Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh my soul...

Today is a good day.

To elaborate, God is in control.  He has forgiven me.  He heals me.  He has redeemed me.

I am currently experiencing some rather inconvenient (not painful or sickening) side effects from the chemo therapy, at least what my research on the symptoms potentially links as an allergic reaction to the newest drug which was added to my cocktail last weekend.  The inconvenient side effect: itchy palms of my hands and soles of my feet, which has expanded to general itching all over.

When discussing the issue this morning with my (x)Wife, we were prayerfully discussing (through texts) options and claiming God's truths and promises.  I was given Psalm 103: 1-4.  It is the truth.

Psalm 103:1-4 (KJV)
"Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;"
Every part of us need to be praising God for what He has done (His benefits):

  • He forgives us!
  • He heals us!
  • He redeems us!
  • He loves us!
Therein lies our focus! (Had to use this. ;) )

Rejoice and be glad!  With this truth, how can any day NOT be a good day?

Tagged


I have been participating in the July Ultimate Blog Challenge, which encourages you to write a post daily throughout the month.  Considering the fact that I started this blog on like July 16 and signed up for UBC the next day, I think the fact that this is post #30 means I have accomplished the goal (for general semantics, I will have #31 also by the end of the day).

During this July Challenge, the game of Tag started.  Yesterday, I was tagged by Melinda Picone Parry  from the blog Musings.  I will admit, I am not a big game player.  Perhaps it goes back to being that kid who was usually picked last for sports in grade school? But I disgress...I will be a good sport and answer.

There are 4 simple rules to the game:

   1. Post the rules. The rules are simple. There are only four of them:
   2. Answer the questions the tagger has sent for me in her post.
   3. Create 11 new questions to ask those who I'm going to tag.
   4. Tag 11 people on the Facebook page with a link to this point.

I have answered the questions below; however, since today is the last day of UBC I will not be tagging anyone, but I will be posting 11 questions that, if you are so inclined, you can answer on your own.

My responses:

Where is your happy place? There is really no one specific location that makes me happy.  I would say my happy place is more due to the company I am with than where I am.

What hobby do you indulge in?  I bake and experiment with unique cheesecakes. Sure, I do a basic New York or my annual Pumpkn swirl cheesecakes for the holidays, but I like to get creative.  I have made a S'mores cheesecake and am working on a maple bacon cheesecake, for fun.

If you could eat one food every day without negative consequences what would it be?  See question #2.  I love cheesecake.  But there is a reason I do not make them very often.

What would be essential for you to have on a desert island with you? My kindle and a wifi signal.  Lol.  Need to read!

How did you choose your favorite color? I have NO idea.  Somehow, purple just found its way to me and has never left. Where I was raised, purple was not looked at as a manly color when I was in High School, so I guess the rebel in me went that route just to be different.  I was also the trend setter of being the first guy to pierce his ear(s) in my school.  Yup, I was a wild man. 

Do you dance? What kind of dancing?  Picture Seinfeld's Elaine dancing, that's me.  So, NO.

What is one issue you are passionate about? Personal responsibility.  While I believe the situations of our past and environment in which we were raised play a part in shaping who we become, we still make the choices.

What is your favorite real life animal story?  Can't really think of one, so I probably don't have one.

What book has made an impact on your life?  The Bible.

What do you think is the most important thing to teach children?  See #7, Personal Responsibility

What mode of travel do you like best? I like driving.  There is just so much to see in America. And please note: there is, to me, a huge difference in driving and passengering.  I am a terrible passenger on long trips, I can not relax.  Maybe I have control issues? LOL.


There you go.  All about me as it pertains to the questions posed.  Since I am not going to tag anyone on this last day of UBC, I would rather take a second and share several blogs I have recently found thanks to this challenge.  There are many involved and while I could list every one, I would prefer to highlight just a couple:

Chelle Wilson at Treat Me to a Feast
Cheri deFonteny at Idle Chatter
Riki Cleveland at Refreshingly Riki

Ok, on to my version of the questions. As I stated, since no one is tagged, no response is required.  However, I hope you read the questions and think about them.  Answer if you choose (maybe one or two that stand out to you) in a comment.  Have fun with it!

1.  How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?
2.  Which is worse, failing or never trying?
3.  If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
4.  When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you've done?
5.  What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
6.  If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
7.  Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
8.  If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
9.  To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of     yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?

Rejoice and be glad!

Monday, July 30, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again


Recycled Facebook NOTE from January 11, 2009.

In Mark 6:4 Jesus said that a prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown with his relatives, and in his own household. How have I interpreted this and held it for most of my life, you ask? Well, I am glad you asked.

My take is that it is nearly impossible to be honored for your calling at home because HOME remembers. HOME knew you when you were a snotty little kid. HOME knew you when you were the kid who covered the side of your neighbors garage with mud because you were 7 and it was muddy, and darn it if those huge rhubarb leaves don't uproot easily and scoop mud beautifully to propel. {True Story} HOME remembers every time you put your foot in your mouth, every time your walk was not hand-in-hand with the Man who stilled the waters (even if it was B.C.-before conversion). HOME doesn't do change well.

To quote/paraphrase Disney's "Lilo and Stitch," Ohana means family in Hawaiian and family is forever and ever and ever and ever. Did you ever notice all the genealogies in the OT hence the begats and the listing in Matthew for the path to the Crown? Because families are always looking out for what happens among their own. And they never forget.

Well, HOME can also include the hometown where your young foolish reputation will always haunt you. HOME is your relatives where {some} will always confront you on some long forgotten (by you) offense or perceived offense that broke some one's feelings. And HOME also includes the members of your household, who, if no one else, sees you often enough to get hurt when you are inconsistent.

How does this tirade apply to my application? Well, I have always used this reference as a good sign to avoid HOME where you will be reminded of your failures no matter how strong your current testimony is. No matter what, you are still who you were in their eyes. This section continues that Jesus was amazed at their unbelief and He could do no great works except for heal a few who were sick. I mean even God was hindered by the HOME's preconceived notions of who HE was. What possible hope can I have?

But wait, look closer. Jesus is God, right? God knows everything (omniscient-all knowing). He knew He would not be able to do everything there, BUT HE STILL WENT BECAUSE THERE WERE A FEW WHO'S LIVES HE CHANGED. It doesn't matter if we get our feelings hurt, as long as we are obeying His will, there is some reason for us being lead there. Some may sow, some may water, some may harvest. We do not always see the full bounty from the seeds we sow.

Go and Sow. Yes, this whole blog is "really" about personal application, so I am preaching to the choir, but the choir director's monitor sometimes don't work so good.

All this reconnecting has ignited somewhat of a desire to go HOME again. Sure, I do not have much of anything left there, it HAS been a solid 20 years with few visits by me. I have not attended a High School reunion (not that I ever thought I would, because of the EXTREMELY divergent lifestyles). I just want it to be perfectly clear that if I return, God needs to lead me there with unwavering certainty (I am not casting fleece or looking for a Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin moment with the disembodied Hand of God writing it out for me). Just a wellness of soul and I would be good.

Go


Recycled NOTE in Facebook from May 2, 2011

Non-Christians seem to hang up on the “Thou shalt nots” in the Bible.  As Christians, we need to focus on the Dos.
Throughout the gospel, Jesus consistently uses imperatives to tell us how we should lead our lives and what we should do:

FORGIVE EVERYBODY OF ALL THEIR OFFENSES AGAINST YOU.
                     Forgive, and be forgiven.
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.
ABIDE IN ME, AND LET ME ABIDE IN YOU.
LET PEOPLE SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS.
                     Do not hide your light under a basket.
END DISPUTES QUICKLY.
WHATEVER CAUSES YOU TO SIN, GET RID OF IT.
DO NOT SWEAR OATHS AT ALL.
DO NOT RETURN OFFENSE FOR OFFENSE.
                    Turn the other cheek.
GIVE WHAT PEOPLE ASK OF YOU, AND GIVE MORE THAN IS REQUIRED.
                    Go the extra mile.
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES AND THOSE WHO WORK AGAINST YOU.
GIVE TO THE POOR TO PLEASE GOD, NOT TO GAIN APPROVAL FROM OTHER PEOPLE.
PRAY PRIVATELY AND SIMPLY, NOT TO IMPRESS OTHER PEOPLE.
MAKE YOUR PRAYERS BE LIKE THE LORD'S PRAYER.
WHEN YOU FAST, DO IT SECRETLY, NOT FOR SHOW.
STORE UP YOUR TREASURES IN HEAVEN, NOT ON EARTH.
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR MATERIAL NEEDS.
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE.
MAKE GOD YOUR HIGHEST PRIORITY, AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OFALL YOUR NEEDS.
DO NOT JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE.
                    Judge not, lest ye be judged.
DO NOT GIVE HOLY THINGS TO DOGS OR CAST YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE.
ASK GOD FOR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO HAVE.
                    Seek, and ye shall find.
FEED THE HUNGRY, CLOTHE THE NAKED, SHELTER THE HOMELESS, COMFORT THOSE IN DISTRESS.
FOLLOW THE NARROW PATH TO LIFE.
                    Enter by the narrow gate.
BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS.
EXERCISE POWER OVER UNCLEAN SPIRITS.
LOVE LITTLE CHILDREN, DO NOT DESPISE THEM.
DO NOT TAKE THE TITLES 'MASTER' OR 'FATHER' FOR YOURSELF.
DO NOT OPPOSE OTHER BELIEVERS IN CHRIST WHO ARE NOT IN YOUR GROUP.
HAVE TOTAL FAITH IN GOD FOR EVERYTHING.
BE LIKE THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
                     Go, and do likewise.
LOVE OTHER PEOPLE AS I HAVE LOVED YOU
EAT BREAD AND DRINK WINE IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.
WASH ONE ANOTHER'S FEET.
BE MERCIFUL.
GO AND TEACH ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM.
KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.
BE PREPARED FOR YOUR MASTER TO RETURN.

Grammatically speaking, imperatives are commands.  Active Faith is summed up by the words of Jesus in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

They seem like simple words.  “Just do what I told you to do.”  But how do we do what He has told us?

 Again, based on a command of Jesus in Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray that ye fall not into temptation: the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Watch (γρηγορέω-grégoreó-be vigilant). To be vigilant is to maintain alertness.  We should pay attention to
what is going on around us, be aware of our surroundings.  Mostly, we should self-inspect our motives and intentions to be sure they are pure. 2 Peter 3:1-2 puts it this way:
"This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior."
Sincere, in this instance (εἰλικρινής- eilikrinés-lit. judged by sunlight), refers to holding an item up to a brighter source of light to judge for defects.  We should be alert to judge our actions by the bright light of the Son.

If we judge ourselves, we will find that we must actively pursue holiness.  We must strive for that goal.

AQUÈL QUIEN LA BUENA OBRA EMPEZÒ


Sorry about that.  But the topic today and focus verse, when ever I hear it, cause me to drop into the Spanish translation.  I can't help it.  I blame Steve Green for his "Hide'em in your Heart" series which helps people memorize scripture through song.

One of the songs is "AQUÈL QUIEN LA BUENA OBRA EMPEZÒ," which is sung in Spanish obviously, and is the translation of Philippians 1:6. (NIV) "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

That is a promise worth remembering.  God will be faithful to finish the work He has started in us! When I get down because I feel as though there is no progress in my walk, I can know that God is not done with me yet.  When I feel like everything is just standing still in my life, I can know God is not done with me yet.

That is exciting.  That should make you smile and help you get through a rough spot.  Don't worry, you keep working towards what you feel God has for you, and He will keep working on you as well until you are complete.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Not Afraid

My taste is music is extremely eclectic.  I can listen to and enjoy almost anything, depending on my activity or my mood.  Tonight while I was out walking, I was listing to some music and thinking.  I had created a playlist from my music library that is geared towards running when I can consistently make that happen again.

While I was enjoying the music, the song "Not Afraid" by eminem came on.  Now I am not particularly a huge fan of eminem, but the last part of that song just struck me this evening.

Basically it is a song about eminem's struggle and journey towards recovery from addiction, to which on some small level I can relate.

Not Afraid

I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid
To take a stand, to take a stand
Everybody, everybody
Come take my hand, come take my hand

We'll walk this route together through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just lettin' you know that you're not alone
Holla if you feel like you've been down the same road

And I just can't keep living this way
So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage

I'm standing up, I'ma face my demons
I'm manning up, I'ma hold my ground
I've had enough, now I'm so fed up
Tryin' to put my life back together right now

It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me
Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally for you
So I could come back a brand new me, you helped see me through
And don't even realize what you did, believe me you

I've been through the ringer, but take it through little to the middle finger
I think I got a tear in my eye, I feel like the king of
My world, haters can make like bees with no stingers
And drop dead, no more beef flingers

No more drama, from now on I promise to only focus
On handlin' my responsibilities as a father
So I solemnly swear to always treat this roof like my daughters
And raise it, you couldn't lift a single shingle on it

The verses that really got my attention were the third from last and last printed here.  I can understand quite well what he is saying here in the third from last.  The changes I made in my life were changes I knew I needed to make and I made them based on my desires; however, I knew the changes needed to be made if I was ever to attain my primary goal of recovering my family and my wife.

In the last verse, he (like me) knows he needs to focus on being a father.  That is one of many areas I failed.  I figured that I had a job, that took precedence.  I know better now, especially realizing the things I have missed.

So I will admit an eminem song (and a bit of chemo brain) had me sobbing during my walk.  Sometimes, a message can come from anywhere.  Who would have thunk it?

Prayer

NOTE:  Recycled header, new comic, not a duplicate post.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (cartoon left if you were not aware) ran from November 18, 1985 until December 31, 1995. At its height, it was carried in approximately 2,400 newspapers. It was a brilliant piece of writing which was sometimes criticized for being "too adult" in its content. I enjoyed it immensely. This panel is profound, and could be applied to our daily lives.

Dialog (in case it is hard to read):

Calvin (panel #1): "Wow. Look at the grass stains on my skin."
Calvin (panel #2): "I say, if your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life."

So, do you have dirty knees at the end of the day? If not, maybe it is time to seriously re-examine your prayer life.

Unlike what our mothers told us growing up (be careful not to wear out the knees of your pants), our Father wants us to! I will not claim that the only way to pray is on your knees sequestered in your prayer closet, but it is one way. Find the way that works for you and make it happen.

God speaks to us through His written word, the Bible. Christians speak to God through prayer. Prayer is an important part of the Christian’s life; we pray in words and sometimes we pray in song. Here are twenty important scripture quotes about prayer.

How Often Should We Pray

1 Corinthians 1:4
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 6:18
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Philippians 1:3-4
 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,

Colossians 1:3 (KJV)
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

1 Thessalonians 5:17
 pray without ceasing

How Should We Pray

Psalm 66:17
I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue.

Psalm 95:2
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

1 Corinthians 14:15
What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

James 1:6
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

What Should We Pray For

Psalm 50:14-15
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

Psalm 118:25
Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!

Psalm 122:6
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you!

Romans 10:1
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Romans 10:13
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Who Should We Pray For

Romans 15:30
I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,

2 Corinthians 1:11
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

1 Timothy 2:1-2
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

James 5:13-14
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Christian Quotes About Prayer

“Those persons who know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.”~ R. A. Torrey

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~ Corrie ten Boom

“You may as soon find a living man that does not breath, as a living Christian that does not pray.” ~ Matthew Henry

“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” ~ John Bunyan

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” ~ Oswald Chambers

FOR FURTHER STUDY

A great series of books of prayer by E. M. Bounds:
Power Through Prayer
Prayer and Praying Men
Purpose in Prayer
The Essentials of Prayer
The Necessity of Prayer
The Possibilities of Prayer
The Reality of Prayer
The Weapon of Prayer
Preacher and Prayer

Lord, Teach Us to Pray by Andrew Murray

All are available on-line as online books, e-books, or e-texts for free. Just use your search engine and search away.

I know there are many, many more recent books on prayer as well, but I like the classics. Personal choice.

Get out there and get those knees dirty!

Worship


Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (cartoon left if you were not aware) ran from November 18, 1985 until December 31, 1995. At its height, it was carried in approximately 2,400 newspapers. It was a brilliant piece of writing which was sometimes criticized for being "too adult" in its content. I enjoyed it immensely. This is one of my favorite panels.

So, do you "verb" or "noun" when it comes to worship?

Let's break it down a bit:
Noun:          The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.

Verb:           To show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

If you "noun", you base your worship experience on feelings or emotions. True worship should evoke an emotional response since it is an expression of love; however, we cannot base our entire worship experience on emotion.

If you "verb", your worship is based on action.  Perhaps the most prevalent action word used in conjunction within the context of "loving God" is obey (stated or implied):


1 John 5:3 (NIV)
"In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome."
John 15:10 (NIV)
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love."
John 14:15 (NIV)
"If you love me, keep my commands."
So, we worship through obedience.  In Romans 12:1 (NIV), we are told:
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."

We must give God our all, all the time, not just when we are in an emotional state conducive to what we consider worship.  That is love.

So be like Calvin and "verb" it up!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

And having done all, to stand.

"Satan is never in a hurry. All he needs is an opportunity to inject unholy, self-centered thoughts into our heads. If we don't kick them out, they stay. And he can continue his evil, destructive plan."

I am currently reading excerpts from the Battlefield of the Mind 14-day Bible reading plan by Joyce Meyer on lifechurch.tv's youversion Bible reading application. This little tidbit was part of the other morning's reading. It went straight to Evernote on the iPad.
It was a perspective I had never before considered. Satan has time to wait for us to get down. Then he can inject the thoughts into our heads when we are less likely to be able to resist.

Lesson from this? Oh, where to start...?

James 4:7 (KJV)
"Submit yourself therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Ephesians 6:12-18 (KJV) 
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"

Matthew 26:41 (KJV)
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

I know for me, this is a battle since I (especially being out of work for medical reasons) am alone and have no accountability at home right now.  I need to integrate into a group of Godly men.  I am moving in that direction, and have made contact with several from work.

But that is usually the problem.  I prefer not to socialize with individuals from work when I am not at work.  I do not like the conversation to turn, as it always does, to work issues.  But it is not about my preferences...it is not about me at all.  It is the right thing to do:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (KJV)
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
I know what I am battling and I know how to fight it; now, all I have to do is remember to carry my sword.  And it never hurts to have back up in the area when the enemy shows up.

Are We There Yet?

I admit it. I am not a big fan of asking for directions. I'm a guy.  I don't think it is a sign of weakness or an admission of being "geographically misplaced" but more as an inconvenient stop that would delay my getting back on the right track. I can usually get pretty close to what I am looking for, but, as they say, "the devil is in the details." These days I have my trusty smartphone with the mapping functions. I have used the GPS navigation in a vehicle before, but I am just not a fan of my car talking to me. Just give me a map. I imagine Moses could have delivered the children of Israel to the Promised Land sooner had he stopped and asked for directions.

Alright, the last sentence was meant to be a joke, but it is somewhat curious that an 11 day journey took 40 years to complete. Reading the Exodus story, there are many things going on during the travels (and travails, if you will) of this journey.

First, it had to be a logistical nightmare. Attempting to coordinate that many folks without the conveniences of modern communication is a task I would not want to be assigned.

Second, the people kept departing from God's ways. They would be given simple instructions and fail to complete them or totally disobey, or there would be infighting about who should be leading.

One of the ironies of the journey of Exodus is where they traveled. They seemed to be in the Wilderness of Zin (pronounced sin, ironic, no?) pretty often. Isn't that fitting. When we sin, we are lost in the wilderness trying to find our way. We will circle and circle, but never manage to get out on our own. Finally, God has to intervene to pull us out of sin.

I'm glad my journey through the Wilderness of Zin was not a full 40 years, though I have been know to make a left turn headed back in that direction if I am not diligently following the directions provided to me.  But God had a purpose for those 40 years for His people, which He tells them:

Deuteronomy 8:2 (KJV)
"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no."
While the loops around the desert were to chastise their repeated disobedience (verse 8:5), there were other reasons:

* to humble them-I would image the feeling of overwhelming pride/conceit which could have arisen during the Exodus (immediately after departing anyway): God had just presented miraculous plagues to Egypt and He called you His people; you "borrowed" all kinds of precious metals from the Egyptians, knowing you would never be returning; and, God just crushed the Pharaoh's army under the waves of the Red Sea. Just seems to me that an Air of Superiority could develop.
* to prove them-many issues arose and individual, groups, and an ENTIRE generation were preened from the Children of Israel due to their disobedience, sin, or unbelief. God wanted those faithful followers to enter the Promised Land.
* to know what is in their hearts-in 40 years, people have a great opportunity to come to know God and His law (at the time, they were under the law not stating that we still live under the law), and God could gauge His people by the prolonged exposure to them, whether they would remain faithful and keep His commandments or not.

Number 3, is no dig on the Omnipotence or Omniscience (all powerful or all knowing) nature of God. He knew their heart, but going back to number 2, he was allowing them to prove it. Actions speak louder than words.

Remember, when you feel like you are stuck in a prolonged trial, God has a reason for it.  It could be one of the three above.  But when you finally stop wandering through the desert, you can enter the Promised Land.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Great Expectations


“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations” -Jodi Picoult

Wow. Talk about brave, titling this post after a masterpiece novel and quoting the bard and another famous author right off the bat!

Last night I was informed of some statistics from a workout someone who is near and dear to me completed. I was highly impressed because, to me it was a fast pace for the distance. So, this morning, just to see where I am in comparison, I went to a track to attempt to match the effort.

Now, here are a couple caveats that should be noted (I was cheating a bit):

        *  I was running on a level track with no traffic in 72 degree weather, no wind, light humidity, beautiful morning, and I was well rested.
        * Stats were recorded in the evening on country roads (probably not too level) 80 something degrees and humid, at the end of a long day.

So life is not fair. I had expected to either match or, at least, come pretty close considering I haven't been running as much as I would have liked (but I could make excuses all day why). I wasn't even in the vicinity of the numbers when all was said and done. Much slower. Over all pace poor and, I will admit it, I could not even run a complete mile without walking.

This saddened me. I had expected to run not much slower than I had on my last timed 1.5 mile run in October. I was about 5 minutes slower. I know I have only recently started running/walking again (haven't run much at all since November), I am not as young as I used to be, and I "have a medical condition," but it was just a mile and a half! I completed a marathon last year in October! A mile and a half is nothing.

Expectations are a trap. They can lead to disappointment, or motivate us to change to meet them. It is all in how we ourselves deal with things. I am disappointed in the results, but I have formulated a plan to improve my performance and set a goal to attempt to remeasure in 2 weeks after work in that direction.

Will I be able to get (in 2 weeks) to a point I would love to be: my Army basic training 2-mile run time of 10:32, or my current job academy final physical fitness test 1.5 miles in 10:25? Pretty sure in 2 weeks that won't happen, but I would like to consistently complete the distance without walking. Then to work on speed/pace.

I plan on running with this individual soon. I don't want to make her slow her pace for me, and I would prefer not to be embarrassed by my lack luster performance. But in the long run, I will just be glad to be sharing a run with her for the first time. It will make my heart smile no matter how I do.

I need to be diligent and patient, enjoying life day by day. Making whatever furtive movements in the direction I want to go, I must wait for the results.

Psalm 62:5 (KJV)

"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Husband, love your wives...


CAVEAT:  I am neither a biblical scholar  nor am I a relationship expert.  I have failed in both categories numerous times in my past.  {And, yes, I took the picture to the left. Thank you.}


There is a book that was popular a couple years ago, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I am by no means promoting that book, as I have no idea what the contents are or how they align with Biblical principles of marriage and spousal relationships. I merely mention it because I always thought the title was interesting. As a man, I know I sometimes wish there was an instruction manual for caring for me, almost as much as I wish I had one for my wife. The one thing I have learned (ok, not the only thing, but a HUGE thing) from marriage:

Men and women are different.

Do I win the "Understatement of the Year" award for that bombshell? If I were a superhero, I could be Captain Obvious for loosing that gem on the world.

Even from the very beginning it was that way: man was made from dirt and woman from bone.

We have different ideas of how to handle things. We have different needs and desires. We are wired differently with our senses. In Ephesians 5, Paul instructs men and women very differently in how they are to love their spouses. It points to the differences between man and woman and caters to basic needs that each desires from a perspective of how they need to be loved.

I am going to concentrate on the man side of things since one of the main purposes of this blog is what I am learning/need to learn. I share because, perhaps, there is at least one other person who could be inspired, or more likely warned, from my journey.

Ephesians 5:25-29 (AMP)

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church."

Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

My thoughts:

1. Husbands, love your wives: pretty straight forward command. We are supposed to love our wives.

2. as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her: we are given more precise direction in the "How" we are supposed to love our wives. We should place her before us, we should be willing to sacrifice for her: sacrifice our time for her needs, our desires for hers, our comfort for hers...our everything to demonstrate how much we love and wish to care for our spouse.

3. So that He might sanctify her: two definitions of sanctify-to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use : consecrate, and to free from sin : purify. We need to set our wives apart from all other women. She needs to be ours alone, the one we worship (inasmuch as worship meaning "a reverent love and devotion"). Note the second definition of sanctify (to free from sin : purify). This implies we need to be concerned with her spiritual condition as well. We need to lead our wives spiritually.

4. having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word: As a spiritual leader, we should involve our spouse in Bible study, helping her (and us) to remain in the Word and experience its cleansing power. [There is a deeper theological perspective on this phrase explained deeply and well here, but I am sticking to the more generalized interpretation.]

5.That He might present the church ti Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing [that she might be holy and faultless]: do you feel a sense of pride when you are in public with your wife on your arm? You should. Jesus cleansed His bride so He could have her looking great when He presented her. Everything was in order and she was beautiful. We should ensure our wives have the opportunity to be beautiful (spiritually). She will always be beautiful in our eyes (physically).

6. Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies: in this portion, I am glad for the Amplified text, without it the verse reads much differently to me: "love their wives as their own bodies." Well, to me that is unfair to her since for a very long time, I did not love my body or do much to take care of it. We need to treat our spouse as a part of who we are, not a separate entity. In Genesis, it says "the two shall become one" and "flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone." We are one, if she is injured I am injured. If she hurts, I hurt.

7. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church: Even if we have poor body image, we still go through the basic care of our body. We need to nourish (keep fed on a diet of the Word) our spouses. Nourishment also allows for growth, we should feed our spouses so they can grow into who God wants them to be. We need to carefully protect (jealously guard) our spouses. We spend more money, time, and energy protecting our "stuff" than we do our spouses. We need to ensure her well-being and safety, as well as surrounding her in a sense that she knows she is important to us. We need to cherish (to care for fondly : nurture; or to cling fondly or inveterately to) our spouses. I like the word "inveterately," it means "firmly established through long persistence." Should not our pursuit of our spouse be long and persistent? Especially, even after we have captured them! That is how Jesus loves the church, and the perfect example of how we [men] are meant to love our wives.

It is beautiful. It is perfect.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Broken Windows


For all but seven years of my adult life, I have been involved in law enforcement; of the seven where I was not, two were college right out of high school, and five were a hiatus after being really burned out in 1998.  During the first nearly nine years of law enforcement, the theory of "Community Policing" was beginning to take hold.  This was more of a proactive style of law enforcement, where the officers were more visible and encouraged to get to know residents in order to build trust.  

It was a bit reminiscent of the old TV show flatfoots walking a beat.  That was the general idea anyway.  Part of the impetus towards this style of law enforcement came from the realm of the social sciences.  Let's face it, law enforcement is a large mix of sociology and psychology.  The main push, came from the Broken Window theory.  The broken windows theory was first introduced by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, in an article titled "Broken Windows" and which appeared in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.   The title comes from the following example:
"Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."
Generalized: broken windows lead to other crimes.  Once it appears no one cares for the state of the area, the crime rate generally rises.

NOTE:  I am NOT a sociologist/criminologist/psychologist.  I was/am in law enforcement.  That is it.

I was reminded of this theory-which I first read in a Social Psychology class in 1989-several times recently.  Author Malcolm Gladwell speaks of it in his book The Tipping Point, and James Q. Wilson, one of the authors of the article, died March 2, 2012, and I remember hearing that announcement.

Anyway, I can understand the general sentiment of the theory, and it received a lot of support for quite a while.  It lead to neighborhood watch movements and community improvements in many places.  I cannot provide statistics as to whether or not the crime rates lowered when people began taking care of their communities and fixing the broken windows, but I can see an analogy between this theory and part of my daily Proverbs reading from today:

Proverbs 25:28 (MSG)
"A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out."
The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

The person without self-control, once that first window breaks out, can start down the slippery slope of further and deeper (sin is sin, just speaking metaphorically here) sins in their life.  Telling one lie can lead to murder.  (Remember: life and death is in the power of the tongue Proverbs 18:21)

We should work on self-control, primarily by asking God to lead us daily in the steps we should take and by filling our minds and heart with the Word.

Wordless Wednesday


[Cheating and adding some words: this makes my heart go pitter-pat and causes a large smile on my face.]

It is official!

July 25 "Officially" marks my 2 months out of work anniversary.  Oh, I still have a job.  I am on "sick leave" due to seeking treatment for my ailment.  This is the longest period in my adult life where I have not been "productive."  It is a bit madding as Thomas Hardy would say.

My days have no schedule.  Well, I am pretty consistent still even though I don't need to be.  I wake between 6am and 8am (though I have started aiming earlier to help someone else who is trying to start getting up earlier.  First thing after killing my alarm clock, turning on a light, and seeing to bodily functions is to read wisdom: reading a daily chapter of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.  Just helps me to start my day on the right foot, looking for the right in the crazy mixed up society in which we live.

After that, maybe a shower and shave (if I feel like shaving, since I do not have to these days) will follow.  I have never really been huge on breakfast, but I will at least drink water and have a  bagel if I have any or some yogurt.  Then I will aimlessly surf the web for a couple hours and cap the day off by reading.  If I am feeling motivated, I might try going for a run/walk to get some physical activity (much needed I must add).  I have been trying to avoid TV and DVDs since they require no level of interaction just mind numbing droning.

The hardest part of the whole situation is the lack of being intellectually engaged in something that matters.  Don't get me wrong, my current position at work does not require much "engagement," but at least there is some busy work the requires a bit of thought (creating pay period and daily schedules is sort of like Sudoku, it had to be just right).  I really need a project.  I need to get back to work, preferably in a location where my unique skill set will force me to be crazy busy with research, testing, and documenting.  Yes, I am a geek in the realm of my career field.

In my much younger days (I have been working more or less in the field since 1989), I was more of the Operator type: the guy out there doing the job, kicking in doors, ready to jump.  In the past few years, I have tried to transition more to the administrative/supervisory side of things.  I worked at my department's training academy for about 3 years, and came out of it with the desire to continue in the soft-skills area of my field.  I would have no qualms about returning to my former position (which I am trying to do since it is just about the only thing that fits the description of what my Dr. says I can do), or going to Washington, DC and working in the administrative environment there.

DC would be a bit difficult financially for me and would require locating a new Dr (which I would rather not do).  My former position, which not where I currently reside would allow me to continue with my current Dr and not add any mileage to the trip I already take every other week for treatment (still an inconvenient 170 miles away).

Either way, I need to be intellectually stimulated by a challenge.

That is probably a secondary reason for why I started blogging.  First, of course, was to help channel my thoughts and emotions concerning this new path in life on which I have embarked .  Then there is catharsis of releasing all these things.  But the challenge (especially jumping in late to UBC and playing catch up) of taking the time to write at least daily what I feel, think, or what is going on in my life is wonderful.

I had never been a writer as a youth (neither was I a public speaker).  I wasn't good at it and had little desire to hone the craft.  This is ironic since my first chosen area of study I was pursuing in college was biologist and  would have required a lot of writing.  It wasn't until I was in the military that I was placed in a position where I needed to create written reports which needed to be coherent.  I learned a lot through writing a myriad traffic accident investigative reports.  I was given several assignments to create a curriculum for "Safety Days" where we could present custom tailored courses to units of varying length (this also forced me to become a public speaker, since I also presented these courses).

In the position I held just prior to my current, I wrote all the time.  I conducted studies on the efficacy of a certain computer-based testing platform we were looking at in comparison to a product which was being forced on us.  I reviewed and rewrote portion of our major curriculum package (it is dry reading, trust me).  I maintain the currency of our post completion training curriculum.  I did a lot of writing and presenting of ideas on a high level: reports I authored and submitted would frequently end up high in the organizational food chain.

About the only issues I really ever had were telephone calls (which I loath).  I can do them, just PLEASE no conference calls.  The big issue I have is when we are discussing something of which I hold a strong opinion, and someone disagrees with me but cannot articulate why they disagree.  I have been know to be "snarky" and my tone of voice changes to a more condescending one.  I have been called out on this and make a concerted effort to address it.

In all, I just need to get back to work!  There is a certain level of social interaction I am missing as well.  I don't leave the house much these days.  At work, there was at least conversation.  An added bonus would be supplementing the base pay I receive on "sick leave" with some of the premium pay or which I qualify since it would go a long way towards assisting with the pile of medical bills.

Hmmm, for someone who never was a writer, I just dropped over a 1,000 words with little or no effort.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The POWER of our words

I am not looking to cheat my way through a post, but this is a very powerful message (and yes, that is the guy from Bones).  I was introduced to this video when visiting EP (Exalted Patriarch-my father) recently, and it fits into the obvious lesson God has for me these days.  At least that seems to be the theme running all over me (which probably means it is a lesson I need to hear!).



Couldn't we all use a little validation? In fact, shouldn't we all be validating others?

What does the Bible say about our words? (All verses KJV)

Proverbs 18:21 
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
 Matthew 12:35-37
"A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Ephesians 4:29
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Psalm 19:14
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."
I could go on and on. Are you seeing a theme here? Do the right thing.

To walk upon my high places.

Sometimes, things just do not go my way.  In general that is, nothing specific bringing about this statement.  I just don't always get things to turn out exactly like I think they should.  Life would be much more pleasant of they did; besides, who knows more about what I need to happen to secure my attitude than me?

The above is a very selfish comment.  It is intended to illustrate a point rather than reflect my attitude.  I have been there, just not recently.  Once I accepted that it rains on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45) it is easier to accept.

In the past two months, people have made comments concerning my attitude which I found surprising.  They are surprised at how up beat and calm I seem throughout this ordeal.  It was a conscious decision I had to make.  My "natural" inclination would have been to fall into the trap of pity and basically give up.  That is unacceptable to me, as I have WAY too much love I need to share with my children and wife.  I have chosen the "Supernatural" option!  I believe that God can and will intervene.  He will promote complete healing in His time and according to His will.  Does this mean the next time I go to the Dr., I will be declared cancer free? It could, or it could mean a slow reduction in things and a very long time.  Either way, I AM NOT IN CONTROL.  Which ever route He takes, it will be the one He chooses and is best for His purposes.

There is a purpose in my going through this.  I may never know exactly what it is, but knowing there is something is enough for me.  There is a plan.

A passage from the Bible that comforts me in this situation is Habakkuk 3:17-19 (KJV):
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."
My paraphrase: Sometimes, bad things happen. It is no excuse. Praise the Lord ANYWAY. He is the reason you have made it to the point of even experiencing a bad time. There will be good times coming, bear with it.  Sometimes you have to go through the low ground to find the path up to the mountain top.

Notice: in verse 19, "He will make me to walk..." Sometimes, God will push us a bit to get us out of the low land funky places we can linger.

Let Him lead you (or push you as the case may be), and go!

Praise the Lord ANYWAY!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chemo Brain

Not really sure what is going to happen from one moment to the next.  My thoughts and emotions hit the ups and downs at a nearly feverish pace.  My mind will start racing down a track in pursuit of a new fresh idea, then I will find myself staring at the wall wondering what I was doing.  I will be in the middle of a joyous conversation having a good time, then the tears will start for no reason.

Welcome to Chemo-Brain.  It is nice to know that the poisons that are being pumped into my body are affecting more than just the invaders trying to take over; they are slowly causing me to believe I am partly emotionally unstable and pretty much completely mad the rest of the time.

Today, I allowed doubt and negative talk to enter a text conversation and am thankful I was immediately slapped down with Truth.  I need to practice what 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV) teaches:
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
Keeping my mind from wandering, and focusing on things that are contrary to what God has told me to be true, I need to examine every thought so I can obey the truths I have been given and do what I know to be right.


Powerful stuff.  


Now if I can just figure out how to keep from bursting into tears...

Departure Part #3

#2 Relationship: Not rebuilding last marriage, making it new.

Doesn't really seem like much of a surprise does it?  I mention it frequently enough.

I am 43 years old and divorced due to (and while my wonderful wife will accept blame for things as well, I own it all since I failed to lead, failed to love, failed to cherish her) me being a selfish man who did not know what he was doing: my ignorance/apathy towards what I had and paying attention only to my desires and goals above all others.

It has been over three and a half years that we have not been living together and almost three years since the "official" dissolution of marriage was signed. I have remained in the New Mexico/Texas area and my wife and children live in Georgia.

I have been living this time in a state of what too many men look at as freedom, when it is actually a prison: a prison of memories, holding me captive to my actions/inaction that lead to this imprisonment. I have let that all go. I am no longer the man who was in that relationship. I have changed-hopefully for the better. I know what I want, and that is my wife and children in my life full time. To live, love, and laugh with them daily.

I never stopped loving my wife, even when I had forgotten how for so long, even when I was selfishly angry at what "she had done by leaving ME." After the years we had shared, there will always be something there deep down. On the several visits to see our children as I clumsily attempted to exercise my visitation rights, it was hard to see her during the exchange because it always stirred up feelings and emotions I had tried to suppress, but it was worse the one time she was not there for the exchange and I could not see her-the longing to see her was the worst.

Having to seriously reevaluate what is important to me (in a big way from the diagnosis, but also a process I have been undergoing for the past almost 2 years), I know I need my family together again. I know it should have never separated (but what has happened is past). As EP (Exalted Patriarch-my father) and I had briefly texted back and forth today when generally discussing this topic, I am not looking to restore the relationship my wife and I had (it was broken), I am looking to create a new fresh relationship with my beautiful wife that has none of the old mistakes in it.

I love my wife. During this separation we did not communicate much at all. The occasional text or email, and one phone conversation which took place when it was NOT meant to (time and my mind/heart was not right). Since this past visit to my father's place and having the kids and my wife around, having had the opportunity to be a family again and enjoy each other's company, spending time together in love. I have a lot of work to do to get to know my wife again, and to love her like she deserves. I am willing to put forth that effort.

It is the most important thing I can do for our children.
I might have dumped too much here and been a bit too personal, but my goal is to live a transparent life to not hide anything from anyone.  I used to be good at keeping secrets (or so I thought), but now I do not want any.  Just live openly and honestly.

Departure Part #2

#1 Primary Battle: Colon Cancer (continued...)
(Today's graphic is a Port-A-Cath: totally implantable venous access system (TIVAS) which I have embedded in my upper right chest.  The clear bottom part is in my chest and has a plastic tube-not shown-which enters my right jugular vein and feeds down to the superior vena cava terminating just anterior to the right atrium of my heart.  The needle just snaps on whenever I need intervenous meds administered.)

Friday June 8, 2012, approximately 9:30 am.  I finally get to sit down with the oncologist I randomly selected from my insurance company web page. Yes, my oncologist is female.   I prefer female doctors for most things (though perhaps not my choice for urologist since the sensitive nature of much of that treatment), I just seem to connect better and don't feel like they are as condescending as most of the male doctors I have had.  Personal choice.

Dr. C. let me know that the CT scan did confirm the ER scan I had, and the liver biopsy was positive for malignant cancer; however, it was not liver cancer.  The cancer cells in my liver were metastasized colon cancer cells.  That was both good and bad news.  Good because liver cancer is really nasty and could require a transplant.  Bad because it means the colon cancer is in a pretty late stage which precludes the opportunity for surgical intervention.  Dr. C. set me up with an appointment for the following week for an endoscopy/colonoscopy  which would provide a bit more information on what we were dealing with concerning the primary issue.

June 15, colonoscopy. Not a pleasant thing, but mostly because of the prep work one needs to do the evening prior. Basically, you get a prescription for a one gallon jug which contains a combination of salts. You take it home and add water. Shake until the salts dissolve, and "enjoy" an 8 ounce glass every ten minutes until you have consumed the entire gallon. By then, the salts will have forced the contents of your digestive system out the path it was meant to travel. Of course, you could also just be like me and after about half the damnable concoction I experienced a severe "reversal of fortune" and was vomiting for the rest of the evening. I, at that point, called it enough. The doctor running the scope would just have to deal with it; that was the best I could do.

Colonoscopy confirmed colon cancer by showing a tumorous mass approximately 50cm up from the start (or, I rather should say, end) of my colon. Additionally, 3 little cancerous polyps were removed. [From the imaging report, the liver has a 5 cm tumor in the left lobe and an 8 cm tumor in the right lobe. So imagine a lime and a lemon sized tumor in those locations, as well as "innumerable" smaller spots.] It was official. I have colon cancer!

Oncologist Dr. C, set me up while I was still in town and "officially" diagnosed with an appointment for the installation of my Portcath (pictured and explained slightly above near opening graphic). With that installed, I could begin chemotherapy.

On June 20th, I began my first (of 12) chemotherapy treatments in this cycle. After the 12th treatment, I will have about 6 months off then repeat the cycle again. According to Dr. C., since there isn't much else that can be done for me medically, I will be undergoing chemo for the rest of my life. When she said her goal was to make these 2-3 years the best they could be, I was taken somewhat aback. Perhaps I misinterpreted her. But, alas, no. According to her and the "studies", the 5-year survivability rate for stage IV colon cancer with which I have been diagnosed is 6-8%.

I may be a bit naive, but I am pretty sure I can do better than 6-8%! I have never scored that low on a test in my life! And this test matters A LOT!

So that's where we are today. I have just completed my third round of chemotherapy, with the inclusion of a new drug which is more aggressive in attacking cancer by shrinking the blood vessels which feed the tumors. I have experienced none of the side effects I have been warned about from the beginning. (Only one, which is not that bad: cold intolerance. I can't drink anything cooler than room temperature or it feels like my throat has needles stuck in it.)

The nurses and Dr. C. seem pretty impressed that I am tolerating the treatments so well. Not trying to be a hero, but I do not feel sick nor will I allow my attitude or countenance to become down. I am confident that however this plays out, God has a plan in it. I am holding to complete healing, growth through this process, and testimony to others. Agree with me in prayer on that!

This has been a large learning experience and has been the impetus for my attitude of gratitude, desire to write, and new lease on a future which I should have never let go.

Tomorrow: #2...what will it be? Some of you could probably figure it out easy...but keep it to yourself for the time being. LOL!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Departure Part #1

I am going to depart a bit from the established norm for the blog.  Today I am going to drop a bit of information concerning the battles I am waging.  I have alluded to them in previous posts and in my prayer requests.  I will now clarify them, some.

#1.  Primary Battle: Colon Cancer
(To explain the graphic, it is the CADD-1 inter-venous portable medicine pump, which is faithfully attached to me 46 hours every two weeks during the outpatient part of my chemotherapy. I call it the "kitty," because like a cat, it is usually in the way, and annoying, but will purr every once in a while to remind you it is there.)

Background: In April, I began having odd symptoms (stabbing pain during inhalation) just below my ribs on the front right side.  Being someone who prefers NOT to do to the doctors, I self-diagnosed as pleurisy (inflammation of the lung lining) as it fit everything going on.  I medicated with ibuprofen and ta-da everything is better.  This happens 2-3 times during April, but stopped so all was good, I thought..

I had a vacation planned to pick up my children from my (x)wife in GA and go to LegoLand in Winter Haven, FL.  Right before the vacation started, the symptom returned; however, it was slightly different.  Shallow breathing was fine, but a normal breath would cause the stabbing pain.  It would occasionally be relieved by shifting position, but generally just controlling my breathing and maintaining the shallow pattern would work-ibuprofen wasn't doing the trick anymore.

Instead of doing the "smart thing" and going to the doctor before leaving on vacation, I decided to wait, because I wanted NOTHING to potentially get in the way of seeing my kids.  It had been almost a year and I missed them.  So, off I went, a couple flights, a rental mini-van (which I am not too proud to admit I LOVED), and the vacation began.

I love my children VERY much.  I wanted the vacation to be a good time, and to build some memories with them.  The last thing I wanted was to let them know I was in pain or hurting.  Of course, the plan never seems to work out like I want.  Mainly because son #1 is extremely observant.  When I would breath just a bit too deeply and a minor (I thought disguised) wince would cross my face, he would ask me "are you alright Daddy?" to which I could only reply, "I have to be."

Well, the vacation went off without a hitch, good times had by all, and pleasant drive back up to GA.  Kids were reunited with their beautiful and wonderful mother, and I prepared to return to TX.  By this point, I had been yelled at by several people to go to the doctor about this and I agreed I would.  I made a compromise that I would return to TX before doing so in case I needed to stay for something.  I promised that if it was still terrible, I would find a hospital in El Paso as soon as I landed, or if I thought I could make the 4 hour drive to home, I would hit the hospital there.

Well, upon landing in El Paso, I knew I had to get back home.  I could make the drive.  I succeeded, though it was not the most pleasant drive I have made.  As I rolled in to home town, I drove directly to the hospital ER.  Thankfully, it is a small town regional hospital so there was nothing going on and I was able to be seen immediately.  For reference, it was 1:30 am, June 4, 2012.

After initial triage, where I also discovered my blood pressure was through the roof (though in hind sight from pain, stress, and lack of exercise), I was sent for an X-ray of my torso (even though I told doctor there is no chance I have a broken rib as he suspected.  I had experienced no trauma to that area i a very long time.  But, whatever, I have insurance so they were going to use their equipment to get it paid for.

Shortly after the X-ray was completed, I was given a med for the blood pressure just to "relax" things for now and advised to seek care for it from a local general practitioner. When X-ray was read, there were some "spots" just below my right side rib cage which seemed out of place, so a CT-scan was ordered.  I underwent the CT with little issue (except for the "now, take a deep breath and hold it" part: I am here because I CAN'T take a deep breath!).

After what seemed like an eternity of just chilling in a triage room, the doctor came in and sat down.  He explained that the CT scan needed to be digitally sent off to be read by an on call imaging specialist in Dallas and the read results just returned.  He said, and I quote (mas o menos), "there is no easy way to say this, it appears from the CT scan that you have something going on with your liver, and cancer is suspected.  You need to see an oncologist as soon as possible."  Time: 5:30 am, June 4, 2012

That hit like a ton of bricks.  I was not expecting that at all.  Yes, I cried.  But only for a few minutes, then I was surrounded by peace.  I accepted the opinion of the doctor and imaging specialist, but they were just looking at pictures which were not very clear.  I would go to an oncologist and get things straightened out.

I immediately headed in to my office to let my superiors know what was going on and to request the time off for the medical fiasco I was sure would be beginning.  All was approved by 8 am, June 4, 2012, and I have not worked since.

My first thought was M D Anderson in Houston, being a premier cancer treatment center, would be great.  Especially since I have some support in that area and EP (Exalted Patriarch-my father) had been through there several times for various and sundry "C" issues.  I attempted to self-refer, and found out they don't work that way.  Ok, plan B.  I looked up oncologists in Midland, Texas, since it was the nearest "real" hospital from where I live (171 miles one way).  I made a phone call and explained my situation to the LPN of the oncologist I had chosen.  She asked me some basic information and the location where I had the initial diagnosis.  She took my phone number and said she would get back to me.  That eased my mind.

Of course, being a pretty concerned person at this point since I REALLY wanted an answer, I decided the following day I would drive up to Midland and pop in to the doctor's office just in case I could get an appointment.  Pretty risky these days with the way things work, but I had nothing to lose but gas money.

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, barely 24 hours after the ER doctor dropped the news, I was underway to Midland (a 3 or so hour drive).  By 9 am, I located the doctor's office and walked in and requested to see the doctor without an appointment.  The receptionist looked at me like I was crazy, but called back and thankfully talked to the LPN with whom I had spoken.  The LPN brought me back to her office and we chatted for a few minutes.  She had received my records overnight-ed from the hospital at which I was initially seen, and-she excused herself for two minutes-the doctor had them in her hands right now.

About 20 minutes later, I had an appointment set up for a more exhaustive CT scan and if needed, a liver biopsy, for the next day.  Thankfully, I had the foresight to pack several days of clothing just in case.  The doctor's office set me up to stay in a free visitor room at Hope House.

CT scan confirmed initial imaging from ER.  Biopsy was rescheduled for the next morning.  So Thursday morning, I was in the hospital imaging center with a doctor using ultrasound to guide a large needle into one of the "innumerable" (from imaging report of new CT scan) spots on my liver. Afterwards, I was set to recover in a room for about 4 hours then back to Hope House for the night to await pathology report and initial appointment with oncologist on Friday.

God showed His hand in all this, since this is NOT the way the process normally works, as I was assured by several people in the oncologist's office and Hope House as we discussed how things were just falling into place for me.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sir Robin


The Coat-of-Arms to the left is from one of the funniest movies (IMHO) ever made, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In this movie, there is a character portrayed by Eric Idle:  Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Launcelot.  Sir Robin was a very brave knight until the first sign of danger arose, then he would loose his battle cry, "Run Away!" and flee.

Sometimes I feel like Sir Robin.  I can wake up, eat up the Word, get all prayed up, then leave my house and at the first sign of adversity I crumble and flee to my "safety zone."  I find myself failing to confront sin, failing to speak the words I feel impressed to speak, failing to do that which would be difficult or uncomfortable because the odds of failure seem too high.  Failing to trust that whatever is put before me, I have been given the power and strength to confront it.

Following theme blogjacked from a small portion of Messy Church: A Multigenerational Mission for God's Family by Ross Parsley (Free for until July 23rd on Amazon, and a great read!).

This is not a new story, it has been around for a long time, it is even recorded of the Israeli Army in the Battle of Elah (1 Samuel 17:19-24 KJV):
"Now Saul, and they [three of David's brothers], and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.  And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.  For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.  And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.  And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid."

David, a mere boy, is completing a task his father commanded of him: deliver some bread and cheese to three of his brothers who are with the Army of Israel, and bring back news of the battle.

The armies are lined up and fully arrayed for battle, as David arrives (he left early in the morning after taking care of his responsibility with the sheep-he left them with a keeper-personal responsibility-post for another day) the army is going forth to battle and shouting its battle cry!  The army is READY! They are going to FIGHT!

Then look what happens: as David spoke with his brothers while they were heading towards the battle, Goliath came forward.  Reading 1 Samuel 17:4-7 (KJV), his physical description alone is terrifying, his physical presence very much more so.  In 1 Samuel 17:8-10 (KJV), Goliath was laying down a pretty heavy challenge.  Goliath vs the best Israel could send out.  Bring it!  And in verse 24, what was the response?
"And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid."
Can we fault the army of Israel, when we run from much less? Lord, give us (me) the strength to stand up for Truth, to not run from the first sign of difficulty, to know You are in control and have ordered my steps (Proverbs 20:24-NIV)

Don't worry, it gets better God provides.  Keep reading in 1 Samuel to see how! (Cliffhanger enough for you...lol).

SELFISH PRAYER REQUESTS OF THE DAY:
Standing order:
Healing from the colon cancer and metastasized liver.
Complete reconciliation with my wife (that I can communicate effectively and love her as she deserves).
Health and safety of my children.

New-ish:
Side effect free chemo round (even with new, more aggressive drugs).
Medical bills which are accumulating (that I can return to work to pay these).My personal/spiritual growth.
My motivation to work-out. (1 Timothy 4:8-NIV "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.")

Praise/Thanks Report:
No real surprises at Dr appointment concerning blood tests. Many numbers improved, but the big one (Tumor Marker) was not run this time.
Started new med in chemo run. This one is intended deplete blood supply to tumors, may also cause spikes in my blood pressure (constant monitoring during administration, no issues- Thank You Lord!!).
Dr. said running will not be an issue. I can do any exercising I think my body can handle (just need to NOT overdo it).
BabyGirl had dental appointment.  Confirmed no nerve damage to broken tooth.  Tuesday, will reconstruct epoxy tooth.  (And estimate was wonderfully inexpensive-just makes me happy with everything else going on- Thank You Lord!!)

Workout Report
New
This is the second post today, not doing two-a-day workouts too.  Probably going to walk later.

Repeated
Since June 3, have lost 22 pounds, don't know how since I have not been active and have eaten whatever.
Currently at 208 pounds, lowest weight since December 2003.
Wouldn't mind getting down to about 185, but slowly!!
Training for the "26.2 with Donna, The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer"  February 17, 2013 in Jacksonville, FL.  Join me there!

Just the Facts



I admit, I am analytical.  I am a thinker, I break things down in hopes of understanding.  Of course, I also overdo it sometimes and find "issues/problems" that others do not see (mostly because they really aren't issues or problems) and I get stuck trying to work them out.

This trait has helped me in some areas of my life: I was formerly a traffic accident investigator in the military and needed the skill to see the physical evidence and logically reconstruct what happened (because, sadly, people lie or at the very least have a skewed perspective of reality during a traffic accident).  Not to sound like a braggart, but I could usually have an accident all figured out before I spoke to anyone (it was easier-evidence is what it is). When I needed to actually interview someone (both then and in other investigatory roles I have held), I am very Joe Friday from Dragnet, "Just the facts..." I want to know what, when, who, where, why and sometimes how if it seems relevant.

Psalm 100 is a 2 part psalm: a call to praise (vv 1-3), and a call to thanks (vv 4-5). It mostly fits within my analytical interview model; hitting 4 of the 5 W's.

Psalm 100 (KJV)

What?: What are we to do? (Vv 1-2)
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing."
Who?: Who is the Lord and who are we in relation to Him? (v 3)
"Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."
Where?: Where are we to go? (first part of v 4)
"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:" 
Why?: Why should we praise and thank Him? (second part of v 4, and v 5)
"be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

Give Him praise and thanks.
I am guilty of failing in this area.  My idea of praise is listening to praise and worship music on occasion and thanks is saying grace before a meal.  I must make a concerted effort until it becomes as natural as breathing.  I have so much to praise Him and thank Him for, yet I am the selfish/ungrateful child.

SELFISH PRAYER REQUESTS OF THE DAY:
Standing order:
Healing from the colon cancer and metastasized liver.
Complete reconciliation with my wife (that I can communicate effectively and love her as she deserves).
Health and safety of my children.

New-ish:
Side effect free chemo round (even with new, more aggressive drugs).
Medical bills which are accumulating (that I can return to work to pay these).My personal/spiritual growth.
My motivation to work-out. (1 Timothy 4:8-NIV "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.")

Praise/Thanks Report:
No real surprises at Dr appointment concerning blood tests. Many numbers improved, but the big one (Tumor Marker) was not run this time.
Started new med in chemo run. This one is intended deplete blood supply to tumors, may also cause spikes in my blood pressure (constant monitoring during administration, no issues- Thank You Lord!!).
Dr. said running will not be an issue. I can do any exercising I think my body can handle (just need to NOT overdo it).
BabyGirl had dental appointment.  Confirmed no nerve damage to broken tooth.  Tuesday, will reconstruct epoxy tooth.  (And estimate was wonderfully inexpensive-just makes me happy with everything else going on- Thank You Lord!!

Workout Report
New
Walked 1.91  miles last night in 30 minutes.(Have chemo pump attached, so running is not an option today)

Repeated
Since June 3, have lost 22 pounds, don't know how since I have not been active and have eaten whatever.
Currently at 208 pounds, lowest weight since December 2003.
Wouldn't mind getting down to about 185, but slowly!!
Training for the "26.2 with Donna, The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer"  February 17, 2013 in Jacksonville, FL.  Join me there!