Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Singing Through the Storms

In February, 1984 my beloved Bill took me on a special first anniversary getaway to Cannon Beach Oregon. That was the first time I experienced Cannon Beach. It soon became and has remained one of my favorite beaches. He also bought me a photo of the beach with Psalm 93:4 written on it, "The Lord on High is mightier than the noise of many waters, yeah than the mighty waves of the sea. It hung in our home for many years. The verse hangs in my heart for all eternity.

In helping our Women's Retreat speaker come up with a theme this year. She liked Surf's Up. She'll be sharing from Matthew chapter seven about God's word preserving us through the floods of life. Psalm 93:4 jumped into the for front of my mind as a great theme verse. Suzanne, our speaker, liked it too.

Later that week I found myself reading Psalm 93. Then I was singing it. Next thing I knew I had a chorus stuck in my head. Please, understand I am not exceptionally musical. I do make up silly songs on occasion. Then I did something totally silly. I video taped me singing on my phone and texted it to a very musical friend, Lindsay.

"So what do you think Linsay? Any real song potential?" Lindsay's written several songs. She liked my song in the rough and began to polish it.She even added a cool call response part. Then we got the retreat worship team together and with their help made the final edits.

Sunday, August 23rd we completed writing the song. The next day I had a heart attack and the day after that I landed in the hospital for three days. I wasn't the only one in deep water. Our church got hammered that week. One woman's 49 year old son died, An elderly gentleman in our church broke his hip. A middle aged man had a stroke. And another woman's sister passed away.

Guess if I write a song about God being mightier than the floods of life He was going to give me opportunity to sing it. So I did. Sang it several times during my hospital stay. God is good all the time. And yes, He is mightier than the waves of the sea! Here's a video of the debut of the new song Psalm 93 being sung at the women's retreat this past weekend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I am here.

At least I think I am. I'm writing this a week in advance and unless the Lord returns or Bill and I encounter unforeseen difficulties, I am here which is less than a mile north of here.

This place, apart from being one of my favorite spots on the planet, also holds the record for most photographed beach on the best coast, oops that would be west coast.

Bill and I trekked westward this past week in part to attend the BNN Pastors' and Wives' retreat which is held each year here at the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center. If you ever get an opportunity to come here DO! God has reserved prime beach front property just for His kids to enjoy. PRAISE HIM!

What is your favorite place to go?

Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, the heavens declare Your glory! Thank You for making it for us! Amen

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Seeing the Hand of God in a Heart Attack

Ever wonder what God was thinking when you go through a challenging time? I don't mean the whiny "Why me?!" Just wondering how a sovereign God who loves you will work it to good. He does promise to do that. So I think by faith a "Hey Father, what's up with this?" is a great question. That being said, we need to remember He doesn't owe us an explanation. And He does tell us in His word trials teach us endurance.

Yet, sometimes He does show us more. Maybe ten or twenty years down the road. Like the ahh haa moment I had the day I helped a family in a home crawling with cock roaches make a roach free move. About fifteen years before Bill and I were resident apartment managers. It was my job to escort the exterminator through the complex when the building became roach infested. I had roach night mares by the time we got the building insect free. That man gave me a thorough education on roaches. The information seemed trivial at the time but  years later there I was using the knowledge that only that unpleasant trial could equip me with. Then there are times, like last week, when God gives me instant glimpses of what He's up to.

Wednesday, August 26th, Bill waited with me in the ICU for the doctors to get me in for an angiogram and probably a stent. It proved to be a long wait. I didn't go in for the procedure until 5 pm. Sometime around lunch, or at least what felt like lunch time because I couldn't eat before the procedure, we heard a code blue called over the hospital's PA system. Bill and I instantly responded in prayer, "Lord thank You that you know who needs Your help now, even if we don't know them. Give the medical team wisdom and grace as they seek to preserve this life. Care for the family members who may be present. Please help each one and be glorified in this dire situation. Amen"

Ten minutes later we became part of the answer to that prayer. Bill got a call from a woman in our congregation (Bill, my husband, is a pastor). She told him one of the widow's in our church had just lost her son. Yup, that was the code blue. My husband took off to the room where this poor mother had just watched her son slip into eternity. I continued in not only prayer but praise thankful Bill could go be with her.

Had I not suffered a heart attack that Monday Bill would have been in California for duty. He's also a Navy Reserve chaplain. Not only had my heart attack kept him in town but it placed him in the hospital for just this moment in time and not only this need, yes there's more.

The next day as I recovered from the angiogram, Bill faithfully at my bedside, he got another call. This one about a retired medical missionary in our church family. Dr. B. had broken his hip.  Dr. B. also had major heart issues over the last few years and is in his eighties. Once again God had Bill right where he needed to be. He headed out to the ER to be with the Dr.,his wife, and son. They prayed together for wisdom in deciding what should be done. The decision was to take him to Topeka where a cardiac surgeon would also be available. In case you wondered why I was in ICU instead of intermediate cardiac care now you know: small town, small hospital.

We also had a chance to be blessed by three special nurses. In each area of my hospital stay, first the ER, then ICU, and finally on the regular floor, there was a nurse who had come to our church. The ER nurse I had met for the first time two days before. She was a friend of a friend who had invited her to Grace (Grace Baptist Church in Manhattan, KS is where Bill & I serve). Then my ICU nurse that first night recognized Bill right away . We had not met her before but she shared she and her husband regularly attend Grace. Finally, on the floor I met a young gentleman my husband had told me about earlier who is new to Grace. All three of these nurses provided great care for me. I'm so thankful God puts people just where they need to be when they need to be there. From lining up special nurses for me to making sure those who needed my husband's pastoral care would have it God had His hand in all these things.

No matter how much we may be hurting let's not loose the perspective that life, even our own life, is not about us. God has a much bigger story to tell. As any good author knows keeping the mystery of intrigue requires intricately weaving the all the story lines together. Kinda gets me excited about eternity when I can see the whole story unfolded and get all my "What's up with that, God?" questions answered. It'll make the Bible look like the readers digest version. In eternity we'll see how each one played their part in the greatest story ever told!

Father, You are amazing, mysterious, and infinitely wise. May we never doubt in the darkness what You've shown us in the light. Help us embrace self forgetfulness that we may have eyes wide open to your hand at work. Amen

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Lowest Common Denominator

Many moons ago, when I homeschooled the girls, a very close friend of mine, who shall remain unnamed, used me as an example to encourage other young moms considering homeschooling. She’d tell them, “If Teri Gasser can do it anyone can!” And she was right. I was and still am the lowest common denominator.
This reality applies not only to my accomplishments but also to my weaknesses. My weakness this past week that should motivate you: a heart attack. Yes, Monday, at age fifty four, I suffered a heart attack. ME, Teri Gasser, the one with low blood pressure, who lost fifteen pounds a year ago! ME, I’m the one who eats small portions of good food often and has never been overweight. My cholesterol counts are stellar. I swim and or walk at least five times a week. Yes, I had a heart attack and if Teri Gasser had a heart attack anyone can.

We’ve all heard warning; the number one killer of women over forty five is heart attacks. I somehow thought my robust health equaled immunity, NOT! I’m glad for once I didn’t just tough out my day of not feeling so well. In retrospect I should have taken the two events from the previous week as signs to get checked out. Live and learn. Thankfully, I lived to learn. Now I feel obliged to share that knowledge with you.

My symptoms began over a week before. I’d get mild ear pain in my Eustachian tubes. I thought I was fighting a bout of swimmers ear. Then a week ago Wednesday,  Bill and I went for a walk. My ears ached. I felt a burning sensation and heaviness all the way to my chest. I sat on a park bench to rest. I assumed my asthma had flared. It subsided and we headed home. Friday, Nancy took me on a tour of Well Spring. We hiked about an hour and a half. Early in the walk and about half way through the same thing happened. Again I blamed my asthma.

I felt fine after that until Monday. If I did anything but sit the burning in my ears and chest would hit with a vengeance. Yup, time to see the doctor. If I had known it was a MI (Myocardial Infarction) I would have gone straight to urgent care but no, Tough It Out Teri, wait patiently for her next day appointment. God acted mercifully towards those who’d miss me and kept me alive, in spite of my folly.
Know the facts. If you are a woman over fifty a heart attack is looking for you. Whereas men tend to have typical symptoms, women do not. Our more complex anatomy lend themselves to more a typical symptoms.

Here they are:
1.     Heartburn, abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
2.     Weak, dizzy, or faint feeling
3.     Shortness of breath
4.     Cold and sweaty (feverish without a fever)
5.     Racing heartbeat
And the really freaky one,
6.     You may have no symptoms at all!

So, girlfriends over forty five, listen to your body. If anything is off get checked out, NOW! Don’t be a Tough It Out Teri. The upside, treatment these days works wonders. In one, non invasive, angiogram they could not only find the artery that was blocked but they fixed it by place a stint. Star to finish about seventy minutes. All I have to show for my near death experience and three days in the hospital is a incision less than a quarter inch, no stitches or pain medicine. What a miraculous age of medicine we live in!

Next week I’ll share three wonderful answers to why. God doesn’t always let us in on why He does what He does but when He does, WOW, what a blessing!

Dear Merciful Father, I’m glad I was ready, ready to go and ready to stay. Seems You’re not finished with me yet. Maybe because a sister reading this needs to be ready for a heart attack or better yet to prevent one. Thank You, God. You are good all the time! Amen