Death

A Letter From A Man Who Lost His Wife With Breast Cancer

I received a letter from a man who lost his wife 40 years ago.

It was 1957 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was only 27 years old; 5 months after she had a baby girl.

As there was no chemotherapy back then, she received only a surgery and radiation therapy.  Yet the man and she celebrated 5 years cancer-free.

Then 9 years later, cancer came back and after one year of the battle, she passed away at 42 years old.

Her name is now on a memorial plaque facing the ocean at the church and he has visited her every Sunday after the worship service.

27 years old sounds so young.  I ponder if they had just married.  Wondering how devastating it was for them to know about cancer, I felt so sorry that my heart ached.

However, it is like a miracle to be able to survive without chemo for 15 years.  Their prayers and many others’ must have been granted.

Learning that his unchanging love towards her, sorrow, and hardship, now I feel so close to him.

Some trials are harder than others and I realize life is not fair.  Yet, God gave us eternal life fairly by sacrificing His only Son, Jesus, so that no one who believes in Him will perish.

Someday, when everything is over and we get into Heaven, we will see our loved ones being so happy with our heavenly Father, being freed from tears and sufferings, I imagine.

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen.  For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever,” (2 Corinthians 4: 18) said Paul.

In order to break our fatal penalty of sin, death, the Son of God came to be born as a son of man.

Being pierced his hands and feet, and shedding blood on the cross, He gave us the incredibly precious eternal life.  Because of Him, I can face brutal cancer.  I can find hope beyond death.

I prayed; like a beautiful twinkling Christmas tree,may God’s blessings be poured abundantly over the man who gave me the letter.

 

 

 

Even if A Body Decays

Yesterday after George and I had a Mother’s Day lunch with my mother-in –law, we visited my father-in-law  at an assistive care center.

Pa (father-in-law) has many friends there, and one of them is Eva, a  98-year-old lady. Yesterday she was in a red skirt and a red cardigan wearing a big bow in her neatly braded hair, a beautiful necklace, bracelets, rings, and red manicure: Very cute as usual.

As I said, “How are you?” bending myself close to her, who was in a wheelchair, falling her head down without any expression, she said something like growling, which I couldn’t understand at all. Her daughter who was behind of the wheelchair, interpreted, “She said you look good.” Then as my father-in-law held Eva’s hand, she growled again. This time daughter said,“ She is saying ‘George (my father-in-law) is my Prince Charming’,” and we all laughed.

She can’t walk, dress, or even eat by herself any more.  Her life being just in the wheelchair all day long seems not fun at all, but she still knows how to please people saying something nice. I thought again that being happy or not is not based on our circumstances but it’s our choice.

People would come and surround a person like Eva, who is always pleasant, positive, and kind, even if she or he becomes blind, deaf, or loses speech or memory.  Cancer or aging, regardless of the cause, when death gets close to us, our bodies deteriorate.   Yet, eva encouraged that  I can keep smiling, be thankful, and keep praying for someone else until the end even if in a wheelchair or death bed.

Last Saturday our kids and two international students came over to BBQ to celebrate Mother’s Day for me.  Feeling great joy, I wanted to never forget the most important thing I have learned in the U.S.: Expressing thanks in words and actions all the time to people and God, just like Eva.

母の日2013

The Last Night With Pepper

ペパー#1

The life is leaving from Pepper’s body.   As the time goes by minute—by— minute, Pepper’s life is slipping away inch-by-inch.

I took her to a vet yesterday when she was not able to stand up all of sudden two days ago.

When I picked her up after 24 hour fluid therapy, the vet told me that she was a little better than yesterday.  He also said, “You can spend time with her a little more.”  Receiving a can dog food to boost up her strength, I was excited, hoping to see her coming from the back of the office walking by herself.

Yet, she came being held by an assistant.  As she was placed in the back seat of my car, she was not even able to raise her head up.

My heart filled with full of hope, sank immediately and heavily more than ever.  People say a year of a dog is equivalent with 7 years of human being.  Since Pepper is 15 years old, I understand that her time is running out.  Yet I got had hope by the vet’s words.

When we arrived at home, she looked at me indicating that she knew it, too.  “We are home, “ saying to Pepper, I walked into the house holding her in my arm.

At the sunny spot in the family room, I moved her bed with food and water.  I opened the window door to the back yard, and laid her down.  I thought that was the best spot for her.

I e-mailed to my brother-in-law, who is also a vet in Japan, sending Pepper’s blood work results and asked his opinion about putting down pets.  I certainly don’t want to see Pepper suffer, but I was not sure if it’s the right thing to put a period on an animal’s life by human hand.

When I came back to the family room, Pepper was not in the bed.  I looked at the back yard.  She was collapsed on the grass.

She must have used her all strength to walk out to the yard.

“Pepper,” as I called her name, moving only her eyes, she responded to  me.

I held her again.  She was so light that it made me cry.

She loves to eat, but now she is neither able to eat nor drink.

“Heavenly Father, please help her not to suffer.  I am so thankful for Pepper.  She has been the great gift for our family.” As I pray so, I remembered many good ペパーTorrance Beach.memories with her and my tears dripped on her body. She has witnessed good times and bad times of our family.  Especially since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, she has been a great comforter.

The Bible doesn’t talk about after life of animals, yet dogs are such loyal obedient animals. I hope they will also receive new bodies and live forever like human beings.  When my time comes, I hope Pepper will welcome me darting like the wind.

Tomorrow our sons and daughter-in-law will come to celebrate Roy’s birthday.  Even if Pepper is gone, “We should say good-bye to her,” George said.

Her eyes are no more focused.  The small body is puffing up and down wearily and quietly though She is peaceful without any discomfort.

“ For God so loved the world that He gave His one begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”- -John 3:16

Remembering God’s Word, I will spend the last night on the earth with my beloved Pepper.

Peppar 2012ペパーソックス

The red stocking at the center is for Pepper, but we’ll miss her this Christmas.

Distractions and Prayers

Christian Woman Who Was Sentenced to Flogs and Death

It was not so long after the news that Nigerian Christian girls were kidnapped by the Moslem extremists that I heard  the another disturbing news of a Sudanese Christian pregnant woman,  who was sentenced to 100 flogs and  the death by hanging because of convictions of apostasy and adultery.

According to the news, she is only 27 years old and 8month pregnant.  She was born of a Moslem father and a Christian mother, but  since the father abandoned the family, she was brought up as a Christian by her mother and married a Christian man who immigrated to the U.S. from Sudan.

Under the  Islam law,  Sharia, marrying a Christian is considered as adultery and leaving Islam is a fatal crime.  The woman was given three days to renounce her faith, but she rejected saying that she was never a Moslem, but a Christian since the very beginning and will remain a Christian.

Besides Jesus, the Bible tells many stories of persecutions and martyrs because of faith, but somehow I was hoping that was all past history and no more.

If a woman like that Christian, who is so slender, is flogged 100 times, her body will be in tatters and she will die before being hanged.  Why does such a horrified thing happen to the innocent woman just because she was born in Sudan?

What is God doing? Where is He?

My faith was shaken.

Yet, struggling with the questions, I came to the conclusion that she must be receiving the strength from God and the Holy Spirit is with her just like Stephan, Peter, Paul, and many others in the Bible.

My faith is so little that just imagining her situation freaks me out.  The fear of cancer is nothing compared with the fear she is facing.

 The Death of Cancer Friend

As I was writing so far, the sad news arrived.  A breast cancer friend, who was battling relentlessly for 17 months after being given 6 months to live, passed away.  In her final email, she asked me to pray for the strength to face the difficult last days ahead.

Despite being intimidated by the devastating prognoses, she searched for ways to servive not only in the U.S., but all over the world.  She bore numerous surgeries and radiation therapies one after another, as well as nasty chemos.  On top of that, she continued to teach at a college.  Her courage and determination were so astounding and inspirational that I am honored to have known her.

Because we all die physically, I don’t look at her death as a defeat, but an accomplishment. She ran her race well using everything she had.  I imagine that now she is rejoicing with The Lord, Jesus, and her biological father in God’s Kingdom.

Looking up the sky, I want to salute her saying, “Great job! Congratulations!”

 

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters,

I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

you will not be burned up;

the flames will not consume you.

For I am the Lord, your God,

….. you are precious to me.

You are honored, and I love you.—Isaiah 43:1-4

 

Believing His promise, and receiving the strength, I want to finish my race well, too.

May God rescue Christian sisters and brothers who are persecuted, and facing death threats, as soon as possible: May He give them strength and hope continually:  May He hold the family of my cancer friend tight mending their broken hearts with His love and hope! Amen.

If We Could Know The Future

Mrs. A , who lost her only daughter recently said,
“My husband’s side has a cancer history and many died with cancer. If I had known that my daughter would have died with cancer, I don’t know if I had given birth to her.”

“I understand.” Responding to her, I thought about the age when we can have abortions if a test during pregnancy tells that the fetus has a disability.
No mother wants to see her beloved children suffer or die.
Yet the next words I said were,
” I am so glad that you could spend so many wonderful times to gather with her and made lots of good memories. That is much better than not having had them at all, don’t you think? And you can see her again in God’s kingdom. For us who are left behind it seems so long, but once it happens, we must feel it was just a second. ”

God made humans to have a loving relationship, and as the Chinese character of a human, 人, was made from a picture of two persons: one is leaning and the other is supporting, we, humans, are born to love each other. If so, even if it’s a short time, being able to experience loving someone, or being loved by someone can be very meaningful and worthwhile.
The conversation continued and we talked about the new generations who are constantly on smartphones, – even at the dinner table – without any interaction with others around the table.
Growing up without knowing the value or price of a family or marriage must be more tragic than dying with cancer – in God’s eyes.

There must be many things that we could prevent if we could know ahead, but it is also true that there are lots of things we should not know about our future. The Bible is good enough to know the future. We don’t need a crystal ball.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”ーThe Message: Matthew 6:34

Give Me The Strength

“Kazuyo-san, How are you?”

A mother, whose young son has very rare type of cancer, called me.

Recently her son also received a bad result of a CT

” How come he has to go through this?  Maybe this was my fault,” she said.

The temptation of blaming herself; the helplessness of watching her son, who used to be strong and healthy, losing weight and deteriorating; the sorrow of the young man, whose hope has been betrayed over and over no matter how bravely he has fought;  a desperate question she or he wants to shout, “Though there are people who live to 90 or even 100, why? WHY?! “-I can feel all of them deep into the core.

Yet, the question never leads us to the answer, or even if we find the answer, that will never give us peace but depress us more.

” God made everything perfect.  He is the author of the life.  Death,  illness, and sufferings–all of them are His enemies.  That’s why He sent Jesus onto the earth to rescue us from them.  We must not see the storm.  If we see it, we are frozen with horror and are engulfed instantly into the darkest pit.  The good news is that we have faith. We are not alone.   Although our boats are small and tossed left and right, Jesus is in them.  He can calm the storm. He is stronger than cancer and even death! Focusing on Him, we have to ask for strength to go through this storm.  The Bible says that our suffering lasts for a short time, but the joy waiting ahead lasts forever. I will pray for two of you, so you, too. Please pray ,’ Give me the strength’ and reach to the other side.”

What I said to her was also what I had to remember.

 

We who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence.”  Hebrews 6:18 (NLT)

 

 

 

Stands Up From the Desperation: Ed’s Story

“One day it will be over. But it’s not about how long I have left. It’s about how I spend the time I do have.”

Pastor Ed, who has been on a journey with ALS, a deadly disease without cure, said so in his short films, “Ed’s story” I saw recently in the adult education class at the church.

He feels he is getting close to death day by day.  In spite of that, he’s found the purpose to live and hope in Christ.

When he learned that he would be in a wheel chair depending on tubes for nutrition and breathing, and eventually become unable to speak and die in 2-5 years, he, who had given hope to so many as a pastor, fell into dark bottomless pit.
He was neither able to open the Bible nor even pray.
Yet from there, dragging his heavy heart, he began to copy a Bible verse on a card.  On the first card he copied the verse:
“‘ I will never fail you. I will never leave you.’  So we can say with confidence, ‘the Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.'” ( Hebrew 13:5-6)
He had to read this verse, every day, many times a day.

When his youngest son was deployed to Iraq, Ed gave the card to him, whom might not come back again alive. Ed had to give his son’s life and Ed’s future to God over and over.

After a while, his son came back safely.  Ed, who thought he would not be able to make it to next Christmas, losing a job, future, purpose, hope–everything,  is also still alive 10 years after his diagnosis.

“When we worry about tomorrow, we often miss out on the beauty, richness, and fulfillment of today,” but,
“‘ Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?'” (Matthew 6:26)

” God is taking care of me.  It’s not over until it’s really over.”

From ground zero, where he lost everything, Ed wanted to follow Jesus and live like Jesus again.  As he began, people who had ALS like Ed, came to him one by one.
At the place of desperation, God gave Ed a new assignment, and Ed found the new purpose to live; new hope in Christ.

In front of the great fear of death, human beings are so helpless, but with God, who gave his only Son Jesus to defeat death, we never lose hope!  Even if our body deteriorates, the love continually feeds and strengthens us!

” Fear not! For I am with you.”

I want to remember God’s powerful promise until the very end, just like Ed.

When Death Hits

I lost one more cancer friend. He was only 32 years old. Though he fought so bravely against a very rare type of sarcoma for three years, he couldn’t beat the odds of a very poor prognosis. It was difficult to hear his losing battle, but as a mother of two sons who are almost the same age as him, I felt so much pain of his mother who could not do anything but just watched him suffer and die.

Though the time, cultures, or even values have changed, our sufferings and sorrows have never changed as we face death. Since hundreds or even thousands of years ago, the Bible already has shown many stories about such human cries.

Even Jesus, Son of God, who was born as the son of man, suffered from desertedness, devastation, terror, humiliation, violence, and death. He experienced all the kinds of physical, emotional, and spiritual pains we can imagine. Near the cross there was Mary, who watched helplessly as her dear son was crucified and died in horrible agony.

Whether we are facing death or watching helplessly a beloved one dying, we can relate to Jesus or Mary. The Bible understands our pain, and there is more. Three days after the crucifixion, Jesus resurrected and defeated death!

“The offspring of Eve would strike your (serpent) head.” The prophesy God made at the very beginning of our history, when Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobeying Him and death as a result came into the world, was fulfilled.

For those who believe Jesus as Christ, death is not the end of the story.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. “ (John 3:16)

“For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
(Psalm 34:18)

Without God’s Word, where can I find hope and strength? For me this is the only refuge and fortress.

I hope and pray that the mother, who lost her only son but shares the same faith with me, can get strength in Christ and move on.

The Most Tragic Thing: Concern Over The Right of Death

On Nov. 1st, a 29-year-old brain cancer woman in Oregon, where euthanasia is legal, took her life as she had announced on YOU-TUBE several weeks ago. After she passed away following her desire that she wanted to die with dignity before cancer would take away everything, numerous headlines, which were praising her act as brave caught my eye and concerned me.

I know enough how dreadful cancer is. Not only cancer’s merciless progression but also the treatments such as surgeries, radiations, and chemo are so harmful that I can’t blame anyone even if she/he becomes frozen by the fear.
For the young beautiful newly married woman, the diagnoses with 6 months to live must have been so devastating.

Yet, is it courageous to choose death? She said her choice was different from a suicide, but how was it different? If you choose to die for someone else like a soldier, I understand it is profoundly courageous and honorable, but it appeared that she chose to kill herself because she lost hope; I can sympathize her but can’t find the courage.

Among many articles regarding her death was an article about a man, who was diagnosed with the same type of brain cancer as her and given the same months to live but has survived 13 years. He said that he didn’t give up fighting and received the strength from his family, friends, and church. There are a quite a few people who beat the prognoses and survive for a long time, but if you cut your life, there is no chance for a miracle to happen.

Another brain cancer woman also tried to change the mind of the 29 year old woman, saying that cancer has transformed her into a much more humble, appreciative and sensitive person to other’s pains: We look at cancer as a curse, but depending on our heart condition, it can transform to be a blessing.

Joni Tada, a Christian, who became quadriplegic at age 17 and has had a ministry of sending wheelchairs all over the world, also tried to plea with the 29 year old woman to change the euthanasia decision. Joni’s plea reminded her that not everyone would go to Heaven.

“”There’s only one Person who has transformed the landscape of life-after-death, and that is Jesus, the One who conquered the grave, opening the path to life eternal. Three grams of phenobarbital in the veins will only provide a temporary reprieve. It is not the answer for the most important passage of her life.”

“Please, Brittany, open your heart to the only One who can do something about your pain and your death. Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of the human experience, and I implore you to take a long, hard look at the consequences of your decision, which is so fatal, and worst of all, so final.”

If you open your eyes after death, and find out you are in the dark place without joy, love, and God, that is the worst nightmare you never ever want to have.

It is God’s job to decide when to be born and when to die. It’s not ours. Our job is to fulfill our purpose we were given and produce the fruits, as many as possible, through Christ until the end of our life on the earth. With Jesus, we can bear pains or afflictions even if we think it’s impossible. With Jesus, we can see hope even after death. Because there is God who promised to walk with us even through the valley of the shadow of death, we must not kill ourselves even if we wish so! Until the last breath we take, we have to live focusing on the hope Jesus gave us, and with thanks for God who loves us abundantly.

Image of Death

Come Onto Me

A circulating email sent me this picture. The sculpture with the tile of “ Come Unto Me” is displayed at Spilsbury Mortuary in Saint George, UT.
An old woman on the left dies; on the other side, Jesus is waiting for her. If we admit our sin, and follow Jesus as the savior, who is inviting us, we are forgiven and able to receive a new body that will never get sick and die. —-The Bible tells so.

God gives us a new body He wants for us, which is different from the earthly body.

“Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55
O death, where is your victory?
 O death, where is your sting?”
57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”–1 Corinthian 15:42-58

Death is not the end, but the beginning of the glorious eternal life!
What a great hope it is!  Oh, I love Jesus and Heavenly Father!

The Most Inspirational Memorial Service

Robbie Viera-Lambert passed away all of sudden at age 42 by a heart attack on Dec. 3rd. It was so shocking for everyone who knew him and his family, yet his memorial service was the most uplifting, inspirational one I’ve ever experienced.

Robbie, who was a strong candidate for the US Olympic ice hockey team, became quadriplegic after a car accident on the way home from a special intense training camp at age 18, but by God’s grace, he had a wonderfully blessed life with many miracles.

In order to grance how blessed his life was, I’d like to introduce Robbie’s story, which was printed on the memorial service program.

“When I was young I wanted to be an ice hockey player more than anything else.  Living in Hawaii that seemed next to impossible.  However with the help of God, family, friends and endless fundraisers this Hawaiian Express was on the way to playing professional hockey.

I had it all (or so I thought), until I broke my neck in a car accident.  Hockey was no longer the focus; just trying to move became the new challenge.

After the accident I didn’t ask  God “why” but “what” did He want me to do now.  The answer came in helping others who were in the same situation I was in.  This is when my mom, CyCy, and I started RVL SCORE (Robbie Vierra-Lambert Spinal Cord Organization For Regaining Excellence).  Through our organization we were able to help many people gain their level of excellence and live independent lives after a spinal cord injury.

This is when Tarrah came into my life as a volunteer for RVL SCORE.  Through the years we cared more and more for each other and then finally, I asked her to marry me.  It was a very good day.

The doctors said I would never be able to have kids, however God had other plans and blessed us with 3 beautiful miracles, Kamea, Nani and Luk.  I’m so proud of my kiddos and everything they do.  I’m cheering from Heaven as they play soccer, hockey, perform plays or just have a good day.

I’ve also been able to mentor my little brother Keoni and watched as he has grown into a fine businessman and a loving husband.

RVL SCORE continues to make a difference in so many lives by producing youth musicals.  Kids get a chance to find their voice through drama, singing, and dance as proceeds benefit those in need.

I know God had a purpose for my life that was very different from what I had planned back in Hawaii.  However, His plan is perfect and brought many of you into my life.  You have blessed my family and me with your love and friendship, for this I will always be grateful.

Thank you for being a part of my life’s celebration.  I’m in Heaven with Jesus and those who have gone before me.  I have a brand new body and have never skated faster.

Remember to keep Christ as your center, He is mine, He is my families’!  Love conquers all things.  HOOOO PAPA!

Love to you all, Robbie”

In the service were so many people including those in wheelchairs, handicapped, and youths, whose lives were touched by Robbie.

I wish he had been able to live longer so that he would have seen his girls become independent. However, just like Dad, who changed his tragedy into a positive by blessing someone else, I believe that his girls also will change this sad experience into something beautiful with God’s help.

Praying so, I imagine Robbie who has received a new body without a wheelchair.

God, thank you for Robbie!

Robbie Memorial service

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the center of the sanctuary was a silver hockey stick in which Robbie’s ashes were placed.
Hockey Stick

See You Again

“ She stopped eating and drinking.”

Listening to the family of Vivian, a terminal breast cancer friend, I realized her time on the earth was coming to the end. Wishing to see her again, I decided to visit her house where her sisters, son, and nieces were all gathered.

“ George came and he was with us a while ago,” saying so, the family welcomed me warmly.

Three days ago, after the ESL Bible Study, I stopped by her house to drop a card I copied a Bible verse in the class:

“God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”–Hebrews 13:5-6

Vivan’s sister told me that she placed the card above Vivian’s bed and read it to her everyday, even this morning.

I walked into her bedroom. Covering herself from the head with a sheet, she was sleeping. Putting my hand on her shoulder, I talked to her.

“ Vivian, God has been with you, and He will be with you. I hope you feel it. Once you get to His house, you will receive a new body that will never get sick or die. And when you wake up, we will all be together again. See you soon! I love you.”

As the family offered me a cup of coffee, I sat in the living room and chatted with them.

“ You are all together in this difficult time to support each other. This is wonderful! She must appreciate it and God must be saying, ‘ You are doing good job!’”
“ I think death is like giving a birth. You have to suffer for a while, but on the other side, angels and God are waiting with excitement, saying, “She is coming!” And if you get there, everything is much better than this side.”

“ On this side, because there is time, you have to wait to get together with her again, but over there is no time, so once she wakes up, everyone will be there!”

“ This chapter will end soon, but that is not the end of the story. There is one more chapter. That chapter will be the best one and that will continue forever. “

“That’s what God promised us and because of Jesus, it is possible.”

We shared the hope.

A few hours later the phone rang, and I learned that she passed away.

The strong feeling surged within me to make me weep, but I told myself that she is now with the Lord.

With George, we prayed together that God would continually comfort and give strength to the family who was left behind.

Through Cancer I found Treasure in Genesis

As I thought about cancer, which never dies and lives without following the order, I noticed there was a parallel with the story of Adam and Eve, and now I feel like I understand why God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden better.

The Story of Adam and Eve

In Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, after God created the heavens and earth, He created Adam and Eve, the first humans, and gave every animal and plant to them.

Then He said, “ You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis2:16-17)  With abundant gifts, He gave only one rule. The thing Adam and Eve had to keep was just one, but one day the serpent tempted Eve.

“ Did God really say not to eat from every tree? “
“ No, you won’t die! “ “ God knows that your eyes will be opened.., and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The words, “like God” was so desirable that she couldn’t resist. She invited Adam and broke the rule—ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

At once, they felt shame being naked, and when God came to look for them, they immediately hid. When they were found and asked if they broke the rule or not, Adam gave an excuse saying, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” He blamed not only Eve but also even God. Eve also blamed the serpent instead of admitting that she was wrong, and apologizing.

This part is so true to every human.  Though I hear some people say, “ Why did God create the tree of the knowledge or the serpent in the first place to make Adam and Eve fail?” this is exactly the same pattern of Adam and Eve. We always blame God as we hit troubles, and if I were Eve, I would be tempted just like her, and give the same excuse. It’s because the story of Adam and Eve is our story.

Death came into our world because of Sin as God warned them. The perfect paradise was distorted, and the relationship with God was broken.  Then God said,  “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!”  So God banished them from the Garden of Eden.

The Parallel of Cancer and Humans

Becoming like God, knowing both good and evil, means that humans decide what is good and evil, instead of obeying God’s judgment. God gave us the commandments and rules to follow, but we want to ignore them and make decisions by ourselves. The values of good and bad seem timeless and absolute, but without God, they are relative.

What if such humans, who ignore the orders God made and live selfishly without fearing Him, live forever? I am afraid that the result would be just like cancer.

We have to die because of our Sin, in which we broke the relationship with God, but His Grace is much bigger than the punishment. Banishing Adam and Eve from Garden of Eden, God also made the plan to save us and our relationship with Him by sacrificing His own Son.

History means His Story; two thousand years ago, at last His plan was accomplished through Jesus. Now it’s a matter of time that death and evil will be vanished. Through cancer, I found a treasure in Genesis. There is God, who is beyond our imagination! Just amazing.

Thy Will Be Done In Hospice Care

I knew that the idea of hospice care came from the Bible, but a Youtube hospice documentary video titled, “Letting Go” helped me understand and appreciate it’s work more.

“Hospice”, which has the same root word as “hospitality” was originally a place or shelter for travelers who were sick or injured to rest during the mid century. Then it evolved to be a place for people who travel from this world to next world to rest, or an institution that provides palliative care, instead of a treatment for cure, and to help people to close their lives on the earth. In the U.S., most of hospice cares are provided at a patient’s home supporting the family members who surround the patient rather than separating him/her from the family in an isolated environment.

In the video, there was a scene where an African-American woman, who was told that she had a month to live, had a conversation with her priest. He told her that nothing was impossible for God, and as he could survive from colon cancer, she would be able to be cured also if she prayed hard. Listening to him seriously, she and her family determined to believe that God would heal her from cancer.

Yet, in the next scene, a hospice staff showed her concern: “ She has a strong faith, that supports her, but the same faith that assures her to recover from the illness keeps her from facing some work most patients are doing during this point of illness: evaluation of how things were going, things she was pleased about, the things she regrets, the need to speak to the members of her family advice, thanks or forgiveness.”

Even though cancer progressed and she lost so much weight, a family member encouraged the woman saying that she looked stronger, as if everyone had a hallucination, and as the woman was told that cancer was actually getting bigger, she believed that it was because the prayers were not hard enough, so she had to pray harder.

At last when the patient was an inch away from the death, the hospice chaplain asked the patient’s son, who could not accept the reality, ”You don’t want to pray unless she is healed?” “Letting her go is letting her down?”

When we face death, the video told that we go through four stages such as 1) denial 2) anger 3) bargaining (ex: If I prayer harder or do more good work, a miracle may happen.) and finally 4) acceptance.

Watching the process of dying was very tough, but because of so, I learned how significant it is that the goals of hospice are not only to easy physical pain, but also emotional pain; pain from regret, anger, and grief so that a patient and his or her family can go through such tough stages and find peace.

Not My Will But Thy Will Be Done

Noticing that the priest gave the woman the wrong hope, I also thought about the difficult role of a spiritual leader. It is true that nothing is impossible for God. Yet His plan may not be the same as our wishes, and if we assume that our prayers were always granted, or demand to be granted, isn’t it an act of arrogance or disobedience?

The Bible says that with fear, Jesus prayed hard even to the point of sweating the blood as he pleaded to remove the cup, the coming crucifixion, from Him. Yet, at the end of the prayer, He said,” Not my will but Thy Will be done.”

Our prayers have to be the same as His. We have to trust and believe God even if His answer is different from our wish. We are able to do so because His Grace is sufficient and there is the great hope even after death: Because our suffering last for a short time, but the joy is waiting ahead of us that will last forever!

Finding God, who loves me so profoundly that He sent Jesus to die for me, was the best thing that has ever happened in my life. Thy Will be done in and through Hospice care!

sunset

Sunsets near our church sent by a friend of mine, Peggy. How magnificent and beautiful God’s creation is!

夕焼け

 

Why I love “ Mermaid” and “Happy Prince”

When I was a child, I loved picture books.  At bedtime, lying down next to me, my father would read them for me, and his voice and some illustrations in the books still remain in my memory vividly.
“ Mermaid” was one of my favorite stories:  A mermaid who fell in love with a prince, whose life she saved from a shipwreck, made a deal with a witch. Giving up her voice, she received a human figure but she was warned that she would become bubbles and die if she could not win his heart. She, as a human, got close to the prince, but he fell in love with a different woman misunderstanding that she was his savior instead of the mermaid, who could not have a voice to explain the truth. Finally though there was a choice to go back to being a mermaid and live by killing the prince, she chose to become a bubble.

If I think of the story now, a message of “love is a long suffering” was so profound even for a child that it touched me.

“ Happy Prince” was another story I loved very much. On the way to a southern country before winter would come, a swallow was asked by a statue of Happy Prince to deliver gems, which decorated him, to the poor. The swallow accepted the request and became a servant of the prince, but eventually the winter came and the swallow was frozen to death.

Both stories made me cry because they suffered and died without being noticed despite their loving deeds. Sometimes we ask, “ Why does such a bad thing happen to such a good person?” Yet even many children’s stories have told that good people also suffer, and the reason why we are still moved by such stories is that the tragic heroes or heroines never complained about their tragedies but patiently bore them and keep demonstrating their love until they die. It’s touching.

John 14:6 says that Jesus is “the only way, truth, and life. No one comes to the Father except through me (Jesus).” It sounds narrow minded and exclusive, but if we notice that no one else but Jesus was the one who took the suffering and died for our Sin, it is very understandable.

Jesus was the Son of God, but men made him naked, spit on him, humiliated, mocked, lashed and killed him. Nevertheless, Jesus, who was agonizing on the cross, pleaded for us saying, “ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus, who suffered and died for us, who didn’t know Him as Son of God, the savior, must have been the model of “ Mermaid” and “ Happy Prince”. It is painfully beautiful, powerful, and this is not fiction but real! As welcoming the Easter week, I wish and pray that many more people will know Jesus as our savior.

19 Year Old Hero Who Finished The Race

Lauren Hill, who was fighting against brain cancer but said that she might not pass Christmas last year, passed away.

The last her picture in the facebook written by her mom on 4/6 was smiling and waiving on the bed
Even after she was under the care of Hospice in last December, and in a wheelchair, she continued to participate in basketball games as an honorable coach for her collage team, raised more than $2.5 millions through multiple campaigns for brain cancer research just for a few months until her death, and had visited the same brain cancer children as she to encourage them. She was an amazing relentless warrior.

As we face death, we realize what is important in life. Itt could be a family, God, fame, or even one’s own beauty for some people, but for Lauren, those were basketball, family and friends, and to “kick the butt of brain cancer.” She gave her best for these until the very end and that perhaps inspired so many. An article said, “Numbers can’t begin to define a life,” and praised Lauren, who “moved the nation.”

I believe that we are given purposes and tasks to accomplish for God’s Kingdom. I have to live finding my purpose and achieve the tasks like Lauren. She was my hero and a great example to follow. Now her suffering is over and she has received a new body, which never gets sick or dies, although she is missed by so many. Well done Lauren!

Cancer Diagnosis 5th Anniversary

It has been 5 years since my diagnosis of breast cancer and now I will start the 6th year of the battle. On May 8th five years ago, everything turned upside down and my life has changed ever since. I could not think of the future, but I made it to 5 years! At the very beginning, I was told that my cancer was stage ll, but it should have been stage four because cancer had been already spread into the lungs. When I went to UCLA Medical center for a 2nd opinion, I was told that I would not have been able to survive for four years. If I think of that, it is a miracle that I am still alive.

Spiritual Prime Time

Physically my prime time was over long time ago. For the last five years chemo, radiation, and surgeries have beaten my cancer cells but also good cells.  My body has been damaged and lost some abilities, yet, spiritually I feel like I have grown and now I am in the prime time with the maturity and strength.

This is all because God has poured into me His love.  Immediately after cancer invaded my life, not mention the family and relatives, but also so many friends came closer into my life. If I think there was not even one day when I didn’t feel loved, it is evitable to believe that God came and has stayed right next to me as soon as I asked for the rescue.

Cancer has been growing and the harsh chemo will never end. I have no idea how many more years I have, yet my joy of being loved is more abundant than all the difficulties and I cannot express it enough. Even if the death sentence would come tomorrow, my wish to send each person, who has cheered, cared, supported, and prayed for me, a red rose with my gratitude wouldn’t change.

Death Is Like Cocoon

We all die sometime. Even if another miracle happened right now and I were cured, I will die someday anyway. According to the Bible, the paradox is when we die, the dream of living happily ever after will come true. We will receive the new body, which never gets sick or dies, when Jesus returns on the last day of the earth. Both the living and dead, who believed Jesus as Messiah, will transform into the new body all together (1 Corinthian 15:52). Therefore, when the dead wake up, everyone, whom they loved would be there including the people who had died before and after; only the people left behind have to grieve.

If it’s so, death is the triumph. An earthly body will deteriorate and decay, but it is like a cocoon, an empty leftover of a butterfly, which is much more beautiful and free than a caterpillar, a previous status. We are the same. We need to focus on the new body instead of the old body, and God, who gives it to us as the Creator.

Whether we have cancer or not, until God calls us to go home, we have to enjoy every gift we receive from Him, accomplish the purpose He gave us, and welcome the most joyful day. That is the way of life the Bible teaches us, I believe.

Oh, How great our Lord is!! Hallelujah!

My Weapon in Cancer Battle

In a battle against cancer, I think there are three battle fields: body, finance, and spirit. Each one is tough to fight but the toughest field is spirit where fear and doubt come in all the time.

We are somehow curious and want to peak at scary stuff, such as horror movies, haunted houses, ghosts, or death.

Increasing access numbers to a cancer blog of someone who is dying is most likely because of that reason. They want to know how cancer patients die.

Yet, once they know it, the fear of death becomes much bigger and horrifying.

Buddha said we are walking towards death as soon as we are born – according to a history teacher in high school, where I once was working as a bilingual aide. As I learn what death looks like, this perspective depresses me.

On the other hand Joni Tada, a quadriplegic Christian evangelist, who has sent wheelchairs all over the world, said it this way.
“ We move day-by-day toward “the better country.”

“Through we still suffer as we march toward Zion (the Kingdom of God), we become cities on a hill, and lights on a lamp stand for all to see and take courage from that welcome dalliance. “

“Earth’s pain keeps crushing our hopes, reminding us this world can never, never satisfy us. Only heaven can.”

“The fact is, this world never was our true Home. We’ve always been passing through…We’ve always been ‘ marching to Zion.”

“So we set our focus not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is only temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

How greatly our perspective changes once we know God, Father of Jesus! He is the only weapon in my battle field of spirit. I cannot imagine going through this battle even one day without Him. Getting to know Him through Jesus was the best thing that has ever happened in my life.

Farewell to Pa

87-year-old Pa, George’s father, who has been under hospice care, stopped eating the last couple of days. Being informed by George’s mother, George told me, “This is it.”
Including our 2nd son and his wife flying into LA from the Bay area, all our family visited Pa to say final farewell.

Beginning of this month, when Pa was carried to ER due to pneumonia, we all braced ourselves, as he wished no artificial extended life in the power of attorney documentation. Yet, a couple days before the Mother’s Day, when we visited him, he looked like he was doing well showing his nice smiles, being able to converse with strong grips to hold our hands, and even appeared to have a good appetite though he was only taking pasty baby foods. He gave me a kiss on my cheek at the end.

Though we were all relieved thinking that he should be ok for a while,  his body was actually shutting down, I guess. Holding the hand of Pa, whose face was one size smaller than the last visit as he lost his weight and eyes were closed, I said, “ Pa, we all came together. God loves you and He is with you. So you will be ok.” He opened the mouth and said something, but nobody understood.

Dancing w:PaPa loved dancing and when he was in good health, he would let me dance with him. A year before I got cancer, he had a stroke, which made him paralyzed and even unable to speak. Yet miraculously he recovered, and at a cousin-in-law’s wedding reception in a fall of the next year when I was diagnosed with cancer, we could dance again!

 

Even after he moved to an assistive care home and was in a wheelchair again, in the dance time, he took old ladies, who were also on the wheelchairs, and he enjoyed dancing by swinging the hands from left to right and right to left to the rhythm. That was one of my great pleasant memories of Pa.

“ Next time when I see you, I’m looking forward to dancing with you.” That was my last greeting for Pa. After George thanked him for all he has done, we, including George’s mother, all held hands circling around Pa, and prayed to release him to God.

We’ll miss him greatly and that brings deep sadness, but this is the beginning of the eternal new life. We’ll see him. Because Jesus defeated death on his cross already, we’ll see him. I am grateful that God brought Pa into my life, into a very dear place.

God Who Appears In Desperation

When death hits in spite of many prayers, it is understandable if people say, “ See, there is no God.” In fact we experience such unreasonableness quite often. Yet, during my international organ transplant ministry time when I saw Japanese families, who came to the US to seek organ transplantations, but lost their loved ones, had tears being overwhelmed by the kindness they received as strangers in the foreign country, I thought I witnessed God, who is called “Immanuel”(God is with us), and became to believe God. God in the Bible appears in such desperation in very different way from what we expect.

The following story is from a Christian site, GodUpdates.

Chen was just a 5 year-old boy when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Sadly, just months later his mother, Zhou was diagnosed with kidney disease.

Chan's story #1

For two years, the pair battled their conditions side by side. Eventually, the tumor caused Chen to lose his sight and he became paralyzed. At the same time, his mother was told that she would never live a normal life again because of her kidney condition.

Chan #2

Chen’s doctors knew that this little boy’s time on earth was getting very short. They were also sure that his kidney would be a perfect match for his mother who desperately needed one. But his mother Zhou refused it.

Chan #3

Sweet Chen overheard his mother rejecting the idea, so when he saw her he begged and pleased with her to take his kidney.

Chan #4

As Chen’s tumor grew and he became eve more ill, he asked his mother to just let him go. Chen had the hope that if he died, he could help save his mother life.

Chan #5

With tears in her eyes and with a heavy heart, Zhou finally agreed. Her one consolation was knowing that a part of her son would live with her for the rest of her life.

Chan #6

Chen peacefully passed away on April 2nd, and this precious child’s kidney was given to his mother to save her life.

Chan #7

Chen’s sacrifice not only saved the life of his mother, but he saved the lives of two others as he donated other organs.

Chan #8

Matthew 10:39 teaches us, “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

————(end of the copy)

The time on this world is a preparation to enter God’s Kingdom, where we live eternally. If so, Chan, who wanted to save his mother more than himself, must be there receiving a new body and the eternal life.

It is our choice to think;
Chan was not able to survive. Mom was left alone. How merciless it was!
The mother took a kidney from Chan, who had suffered enough. What a horrible mother she is!
Or,
God equipped Chan as His instrument. He became a grain of wheat, which saved three lives. He didn’t die in vain.

It depends on what we believe or which perspective we choose.

For me, who believes Jesus as Son of God, I see a stream of light in this seemingly gloomy depressing story. It’s all because He came to the earth to save whoever believes in Him.

Merry Christmas!