A Prolonged Celebration

April 8, 2017

Now don’t fall over in a dead faint as I write my first blog post in about a year and a half. No precipitating event has compelled me to write. Sitting down today with the purpose of writing something was completely spur of the moment. It’s just time to start engaging again, bringing the Word to life. I’ll be honest: I have no idea who my readers are now, but I hope you will give me some feedback (by means of “Comments”) so that I get a sense of you and what you find of value here.

The quick updates in previously used categories:

Health continues to be stellar, enhanced to a large degree by losing 38 pounds in the last year (yes, I started on Ash Wednesday 2016!). I’ve maintained above average skeletal-muscle mass, and now see normal health numbers across the board, though high blood pressure remains my inherited and therefore stubborn vulnerability. The one long-term effect of annihilating The Beast is with me: asthma (particularly bad this winter in the damp cold). A visit to a cardiologist informed me that long-term effects of radiation applied to the upper left chest can lead to stiffening of the blood vessels in that area. He therefore has recommended an aggressive treatment of my borderline-high cholesterol. So add Lipitor to my daily meds ::sigh::

My voice is back to 100%, after discontinuing the cortico-steroid inhaler I was taking daily for asthma control. The inhaler mist was depositing a residue directly on my larynx, gradually paralyzing it. After five days off the inhaler (in October 2015), my voice was back to full capacity and control! Praise God for this; and my asthma has not been any worse as a result.

For reasons that will be more obvious in a minute, book writing came to a screeching halt last year, but my work desk is now cleared of all clutter and the manuscript is front and center, getting some attention two or three times a week. My 12 to 15 hours of chaplaincy work each week at the hospital are amazing on so many levels, most especially experiencing the opportunity to be a light to people who register their religious preference as “None.” Many of my ministry stories now come from the encounters with patients and their families, though HIPAA rules (federal privacy laws) require me to mask or obscure details so you could never know about whom I am writing.

I remain in the category “No Evidence of Disease” (NED), that is, cancer-free more than 3-1/2 years after the diagnosis of Stage III Lung Cancer. My surgeon says I became cancer-free on March 3, 2014, the day of the surgery to take out my upper left lung lobe and many lymph nodes. My oncologist says my cancer-free anniversary is April 28, the last day of chemotherapy. So what’s a girl to do? Celebrate life more enthusiastically than usual for almost two months, from March 3 to April 28! I am right in the middle of this prolonged celebration.

On March 14, 2015 (the Pi Day of the Century, 3.14.15), our “little Miss Elly” was born to our older daughter and her husband, both attorneys now residing in Tacoma, WA. Our first grandchild is of course smart and brilliant and healthy, and that is probably all you are going to hear from me about her in this public forum. But we love going up there to the Pacific Northwest to help celebrate her birthday just as the cherry blossoms are popping, celebrating with pie of course!

In 2016, we added another date that happens to fall within this celebratory period. On April 12, 2016, my husband Andy was felled in a motorcycle accident, when a car went through a red light and they collided in the intersection. He was taken to the trauma center at Highland Hospital in Oakland, just two miles from the accident, and over the next eight days was stabilized with internal injuries, operated on for a broken pelvis and shredded knee tendon, and rejoiced over that things weren’t a lot worse than they were. He transferred to “my” hospital (close to home) for two weeks of acute rehab, then came home for another five weeks of non-weight-bearing discipline. All in all, he was off work for four months, and the whole experience was a huge test of our faith, good-humor, and marriage vows (the “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health” part). But I am happy to tell you that one year later (next week), Andy is back to 100%, working at Abbott Diabetes Care, walking without a limp, and doing the things he loves—all except motorcycle riding, since his brand-new BMW motorcycle was totaled. After long and careful thought, Andy replaced it with an Audi plug-in hybrid car, and we are both very happy with that choice!

Andy’s accident was a terribly destabilizing and disorienting experience, but a year later I can say that I have my sea legs back with a renewed sense of call to my hospital work and to writing. There is so much to tell you, but I will continue on Monday. In the meantime, take a moment to celebrate the life God has given you!


27 Responses to “A Prolonged Celebration”

  1. jcampb6928@aol.com Says:

    It has been so long since I read you column that I did not recognize the title. I am a PCUSA pastor (2nd career). Currently my small church (55 members) is considering moving to ECO. I lived and worked in the Bay Area from 1972 to 1996, leaving there to go to Fuller for my MDiv. You past columns were a blessings and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. I praise God for bring you through your trials.

    Together in Christ,

    Rev. John Campbell Southern Illinois

    • revmary Says:

      John, thank you for writing! If there is any topic you’re interested in me developing, let me know! For now I will be expanding on some of the personal issues that are ‘food for thought’ in a ministry context. But I really am looking for guidance from my readers.

  2. emd5542 Says:

    Oh dear Mary: Morning has broken; shout alleluia! I have missed your blogs, the richness of your faith and the Word applied to life, instructing us all. I remain ever grateful for your presence March 7-9, our finally meeting face-to-face following Joe’s death. Your being with me for his funeral, interment, and reception brought such a gift of peace and over-arching care during those days, I hold on to the most precious of memories, both public and our private time of food and fellowship.

    Thank you for catching us up on your health status, new ways of serving the Lord, and for Andy’s long road to fully recovery. You both are witnesses to God’s promise to be with us and bring us through challenging and life-threatening times.

    I am so looking forward to continued blogs. As we recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and all that awaited him in the time we call Holy Week, I am creating space to receive and honor all that God will give you to share with us.

    I am so ready, dear Pastor Mary, and grateful. Love to you.

    • revmary Says:

      I knew you’d be happy, Eleanor. Do pray that the time for blogging doesn’t get eaten up by “other stuff” which is my biggest fear restarting the discipline.

  3. “God’s intention is that we should each become the kind of person whom he can set free in His universe, empowered to do what we want.”
    Dallas Willard
    P.S. I thought I would send you the above exciting thought as a welcome back message..missed you much!

    • revmary Says:

      I LOVE that thought from Dallas, though this Calvinist confesses that it took a lot of convincing (from Willard) and reassurance from our Savior that it is indeed true. My whole life is pretty much up to me, coordinating with my husband, of course; and one of the slight anxieties I live with is the daily question, “Am I really spending my time doing what is most important?” I’ll probably be writing on this soon . . . a hot topic with me right now.
      Thanks for writing, Bruce!

  4. Thanks for the cheery update, Mary. Glad to hear that you are both bouncing back.

    • revmary Says:

      I do indeed feel cheery, for many reasons, not the least of which is we’ve had some sunny days this week after a most wet, dark, dreary winter. Yes, it vanquished our California drought, but it was hard for this SAD sufferer. I feel like I am getting my mojo back 🙂 Thanks for writing and reading, Alan. Keep those ideas for blog topics coming.

  5. Robert L. McNabb Says:

    How wonderful to “hear” your voice again!

  6. Mary, I am excited to see you are back writing. I find that your writings either encourages or challenges me.

    • revmary Says:

      Let’s see if I can find the balance between challenge and encouragement. I’ve often said that Jesus, who came “full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14), was the only one completely able to do both challenge and encouragement at the same time! My call to “Christ-likeness,” I think.
      I look forward to bringing a little California to your Wyoming soul, Steve!

      • Mary, if you resume where you left off it will be the right balance. As to a little Ca to my Wyoming soul, not sure I want it anymore. Presbytery meetings out here have been pure joy even when we are dealing with controversial issues. Only negative is in May I have a 300 mile drive (one way) for Presbytery meeting. The price one pays for serving in a presbytery that covers 90,000 square miles

  7. Gwen Brown Says:

    What a wonderful Easter present … You back from silence and with wonderful updates!!! I look forward to more! Gwen

    • revmary Says:

      Thank you, Gwen! I think of your love for and ministry in discipleship, which spurs me on to do well here. Blessings!

  8. Roger Gray Says:


    Sent from my iPad

    • revmary Says:

      Thank you, Janice 🙂 One of these days we should meet for a protein burger at In N Out and catch up! I haven’t seen you since July 2013, right before my trip to Uganda . . .

  9. Tina Burns Says:

    I’ve been wondering where you’ve been! So glad to hear the news of your health and sobered by the news of Andy’s accident and recovery – life is so precious. I look forward to being encouraged, inspired, challenged and all around blessed by your writing, Mary. Welcome back!! – Tina

  10. Harry Slye Says:

    Wonderful blog after so long. You and Andy have been through the valley of the shadow. From Katy, Texas, welcome back to good health, and sharing your life with more of us than you know. Thank you Lord!

    • revmary Says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Harry. Let your friends there in Katy know how to sign up for my blog posts by email . . . Blessings to all of them through you!

  11. Gerry Nelson Says:

    Glad to hear that your are back “on line” as they say and that all is well on the medical front. I so enjoyed talking with you at the Fellowship conference in Orlando and using the teaching tool you developed on the Essential tenets. That was a blessing. My home church, Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church (NJ) was dismissed by the Elizabeth Presbytery to ECO in the summer of 2015 in a reasonable dismissal process with a reasonable cash payment. It helped that the Stated Clerk opined that his research into the PCUSA Trust Clause indicated that the clause was intended to prevent the last ten members of a dying church to sell the property and have a really big party with the proceeds. Look forward to hearing more from you in the coming months.

  12. garyt123 Says:

    Dear Rev Mary;

    Welcome back! I’ve missed your thoughtful and faith-filled contemplations that always remind us that “it all started in the garden.”

    Best regards from a fellow pilgrim;

    Gary Thompson


  13. Stephen Eyre Says:

    You came to mind this past week! Good to hear from you, glad that life is moving on and that you have made it through a bad patch of this weed producing world. May you be blessed and fruitful in your writing.

  14. Mary, it’s wonderful to be reading your blogs again. Have a blessed Easter, celebrating in every way!

  15. David McCarty Says:

    Hooray, hurrah! Mary is well and back on line!

  16. Jim Cahalan Says:

    It’s great to hear from you Mary, and know that things are looking bright for you. And all that weight loss. You must be back to your fighting weight. Sorry about the difficulties that Andy has had. Since he has traded the bike in for a car I will spare him the speech about how anyone who regularly rides a motorcycle eventually has a wreck.
    Libby and I will look forward to your future blogs.

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