV)

The Body

In addition to the soul healing, there’s been a physical component to all of this. This tender brain of mine just needed some help from my doctor. It comes in the form of a little anti-depressant pill I am so grateful to have. It might not be something I take forever, but right now, it’s just what I needed.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Psalm 31:9-10 (ESV)

There seems to be a stigma around depression and medication, specifically in the church. Thoughts like, “I should be able to kick this,” or “If I was more spiritual, the depression would go away,” constantly bombard me. And while I am actively in the process of learning how to take hold of my thoughts and behaviors, medication has drastically improved my ability to function. It may not be for everyone, but if you struggle with depression, I’d encourage you to talk to your doctor. It’s made it easier to manage my emotions and learn to navigate the challenges of life with a much more even mood, which has been good for me and my community.

The Spiritual

One of the challenges of depression is the temptation to isolate. Thankfully, I’ve had some dear friends who’ve not let me go. They are people I can call if I am feeling tempted to harm myself or to give up. Their words and prayers don’t always bring an automatic change in feelings, but I can see that over time, their prayers of truth from Scripture have brought strength.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.      Ephesians 3:14b-19 (ESV)

Whether you believe in God or not, there are people out there who do, who believe we can talk to the Creator and are willing to pray for you. Contact me if you would like to be connected to such a prayerful person (see other resources below).

A Song for You

I hope that my little story brings you encouragement. My problems aren’t all fixed, but that doesn’t mean I need to wait to pursue beauty. It’s been good to write out this journey and see splashes of color throughout so much sorrow.

Here’s the link to Eyes, a song I wrote asking for a heart that expects miracles. That prayer never gets old. Maybe you be filled with faith, hope, love, and a little whimsy too. Peace to your body, soul, & spirit. ~Heidi Beth Sadler

Resources

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression/suicide, here are some resources that might be helpful. No matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, your life is worth it. My best advice: rip off the mask and tell someone. Don’t try to do this on your own. Know you are loved right where you are at.

Everyday Health (Depression Resources)

-American Foundation for Suicide Prevention/Suicide Hotline

*Disclaimer: Heidi Sadler is not a licensed professional. If you believe you are experiencing a mental or physical crisis, please contact emergency services.

Text/Photos are the sole property of Heidi Sadler and/or Rebecca Schnable, Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved. The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

 

 

Three Days with John the Baptist (recap)

Hi, Friends!

This is Gary Schwarz, Bible teacher for Principles for Life Ministries. Below are the downloads I promised you a few days ago. However, before you listen to them, I have a prayer request I’d like to make. As many of you know, I’ve been battling some health problems the past couple years – type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and spinal stenosis. However, over the past year, my hematologist has found some suspicious things in my blood tests. The white blood cells are much higher than they should be. So on Wednesday he is having me undergo a bone marrow biopsy to make sure that I’m not also suffering from some form of leukemia or other blood disease. They poke a whole in your hip bone and extract some bone marrow which they then proceed to study. My prayer is that they will arrive at a clear diagnosis and a helpful treatment plan. The main symptom I suffer is chronic fatigue. Thank you for caring and praying! God bless you all!

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(To download a written copy of this study, click PDF.)

(To download or listen to the spoken message, click mp3.)

Next week look for a study of the first disciples who believed in Jesus. It’s very insightful!

Three Days with John the Baptist (Day 3)

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The Challenge to the Righteous on Day 3—Follow Him!

In each generation, God sets apart a righteous remnant who He calls His own, not because of their good intentions, but because of His grace at work in their hearts. And rarely are they obvious choices. Case in point: The first disciples of Jesus who had little to recommend them except they were disciples of John the Baptist. In this study we’ll meet two of them.

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Since they were disciples of John—the best men he had—he knew that once he introduced them to Jesus, he was going to lose them. But that didn’t stop him, for he had no ambitions to develop a following for himself. His mission was to point people to Jesus. Verse 35, “The next day John was again standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ So they came and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.”

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The tenth hour means it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and too dark to walk home on a winter’s day. So what did they do? They spent the night with Jesus talking and asking Him questions. After all, wouldn’t you? If you had a chance to spend a night with Jesus, would you miss out on a moment of it?

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Notice two other things with me. First, they called Him “Rabbi,” a term of great respect in that culture, saying to Him in effect: “We’re ready to follow you now instead of John.” Verse 40 tells us who the first disciple was to make that decision. It was Andrew, and what did he do as soon as he got home? He found his brother Peter and led him to Jesus. Reading between the lines, we can also tell who the second disciple was to follow Jesus. It was John, the writer of this Gospel, who in keeping with his habit remains anonymous, yet gives away his presence by citing the exact day and hour he met Jesus. That’s something he could never forget.

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But the most important thought to leave with you is this: John’s testimony worked. Because he made his ministry all about Jesus and not about himself, our Lord was welcomed with great fanfare by the people of Israel. It didn’t last very long, for the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. But the truth captured the most important hearts of all – Andrew and John, who immediately told their brothers, Peter and James, and their fishing buddies, Philip, Nathanael, and Thomas. And because of that chain reaction of disciple-making, set into motion by John the Baptizer, you and I believe today and are on our way to the kingdom of God.

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So let’s not stop. Let’s keep the momentum going. Invite a friend to church this week. Ask someone to join you at your Bible study. Take someone with you to a Christian concert. Or pass on one of these lessons that may help their faith. Remember John’s three challenges to us – Turn to Christ! Believe in Christ! Follow Christ! The last of which involves more than following Jesus yourself; it also entails inviting someone to join you in your journey of faith.

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