Monday, December 4, 2017

All Aboard!

As I consumed the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, the thought occurred to me that Christmas is coming like a freight train this year and I'd best hop on board lest it run me over. It seems all of life is like that lately -- the days, weeks, months, and years are passing far too quickly!  I have given up rebelling against the clock. There is no stopping it. But I am determined not to be ruled by an earthly timetable or any preconceived notion of how I think my life should play out.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

As I anticipate the coming new year, I resolve to live then as I do now -- in full surrender to the Lord and his will for my life. That will require not only determination but the discipline to meet with him daily, read his Word, and pray for his will to be done in my life. In the past few decades I have learned to view life -- the good and the messy parts -- as an adventure and to look for the lessons and opportunities in every difficulty I face. Has it been easy? Of course not!

A financial reversal due to a significant job loss in 2012-2013 wasn't something our family expected, yet God used that season of lack to teach us to be better stewards of our resources.  Relocation wasn't on our radar in 2014 but clearly God had blessings in store that we would not have experienced otherwise.  A diagnosis of melanoma and resulting skin cancer surgery was not something I expected to have to deal with in 2017, but it was something God allowed to deepen my prayer life, heighten my sensitivity to the sickness and suffering of others, and to encourage others and myself to take care of our fearfully and wonderfully made bodies.

It isn't human nature to give up control of our lives, but I believe that by allowing God to have his way with us we can rest securely in his promises and know that he will do far greater things than we can ask or imagine. The joy of making the journey with God will surely outweigh the troubles we encounter along the way.  All aboard!




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Social Media Separation Anxiety

Recently I found myself on Facebook posting a status update (with photo) and realized that it was insignificant to anyone but me.  Yet I felt compelled to share the post, though I cannot tell you why.

There have been many articles written about how Facebook is addictive. It is true. Facebook is addictive, especially for an approval addict like me. I absolutely love it when people like or comment on my posts!

Like many of you, I'm a multitasker.  But is it really necessary to check Facebook while watching  TV with the family, enjoying lunch by a beautiful river, or going to the bathroom? 

For the past six days I have stayed off Facebook, except for momentary searches related to my job or to check on causes important to me. I have removed the app from all of my mobile devices since I find it extremely difficult to set my phone down or resist the urge to check for notifications twenty times a day. The compulsion to check my Facebook is one of the greatest temptations I face.

I have tried to figure out why I have such social media separation anxiety.  After all, don't I need Facebook or other social media to keep in touch with friends and relatives who are scattered across the continental U.S.?  How will I share spiritual encouragement or helpful information about veganism, health, and environmental awareness?  What about celebrating the birthdays and anniversaries of those I care about or posting pictures and sharing good news of my children's accomplishments?  And last, but not least, how will I ever manage to attract readers to our blogs (mine and Joy's) if I don't share the post links on social media?  How can one market anything these days without social media?

Just a few minutes ago I logged back onto Facebook just to see if anything has changed. Did I really think it would?  I'm still seeing the same old news (and none of it good) from the same old sources. And while I enjoy seeing pictures of family and friends, somehow it's just not the same as keeping in touch via more traditional methods like birthday cards and face-to-face visits. After all, who doesn't love receiving a handwritten note or sipping a cup of coffee with a friend?

Because of all the negativity on Facebook I just don't think it is a healthy place for me to be right now. I need to realign my priorities, find the balance that is missing from my life, and reconnect on a more personal level with those closest to me. That's not to say that I won't pop in for a Facebook visit from time to time to check in with friends from back home -- I still care about you too!  But at least through the holidays I plan on devoting more of my time to personal contact with those around me and enjoying the holidays with my eyes on my blessings instead of everyone else's.

Those closest to me know how to reach me if needed, and for those who don't have my contact info, Facebook Messenger is still an option.

I pray you will unplug, count your blessings this Thanksgiving (and every day), and enjoy the holidays!

Dee Dee


Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Something I Heard In Church

I have heard a lot of sermons in my lifetime -- well over 2,000 by conservative estimates. Some of them have put me to sleep, quite frankly. Others have had a profound impact, often as a result of one thought-provoking statement.

In one of his sermons Dr. Ernie Frey once defined worship this way:  "Worship is living a God-saturated life."  Wow! That covers so much more than the songs we sing or the prayers we pray, doesn't it? It covers EVERY aspect of life, from our relationships and job performance to the way we handle our finances and entertain ourselves.

This morning I heard something equally profound in Pastor Mike's sermon:  "Everything we do is an eternal thank you to God." Let that sink in a minute. How can the way we treat others be a "thank you" if we are irritable, judgmental, or hateful? Is it possible for our lives to be a "thank you" if we are walking in habitual sin, cheating our employers on the job, or giving less than our best to our families?

Our sin nature and the world we live in make it humanly impossible to live in such a way that others would characterize our lives by the words "worship" and "thank you." But by the grace of God, as we grow in our knowledge of his Word and surrender our lives to the leading of his Holy Spirit, I believe that we absolutely can learn to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The more we learn about God, the more we will come to love him and understand the magnitude of his great love for us. It will become easier to thank him -- for our blessings as well as our difficulties, knowing that ultimately he will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

For me, the key to living a life of worship is a thankful heart. The two are inseparable. One who is thankful will worship the God who has blessed him, and the one who worships God will never run out of reasons to thank him.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Skin Cancer Reality Check

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. --  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV)
For the past year and a half I have done everything in my power to take care of my body, "fearfully and wonderfully made" by my loving heavenly Father (Psalm 139:14). I have eaten healthy, exercised often, and taken precautions when working or playing in the sun. However, to my detriment I have been slow to establish a relationship with a local dermatologist in the three years we have lived in Virginia, despite knowing that I needed to schedule a skin exam to follow up on some suspicious moles on my face.

This summer, nearly four years after my last skin exam, I made an appointment for a full body skin check up. The spots on my face about which I was most concerned turned out to be nothing.  However the spot I dismissed as nothing was one which the dermatologist felt should be biopsied. One week later I received a sobering diagnosis: lentigo maligna, a form of melanoma caused by sun damage. The treatment: Mohs surgery.  The prognosis:  good, because we caught it early!

Because my cancer is a melanoma the preferred treatment is "slow Mohs," a multi-day series of surgeries for removing cancerous tissue, and culminating, if needed, with reconstructive surgery by a plastic surgeon. So far this week I have had two surgeries to remove cancerous tissue. During the first procedure the surgeon removed a quarter-size section of tissue from my cheek. The pathology test came back positive, requiring a second surgery to remove additional tissue the following day.  A third appointment has been scheduled for the purpose of examining the surgery site and bandaging it in preparation for repair of the cheek defect by a plastic surgeon if no further cancer is found.  UPDATE:  As of 10/4/17, all margins are clear and plastic surgery is scheduled for 10/5!

The pictures I have posted below are not graphic but they represent a progression of diagnosis and treatment so far.  Honestly I have no idea what the wound beneath my bandage looks like, but having looked at many images on the Internet I can only imagine that my wound is not pretty.  I've seen pictures of the reconstructive surgery and scars associated with this type of cancer, and I will spare you mine. They say "time heals all wounds" and I know that in time God will heal mine. It could take 6 to 12 months, but I know that the scar will fade over time and life will go on.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I care about you.  Because most of you are like me.  You grew up in a time when we opted for baby oil instead of sunscreen, tanned skin was considered the picture of health, and sunburns, like scraped knees, were common childhood occurrences, and we never thought a thing of it. What we didn't know then can, and probably will, hurt at least some of us. Most importantly, I'm sharing my journey with you because I believe God has allowed this trial in my life to raise awareness of something that can be prevented in yours. Mine is not the face of some stranger you've never seen before.    What happened to me can happen to you.

If you have a suspicious spot on your skin, don't be afraid to have it checked out.  Even a melanoma, if caught early, is treatable. If left untreated, it can be fatal.  I was fortunate that mine was caught early. I am glad I finally listened to that nagging voice in my head saying, "Now! Now is the time to check it out!" If even one person sees a dermatologist for a skin exam, then my journey will have been worth it.  Consider me your nag -- honor God with your body and love yourself enough to get a skin check up, even if you don't think there is anything to be worried about!

I am thankful for the doctors and medical staff attending me through this skin cancer journey. I trust God will use them to accomplish my healing. If you have a health issue, please don't ignore it. Sometimes faith requires that we seek healing and treatment through medical providers. Your health is one of God's greatest gifts to you, and His grace is sufficient for you even as it is for me.

To all who have prayed me through this adventure, know that your prayers have carried me. God's peace is proof that your prayers are working. Thank you for your fervent prayers.

Mole on cheek near corner of eye.  Looks like a harmless "age spot," right?
Lentigo maligna -- diagnosed a few days after the biopsy
Last good photo taken about two weeks before Slow Mohs
Day 1 Post Op -- after removal of a quarter size section of tissue

Day 2 Post Op -- after removal of additional tissue and prior to reconstruction
Morning after reconstruction and the first time I saw what was beneath the bandage.  
Bottom line:  All this could possibly have been avoided had I gone to the dermatologist for a skin exam at the first sign of trouble. I am blessed.  We caught it early, before the melanoma became invasive and potentially life-threatening. The stitches which run from the corner of my eye (dangerously close) to the middle of my cheek will leave a scar. The scar will fade over time and, with my glasses in place, may be hardly noticeable. The experience of all this, however, will remain with me and hopefully will heighten awareness and prompt those who know me to pay attention to the warning signs and take appropriate action.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Friday, September 1, 2017

So Much On My Mind

Hurricane Harvey, the catastrophic storm that dumped unprecedented, historic rainfall on Texas and neighboring states, is finally beginning to fizzle out, but not without causing widespread devastation and mass destruction. I can't fathom being a victim of that storm, being uprooted and losing everything as so many have. The question of how to help is overwhelming because the need is so great and the manpower so limited to distribute items necessary for survival. Prayer is the best I can do right now, and it seems so insufficient. My prayer is not only that those who survived will recover, but that they will come to know the God who sees and experience the peace of His presence through the volunteers, rescue workers, and relief organizations that are working to get them all to a better place.

This morning I had to drop my car off at the garage to have a water pump replaced, another unanticipated expense, but no doubt a blessing in disguise. Even though I question it at times, God's timing is never off, and I trust there is a reason why this repair is necessary at this particular time. With a hurricane churning in the Atlantic, taking a path that could jeopardize the east coast, perhaps He knows that we are going to need a mechanically sound car that will safely get us from point A to point B, in the event an evacuation becomes necessary. I am thankful that God my Provider has already supplied the funds to replace the water pump and prepare for any storm that may be headed our way.

Recently I was diagnosed with a skin cancer on my face, a non-invasive melanoma that we were fortunate to catch early. Caught a little off-guard by the diagnosis, I am now preparing for a consultation with the surgeon who will be removing the cancer. How extensive the surgery will be remains to be seen, but I trust that God my Healer, the One who has fearfully and wonderfully made me, will bring me through this. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." I am not afraid, but I am concerned for family and friends who, as I did, will put off a skin checkup because they consider the appearance of a new spot as "no big deal." Friends, get a skin checkup!  Don't take a chance on your health.

Despite all that is on my mind, this one thing I know:  God is bigger than any problem I will ever face. Bigger than any storm, any health scare, or any financial crisis. Bigger than the state of Texas, He is the creator of the universe and the ruler of all creation. He is big enough to calm the storms in all our lives if we will invite Him in to do His work in our hearts.

God never promised us an easy life. He never promised us that our days would be trouble-free. As long as we live on this earth there will be storms and cancer and broken things. But there is coming a day when "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, NIV).

This promise is for those who know God and have received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This promise is the hope of every believer.  If you have not taken that step of faith, confessed your sin, and acknowledged your need of salvation through Jesus, I pray you will surrender your heart today. Only then will you know the peace that passes all understanding and find strength to stand in your storm.






Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Unfocused...Unfruitful...Unfaithful

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV).

I have a great job. In fact, I am often heard to say that my job is a joy. Truly it is. But sometimes distractions and disruptions cause me to become unfocused and unfruitful and make me feel unfaithful to the God I serve. When that happens I tend to engage in self-condemnation, throw up my hands, and call it a day.

Do you ever feel that way? As though you have delivered less than your best and ultimately failed God? It is easy to fall into a defeated mindset when we are unfocused and unfruitful, but we don't have to remain defeated. God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up over our humanness or our shortcomings (Romans 8:1). He knows how feeble and prone to unfaithfulness we can be. But He is merciful and forgiving when we confess our sins and failures (1 John 1:9), and even when we are unfaithful, He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13)!

God calls us to be fruitful and work in a manner which will bring Him glory, but He also knows that we will face obstacles and trials that will hinder us from time to time. When that happens and we are tempted to throw in the towel, may we lift our weary hearts to the God who sees, knows, and understands us, trusting in Him to forgive our failures and restore us to fruitfulness.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On Charlottesville

How profoundly saddened I am by the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12! To see fellow humans violently attacking each other -- even to the point of death -- sickens me. But it does not surprise me. God told us there would be days like this.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV).
This is not the America I grew up in. Whatever decency and innocence existed have been crucified on the altar of greed, selfishness, and disregard for the moral and spiritual principles on which our nation was founded. We have lowered our standards so much that it will be impossible for us to recover our greatness. We are lost, and without the assurance that Jesus is coming to take us to heaven where injustice, evil, and greed will be forever gone, there is no hope.

There is a part of me that wants to lock the door, shutter the windows, and live out the rest of my days in the peaceful surroundings of my home. But there is still a war to be fought and won -- not for the right to eat bacon or to preserve the lives of animals, not for the right to bear arms or the supremacy of any given race -- but the fight to win souls for Christ. We must be in the world but not of it (1 John 2:15-17), hearers of the Word and not doers only (James 1:22), and holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But how?

Micah 6:8, AMP, tells us:  "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?" The problem with humanity is that we have lost sight of, or in many cases totally disregarded, His Word. We are so caught up in doing our own thing -- or in fighting battles based on impulse rather than in fervent prayer -- that we have lost sight of God's will and His ways. God never intended for man to resort to violence to solve conflict or right injustice.

Mine is not the only heart grieving and broken. So is the heart of our holy and righteous God who created man in His own image. Only by repenting of our sins and crying out to the One who able to save us and set our feet on the solid Rock, will we ever be able to regain what we have lost -- faith in God and the belief that there is still good in this great land of ours.




Copyright © 2017 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com