Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do I love you?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Loving someone isn't always easy to do.  Fortunately, I didn't have to learn how to love my daughter.  I am amazed that even before they brought her to me and she was placed in my arms, I loved her.  I loved her even before I knew who she was...before I knew she was born.  That is how God was with each one of us.


God knew each one of us before we were born.  He knows the beginning from the end so He knew all that would happen in each of our lives before we took our first breath.  He knew how we would feel about Him and the choices we would make and yet He still loved us.

Many have rejected Him.  Many are presently rejecting Him.  Many will come to reject Him.  Wow!  I don't know if I would want to love someone if I knew ahead of time that they were going to reject me.  It says though..."For God so loved the world...".  There is not one out there that He has not loved or is not presently loving even though He knows what they are feeling in their heart towards him and his Son.  Could you do that?  Could you love someone if you knew ahead of time that they were going to reject you?

Loving someone makes you vulnerable.  Loving someone does mean they could reject you.  Loving someone does mean you will get hurt at times.  I know that when my daughter started one of her newest "jokes", it hurt.  I would say to her lovingly, "Give mama a kiss" and she, with a smile on her face, turns her face from mine.  She thinks she is funny.  She even tells me "Congcong funny" and laughs when she does it.  Does she know that each time she does it, I feel rejected?  No.  Nor will I ever tell her that.  Do I know that is not what she is trying to say to me?  Yes.  I know her heart.  I know she loves me.  Loving someone does make you very vulnerable to be rejected.  Loving someone can also bring you the greatest blessings. 

Mark 12:30-31 has Jesus telling us 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.  If he commands us to do this, there must be a good reason for it.  He never commands us to do something that is going to harm us.  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11  He has promised us that. 

If he has called us to love others, are we not to make ourselves vulnerable and do so?  There are many out there who need you to love them.  They often make it difficult to love them.  They often push us away.  There are many out there who are hurting and need to feel loved.  There are many who have been rejected and afraid to open up their heart and love someone.  I ask you to make yourself vulnerable and love someone.  God did it for you.  He gave us the gift of his Son because of his love for us.  Who are we then to not turn around and love someone else?  May you be blessed beyond measure because you did.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Update on my father

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

I have meant to blog about my father's progress since surgery for several days now.  Now that the holiday has past, I am finding a moment to breathe and want to update all of you.

Dad is home now and has been for over a week.  I have been amazed at how well he is healing and see the hand of God all over it!  Those faithful prayers have been heard and I thank you for that.  I think what is even more amazing is my father ALSO believes that it is those prayers being heard and answered on why he is healing so well. 

Paul and his granddaughter, Jade resting after all the presents were opened

When dad came out of surgery and we were able to see him in the recovery room, I was already amazed there.  He was coherent and already joking around less than one hour after surgery.  I remember I wasn't doing that well after my own surgery and this was BRAIN SURGERY!  Thank you Lord that you placed your angels around him and are continuing to KEEP WATCH over him. 

Less than 24 hours after the surgery, he was being moved out of the ICU into a room.  Another huge wow!  Daddy at that time said he had really good drs and surgeons watching over him and that is why he was healing so well.  Leave it to me but I couldn't let that moment go.  "No daddy, this is the Lord!  He did this."  He is the great physician.  He is the great healer.  I told daddy that day how many people I had sent emails out to and how many of them had shared his need for prayer with their prayer warriors/lists/circles/churches/etc.  I figured in my own little head that there was easily over a thousand people who at least prayed once for my daddy.  This has obviously made a difference to him.  People that didn't even know him and people that he didn't know had faith were praying for him.  Thank you Lord that you put the needs of others on our hearts and we are given the opportunity to be able to come to you with our requests.  No matter how big or small, you listen to the ones you call yours and hear our prayers.  Thank you for that gift and the one you are giving our family as we watch my daddy heal.

The road ahead is not yet clear though.  He has gotten his prognosis.  The cancer that was found in his lung 3 years ago has metastasized and moved to his brain.  The original cancer is called small cell cancer.  It is known as an agressive cancer. The scan in August of the body, not the brain, had shown no new signs of the cancer.  His oncologist had been hopeful since my father had almost made it to the 3 year mark with nothing showing up.  For now, he will have to undergo radiation treatments.  They are not going to start until he has healed from the surgery.  He will start with 2 weeks worth of radiation (5 days each week) and then assess if he needs more.  At this time, they are not planning on doing radiation on the entire brain, just where the tumor was located.  Praise the Lord!  Due to the fact that this is in his brain, they will not treat him with chemo. 

One of the things the doctor has prepared my father with is the fact that though no cancer is showing up anywhere else, since it has metastasized, there are "seeds" of it in his body.  Though they have not grown, we need to expect that those seeds could grow at any time. 

One of the other amazing things I have watched is my father's attitude.  Though this man has every right to feel many emotions right now, he appears to be fully at peace with everything.  He is calm.  He is not appearing stressed.  He is worried though about my mother and I.  My mother is trying to be strong for him and that worries him.  My brother is worried about her too. 

God was so gracious.  He shut the door in China for me knowing this was going to happen.  I can't imagine how I would have felt dealing with this over there.  He has also given me Jade.  This forces me to keep my emotions in check and keep giving them over to God so they don't impact her.  I can tell you that one of my most precious memories of her and a sign of her heart was the day before my father's surgery.  I stood in the kitchen crying and trying to hide it.  Jade was sitting across the room and said "Mama crying?"  I said "yes baobei".  She said "Shall we pray?"..."Yes, baobei."  She is already knowing that when things are difficult, we pray.  May she always know that this is what we do as He listens and He answers prayers.

Thank you again to all the prayer warriors out there.  It is because of your faithfulness in bringing our needs to the Father that my father is healing and emotionally handling this so well.  On behalf of the entire Rittenhouse family, thank you.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When you pass thorugh the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2

On Friday, December 4th, my father went in for an MRI.  They found a tumor the size of a golf ball in his right frontal lobe.  It is large enough that it has pushed his brain over 7mm.  He has been suffering from the side effects of this for a while now.  I noticed changes in him almost immediately when I returned from China.  It doesn't matter how long it has been there.  What matters now is the future.

My father, Paul, and Jade

Today, we head to the hospital for his brain surgery. They are going to be able to remove it. Praise the Lord!  The surgery should last only 2 hours.  My father is very pleased with the surgeon he has and has great faith in his ability.  They will do a biopsy on the mass.  It could take up to 10 days to receive the results.  After reviewing the MRI and looking at my father's history with cancer, 3 out of the 4 possibilities could cancer.  I serve a MIGHTY God.  He is NOT a God of probabilities.  He is BIGGER than all the scenarios we can put together in our heads. I am praying for another miracle.  Two and a half years ago, he cured his previous cancer.  I know He is still in the MIRACLE BUSINESS and can do it again.  For that matter, he can make it so there is NO cancer.

One of the challenges Dad faces in recovery is his ability to fight off infection.  He has diabetes.  The doctors have had him on a steroid to reduce the swelling prior to surgery.  This will also hopefully help in his ability to fight off any infection. 

Whatever He allows into our family's lives, I know it will be for a purpose.  I can't explain why these things happen to people.  I just have watched God walk people through these things.  They may be dark, nasty, horrible things but He loves each of us enough that He promises not to leave us in the middle of them.  He takes us THROUGH them.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:11-13.  I know in my own life, He took me through some very dark and horrible things that I would not wish upon my enemy but THROUGH it, I eventually came to know Jesus as my Savior. 

I had always known about Jesus.  I knew He was born of a virgin, came to save us from our sins, died on a cross, rose again 3 days later and will come again but I NEVER KNEW HIM!  I knew OF Him but didnt' have a personal relationship with Him.  That is the difference.  I had to go through some really awful things before I was ready to humble myself and realize I needed a Savior.  Only then did I call upon Him and sought Him with ALL my heart.  I came to know that Jesus was there as my best friend.  He was there when I couldn't get someone on the phone.  He was there when I was crying in my car on the way to work.  He was there when I was suffering anxiety attacks and nothing before ever stopped them.  He was there as I went off meds for depression and felt like I was in a deep dark pit and there was no way out.  I can now look back on times in my life before I knew Him that I know He was there.  Those really dark things that could have had far worse endings, He was there then too.  He protected me then even though I wasn't trusting in Him but only in myself to take care of me.  My prayer is that through this brain tumor, my family will come to know Him and trust in Him alone. 

When times are rough, there is nothing greater than the peace you receive from Jesus.  He carries you when you don't think you can go on.  He gives you strength to endure.  If you don't know Him as your best friend, ask Him into your life.  Admit to Him that you are a sinner and you no longer want to do it on your own.  Ask Him to be your Savior.  He is standing right beside you with His hand stretched out to you.  He just wants you to reach for Him.  He will never make you take His hand.  You will never regret it if you do.