Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who Am I?

"Can you take a long article and cut it down for me?" asked the church secretary.

"Sure, I'd be glad to help you out. How long is the original article?" I replied.

"Well — we asked for a bio, and received a 4 page article. I only have space for about 75-100 words."

"You're talking a major reduction here! Sure, I'm up for the challenge. Give me a couple of days." I said, before ending the phone conversation.

Isn't that just how life is? We think our life is "all that" and we can go on for pages about how important we are, and detailing the big events and accomplishments we have experienced. When someone wants to know who we are, we tell him what we DO instead of sharing about our inner person.

If a woman has a hysterectomy or a mastectomy, is she any less a woman? If a man loses his arms and legs and can no longer labor for a living, is he any less of a man? If we removed all the things we do in life, and take away the way we look, what is left? What is our essence?

If you had to whittle away all the extraneous fluff and leave behind only the parts about you that Jesus sees, how would you describe yourself in 100 words or less? The Bible talks about so much of what we do being wood, hay, and stubble that can be burned away in the refining fire. If you removed all of that, what would be left?

I cut away all the bone and fat from my meat so I can measure in ounces the amount I am allotted on my new eating plan. If you were to cut the "fat" from your life, what would remain?

See how important it is to get to the essence of who you really are? Writers might call it a thesis statement. Businesses might call it a mission statement. Socialites errantly want to "make a statement" but Jesus just wants us emptied of self and ready to be filled up with His Spirit.

I don't let my resume or my health problems define who I am. Besides, it's more important WHOSE I am.

Now it's your turn. Who are you?

(c) Kathy Carlton Willis

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Is There A Family Resemblance?

In walked a woman opening the door for another woman with an oxygen tank. Behind her was a wheelchair filled by a matronly figure using the oxygen, being pushed by yet another woman. They huddled in one of the waiting area sections, and talked about an upcoming wedding. I caught my eyes searching one face, and then another, and another until I circled the group with my gazes. A mother and three daughters. Probably together for unpleasant reasons (the mother's health), yet they were making the best of it by talking about an upcoming celebration.

Then I allowed my eyes to visit the filled waiting room, picking out family units. Daughters resembling mothers. I detected at least five families with similar facial features. An elderly woman came out of the doctor's office, her petite frame stooped over. A taller version of the woman followed behind, surely a daughter.

Family resemblances. Once you start hunting for families with matching features, you find them everywhere. When I'm with my mom, I'm told I look a lot like her, and when they see photos of my father, they determine I take after him. I must be a perfect blend of both parents.

My husband used to tease that he thought he was adopted growing up because there were no photos of him when he was a baby. But then he started pitching in the same stadium his father played ball years before, and he heard comments from the stands, "Doesn't he look like Bobby Willis from twenty or so years ago?" "He's the spitting image." It was then that Russ faced the fact that he was surely his father's son.

More important than if I look like my parents is if I resemble my Heavenly Father. Do others see a family resemblance? Can they tell that I'm a daughter of the King? Do my attitudes and actions reflect His virtues? Rather than "fruit of the loom," are the fruit of the Spirit showing?

PRAYER: May my life reflect Your image, dear Lord. May others see You in me. I know I'm not a "spitting image" just yet, so I pray You help me as I am conformed to Your image.

Kathy Carlton Willis
Living Out Loud Communications

BOOK REVIEW: Promise Me Always

Title: Promise Me Always/The Pinky Promise Sisterhood Series

Author: Christine Lynxwiler

Publisher: Barbour

ISBN: # 1597893552

Genre: Chick-lit

There was a time when Allie Richards didn’t have to be sensible. But that was before she was widowed with two young girls. Now she has lost her job, and the small severance check is forcing her to be practical. Allie’s dreams of owning a landscaping business are shot down by the bank, so she is back to square one. Enter the Pinky Promise Sisterhood—a group of friends from way back. They devise a plan for Allie to enter Shady Grove’s Beautiful Town contest, and in the process, launch her new business.

Poor Allie runs into problems along the way. To start with, her staff consists of the “Pinkies” and her unemployed (for good reason) brother. How will she compete with these legitimate landscaping teams? The contest is filmed for a daily reality show. The channel’s scheming newscaster provides interference and embarrassment. Allie’s worst predicament is with the good-looking cameraman/coffee shop owner who wants to be more than a friend. Allie’s practicality plays tug of war with her heart’s desires when it comes to the two men in her life.

"Promise Me Always" is hard to put down. The chapters move along, as readers gets the opportunity to take a peak into Allie’s life and forget about their own lives for a while. With romance, conflict, and challenges woven into the story, the book promises to be a hit for author Christine Lynxwiler.

(c) Kathy Carlton Willis 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Updates for Family & Friends

Sometimes I write a note to let you know how things are going. So, if you want to know-this is for you!

I went to my internist today for a follow up visit. She told me that she was REALLY worried about me when I saw her Friday. She said I was very very sick-almost hospital sick. I knew I felt bad, but I didn't realize it was THAT bad. So, I want to thank the Lord for a quick recovery. I'm blessed that Russ insisted I call the doctor-I was trying to tough it out. Evidently, the Metformin for the new diabetes diagnosis just wasn't right for me. I tried it for 3 weeks, and it caused gastroenteritis (tummy problems). Today she prescribed a new drug called Januvia. It is a brand new diabetes medication. Here is the information about it-for those who are following the diabetes journey:

JANUVIA lowers blood sugar when blood sugar is high, especially after a meal. JANUVIA also lowers blood sugar between meals.
JANUVIA helps to improve the levels of insulin produced by your own body after a meal.
JANUVIA decreases the amount of sugar made by the body. JANUVIA is unlikely to cause your blood sugar to be lowered to a dangerous level (hypoglycemia) because it does not work when your blood sugar is low.

The doctor believes my facial pain and eye pressure-that returned on Friday-is another sinus infection. I don't have any nasal symptoms or drainage, but she said that could be why I have so much pain-because it is blocked up in the sinuses. I'm supposed to call the Ear/Nose/Throat doctor to let them know I might be having another infection, to see if he will examine me while I'm actually in the middle of an infection (when I went to the ENT before, I wasn't having an active infection, so all he could see was allergies). The internist is concerned about these frequent sinus infections and wants a specialist to evaluate it. I'm hesitant to call because I'm not having any nasal symptoms. I guess I'll play it by ear and see how things develop this week.

I need to be all well in time for my minor surgery, which is scheduled for February 5th.

And all the while, I'm still working. So glad about that!

Also, I have an update on Russ's dad. I talked with him the other day to get my questions answered regarding his newest cancer. His primary cancer is chondrosarcoma (he lost a toe and later he lost his lower leg). He also has prostate cancer. Well, the CT scan shows a very definite chondrosarcoma mass of 6 mm that is not well defined at this point. It is not anywhere near where his blood clot was, so what they see isn't scarring from that. The doctors say it looks exactly like a chondrosarcoma and they would have said that without even knowing of his history with this specific cancer.

They are waiting until April to take another scan to see if it grows. If it has increased in size, and is a little more defined so they can get a biopsy of it, they will do a needle biopsy (they cannot reach it via bronchoscopy). If they did a biopsy of it now, they might miss the mass, since it is small and not well defined on the films. While he is on the operating table they will confirm the cancer, and then do a laproscopic removal of the mass, which will require a 3-inch incision. Chondrosarcoma can only be cured by removal of the tumor-there is no chemotherapy or radiation that will treat it. Also, there are only two places this time of cancer shows up: bone and lungs. His tumor does not have any satellites, so this is good news. It doesn't seem like there are 'seeds" that will spread into other tumors (some patients end up having multiple lung surgeries to remove these tumors). So-we wait until April to see what the CT scan shows. If it hasn't grown, then he may not have surgery. That would be my prayer for him!

Thanks for your concern, and for your prayers. Keep them up!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Book Review-A Bigger Life

I've written a book review for each day of the week. Enjoy!

Title: A Bigger Life

Author: Annette Smith

Publisher: NavPress

ISBN: 1-5768-3995-8

Genre: Gritty Christian Romance

Joel Carpenter isn’t your typical Texan of the male persuasion. He is a straight hair stylist at a women’s salon. He’s also a single parent raising a son with all the love he can muster. He hangs with the guys on weekends, but his heart still longs for his ex.

Life is turned upside down and everything Joel holds dear is challenged. He is at a place in his life to question what he really believes in. He’s only experienced a legalistic Christianity that left him wishing to run in the other direction. That is—until a client exposes him to a type of Christianity that gave him more answers than questions.

Smith’s style of writing keeps the mind buzzing as the story precedes forward and then flashes back to reveal the history of the characters’ burdens and victories. I admit I had to look twice to see if my eyes were fooling me when it came to the byline. This female author writes from a very convincing male point of view.

The book made me ache during heartache and rally during successes. A very real read that will open your eyes to conventional beliefs.

(c) Kathy Carlton Willis

Confession Time

My doctor took me off of the Metformin on Friday because of the GI-distress. Told me to eat a very mild diet until my tummy settled down, and to watch my sugar levels-saying they might go a little higher than normal since I was sick and also since I wasn't taking a medication.

Well, Friday I ate primarily carbs (she had recommended bananas, rice, applesauce, toast-all carbs). My blood glucose readings stayed between 98-108. I thought to myself, "Wow-these are good numbers. Maybe I don't need a medication after all. If I can keep my numbers in this range with carbs, how can I be diabetic?"

Then, yesterday I had no more vomiting, and reduced diarrhea, so I ate a regular meal. A friend gave us a roast dinner with veggies, potatoes, rolls, and apple pie. I ate some of the pie and my postprandial reading was 108. So then I thought, "Maybe I don't even have diabetes. Maybe my high readings were mistakes. Maybe it was because of the 3 days I had steroids in my system at the end of November, and maybe it just took a full 2 months to get out of my system."

So, here is the confession part: This morning for breakfast, there was some leftover apple pie staring me in the face, so I had a slice. Not smart, I know, but I thought maybe my system could handle it. WRONG. My postprandial (2 hours after meal blood glucose check) this morning was 187. It's not supposed to be over 140, and they really want it only 20 more than the fasting levels, because by 2 hours our body should be back down from the spike in BG from the food. Hard telling how high mine went if this was the "back down" reading!

Anyway-this was a reality check for me that yes I do have diabetes. Even though apple pie might make everyone's blood glucose go up more than a protein meal, it still should have only gone up to about 120 as postprandial reading if I didn't have diabetes.

I guess this little experiment has proven I really do have to be cautious with my meal plan. And that I probably do need a diabetes medication of some kind to help keep the numbers in the normal range.

Okay-confession time is now over!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Topsy Turvy Week

What a topsy-turvy week! Let's see if I can hit some highlights, for all of you who come to the site for updates on my life. Here goes:

• Russ's dad just told us tonight that his CT scan of his lungs did show what they are almost 100% sure to be cancer, metastasized from his bone cancer (he had a toe amputated a long while ago and then a partial leg amputated in 2002). I'm not sure why, but they have determined it best to wait until April to do another test, and then to possibly do a bronchoscopy to not only biopsy, but potentially remove the tumor. I don't have any more details, but this sounds pretty serious to me. Of course we would appreciate your prayers. Russ's Mom died of metastatic breast cancer (to her liver and spine) in 1997. Russ's sister Cathy had thyroid cancer when she was in her mid 20s. Russ's Grandpa had two kinds of cancer (prostate and pancreatic). Russ's Grandma has had a type of lymphoma. In other words, it's a cancer family. Please pray!

• Russ has been sick with a cold this week and only worked a couple of hours today so he could come home and rest up for church tomorrow. Having a sore throat and cough hinders a music director from leading music, as well as teaching a Sunday School class, so we pray his voice is stronger tomorrow, and that he feels better. He said he tried the HMH: Hydrate, Medicate, Hibernate. Sounds good to me!

• I ended up getting so sick from the new diabetes medication (Metformin) that the doctor took me off of it. I went to see her yesterday as a "work in" patient after having too many tummy problems and getting lethargic. Sort of like a rag doll. Lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks (that part is good!). She said it was good I had come in to see her-I guess I was on the verge of dehydration. Anyway, she gave me a shot of phenergan and a script for the pill form as well and some other meds. I go back on Tuesday to discuss a new diabetes medicine after my belly heals up and also to decide if I have yet another sinus infection (or a lingering one). She didn't want to put me on more antibiotics with my tummy so messed up. I like this doctor so much! (But not enough to want to keep seeing her professionally.) ☺

• We had a blessing this week in the form of a "check in the mail." I received my portion of an inheritance from my cousin Mark's estate. I feel so undeserving of it and so appreciative!

Appreciate Today

The bud of a rose is just as beautiful as the full bloom. Appreciate what you have at the moment. --- Anonymous

Thursday, January 18, 2007

God Can Do It!


I was reminded this week just how big our God is. I knew, I just KNEW that God had something around the corner for us. I had guesses as to how He might take care of us and show us a glimpse of His love. But I didn't REALLY know. In fact, I had no clue just how powerful God is to change our outcome.

I think what I've experienced can be called "mustard seed faith." I had a little bit of faith. I had faith enough to think mustard seed sized things might happen. But God took my little bit of faith and honored it by showing me just how BIG He is. WOW!

When I get these God-sightings all I can say is, "God, You are amazing. You take our needs and surprise us with Your solutions. Your ways are above my ways. Your ways are higher than my ways. Let me never forget Your goodness and Your power."

Twila Paris sings a song called "God is In Control." The last verse says,

"He has never let you down
Why start to worry now?
Why start to worry now?
He is still the Lord of all we see
And He is still the loving Father
Watching over you and me."

If you are going through a human-sized problem just surrender it to God and wait for His God-sized solution. He has ways to make things "all better" just like my Mom fixed my child-sized problems. She used to kiss my boo boos and make the pain go away. God kisses away my problems and makes His grace come to stay.

I've learned not to limit God or put Him in a box. Just when I think I have it figured out how He might take care of my burdens, He surprises me with a different solution. This is one more time He has saved the day that I can write in my memory book. On those days when I need a reminder of His goodness, I can pull out this memory as a testimony of His ability to take care of me. I'll sing with Twila Paris the chorus of the song,

"God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him
We know O God is in control
O God is in control."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Warning: Opinion Zone

I've been extremely frustrated by the amount of forwards I receive in my e-mail box regarding illegal aliens in our country and the pro-English propaganda. To me, these forwards just breed hate. I can't imagine that is the answer to the problem. I wrote the following note to a Christian group in which I participate. Perhaps it will get us all thinking today.


May I respectfully ask the question that begs to be asked about some of the forwards the List is getting these past few months? It seems the targets are anyone non-American and non-English speaking. I'm a loyal American, but I have a problem being told I should treat others any "less than" what I treat the rest. And I don't see Jesus encouraging His followers to discriminate against anyone who isn't like them. The more people develop a focus that involves propagating hate about another people group, the harder it is to win that people group to Jesus. Perhaps you say, "but I love the people, I don't hate them. I just love my country more." How do our missionaries feel when they see these forwards in their mailboxes? Didn't Jesus die for those who don't speak English?

I'm very certain that if we checked our family tree, we would discover that we have non-American roots (except for the few of you who are full-blooded Native American, Inuit or Native Hawaiian). I vaguely recall the Statue of Liberty welcoming those from other countries. Has that changed?

Yes, we do have a problem with illegals "breaking in to" our country. I realize it is an epidemic and is costing our country millions. I'm not sure what the answer is. But since Jesus asks me to put myself in their shoes, I realize I might be very desperate to want a better life for my family, so much so that I would risk life or limb to provide a meager living to send back to my family in the "mother land." Are we reaching these illegals with Jesus and then helping them to work through the process to become legal? Or do we make them feel castigated by our "English only, American only" mentality?

You want them to speak English in our country, but when you travel to other countries, do you speak THEIR languages? Seems that would only be right.

I'm sorry, but this is something I'm passionate about. I hear preachers in pulpits making racial jokes and taking political stands against illegals. Where is the love of Jesus? Where is the gospel-the good news of Jesus Christ (crucified and resurrected and now at the right side of the Father)?

What if I were in this country and English was my second language? Maybe I was legal, but I was treated like an illegal because of my accent. Perhaps I was treated like a second class citizen (literally). WOULD I accept the gospel presented by a church or church member, if that church had treated me just like the world was treating me? What hope or joy could I possibly gain? I'm guessing I would say, "No thank you."

It is easy to send missionaries to other countries and feel good about doing our part for world evangelization, but what are we doing in our own back yard? Are we only reaching out to people who look like us and talk like us, or are we reflecting Jesus?

I can certainly agree to disagree agreeably with those who have taken a different stand than me regarding this. But if I say nothing on this issue, it is as if there is only one viewpoint to this problem. As if the entire group believes the same thing-that it is okay to spread mean words about those who aren't like us. I can't let that happen.

Song Lyrics: Offering

Today Russ and I sang a duet called "Offering" by Third Day, and invited the choir to join in on a chorus, and then the entire congregation on the last chorus. It was awesome to be part of such a great experience, to particpate in corporate worship.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Diabetes Education Assessment

I went for an assessment with a diabetes educator at the hospital. Later I will go take 2 four-hour group classes. So far I've learned:

• A 9 day rotation to check blood glucose (BG) levels. If you are interested in following this, here is how it goes: 3 days testing before breakfast (fasting) and 2 hours after your first bite of breakfast (postprandial), 3 days testing before lunch and 2 hours after, and 3 days testing before dinner and after. Then go back to breakfast. This will give physicians a good indication of how your BG levels fluctuate throughout the day and if your diet, exercise, and medication plan is working for you.

• That I might require insulin at certain times in my life-such as when I'm on steroids, when I'm sick, and when I'm having surgery. This helps the pancreas out when the body is put in stressful situations. Stress tends to increase BG levels and cause the body to be insulin intolerant, thanks to hormones. Every hormone in the body increases BG levels except insulin. So, when you hear of adrenalin or cortisone levels in your body-these are hormones that can increase BGs.

• My body secretes more hormones when I'm in the beginning stages of getting sick (fighting infection) and I can actually tell when my BGs go up that I am probably getting ready to be sick (or I'm under too much stress and need to use stress reduction techniques). So, writing down BG levels on a chart is good for more than just telling if the program is working. It can tell you how well your body is fighting off any sort of physicial stress.

• That insulin is not a drug-it is the exact replica of what our body makes, so it comes in the body clean and there are no interactions, it doesn't go through the kidney or liver like drugs do.

I'll pass on more diabetes tips as I learn them!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Friendship Garden

“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.” Attributed to: Claudia Ghandi

Wednesday, January 10, 2007



Recently I was put in the position of needing to forgive someone. They had not asked me to forgive them, and they did not admit they did anything wrong. But I knew the spirit of unforgiveness in my heart would turn to bitterness if I didn't release the hurt and the one who hurt me into the hands of God. Has someone ever disrespected you, made you feel like less of a person, and showed you with their actions that you had less worth than other people? Then you know my pain. I tried to make things right with that person, but they would not bend from their position of "rightness."

I didn't have to be right, but I did wish to be respected. Perhaps respect is one means of showing love to another. It is not an automatic, and it often has to be earned. I thought my history with this person had earned me her respect.

What did I do when the peacemaking efforts were dashed? I took it to Jesus. I asked Him to heal my breaking heart and to help me get over my feelings of rejection. Sadness. I was in a bad place. Hurt. Pain. You've been there. What can you do to soothe the sting?

I asked God to help me love this individual with the love of Jesus. That same love Jesus showed me when I didn't deserve love, I wanted to experience for the one who sinned against me. I prayed for her. I put myself in her shoes. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. And I spoke the words, "I forgive you." I wasn't pardoning the offense. I was just saying "I no longer hold you accountable for that, but rather I release you to God, who will take care of helping you grow from this." And He is helping ME grow from this as well.

Do you have someone you need to forgive? Maybe this week you can take the first step in learning to love them again, with the same love Jesus has offered you. It's not easy, but it can be done. And you know what happens when you release the hurt? It frees you up to experience an unexplainable grace and peace from the very God of all comfort. Hurt for healing; bitterness for blessing. What a trade!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Glad for Diabetes

I'm starting the New Year with a new diagnosis: diabetes. This means I have no choice but to learn a new way of life. It encompasses healthy eating, exercise, finger pricks for blood glucose readings, reducing stress and more. I find it interesting that 3 of these 4 life changes are often New Year's goals for normal adults. We all know it is best if we eat less, move more, and de-stress. This is not to say that people can avoid diabetes if they are living a healthy way of life, but just think how much further ahead I would be if I was already on that healthful path!

I believe in embracing all things with gratitude, even if it starts out as an exercise rather than an overwhelming feeling. Sometimes the discipline of counting my blessings even when I don't feel like it helps me have a more positive approach. The new-and-improved outlook helps me accept the inevitable without rebelliously digging my feet into the ground.

Perhaps today's gratitude list of "Why I'm Glad I Have Diabetes" will inspire your own gratitude list for the New Year. Pick something unpleasant about the New Year and make it more bearable by finding the good in it.

1. A diabetic diet is a healthy way of eating.
2. I will lose the weight I've needed to lose the past 4 years.
3. I will heal better after procedures and surgeries when my blood glucose levels are under control.
4. I'm less tempted to eat outside of my meal plan because I HAVE a plan.
5. I will be more understanding of what other diabetics are going through.
6. By catching it early, I avoid or delay some of the long-term affects of the disease.
7. I will become physically fit as I follow a disciplined exercise plan.
8. I'm allowed to eat a variety of foods all within my appetites and cravings.
9. I will save money on groceries and restaurant bills as my portion sizes decrease.
10. When my body reaches a healthier status I will feel better, which will then affect my spiritual and emotional health as well.

When asked how to eat an elephant, the reply was “One bite at a time.” This is also the best advice for dealing with any problem — just take it one bite at a time.

Ask God to help you overcome one seemingly insurmountable problem this year. Allow Him to help you to view the problem from a different perspective. Break down the issues, one bite at a time. You can swallow anything if the bites are small enough. Before you know it, you will have victory over your trial. Start with the right attitude, and entrust the circumstance to God. He will give you the sufficient grace to cope with any of Life’s many unpleasant situations. And in the end, that gratitude list might evolve from an exercise to abundant joy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year Prayer

Grant me the strength from day to day
To bear what burdens come my way.
Grant me throughout this bright New Year
More to endure and less to fear.
Help me live that I may be
From spite and petty malice free.
Let me not bitterly complain
When cherished homes of mine prove vain,
Or spoil with deeds of hate and rate
Some fair tomorrow's spotless page.
Lord, as the days shall come and go
In courage let me stronger grow.

Lord, as the New Year dawns today
Help me to put my faults away.
Let me be big in little things;
Grant me the joy which friendship brings.
Keep me from selfishness and spite;
Let me be wise in what is right.
A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to an eye.
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.

~ Edgar A. Guest