February 2010

This pretty much captures how I’ve been feeling lately:

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 2. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. 3. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. ~ Psalm 69:1-3

Then as we keep reading this Psalm it becomes quickly apparent that this is a Messianic Psalm (which in my view they all are); and what else becomes quickly apparent is that what I (we — my family) am going through is actually a partaking in Christ’s sufferings, that His life might also be manifested through the members of my body. Of course this doesn’t make this season any easier, per se, but it does provide the eternal perspective that is needed to trust and rest in Him. None of this suffering is in vain, it is all redeemed in and through Christ’s sufferings and resurrection; that’s why Paul can call seasons like this “light affliction which is but for a moment, that is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” It is seasons like this where the pressure of the trial pushes us deeper into Christ so that we won’t rely on ourselves but upon the One who raises the dead! This is but a blip compared to the eternal glories that we will all share in if we know Jesus. We walk by faith not by sight . . .

As many of you know I work for Toyota Logistics Services in Portland, OR. I’ve been off since I’ve started my treatments, and thus dependent on others to provide for our financial needs. We are grateful to, and continue to be, all of you who have provided for us in this way; but I just wanted to give a special ‘shout-out’ to all of my co-workers at Toyota. Ever since this whole trial has started they have been doing fund-raisers for us off and on raising amazing amounts of money for us. They just did another fundraiser for us yesterday, and dropped off the funds this evening. I just want to say thank you to all of you guys at Toyota, you all are a total blessing; and we feel your love through all of the support you have provided for us through this season of life. So THANK YOU TOYOTA! I can’t wait until I can come and say thank you face to face, this whole thing is getting really old (to say the least); hopefully by late June I’ll be cancer free and back at work with all of you, just praising the LORD for all that He has done, and how He has used each and every one of you to bless us in this time of need. You guys are an amazing group of people, thanks again, and love you!

P.S. If the media and congress knew of TLS in Portland they would quit their smear-campaign and realize that Toyota is a company filled with great people who care about the safety and well-being of others 🙂 .

I heard a great sermon this morning from a pastor (Brian Broderson) at my former church in Southern California — Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa — it was on a timely passage Exodus 14:13-15, which says:

13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” 15 And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.

The context is Israel fleeing Egypt, with Pharoah and his army to their back; and the Red Sea to their front. The LORD led them into a spot where it seemed impossible, in fact humanly speaking was impossible. But look at what the LORD says through Moses to the people: “stand still,” “the LORD will fight for you.” The LORD is no different today, He often leads us into situations wherein it seems humanly impossible to get through; but this is only so He can show Himself faithful, so that we can see that He is not a man, but God . . . that nothing is too difficult for Him!

This perspective has been highly encouraging to me today, it places our current situation into a broader perspective; into the realization that the LORD is doing something that forces us to just “stand still” and know that He is God. We are pushed into the reality that unless the LORD fights for us right now we have no fight left in us . . . it’s either Him or no one; and ultimately this is a great (but uncomfortable) spot to be in. So the conclusion is that we are in a “Red Sea” situation, and unless the LORD parts it (and guards our backs at the same time) we’re in real trouble. Thankfully He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and we are confident that at any minute — right as Pharoah seems to be on top of us — He will part the sea, and we will walk through this season onto dry land and the other side. And like Exodus 15 shows this will be a reason for great celebration and rejoicing, and we will, we will rejoice with all of you praising the LORD for His great salvation. For now we just stand, and we wait; and we find our sufficiency in His sustaining grace!

The plan is one more cycle of chemo (my 6th), and then hopefully surgery; at least this is what we’re praying towards. It’s up to the surgeon to decide if he thinks the tumor is at its optimum point for removal (i.e. the least invasive as possible); please pray it will be when they do this next CT scan (after my next cycle of chemo is over) . . . I’m tired of chemo (it is a waring process, to say the least). Also please pray, and this is a little embarassing to mention — but I don’t care because I want specific prayer — that the Lord would just heal my “fischers” in my rectum; it turns out that I don’t have hemmorroids, instead (oh joy) I have a couple of fischers in my bottom (I was just officially diagonosed by a specialist in this regard, he is actually a naturopath, and specializes in this area of the body). Anyway I have some ointments, and pain killer cream; but would you just pray that these would heal (it makes it hard with my immune system being so weak, which is why I got these in the first place)?

The Lord is faithful, His timing is perfect, and we just thank Him for you guys; you are definitely carrying our burdens (cf. Gal. 6), and it means alot, we can sense it! Thank you guys.

Okay, tomorrow, Februrary 16th, we go in for my 5th cycle of chemo. It is the two-day continuous chemo, so it is “in-patient.” The good news about this is that this could be the next to last cycle before I potentially could have surgery, and have this sucker of a tumor taken out. In other words, after the 6th cycle they are going to do another CT scan to look at the progress of the chemo. Please pray that the tumor will be shrunk down to nothing, if it is they will do the surgery to remove the remnants of the tumor (part of my tumor calcified before we ever started chemo [a miracle], and the chemo won’t get rid of that). That would mean by early April I would be going in for surgery, which could mean by April I could be cancer-free, with some recovery, and most likely some follow up chemo. I am totally hoping that this is how the Lord is going to do this, please pray hard to this end!

Thank you everyone! You all are a blessing!!

I am sorry I haven’t been around to update you all. Thank you Aunt Sally for doing that in the comments of the last post. As Sally and my wife (Angela) have said I became really anemic, dehydrated and just down after my last round of chemo (I couldn’t even get up from the couch w/o feeling light headed, and go up the stairs w/o feeling winded). What happened, is that I had just begun to fight a cold at the same point that my body started to hit it’s normal “low point” (as far as blood count, etc.); whatever white blood cells I had went to fight the cold and left the rest of my body out in the “cold,” so to speak. Last Tues. they brought me into the clinic for hydration and labs; they then called me in on the next Wed. for me to receive 2 units of blood in order to bring my counts up quickly (deal with my anemic state). We started the transfusion at the clinic, and about 15 min. in they rechecked my vitals (normal protocol to see if my body is receiving the blood okay) and my temperature had gone up from normal to 102 degrees. They thought I was having a reaction to the blood — well maybe — the team consulted, they came to the conclusion that most likely I was experiencing a neutropenic fever (a fever directly related to my immune deficient state). After a few hours at the clinic they admitted me to the hospital, and where they intended to transfuse the blood; they actually tried again late Wed. night, but again, my temp. spiked (oh yeah, in the mean time it had gone back down to more normal temps). Since they weren’t totally sure they stopped the transfusion again, they took cultures and more labs, and worked on it through the night. I woke up the next morning to the news that the pathologist looking my blood work over was convinced that my problem was not reaction to the blood, but neutropenic fever. Based on that they proceeded to give me two units, and it took (praise the Lord!). I felt better after that, but they took my blood again, and the next morning I awoke to the news that they were going to give me 2 more units of blood (which they did on Thursday, I needed to the 2 more units because my counts were still a little low). The next step was that I had to go 24 hrs without having a temp. of a 100 degrees or higher — so the count down began, and ended, thankfully earlier today. They’ve all said this is a normal response to chemo (in fact one of the Nurse Practitioners said there is one patient who this happens to every time between chemos), I’m just praying this is the last time I have to experience this between chemos (no fun at all!).

I just wanted to say thank you all for carrying us through this valley of the shadow of death with your prayers and support. One thing that really ticked me off about being so down this last week is that I didn’t even have the strength to read my Bible (which is a daily obssessive thing for me, normally), let alone get online. Anyway, it means more than everything to know that you guys are there praying, especially when my strength is just not there.

Here are some specific prayers:

  • That the Lord would just thoroughly heal my body through this process — and quickly!
  • That the Lord would continue to give my wife the strength she needs, as she is the cornerstone here at the Grow home (she’s doing so much, and I know it’s the Lord in her).
  • That the Lord would continue to protect our kids through this process, that they would be shaped and grown in ways through this season that will impact them in ways that will only be told from eternities’ perspective.
  • That the Lord will continue to meet all of our “physical” needs, and He is, thanks to you all (I’ll keep you updated on our financial situation, we’re doing good still, but I’ll let you all know if the needs change drastically).
  • That the Lord would keep me “healthy” in these in between times (between cycles); i.e. that I won’t have to get anymore blood tansfusions, or experience what we just did, again!
  • That the Lord would just heal all the sores, and this is a bit specific, in my bodies’ orifices, which have been caused by the chemo (I don’t have alot, i.e. in my mouth, nose, and a hemorrhoid — the latter has been the most discouraging). I’m tempted not to mention this, but I’ve really been discouraged by this (I am taking all the necessary steps to deal with it, and I’m sure it will get better soon, but please pray to that end).
  • Most of all just pray that my wife and I would keep the eternal perspective, and just know that the Lord is going to get us through this season; it’s moments like these when that perspective really becomes challenged, so please pray!

Hope you all are doing well, and I’ll try to keep you all updated here, as much as possible! Btw, I have 2 more cycles to go (my next one as soon as this next Tues., argh, but only 48 hrs in-patient, then almost a full 2 weeks off) before I get my next CT scan. Please pray that the chemo has done its work, and that they will be able to do the surgery at that point (only about a month and a half a way or so)!

Thank you all for your continued prayers, everyone! Today I started my 4th cycle of chemo, it is out-patient this time (amen), and it is even better than I thought. I thought I was going to be there for 8hrs, like all day; but instead I’m only there for approx. 3hrs, which is just awesome (compared to my last time I did this chemo, 5 day in-patient). The nurses and staff are great, and we already met a lady named “Danny” who is fighting through lung cancer right now (I sat next to her today while getting “chemoed”); please remember her in prayer too (she is a nice lady in her 50’s, probably, and her sister Linda was there to encourage her — they were both very upbeat, although I don’t think they are probably believers, if anything “American believers,” i.e. a casual belief in God). I know you all are, but please continue to pray that this chemo is not in vain, and that it just destroys the cancer cells in my body; also pray the side effects are non-existent. I am really encouraged by today, it makes me think that the next four cycles after this (2 of which will be this out-patient kind) are going to be really doable; I’m just hoping this thing shrinks enough that they don’t need to take my kidney once we get to surgery . . . please pray in that direction too.

We are just continuing to rest in the Lord, trusting that He is hearing your prayers, and expecting Him to continue to do great and mighty things through this (not just in our lives, but in the lives of many). Love all of you guys, and thank you so much for all of your prayer and other support, it really does mean everything! When people tell me that they’re praying for me (and us), it is hard for me not to cry (I feel totally humbled and I am totally appreciative and amazed by the fact that people are indeed praying for me and us as a family . . . you guys Rock, the Lord really Rocks 😉 ).