Monthly Archives: January 2014

One year remission

It seems like it has been a long year. With leukemia, milestones like the anniversary of your first year in remission from cancer seem pretty important. From a medical perspective it appears that the more distance you put between yourself and those events, the better the outlook is for the future. Of course, God’s plan for the future is what really matters, regardless of what the prognostic statistics say.

A huge thanks to the Mercy Hospital staff who made remission possible through two rounds/12 days of chemotherapy and nearly 60 days of loving care given to both Marcia and me. Now, just two more months until we celebrate with the University of Iowa transplant team my first year after stem cell transplant. I’m told mine was their 3000th transplant so I reckon they have cause to be very good at what they do. And they too have shown me great care and consideration during my recovery thus far.

Marcia has carried out her long series of demanding caregiver tasks with such amazing love and dedication. How could I have made it this far without my bride’s loving attention?!

God’s promise that his grace IS sufficient for my needs and his promise that I win whichever direction things turn have been constant sustenance for my soul.

What is ahead? I don’t know. The path seems to take a turn every 2-3 months, requiring us to keep our focus on our current footing and next few steps. Have you noticed that in your path too? Just when you think you have your sense of direction, something changes and you have to make adjustments to your journey.

Have you found the one thing that does not change, regardless of the condition of the path? In our journey, it has made all the difference in the world. Experiencing the steadfastness of God’s love and grace makes each day possible, not easy, but possible. It has caused us to cultivate our grateful hearts. It is the reality of practical faith, beginning with trusting in small things, to trusting in all things, that makes the experience real. Not easy, but real.

May your path be filled with such practical hope of knowing that wherever you go, however difficult the path, God is ready to go with you.

Fix your eyes on what is unseen

Decades ago (in a galaxy far far away) we watched Luke Skywalker jetting across the screen trying to focus on destroying the one vulnerable spot of the death star. No one else had succeeded in torpedoing this crucial spot and now it was up to him to get the job done. Relying on every bit of his Jedi knight training, Luke was interrupted by the voice of Obi Wan who told him put up his computerized visor and “trust the force.” Of course, we all know the end of the story. Luke, trusting in what he couldn’t clearly see fired the successful shot to blow up the death star that was threatening the planet on which his base was located.

Now, I don’t want to elevate the Star Wars above its mere entertainment value. And as good a shooter as the character Luke was in the film, the film writers missed the true to life reality message. But they were close.

How often during each day do you think you get distracted from your most urgent goals, from seeking with all your heart to be the person you were meant to be and treat others the way they were meant to be treated? And why do you suppose that is that way? I think part of the answer has to do with how visual we are. We get distracted by the things we see. The Bible counsels us to not rely on our own devices or to be distracted by what we see with our eyes. These things are temporary and of little lasting value. Rather we should focus on the unseen because that is eternal.

Next time you’re facing a struggle, try closing your eyes and quieting your mind from all the distracting images and sounds and information. Regain your focus on what is not seen in the problem and you may just find your solution. This has helped me so much during my life, to step away from the noise, and hear that still silent voice that whispers clarity and truth.

Pain, suffering, sorrow, cancer…all these are real but also temporary. What are the “unseen” aspects of your life that demand your focus? What does it mean to “fix your eyes” on these in your everyday life? What steps will you take to focus your trust on what matters while you are wrestling with those things that are merely temporary?

“We fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen for what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

Easily distracted from REAL satisfaction?

How many things distract you during any given day?
Daydreams, having to check your phone every time it chirps at you (or when it doesn’t), breaking news stories, gossip, interruptions, worry, thinking about lunch plans in the middle of the Sunday message? Do you find that wayward thoughts distract you even in the middle of your prayers? (I hate when that happens. It’s like visiting with a friend and then having to apologize for not really listening because your mind went its own direction for a moment.)

Psychologists have long promoted the idea that we are all motivated by what brings us pleasure. We spend because it brings us pleasure to buy things. And we save because we perceive that will bring us greater pleasure later. We serve ourselves or we deny ourselves, we eat or we abstain, because of the satisfaction we attach to those acts.

I wonder if we are distracted from really important things in our life because we are too easily pleased with ‘lesser’ things. CS Lewis states that we are content to make mud pies in the street when we could be enjoying a vacation by the sea. Either not aware of the richness of other life activities or persuaded that something lesser will satisfy more, we too often settle for less. We KNOW eating a healthy snack or saving money would match our values better, but we settle for empty calories and spur of the moment purchases because it seems appealing at the time. Or maybe we pursue activities we know don’t match our values because we think they will appease our feeling of sadness, pain, sorrow, etc.

In this journey with leukemia, I have really enjoyed the satisfaction of reveling in God’s creation, visiting with family and friends, quality time with my wife, and quiet times with God. These are some of the best things in life. They help me to put a dimmer on pain so I can actually see the joy around me. (I said sometimes. It seems a hard lesson to master.)

I wonder if you have recently taken time to think about the things that bring you pleasure and then considered which of these bring you the MOST pleasure? Is it possible that your greatest satisfaction is found in growing your relationship with the one who created you and who has such a good plan for you? I think it starts with growing a thankful heart. I hope your ‘thanks’ list is growing more than your complaints and wish list these days. Don’t let the lesser things of life distract you from enjoying life fully!

Hope for today and hope for tomorrow


Our son Michael sent us a video from Sunrise Peak in Itchulbong, South Korea, Monday morning. Being 17 hours ahead of us in the Central time zone, the picture arrived to us simultaneously but in the late afternoon on SUNDAY, the day before. I love my sister’s reply when I forward it to her: “I have seen tomorrow and it is beautiful!”

A.B.Simpson wrote, “There is a spiritual law of choosing, believing, abiding and remaining steadfast in our walk with God. This law is essential to the working of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification and in our healing.” (from Days of Heaven Upon Earth)

Did you get that? A spiritual law that allows us to choose, believe, abide in, and stay steadfast regardless of our circumstances. We get to choose! Did somebody slight you or hurt you? You get to choose how you respond. Feeling lonely? You get to choose whether you stay that way. Feeling sorrowful? Again you get to choose whether and how long you stay in that place. Do you feel “stuck” where you are? It’s your choice of how that affects your day.

Every day we get to choose what kind of day it will be. We get to choose what tomorrow will be like too. It reminds me of the story of the old man who was about to be moved to a nursing home. “Would you like to see your room before you move,” asked the director? “No,” replied the man. “I have already decided that I like it just the way it is.”

In a commentary of the Civil War our 16th president was quoted as saying, “The struggle of today is not only for today. It is for a vast future also.” A. Lincoln 1862.

We have a great source of hope. Sure, we live in today’s reality and are directly affected by it, There is real sorrow and real pain to be dealt with. But the real battle of freedom is still my choice and I have real hope because of whom I trust. I hope your choices of trust bring you great joy, peace, and hope…for today, for a beautiful tomorrow, and for the vast future also.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13




Peace beyond understanding


I am guessing that  you receive more information than you can process each day. Me too. If you read an inspirational and motivational book, you will no doubt unveil more truths than you can practically apply at once to your life. I like the way Francis Chan deals with this in his book, Crazy Love. He said (I paraphrase), “Maybe what you need to do is put this book down right now. Instead of reading more, meditate on this one truth and go live it – put it in action.”

That is the intent of this blog too. We attempt to share practical truths and points of understanding that are intended to help each of us hone our capacity to be the light of the world that Jesus commanded us to be. But then the next day comes with a new blog post. Maybe rather than reading all the daily posts, you might try to latch onto one truth that speaks to your heart and contemplate that for a number of days; try it on and see how it fits in your life. (Remember, it takes 3-4 weeks to establish a new habit.) Set aside time to meditate or contemplate how this speaks peace and wisdom to your life.  Pray and give thanks. And then watch how the anxieties of life grow dimmer and the peace that surpasses all understanding gradually grows in your heart.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7




Would you like to understand more? Would you like to experience the wisdom that comes from understanding?  We can gain a lot of knowledge and still not have the capacity for actually using it in some practical manner.  But understanding leads to practical application.

Can you gain understanding by learning lots of bits of information? Maybe, but my experience is that understanding comes from the process of contemplating this knowledge, and not just knowledge but God’s Word. It involves purposeful times in your routine to calm yourself and patiently listen to the words of wisdom God has to offer you. Recently Pope Francis noted, “We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us.” The late Steven Covey also encouraged us to seek first to understand and then to be understood. Why in that order? I wonder if seeking first to understand others helps increase their motivation to listen also to us. Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

This is why loving one another has to go beyond mere words and mere actions. We need to be truly interested in others, not just to see them as a means to achieving our goals. We are told that not everyone is interested in the light. Some would prefer to live in darkness. But I have to think that demonstrating real interest in understanding others is a great way of letting your light shine in the world. How about you?

Go Light Our World – GLOW today.

Pursue love


What would you think about someone who always talks love but doesn’t show it by their actions? It rings a bit hollow and doesn’t seem like the real thing does it?

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

We are called to act on love, to demonstrate it in what we do and who we are. But have you ever experienced the action of love without feeling love? For example, someone always says “I love you, I miss you,” but no attempt is made to share life together and act out on that professed love. We all know that all talk and no show is empty expression. It like lip syncing life.

Fellow blogger Jon Bloom writes: Because just like you can talk loving without really loving, you can act loving without really loving. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “If I give away all I have and deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). We can look like we’re fulfilling 1 John 3:18 and still not love.

John Piper writes in his book Desiring God: “Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others” (119). If we believe what the bible and most people profess, God is love, then to love others is an extension of loving and enjoying the presence of God. Jesus also commands, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35  Real Christians are known for their love. It is what defines them: they love one another. You might be thinking, “I know a lot of Christians and their trademark isn’t love.” You may be right. None of us are perfect at this. But being works in progress, shouldn’t the pursuit of love be our most ambition this year and beyond?

Love one another.

Who do you know that needs an expression of genuine love and concern? Maybe today would be a good day to share an encouraging word, send a caring note, or meet a practical need. But beyond a simple “do a good deed” or “act of random kindness”, as helpful as those may be, let’s let our love flow from an inner desire to love God. And that is an inner journey of personal transformation that no mere action alone can accomplish.

Pursue love this year and find the love you share is also the love you receive.


Opportunity for patience to prevail

We are making changes to the GLOW website and have experienced a few glitches along the way. Please bear with us. We think the revised website will better highlight our nonprofit ministry and hope you’ll find the inconveniences bearable.

Patience IS a virtue, right? You are welcome for this opportunity to practice it. 🙂

Bryan Thayer

Little Boxes

Have you ever looked at someone you don’t even know, and within seconds, find that you have summed them up and placed them into a little box? Maybe it is the way they talk, the words they use, the viewpoints they expose. Maybe it is the way they look or act. I remember a friend in college who had cerebral palsy who mentioned the pain of having people in public treat him like he was a drunk because of the way he talked and walked.

When you really think about someone you’ve spent a lot of time with, don’t you find that they, like most people, are incredibly complex? Endued with talents and limitations, beauty and scars, laughter and sorrow, success and failure, most people are too big and complex to fit into little boxes labeled by a political party, economic status, spiritual views, or other categories we might create.

Certainly, there appears to be those who play out their stereotypes with little deviation. But personally, and thankfully, I haven’t found many people who fit well in those little boxes. And isn’t putting people into boxes often accompanied by our judgment of them? And judging others is not in our job description. That task is best left up to God.

The minute you start judging,
You stop serving
You stop leading
You stop adding value.
– Cy Wakeman

I wonder how our lives would be enhanced if we vowed not to judge those who are different from us in thought, skills, abilities, economics, education, or appearance. What new possibilities will be created when we enlarge our minds and consider the potential of those around us and when we start interacting with each other OUTSIDE the boxes!

Judge not, that you not judged. Matthew 7:1

House of cards or firm foundation?

Can you remember making a house of cards? It’s quite simple at first as you lean two cards together, then another two and finally a bridge across the top. Each additional layer becomes more challenging as the additional weight that bears down upon the weak foundation makes the house vulnerable to collapse. Even the masters of construction know that their great towers of cards are susceptible to the slightest movement or breeze. And then the tower tumbles, we all laugh, and start to build again.

It’s a fun game but also a warning for how we build our real lives. I remember when Marcia and I built the addition and garage to our house. It seemed astonishing to put thousands of dollars of cement into the ground where it will never be seen. But of course, everyone knows a firm foundation must be laid or the whole building will crumble.

And so it is with our lives. We risk everything on the strength of the foundation on which we build. What is the foundation that supports your life? Some feel they can amass enough wealth to brace against the winds that come. Some rely on their intelligence or talents; others yet lean on their strength and health. And yet, one short phrase “you have cancer” or any number of calamities can knock that house of cards down with little effort. Maybe you built a strong foundation earlier in your life…are you still building on that same foundation?

The good news is that there is still time to make adjustments to our life building efforts.

Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain.
Psalm 127:1