Part 10: Arms of Love. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Nine: Arms of Love (Doug & The Slugs)

I sing a simple song of love,

To my Savior, to my Jesus.

I’m grateful for the things you’ve done.

My loving Savior, My precious Jesus.

 

My heart is glad, that you’ve called me your own.

There’s no place I’d rather be.

 

Than in your arms of love.

Than in your arms of love.

Holding me still, Holding me near,

In Your arms of love.

 

Click on the arrow below to listen to Arms of Love.  Allow time for the song to load.

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Doug holding his three loves.

Reflection

Wow, this song caught me off guard.  As I started listening to it, after writing the last reflection, I couldn’t stop the tears.  It wasn’t like Doug to use words like “precious Jesus”, and “loving Savior”.  Yet here is Doug’s love song, if you will, for his Jesus. He expresses his gratitude for what Jesus has done for him. Jesus’s arms of love is where Doug is now.  Jesus never left Doug, but carried Him all the way through the process of leaving this life to life eternal.  Not what we desired, but safe in the arms of Jesus.

I am reminded of the song Rich Mullins recorded based on Psalm 73:25 (Rich, who lived in my home town for some years, died as a result of injuries from a car accident while Doug was ill.);

 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

And from Psalm 84:

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Another passage beautifully put to music by Brahms in his “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place”. (Requiem) A favorite choral number of our father.

And finally, from Revelation 21;

 Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

 Reflection

Take some time to consider the love Jesus has for you. Re-read the scripture passages. Find these songs on you-tube and listen to them.  The Morman Tabernacle Choir has a great recording of the Brahms. Listen to Doug’s song again – “a simple song of love to my Savior, my Jesus.”  May you find peace and joy in Jesus, your Savior, and hope for when God will make all things new, when He will well among His children forever.  Doug’s prayer, and mine as well, is that you will be among God’s children and experience the love of Jesus as Doug did. Now and forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Part 9: Hear My Cry. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Eight: Hear My Cry (by Doug)

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Hear my cry, oh God.

Listen to my prayer, from the depths of my soul.

From the end of the earth,

My soul cries out when my heart is faint. When my heart is faint.

 

Chorus: Lord, lead me to a rock that is higher than I.

For you are my refuge.

Oh a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in thy tent forever.

 

For God, my soul waits.

I wait alone, in the silence of the morning.

My spirit is, whisper of my Lord,

as in the sunny of the morning breeze.  Of the morning wind.

  

From the ends of the earth, I call to you, and you answer my prayer.

You answer my prayer. You answer my prayer.

 

Listen to Doug’s recording of this Hear My Cry by clicking on the arrow below.  Allow some time for it to load.

 

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Doug with his accompanist at his Master’s Vocal Recital, Vermillion, SD

In mid-June of 1998 we learned that there was nothing medically that could be done for Doug.  Such horribly hard news to recieve.  Some weeks later, when his body went into a coma, I read the prayer Jesus prayed in the garden on the night he was betrayed. Jesus demonstrated great trust in the plan of His Heavenly Father, but it wasn’t without struggle.

Doug, his family, as well as his church family, prayed all during Doug’s illness, imploring God to heal him.  We did not want to give up hope for physical healing.

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Doug worked with his dad, Peter Friesen, at Winkler Bible Institute.

There is the idea of a “Prayer of Indifference” that come from the 2000 plus years of Christian tradition.  It sounds wrong at first, but it means praying to be free from the desires that hold us back from saying yes to God and His will and purposes. Another way to think of this prayer is to pray to relinquish control, leave the results in God’s hands, asking to be “indifferent” to the results.  This is what faith allows us to do, but it can be a struggle to take refuge in God alone. In this song, Doug declares, “you Lord are my refuge.”

That is what Jesus was able to do, but first he wrestled with God in the Garden right before He was arrested, tried, and crucified.  He cried out saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”. Eventually,  Jesus came to the place where He was able to say, “not my will but thine be done.” (Matt. 26:39 NIV) This kind of prayer can only be uttered by those who are fully confident of God’s neverending love for them.

This is where I came to as Doug lay in a semi-coma.  With sorrow…”Lord, your will be done. If healing isn’t going to happen, please let Doug’s suffering end.”

Reflection 

This song reflects the deep longings and feelings that come with these kinds of prayers for help.  Do not hesitate to pray these types of prayers yourself or for someone you know.  Jesus did. Jesus then expressed faith in God with his final prayer of “not my will but yours be done”.

During a time of prayer God gave Doug tremendous peace in the last days of his conscious life. The fear of death was gone. He was trusting in God’s loving care. Consider pouring out your heart to God about your concerns.

If you are able, consider the prayer below by Richard Foster, a “Prayer of Relinquishment” as he calls it.

Prayer of Relinquishment, by Richard Foster

Today, O Lord, I yield myself to You.
May Your will be my delight today.
May You have perfect sway in me.
May your love be the pattern of my living.
I surrender to You my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions.
Do with them what You will, when You will, as You will.
I place into Your loving care my family, my friends, my future.
Care for them with a care that I can never give.
I release into Your hands my need to control, my craving for status, my fear of obscurity.
Eradicate the evil, purify the good, and establish Your Kingdom on earth.
For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 8: Show Your Power. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Seven: Show Your Power (by Kevin Prosch)

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He is the Lord, and He reigns on high.

He is the Lord.

Spoke into the darkness, created the light.

He is the Lord.

 Who is like unto Him never ending in days,

He is the Lord.

As He comes in power when we call on His name.

He is the Lord.

 Chorus 1:

Show your power, Oh Lord our God.

Show your power, Oh Lord our God.

Our God.

 Your gospel oh Lord is the hope of our nation.

You are the Lord.

It’s the power of God, for our salvation.

You are the Lord.

 We ask not for riches but look to the Cross.

You are the Lord.

Pour out our inheritance 

Give us the lost.

You are the Lord.               

 Chorus (x2):

Send your power, Oh Lord our God.

Send your power, Oh Lord our God. Our God.

Click on the arrow below to listen to Show Your Power. Allow some time for the song to load.

Doug & Monica Friesen, Jenny & Rob Wall going out to eat, June 1998.

Last dinner out with Doug around 6 weeks before he passed away.

We wanted God to show us God’s power by healing Doug. In this song we are calling out to God over and over to first “show your power”, and then “send your power”.

This song also reminds us that “you are the Lord”.  We are not.  We are invited to  “look to the Cross.”

The cross shows us the weakness of God. God allowed God to be wounded, harmed, killed.  We don’t see any show of strength at the cross.  That didn’t come till the resurrection, when God conquered death once and for all, demonstrating God’s great power for the good of all people for all time.  In the end, this was a much greater show of power than ending Christ’s suffering and death before it happened, with a much greater result of salvation for all as well as God’s glory and power revealed.

Reflection

Where are you needing God to “send his power?”  Are you able to tell God what you need, and leave the results in God’s hands?  Talk to God about what rises up in you as you consider these questions.

Part 5: Faithful One. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Four, Faithful One (By Brian Doerkson)

v. 1 Faithful one, so unchanging.

Ageless one, you’re my rock of peace,

Lord of all, I depend on you.

I call out to you, again and again.

I call out to you, again and again.

 v. 2 You are my rock in time of trouble.

You lift me up when I fall down.

All through the storm, your love is the anchor,

My hope is in you alone.

Oh, we had so much HOPE that Doug would be healed.  Doug placed his hope in God as this song states.  My mantra to the very end was “if there’s life there’s hope.”

You can listen to this song by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

Doug&Monica 1998

Doug and his family, E. Grand Forks, ND, Spring 1998

I view this song as a declaration of Doug’s faith in God.  It is a prayer of dependence on God for the “storm” of cancer Doug was experiencing. But we see in this song the words “I call out to you again and again…I call out to you again and again.”  I remember doing this, and I’m sure this reflects what Doug did as well.

When Doug placed his faith in God, he experienced God as “faithful”, “unchanging”, “ageless”, “rock of peace”, “anchor”.  The emotions were strong as Doug experienced progress and set backs in his health. Doug often depended on his family and pastor for encouragement, but utlimately God was the one who lifted Doug up when he was discouraged, fearful, feeling the effects of the cancer and/or the treatment, weary, worried.  In the end, as modern medicine failed, his hope was truly in God alone.

Reflection

Take a little time to read slowly through the verses from Psalm 3 several times.  Then reflect on the following questions.

Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. (Pause) But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. (Pause) I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. (Psalm 3:1-5 KJV)

What troubles are facing you today?  Are you weighed down by a heavy burden?

Consider calling to the Lord, today, tomorrow, again and again. Invite Him to be the “lifter of your head.” Your “rock of peace.”

Part 3: Psalm 148. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Two, Psalm 148 (by Rosie)

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Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise Him, stars at night.

Let the waters that are above the heavens;
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for He commanded and they were created,
He has established them forever.

  Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise him, stars at night.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

for His name alone is exalted;

His glory is above heaven and earth;

He has made his people strong,

Honoring his godly ones.

 Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise Him, stars at night.

Praise Him from the heavens;
    praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all the angels;
    praise Him, stars at night.

Written by a college friend of Doug’s, the lyrics of this song are taken from Psalm 148 but are not a direct word-for-word rendering.

You can listen to the song by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

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Doug and Rosie performing together at a church picnic in Wichita, KS around 1986.

I listened carefully to the words as Doug sang them and found that they focused my attention up – to the heavens – where the angels, the stars, and even “the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord.” Look up…and when you do, you can’t help but praise God as you take in what He created and established. As the writer looks up into the night sky he is overwhelmed with awe for the creator.

Who looks up to the heavens these days? Who is paying attention to what the heavens are saying in their silent way? For thousands of years humans paid a great deal of attention to the heavens.  Before electricity, the lights of the sky were studied and used to guide travelers by land and by sea.  The movement of the sun by day and the stars by night was discovered and used to plan life.  People were always looking up to the heavens and thereby also noticing God’s creation daily.  Many marveled at the soundless message of God’s glory, but many chose to ignore it.

Now with our modern conveniences we produce fake light at night and are distracted by our technology.  Who looks up at the night sky?  Who notices and sings along with the silent praise that is pouring out of the heavens?

The angels, the night stars, and even the waters above the heavens are praising God and invite us to look up — and notice – and join the everlasting chorus of praise. For God’s glory and greatness exceeds what you see in the heavens.

The refrain “praise him” is repeated over and over in this song.  What does it even mean to praise God?  Well, the Psalms were originally written in the Hebrew language, so if we go to the Hebrew, there are several words that are translated as the word “praise” in our English translations.

Here are a few Hebrew words we translate as praise: 1) yadah means praise, give thanks, confess; 2) hala means to praise, glorify, boast, commend; 3) zamar means to make music or sing praise. [i] The end result of praise is that God’s name is exalted.  As we read more in the Biblical book of Psalms, which speaks much about praising God, we find we can praise God in song, in dance, in prayer, through speaking, studying God’s Word, and in honoring God before all other people or things.

In Psalm 148, God’s creation in the heavens is giving him praise.  It makes me think of another Psalm:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm, 19:1-4)

Tucked in this song of praise, Psalm 148, is the phrase I had the hardest time understanding from the recording,

            He has made his people strong, honoring his godly ones.

You only hear this phrase once.  And at first I couldn’t understand the words.  I listened over and over to these two lines.  As a singer, I was impressed with Doug’s final “t” at the end of the last word “night” but the rest of the words were unclear, muffled somehow. Now that I understand the words, it is obvious that this is truly a praise song – exalting God, and not people.  However, God’s attention to his “godly ones” is what He is praised for in these two short lines, and that makes all the difference to people of faith.  God is with us, making us strong, honoring us.

The action in this song all belongs to God which makes Him worthy of praise….the creator of the majestic heavens…He has made his people strong.  In the end, through all the ups and downs of Doug’s illness, Doug was strengthened by God to persevere in faith right to the end of his life.

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.  (I Sam. 2:8)

Reflection

As if fighting cancer wasn’t enough, Doug and his family had to evacuate their home during Doug’s chemo treatment due to a large flood.

FamilyatHoferFarm

During the weeks of evacuation Doug and his family were living on his in-law’s farm outside of Freeman, SD. I can picture Doug sitting outside at night with his guitar, looking up at the sky and singing this song of praise to the Lord.

On a clear night, spend some time outside, looking up.  Listen to this song and contemplate, or think with God, about what you hear and see. Contemplate the God who made the heavens.  Is God important in your life? Do you praise God with your actions, songs, words, study, prayer?  Talk with God about what you discover.

[i] https://answersingenesis.org/answers/biblical-authority-devotional/what-does-praising-god-mean/

Part 2: Morning. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song One, Morning (Doug Korg 01 Wfd)

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Today I listened to the first song Doug recorded on his recording Doug & The Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom. It is totally instrumental, a quiet melody in a minor key. Music written in minor keys often sound mournful and sad.  This one begins that way.

You can listen Morning it by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

Morning. Mornings were so hard towards the end of Doug’s illness, after the doctors had reported “there is nothing more we can do”. In the days and months that preceeded and followed his passing, I often would wake up with a jolt in the mornings, sometimes as early as 3am, remembering once again this new reality. That Doug’s cancer isn’t going away, that Doug is dying, or Doug has died. It was like hearing it for the first time and re-experiencing the shock and grief.  Stomach in knots.  Tears coursing down my cheeks. I would eventually realize I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I would slip quietly out of bed, and go to the living room with my Bible in hand.  Seated in my arm chair, I would turn to the Psalms, my lifeline during this ordeal, and read till God spoke to my need, bringing comfort and peace to my heavy and hurting heart.

Psalm 5:3 is circled in my Bible.  Actually, just the verse number “3” is circled.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Were mornings hard for Doug too as he was fighting cancer?  To wake up and remember once again, “O yeah, I have cancer.”  Did fear wash over him each morning?  Sadness?  Anxiety?  In the mornings did Doug seek God and find peace and strength to face the day? I think he did.  Because the music in Morning takes a turn.  The minor key turns to major, and the beat becomes livelier.  It seems almost hopeful as the music fades.

…for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. (Psalm 6:8b-9)

 Reflection

 My hope was restored each time I allowed God to comfort and speak to my concerns, particularly through reading the Psalms.  There were many ups and downs during Doug’s illness.  Times when he was doing well. And we rejoiced and were grateful. Times when he wasn’t.  And then I returned to my arm chair with my Bible, seeking God for help with the waves of anxiety and grief I experienced. I am reminded of the Rich Mullin’s song “My One Thing” which includes phrases from Psalm 73:24, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

What is troubling you today?  Are mornings the hardest?  Would you be willing to give God a chance to meet you where you are today? Listen to the song again. Then sit with God in the Psalms first thing in the morning, or during the night when you can’t sleep.  Read until something speaks to you. Meditate on it, which simply means think about it with God.  What is He saying to you?

Part 1: Cancer, Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

CANCER.  The word you dread.

I learned of my brother Doug’s cancer when he called me on the phone to tell me.

A month before, my husband and I along with our two young daughters piled into our dark green Plymouth van and drove up to see Doug and his family in their new home during a long weekend in October of 1995.  We drove from our home in Wichita, Kansas up to Kansas  City where we caught I-29 highway going straight north to Grand Forks, North Dakota, all on a dark, cold, cloudy and blustery fall day.

During our brief time there, Doug was coughing.  A lot.  As a singer he had struggled much with allergies and illness, often taking steroids and antibiotics in order to carry out singing engagements.  This time Doug wanted to fight his “bug” without the aid of medication.

So after our visit, Doug finally went to the doctor.  He had some very swollen glands, and this chronic cough.  Maybe it was Mono?

But in November, just one month or so later, the diagnosis came back as Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Devastating. I then learned that Doug hadn’t been feeling well all summer, during their move, and as he began his new position at the church in Grand Forks.

Very quickly surgery was scheduled to remove the swollen lymph nodes in his throat that contained the cancer.  And a regiment of chemo was prescribed.  Life changed very quickly for Doug and his young family.

1997 flipping burgersDoug grilling for one of our visits during his illness.

Today I read Matthew 4:18-20 (ESV)

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen and he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

 Reflection

I was struck by how Peter and Andrew followed Jesus’ call immediately.  They didn’t stop to think about what this might mean.  They simply put down what they were doing and followed.

When one has an unexpected life-changing event, such as an accident or a cancer diagnosis, could this also be an invitation to follow Christ? To trust God with what is out of our control, and go together with Him into uncharted territory?  How we struggle to accept our new reality – new unknowns.  But are there also new possibilities?  Reflect on this passage and these thoughts with God.  What do you notice about your situation? Are you willing to put down life as you have known it and follow Jesus where He leads in the midst of your new circumstances? Consider journaling what you want to remember as you talk with God.