January 2010

Still here, I’m doing really quite well this time around, as far as the side effects from the chemo. As I noted before they are compressing my chemo treatments from 3 weeks in between to 2 weeks; which means my next cycle starts Feb. 1st (and praise the Lord it’s out-patient [it’s the 5-day treatment]). I am confident the Lord is hearing and working through all of your prayers. Please pray for the whole family, that we would all grow closer and more intimate with Jesus through this (esp. our sweet kids). Please pray that this whole experience would just turn out to be a growing thing for them, a positive thing for them in their lives; that they would realize how great and loving our God is, and this is something that impacts their perspectives for the rest of their lives, both for time and eternity.

I just wanted to check in, and let you know we are doing good, overall! Please pray that I would keep my eyes on the Lord and not the surrounding storm; at points it is easy to look at everything that’s going on, and forget that this has all been filtered and controlled through the love of the Lord — and then moments of despair come! The Lord is so good, and His peace and grace so abundant, if you know anyone who might doubt that have them give me a call 🙂 .

Love you all . . . I’ll try to post more frequently than I have been!

We got some good news today. Before I came “up the hill” to the Hospital for my 3rd cycle of chemo (which is where I’m typing this from) we went to the clinic for a visit with my doctor, Dr. Ryan. I had gotten a CT scan a few days ago, and he had the results for us — which also had implications for my further treatment. The news was good, in fact the Lord had shared with me last night that it would be good news, and that’s exactly the language the doctor used today as he shared the results. Let me share those: my tumor has indeed begun to shrink, it’s still there, but it’s shrinking; I also had a lymph node next to the tumor which was enlarged (which they consider the whole thing self-contained because the node is right next to the tumor), but now has shrunk to half the size it was. My doctor, for his demeanor, was ecstatic (he has been very stoic and measured ever since we met him — we like him alot, he’s a brilliant guy); he had a grin and a smile on his face the whole time he was with us today (which speaks volumes about what’s going on, given his typical demeanor). He said it was “good news” twice, which coming from him means this is good news, indeed! I think he was concerned that this chemo might not have any effect, now that they know it is going to they are very excited (remember my tumor is very very very rare, and they don’t have alot of experience with it, they are using the protocol for a ewings sarcoma)! What this means though is that I am going to have to go through more chemo than I had previously thought; I thought I was going to have one more cycle after this one, but now we’re going to go through at least 4 more cycles before surgery (if not a couple more). Actually the protocol they are using for me calls for 12 cycles of chemo (argh); so depending on the “shrinkage” I could have surgery as soon as April, or not until late May early June. One thing that is good, because I am handling the chemo well (no real side effects), is that they are going to compress my spans between cycles; so instead of 3 weeks in between, it will be 2 weeks, which will reduce the total time of treatments by about 2 or 3 months (that’s awesome).

We are really encouraged by today, my doctor’s response was very encouraging! Please pray that the chemo will continue to work, that I will handle it well, that the surgery will come quickly (or that we could even avoid surgery, and that the tumor will just completely shrink, which I know is still possible by the LORD). Please pray that we would just be able to endure and persevere through this time, that we would live one day at a time in Christ! We need the LORD’s strength and grace which is sufficient!

Thank you everyone for all of your continued prayers, I hope this update has been helpful and encouraging to you all as well! The LORD is faithful, whatever you are facing  in your lives I know that He is just as faithful as He is being in ours . . . so be encouraged! The Lord is good!!!

Tomorrow we head in for my 3rd cycle of chemo, we also find out the results of my most recent CT scan; this scan was basically to check the progress of the treatments thus far, and determine if they have been effective. Please pray that they have been effective, and also pray that this next cycle goes well (avoiding any side of effects). I am pretty tired of this process, already, please pray that they will be able to get this cancer sooner than later; pray that the LORD will just touch my body, and rid me of this disease (I know you all have).

I wanted to share something from Charles Spurgeon that the LORD ministered to me through this morning:

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

Exodus 14:13

These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master’s word to him is, “Stand still.” It will be well for him if at such times he listes only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness. Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part, it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.” But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. Precipitancy cries, “Do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once — we must do it, so we think — instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything. Presumption boasts, “If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle.” But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, “Stand still,” and immovable as a rock it stands. “Stand still” — keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.” (Charles Spurgeon ed. Al Bryant, “Day by Day with C. H. Spurgeon,” 20)

Thank you all for your continued prayers, can’t wait for the day that this blog becomes obselete; until then I’ll keep posting, and keep asking for your prayers.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for a CT scan of my abdomen/pelvis. They are looking to see what kind of progress has been made with the chemo. Please pray that the tumor has shrunk to almost nothing (if nothing), I do think it has shrunk, there have been some symptomatic things that have changed (for the better) since chemo; so we’ll see. It’s good to know we aren’t going in blind, the Lord already knows  the shape of the tumor, His hand has been on it for a long time; and we know His hand is on it now! I am totally confident in Him, He is my peace, and as a family we are simply trusting Him to take us through this valley to the next ‘peak’; all we can do is trust Him, and there is no greater joy than that!

The CT scan is at 1:30pm, Friday; we won’t find out the results until the 19th (which is the day I am readmitted for my next cycle of chemo, a 2 day stint). We thank you guys for your prayers, it totally encourages us! We know the LORD wants us to petition Him without ceasing, which to know this, is to know His peace — because He is there!

This is just a quick update.

Thank you all for your prayers, this last low point was tougher than the last one; this time I had a cold when it hit, and I struggle with my sinuses to begin with, so I am just today feeling more normal (my sinuses are apparently getting better too).

Tomorrow morning I go in to have my blood work done (to check where my White Blood Count is at), that should go well. And then this Friday morning I go in for a CT scan to check the progress of the chemo thus far. Please pray that it has been working (i.e. shrinking the tumor); I think it has, there have been some symptomatic markers that would lead me and my doctor to think so (just pray that it is substantial though, like not there, I’m not tired of asking the Lord for more miracles, hope you’re not 😉 ). We won’t find out the results until the following Tuesday (the 19th), at which time I will be readmitting for my 3rd cycle of chemo (this is the 48 hr continuous one, which means I’m only in the hospital this time for two days — Praise the Lord!!!).

In general, please continue to pray for me and my family as we go through this “valley of the shadow of death,” that we would maintain, and grow deeper into, an eternal perspective. Please pray specifically for my wife, that the Lord would give her strength and peace (she’s been amazing); and for our kids, Madeline (9 yrs) and Jakey (6 yrs), that the Lord would protect them through this time, and that they would really see the Lord’s hand of provision in ways that will impact them for days and years to come (and He is already doing that with them, I love them, they are precious and innocent).

If you guys have any specific questions that I have not touched upon here, then let me know in the comment section, and I’ll answer what I can. Thank you guys, you’re all a blessing!

I had my blood taken today, and I am entering my low point, in regard to my white blood count. They call this being neutropenic, and it is a normal response to chemo (I went through this last time too); my WBC was 800 earlier today, I am positive it is lower now. It will bottom out (which seems like about two days last time), then begin to rise again (I made it to a 400 WBC last time); they gave me a shot, earlier this week, called Neulasta® which will artificially spike my WBC, hopefully soon. Last time, because of your prayers, I went from 400 to 1500 WBC (normal is 1200) in about four days, which was really quick; I am just asking you guys to pray me through this again! The biggest danger during this time is getting infection or fever (I am prone to sinus infections); please pray I pass through this valley like last time. I really appreciate this, you guys, I am feeling totally beat down right now (it’s weird how fast it drops and how that correlates to my energy level, but it does). Thanks, guys.

This is a common query, books have been written on it; and philosophies’ based on it, ones that usually are bent on “killing God.” In all reality, though, this question is wrong; the question actually is: ‘why do bad things happen to bad people?’ This is the premise that scripture starts from, Jeremiah 17:9 says:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked; who can know it?”

This is speaking about ‘man’s heart’. So at core, man is fundamentally ‘bad apples’ from the get go; which of course goes against our “natural” belief that we are fundamentally ‘good’ — thus the title of this post. I think we’ve gotten a little beyond ourselves here, though; let’s rewind, and start from the ‘beginning’. Genesis 1:1 says (the first verse of the Bible):

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

If this is our starting point, then questions about ‘good people’ will start to take on a different flavor. Why? Because “in the beginning” ‘this God’ created man and woman in His image:

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likenes; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26

So originally we were created in the image of God to have a relationship with Him. Everything that we are flows from our relationship to Him. A problem entered in, man decided that He didn’t like “God’s way,” instead He wanted to do it “his way.” God originally gave man the choice to choose God or self; we all live with the consequences of that choice, the choice was “self.” Genesis 3:1-7 says:

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

It was at this moment that “man’s goodness” was lost; because his goodness was necessarily tied into his/her relationship with the Creator. Once this “order” became disordered; once this relationship became dis-relationship, the notion of man being “good” became a non-starter (not a reality). If all of man’s goodness was dependent on their relationship with their creator, and that was lost, then how does the question “why do bad things happen to Good people?” make any kind of sense?

Returning to Jeremiah, the verse we started out with, this is why it says that man’s heart is “wicked.” It is because we are devoid or emptied of the presence of God in our lives in the relational way that we were originally designed for.

So when people ask “that” question it becomes clear how it is misconstrued from the get go. Underneath that question is really the question: “if there is a loving God, then how could He let the things happen that He does, to apparently ‘good’ people?” Do you see the problem with that kind of thinking? It starts with man, instead of God. It assumes the lie that got us into this mess in the first place. And it takes no responsibility for the evil and wickedness and chaos that we see all around us (and in us). And it fails to recognize that God has actually done something about “our problem;” and further assumes that if we don’t “see” the immediate answer to that problem “NOW,” then He must be aloof and not care.

This post is just an introduction to dealing with “why” we are in the state that we are, now. My next post will unfold how ‘bad things’ have been reversed into ‘good things’ for “redeemed people.” Obviously, I am asking this question in light of my own current health situation (cancer); I am hoping for those who read here, and don’t have a relationship with the Creator, that this will challenge you to really think about these issues in fresh ways. In ways that might open you up to an orientation that you were designed for; for a loving relationship with your Creator. If you ‘start with yourself’, in any of your endeavors (i.e. to “better yourself”), then you necessarily have already ‘mis-started’ since incurved self is the problem to begin with. If you follow a belief system that endorses ascetism, or self-deprivation, or self-denial; again, you’ve started with yourself, in order to deny yourself, and thus mis-started. We need someone outside ourselves, to start over again for us . . . that will be the topic of the next post — stay tuned! I love all who read here, and it wouldn’t be loving for me to not at least mention how much God loves us; this post is an attempt to kick that off, we had to start somewhere, so why not in the “beginning?” 🙂

First of all I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been praying, I know that the LORD is working through your prayers; and that the way this is unfolding is a direct result of your continued intercession.

Second, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has supported us financially, it has been an amazing outpouring; the LORD is amazing, and you’re apart of that amazing, so thank you! I also wanted to say a special thanks to Toyota (where I work) for all the fund-raisers and donations you guys have taken . . . totally amazing! We are going to eventually get to some thank you letters, but that’s taking longer than we thought.

Third, my condition is relatively good. Today is my third full day home from chemo (since Sunday morning), I’m still on steiroids to help augment the chemo (but today is the last day for those, thankfully); I’m doing pretty good, except that I have this gross taste in my mouth that makes food not taste so good (I had this last time too, it took a few days to go away) — but I still have an appetite (which almost makes it worst). I go back in for my 3rd cycle of chemo on the 19th of this month (but let’s not think about that yet 😉 ); I am also supposed to have a CT scan before I go back, so please pray that this chemo is not in vain (I don’t think it is), and that this little bugger of a tumor will be shrunk to almost nothing (if nothing). I am slated to have a total of 4 cycles of chemo, and then surgery; please pray that everything stays on schedule (actually pray that the chemo does it and I don’t have to have surgery). Just resting and trying to stay healthy right now, please continue to pray, thank you guys!