Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

September 24, 2007

A Chance to Blog this Evening!

Thanks, dear friends, for your ongoing outpouring of support and prayer. It is worthy of more frequent responses, but that is simply not always available, but thanks for the opportunity I have tonight.

Recently, thanks to our church, we have been able to receive daily elements of the body of Christ, which means that we can pray a lay sacramental administration of the eucharist at home. As we do this each day, I am struck with the way that it sets our hearts in order, causes us to rely on the Lord as the source of our lives, and to confess our sins. We exchange the Lord's prayer, the Lord's peace, and then receive the body of Christ, the bread of heaven. It enables me to become centered and to breathe more deeply, to relax from the anxieties of what could burden me for the day, and then cast all of those onto the Lord.

It has been especially cute to see my son Josiah (just turned 2 on September 16th!) become gentle and celebrate having received "Jasu bred" (the closest I can get to describing his early pronunciation!) It seems to bring a love and a peace to him and Charlotte also.

As far as my own health goes, I began taking a 10 day cycle of radiation for the pain in my legs, most likely generated by some pinching of the sacroiliac joint due to a small tumor or a growth of some kind of invasive erosion from the cancer. At any rate, I have completed 6 fractions as of today, and they have definitely reduced the pain while substantially extending my freedom to move. Thanks be to God! I would appreciate any ongoing prayers for the stability of these procedures. I was warned about two things: difficult bowel movements due to taking more higher pain medication; and an increased likelihood of diarrhea later in the process itself. Hmm. Which you opt for?? :-) I can vouch for the possibility of each. Hilarious. My mother's a nurse, and I grew up in Brazil where we were never ashamed as a family to speak of illnesses, conditions of the body in processing ingestions -- you can begin to catch the idea here! Plus, it was a very educational event! But to avoid offending anyone here, I'll hold back on any reports that may seem crass. Just write me if you'd like a private report! :-)

Tomorrow night, Margie and I begin once again leading the Redeemed Lives program -- a program for people in need of spiritual discipleship, healing, and group accountability. It has seemed inevitable to us, to the point that we haven't even had a discussion about it, but stepping back, we are a bit in awe of how God has continued to sustain our strength to be able to do it. Pray that it will be a blessing for those who come.

My parents have been here since early September, and we continue to benefit from their boundless love. I have grown so much through receiving their love, and particularly the love of my father. He spends hours with me at work, moving boxes of books for me, helping me sort things worthy of recycling versus items we ought to add to our library collection. And when I'm caught up in my own work, he simply reads a book, or helps my mother and Margie here at home. What a blessing, and how am I to get by without it?

But those matters are in the hands of God. Meantime, the reading in Psalm 71 last week brought me to tears:

14 But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.

16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.

17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.

18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?

20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.

21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.

22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.

23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.

24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.

May all of us be centered on the work that God wants to do through us in advance of the end of our time here in his service, but not with any despair or lack of hope. "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you -- I, whom you have redeemed."

Amen and amen.

September 10, 2007

Another Two Weeks!

Thanks be to God! I am surviving this battle with continued persistence, and assurance that I am not programmed to fall over and capitulate. I am learning to view even the rise of more difficulties and pain to reflect the ways that I am in that refinement stage rather than in a work of discouragement from God. If anything, it is the enemy who wants me to give up the call God has given me -- the call to pray for the healing of others, the call to minister in power the authority of the Holy Spirit, and to see many of the lost in our culture uplifted to the glories of heaven through worship.

Now -- is that easy?? I'm sure many of you out there have tried, and you know how ridiculous this can sound at times. There are days of pain, now more intense than I was experiencing during the last blog, in which I have problems sitting in any position without being distracted by pain. I have to wiggle in some way to focus. Getting into bed at times is a challenge, since my right leg can feel as though it's been caught in a charlie-horse.

But after times of deep prayer and quiet, I am transformed into a new period of trust and quiet. My parents are here from Brazil now for just over a month, and what a BLESSING! My mother cooks, cleans, does laundry, handles times with the children, freeing Margie to rest, take some recovery time, and to think about her own calling in ministry. My father runs errands, helps out with household tasks (long needed repairs and such), and in addition to that, takes me to medical appointments, stays in my office for long periods, simply abiding with me as a person of support. How are we going to survive without them? (With God's grace, I know, but it's also a serious question!)

As far as treatment goes, here is a quick update: we nixed the idea of chemotherapy, partly because we had such reservations about it personally, but also with the support of Dr. Hantel. In the next cycle of events, we had to determine whether to procede with Dr. Raizer's experimental treatment run from Northwestern that was also designed for this kind of cancer. Dr. Raizer at first was fairly insistent on using monthly CT Scans with dye for my case, and I had already reached the conclusion that this would not work, especially since my last treatment had led to another bout of hives/skin peeling. It took nearly two weeks to hear back from his office that he had agreed to accept MRIs in lieu of the CT dye. This leaves us yet in uncertainty about whether to follow this treatment or not. I am not at all sure that this is the means God would use for my restoration. Margie would just love to have a clear decision so we could make solid schedules!

In the middle of all this uncertainty, some friends from church offered us free appointments to see a Chinese acupuncturist who has a high reputation for treating cancers. I've been to see him twice, and will go again tomorrow. His office is very restful and full of peace, but he makes no claim to "cure" or solve the cancer problem. Rather, he wants to help strengthen the immune system in the midst of the battle.

In the meantime, applications for Redeemed Lives are coming in regularly, and I am bolstered by the fact that despite my potential for daily exhaustion, "The Lord is my Rock and my Salvation; in Him I trust. The Lord is the stronghold of my life; whom shall I fear?"

Finally, we are once again greatly blessed by the many of you who have been praying for us. Some of you, we know, have never even met us. What a glorious thing the communion of saints is! And furthermore, how can we know who it is that drops by anonymous gifts, puts cash into the offering plate in envelopes for us? It is a humbling situation in which to learn better how we ourselves ought to love others. We can't even write a thank-you note for those expressions of grace, except to render them to God himself, and pass on what we can. You are all evidence of the love of Christ to us, for which we give you thanks. You are carrying us through on this journey.

Bless you,