Monday, February 27, 2012

Shirley's neck

This afternoon Shirley goes in to the hospital in Genk in preparation for an operation tomorrow morning. For years she has been dealing with pain in her arm and neck (you read about this in the blog even five years ago). After various attempts at medication and therapy, the doctors have decided that this is the only option left to remove the pain She could also simply learn to live with more and more pain, but already the slight damage to nerves in her arm are causing an atrophy in the muscles.
So Shirley has decided to go ahead with the fusing of three vertebrae. The doctors remove the disks at the C6-C7 and C5-C6, place blocks (space holders) and fuse those two areas. This will relieve the pressure on the nerve to her arm.
Shirley is upbeat about the operation and looking forward to less pain, although she knows that the recovery time (about 6 weeks of taking it easy) will be a challenge. Some of you have also gone through some of this and I am sure that Shirley would be interested to hear your experiences. If you would like to respond, simply add it to the comment section below, or email us (sraabs[at] What helped you? What were your experiences?
Thank you for your prayers. We will keep you updated on how things go.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Let go

Recently I have been struggling with and thrilling to the lessons I am learning from three women in my life. How much do I want to hold on to? How much can I let go and really trust God? These three ladies have struggled with these questions far more and far more seriously than I have ever had to. One is struggling through MS and cancer, another is soon to die from cancer and one has lost yet another child to a miscarriage. Their attidues are challenging me to examine how much I really trust.

Many of you may know Sandi Rog. We have worked with them in the past here in the Netherlands. You may have read her books or followed her situation on her blog or prayed for her in a Wednesday evening group. I am thankful for her wording of her struggle here.  Am I willing to let my children go, knowing that they are in God’s hands, that they will have to make their own decisions and that God has surrounded them with wonderful people (as he had surrounded me as well at that time in my life)? A wonderful, challenging thought.
We work together with Luk and Holly Brazle, who live in Ghent, Belgium. Youth weekends and Bible camp are just a few of the things we do together, even though we live separated by most of the country (but it’s a small country). We are encouraged by their faith and gentleness, their joy in the Lord. And we have seen some of their struggles through the years. They recently expereinced another miscarriage. They have two wonderful boys, but have also lost several other children in miscarriages. Their attitude is also one of faith and trust which so inspires me (please read their thoughts here).
And then there is Irene. She will soon be going home to be with our wonderful Father. She has struggled with cancer in her body. She is a young woman, not yet 50. I know that sounds old to some, but so many have so many more years. But for Irene, this is a time to be used by God. She is ready to go home, if this is the time. She is also willing to have her sickness be used to show the greatness of a God who carries us through pain. But this has only been possible because she has put her whole life in God’s hands – not just the good things, not just the bad things – everything!

I want to trust God fully with my life. This is what gives real peace and real strength. Can I trust God with my life? Do I give him all my anxiety and joy? I am not alone in this struggle. I know that you know what I am talking about. I am so thankful for my Father who also not only knows what is going on, but is always present and helping.

Of course the Holy Spirit says it best:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11