Tuesday, July 31, 2012

FIRST DAY OF CHEMO-THERAPY

Boy, that chemo stuff works FAST.


MESSIAH JESUS

Here is Sunday's message from Hebrews 1:1-3. This is the first in my series; "Our Eternal High Priest." Please ignore goofy facial expression.

MY CHEMICAL BROMANCE

Ever since I found out I had breast cancer, not a week has gone by without someone assuring me that men get breast cancer too. Thank you. Fact is, parts of the system are not--but definitely--set up for treating men. When I went for initial scanning and my biopsy I was purposely sequestered from the women patients. Some methods bordered on the absurd: I was herded through back hallways--DARK back hallways--to avoid patient areas.But here I am. The system has worked quickly and has focused on my comfort and care. I cannot complain about my treatment at the hands of medical personnel.

As for friends; WOW. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern, prayer and offers of help. My faith in God has strengthened me beyond expectation. Without belaboring the point, cancer is scary. And one person has gone out of his way to frighten me into compliance. I honestly don't know how anyone could go through this threat without the hope and peace that God provides.

Monday, July 30, 2012

CHRIST'S CHURCH TRIUMPHANT

Though I wrote this, and the words are mine, the thoughts are not original to me. I heard something pretty close to this on the radio when I was a college student. I've searched for the original over the years to no avail. Finally I wrote it as best I could to use with my study through Acts. Should the original author see this I would gladly give you credit.

Through the ages Christ’s Body, the Church has seen it’s ups and downs.
She has been hailed as the Bride of Christ, and vilified as the opiate of the people.
BUT GOD’S CHURCH IS STILL ALIVE.

She has been hunted in the streets, and driven into the catacombs of Imperial Rome,
Her members have been burned to illuminate Nero’s garden parties, savaged by ravenous lions;
Slandered as cannibals over the Lord’s Supper, and branded as atheists because of fidelity to her One Lord.

The whole might of the Roman Empire was brought to bear in order to terrify it’s subjects concerning the consequences of following Jesus Christ.
AND YET, GOD’S CHURCH IS STILL ALIVE.

The Adversary has employed every trick and every weapon in his vast arsenal in order to destroy the church of Jesus Christ.
Through the centuries and around the globe She has been driven underground by persecution.
At times she has been painted and draped in scarlet, set upon a throne and encouraged to indulge her desires.
She has experienced every pain and temptation in an unholy attempt to shake her allegiance to Christ, her bridegroom.
AND STILL, GOD’S CHURCH IS ALIVE.

No amount of persecution or prosperity will EVER succeed in destroying the Blood bought Church of  Jesus Christ.
Her Lord, Christ Himself, has promised that the very gates of hell could never prevail against her.

Hear Me!  The purest sweetest water is that which has forced it’s way through solid rock!
Opposition can never stop us!
GOD’S CHURCH IS STILL ALIVE!


Frazzeled Parents; You’re not wasting your time worshipping with your children.  You’re training them for life.

Lonely Housewife; Jesus Christ touches the world through the investment you make.  Take heart.

Confused Husband; reject the world’s call to selfishness. Be a Godly man.

Single Mother;  You’re not abandoned. God has given you a family.

Busy Student; don’t give in to futility about the future. You have a blessed hope in Christ.

Frustrated Christian; don’t surrender to problems which shake your faith. Follow in the footsteps of those holy saints who have gone on before you.

GOD’S CHURCH IS STILL ALIVE! 

ALIVE AND WELL!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

MEDICAL UPDATE

Many things were accomplished this Monday on the cancer battle front.



1. Saw the surgeon who drained excess fluid from me. It's sort of gruesomely fascinating to watch. He attaches me to a huge Dr Frankenstein-style vacuum beaker which quickly voids the fluid from the surgery site. I'm thankful, because all that fluid weight was giving me what's know medically as "Dolly-Parton-Back-Pain." He brought us up-to-date on the pathology report and okayed the oncology process to begin.

2. Made arrangements with the oncology department to begin chemo-therapy on the 31st--that means I can enjoy my granddaughter's birthday party on the 30th. The doctor wants to go with an aggressive treatment which should be finished by the end of September. I prefer to get-er-done myself.

3. On Monday the 23rd I'll have a quick-disconnect "porta-cathater" surgically implanted in my chest to facilitate the chemo.

4. On Tuesday the 24th I'll see the Oncologist again.

5. On Wednesday the 25th Karen and I have to go to Kaiser Panarama City for a radiation consultation. Boy, they're really jumping on with both feet.

6. SOMEWHERE in all this I am supposed to have a MUAH--or something like that--heart test to see if I can handle the aggressive chemo or not. This has NOT YET been scheduled.

7. I'm on the beach in Mexico this week with NO phone contact until Monday... Guess we'll find out next week.

The drive down was tiring, I slept well last night. I feel pretty good this morning and I intend to sit in the sun and enjoy the waves, pelicans and dolphins for the rest of the week. Last night we even saw wale spouts on the horizon. I've NEVER seen that before. I am relaxed and thankful for this interlude.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

BOOK REVIEWS Guest Post by R.P. Nettelhorst

My friend R.P. Nettelhorst is a multi-published author and theologian. We writes--We writes!? Yes we does my preciousss!--I meant he writes with deep knowledge of history and great insight into the human condition.

After spending years writing in obscurity, receiving dozens, if not hundreds of rejections from editors, the day may come when you finally get a publisher to say yes to you. Even after the publisher has said yes, and you’ve signed the contract, there is still a long process of satisfying the editors, with many back and forth emails, complaints and requests for changes.

Then, at long last—perhaps six to eighteen months after the book has been accepted for publication—the glorious day arrives that the book appears in bookstores around the country. The publisher’s checks have cleared, and so everything is wonderful, right? Surely, you’ve reached the millennial kingdom and are living happily ever after.

Is to laugh. The difficulty of getting published merely prepares you for the difficulty of being published. In the first place, nobody will notice you’ve got a book out unless you tell them, since it’s not exactly front page news. And those you tell will react with a vagueness that makes you wonder whether they actually comprehend the difficult thing that you’ve accomplished. Most will respond to your accomplishment as they would to an announcement that you’ve successfully baked a muffin.

And only one or two of all the people you know will actually go out and buy a copy of your book.
Then, there are the book reviews.

The first ones that you’ll run across will be the ones that appear on Amazon.com, where anyone who has purchased a book can comment upon it. If your mom has a computer, you know you’ll get at least one five star review.

Some of the reviews on Amazon will be from people to whom the publisher sent free copies of your book with a request that they review it. And most of those will make mention of that fact in the review with these words: “Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] : ‘Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.’”

Words that warm the cockles of your heart.

Unsurprisingly, most of the reviews from people who got free copies of your book from the publisher will turn out to be positive—even glowing. I particularly liked this one from someone named Anderson for my book, A Year With God:

A Year With God has turned out to be an amazing devotional. Unlike many devotionals of this current day and time, this book goes beyond the mere surface level interpretation of scripture. This book not only gives historical backgrounds, but it also gives theological application more so than other devotional books. It amazes me that this book in many ways begins to transition our focus from a selfish mindset to a God centered lifestyle. This book truly does make His thoughts our thoughts. The amazing thing about this book is the fact that it only uses Old Testament sources from scripture. It brings to mind the eternal truth that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are one in the same. I would highly recommend this book.”

But not every reviewer will love your book. Some will hate it. The dreaded one star review on Amazon, where a reader complains that your book is so bad that you must be a heretic and devil worshipper can be survived only after having experienced years of rejection. That’s why getting a book published in the first place is such a vale of tears. When you torched those thousands of rejection letters in that bonfire that required permits from the county fire marshal and an environmental impact statement from the EPA, it served a vital purpose beyond providing fuel for the local power plant. Those decades of harsh rejection stiffened your spine, inflamed your resolve, and built up incredible, manly calluses on your heart.

An ordinary person who was not an author would be reduced to a fetal position for several days after reading this one star review of A Year With God “To me the book smacked of false teaching. The only thing I did like was the cover design artwork. I will not be giving this book away or even putting it in the church library or any other library. It will be thrown into the trash.” Perhaps a non-author would need some time in a safe padded room, followed by years of counseling, in order to recover even a partial semblance of a normal life.

But having lost all my self-esteem decades ago, such reviews now elicit only slightly crazed laughter. After all, criticizing a book on Amazon is easy; anyone with a computer and internet connection can do it. Writing a book and getting it published by a major publisher—that’s not quite so easy. Fifty years from now, people may still be reading my book. The critics words, whether good or bad, not so much. As Kipling wrote in his famous poem,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same…
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,…
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TEDIUM

I am having to exercise patience at which I do not excel. Every time I begin to feel better I jump up and take a walk or something, just to celebrate my new-found independence. After all, everyone told me, "don't just lay around in bed. Get up, get out, exercise that body!"

It has been less helpful than I had supposed. See, I am battling a low-grade infection. I'm on anti-biotics, but its quite a roller coaster. I'll feel really good one moment, the next I'm under blankets with the chills, followed by a fever.

Not fun. We've decided that for now I must possess my soul in patience and let the infection run its course.

Funny how the big things are a snap to face. Surgery? "Hah! I'll man-up for Jesus. You bet Lord, I can take this for you!" But when it comes to little annoyances (by which I mean daytime television) I am such a whiny baby. I'm bored! "my nose is cold and my tail is cold and my toes is cold."

Oh, I read a lot, never thought I'd get bored with that, but I have. What about writing? I'm a writer with hours of unused time. Today I had the house to myself so I thought I'd process some prose. Sorry to say, I did not have writer's block, I had writer's I-don't-care.

I guess this is simply the nature of being sick, recovering from surgery. When I visit people in the hospital I often hear, "I'm sorry I don't feel better for your visit, pastor." I always respond, "you're in the hospital, you're supposed to feel lousy."

He who has ears to hear...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

WHIPLASH!

A week ago today I was told the pathology showed no cancer beyond the lump removed and no cancer in the 26 lymph nodes examined. Today, Karen and I picked up our copy of the pathology report for insurance purposes. The report contained an ominously headed, "CORRECTION."

The correction turns out to concern the lymphatic information. It is exactly opposite of what we were told a week ago. Out of 35 lymph nodes examined cancer was found in 5, with movement along the pathways toward other nodes in the body.

Now, let me say, this is what I expected to hear in the first place. I am no worse off today than I was moments before hearing the UN-corrected report. But it is quite a whiplash to be told, "good news, no cancer" then to find out by reading the report--NOT by hearing it from my doctor, we had to do the work ourselves, thank you very much--that, "Oopsie, you DO have extensive cancer after all."

Wow. That was a body-blow. I said earlier I was prepared for some hard hits. This is the first one. Karen and I sat stunned for a few moments. The we re-read the report. Then we prayed.

Fight's ON!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

MEXICO

Dreaming of being at my parent's house, on the beach in Mexico. I love to sit on the patio overlooking the Pacific ocean. The seagulls wheel and screech overhead. Pelican squadrons skim the cresting waves, hunting for fish. Sometimes dolphins put on an impromptu production worthy of Sea World.

video

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

MY CHEMO PREVIEW

The first week after surgery was a snap. Never felt a bit of pain. No restriction on the use of my arm--other than be careful. Went for two walks with my honey. Great.

This past week has been a Primer for Chemo. I woke up last Wednesday morning with the familiar gout pain. For your information, gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the system. The acid crystallizes and gathers in a lower joint. Normally I get it in the left big toe, which is painful. This episode manifested itself in my left ankle; a much larger area than the toe. Essentially, My ankle joint was lubricated by ground glass. It took two days to renew my prescription. Started taking the meds of Friday and the pain--AND swelling--were gone by Sunday morning.

Sunday night I was hit by what felt like stomach flu, accompanied by all the usual side effects. Spent Monday with an achy low-grade fever and finally woke up Tuesday feeling... well, not normal, but at least less sick.

Will see the surgeon on Thursday and hopefully get the nasty drains removed. They are inconvenient and uncomfortable, but people used to die from simple buildup of bodily fluids. We live in amazing times.