November, 2011

Retiring

The medical leave I have been taking for 12 months is coming to an end and I had to make a decision whether I was going back to work or not.

I have been a Japanese-English interpreter and a special education para-educator for public school for about 14 years.  While so many teachers have been laid off in recent years because of budget cuts, I was blessed to keep the job, which provided great health insurance and long term medical leave.

Yet, I have to admit that I was struggling to find meaning in my work and was tempted to quit many times.

Once I quit, however, even if I become cancer-free, it will be very difficult to find a new job because of my age.  Although my check was small, it would affect our family budget.  This was not easy decision.

Since I got cancer, I have thought many times that maybe my days were numbered.  If so, how should I live? ——–As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to serve for God’s kingdom, the community and the church, more effectively; helping people in need, finding a purpose and meaning in my life.

After numerous discussions with George and praying, I decided to retire from the school district.

As I went through old files for my work, however, I got sentimental. As I drive by a school and see students on the school grounds, I miss the good times and good memories.

No.  Don’t  question it.  I   already made a decision.  I should not look back.

George advised me to write down all the reasons why I made the decision for the time I might regret it.

Getting cancer was unfortunate for me, but up till now, I have enjoyed my relationships with family, friends, and sisters and brothers at church more than ever, as well as new friendships with students in ESL Bible study and families in a cancer family support group.  I want to pursue those relationships continually.

I want to take better care of George and support his work.

Trusting in God, I’m going to open the new door.

Hope Never Dies

Father’s Anniversary

Weaving with powerful, beautiful music of a 20-piece orchestra and a choir, and comforting poems and scriptures, my father’s name was read aloud with other deceased loved ones.

Last Sunday was a special Vespers worship service at church to remember all the  deceased who passed in last 12 months.

As the 15th, my father’s anniversary, is coming close, I had missed him more than before and felt sorry that I could not visit him in Japan while he was dying because of cancer.

Being in the service, I, who could not even make it to his funeral, found contentment that I could give him honor.

Although my father was 87, it must be harder to go through the grieving of a person who is younger.

Regrets, guilt, pain that you can no more see them, loneliness, or sense of being defeated dries up the springs of our spirits. Yet, if we knew where our loved ones have gone, I think it would make it easier to move on

The Place Called Heaven

Revelation I have been reading with George’s Bible class describes what kind of place Heaven is.

Revelation, which has stirred us up with Eschatology or Armageddon, is the last book in the New Testament.

If I read it alone, surely I would be confused and disturbed.  Yet, actually I have learned this was a book in which God encourages us, who are suffering or desperate, declaring war with the evil powers that cause hate, sorrow, pain, and death in this world, and assuring us of His victory.

John depicts Heaven in his vision as follows:

As he went through the door of Heaven, there was someone who was brilliant like gemstones on the throne, which was circled by the glow of an emerald, and around the throne were 24 elders, who wore white robes and gold crowns.  In front of the throne was a shiny crystal sea of glass and in the center and around the throne were four living beings (like a lion, an ox, a human face looking, and an eagle) with 6 wings, which covered all over with eyes. All of them were worshipping the one who was sitting on the throne.

John also saw the Lamb that had wounds from the slaughter among four living beings and the elders, and thousands and millions of angels were singing together with all creatures in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, for the Lamb and the one on the throne.

The image of Heaven and the powerful music became a collage and made me think that my father was there, near that completely beautiful throne.

His faults and shame were all cleansed; his heart must be filled with so much joy that he must not even remember anything hurtful on the earth.

I don’t need to regret or feel sorrow, I thought.  Then the sadness dimmed away and peace filled in.

There is always hope.  Even when death comes in, hope never dies. On the far side of death, the One who created us and sacrificed His only Son for the redemption of our sin, is waiting for us with eternal life.

God is good all the time!

A Myth of Alkaline Diet

“ You need to keep your body in alkaline by drinking lemon water or on alkaline diet because cancer grows in acid environments.”

The message has circulated numerous times through e-mail.
Somebody has given me a food list for alkaline diet.
Now, a Japanese company, Enagic has opened locally and advertised a “Kangen water” machine, which converts tap water to alkaline water. Apparently the machine costs $3000.

Since I got cancer, I have heard so many recommendations and advices that I developed a habit to research them before I jump on them.

Truly, in a lab, cancer cells in acid solution grew faster than in alkaline solution. Yet, this is only true in a test tube.
According to numerous respectable sites, it is impossible to make our body alkaline or acid because our body tries hard to keep the PH(a scale to decide alkaline or acid) balanced by kidney or respiratory functions if our body changes its PH.‘’
It is a myth that the alkaline diet is effective for cancer.

Disappointingly one more recommendation has been ruled out, but I am glad to know that before I would have spent lots of money.

Till Death Shall You Part

“Do you promise to love her/him in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth, in good times and bad till death shall you part?”

A young Japanese couple answered, “Yes,”

to make a vow last Saturday afternoon.

Our church, which has a magnificent view of blue ocean and sky as well as a sanctuary with beautiful stained glass windows, welcomes even some couples from Japan every year.

“Love is not a feeling, but a choice.  Even if you feel nothing, you chose to serve someone: That is love.”

“ To serve each other; to lay down your life each other—That is a marriage.”

“ You’ll meet lots of challenges, but if you invest your time and energy into your marriage, looking up Jesus as your loving model, your relationship will get tighter and stronger as if the closer two sides of a triangle are getting to the top, the shorter the distance of two becomes.”

“ I pray that many years later, on your anniversary, looking in each other’s eyes and holding each other’s hand, you will say, ‘I ‘m glad I chose to spend my life with you.”

Interpreting George’s words, I was touched, and moved by tears of the bride in a beautiful white gown.

I was thankful for George, who conducts a beautiful meaningful ceremony, inviting the air of happiness, the Holy Spirit, and for being able to assist him in this way.

I am blessed.

Hot Toddy Thanksgiving

I have been fighting with a cold for a few days, but it got worse the day before the Thanksgiving.

My head was as if it were full of spider webs, and my barometer of energy was low.  Not even feeling like putting on makeup, I went to a store with red nose and bags under my eyes to pick up a fresh turkey yesterday.

Usually I get up 6 am and start cooking the turkey on a Thanksgiving, but yesterday, as I was afraid that I might not be able to get up once I went to bed, I wanted to get a head start as much as possible.

A turkey dinner is an important tradition for George, who has never missed it since he was born.  Even though there are only five of us, I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without turkey and it would be very disappointing for all of us if there were no turkey.

Taking Tylenol and multiple vitamins, wearing a mask, and blowing my nose, I was determined.

Then George, who was concerned about me, made a Hot Toddy, a brown tea with honey, lemon, and brandy, which his Aunt Peggy used to make it for him.

As I drank it, my chest immediately became warm and felt better!

Meanwhile, Pinky, my daughter-in-law emailed me that Soh, my second son, was also sick and in bed.

I recommended to her a Hot Toddy for Soh, and after I asked George to put the turkey in the oven in the morning if I would be too sick to get up, I went to bed.

Thanksgiving morning, because of George’s Hot Toddy, I could get up early.

This is good!  As I thought so, Soh called me with a hideous voice.  I got better, but Soh had not.

Well then, only Roy, the fist son can come: a 10 lb. Turkey for only three of us.  Is this going to be our Thanksgiving?

George started wondering that maybe we should cancel today’s dinner and redo it on Saturday.

But I had already cooked more than half, and I didn’t know if everyone could come on Saturday.

I was going to ask Pinky to come to pick up the turkey dinner for them.

While I was wondering, Soh called again saying he was coming because he felt a little better because of Tylenol.

Thereafter, it was close to be lame, but everyone got together by noon and kept the tradition; sharing thanks with turkey dinner.

My first thanks is , no doubt, that I could have Thanksgiving again in spite of my cancer.

I am thankful for all the family, friends, and the medical staff;

the summer trip with my mother and cousins;

the good health insurance provided by Torrance Unified School District. And more!

George said, “During hard times, it is important to be thankful because that is the key to bring happiness.”

Agreeing completely with him, I enjoyed the delicious turkey I had with my beloved family!

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!