Thursday, September 26, 2013

Good News ... Bad News

Comparison Can Suck the Joy Right Out of the Day

Which do you want to hear first; the good news or the bad news? How you answer might reveal a little bit about yourself but what if you let someone else's good news become twisted in your ear to where it becomes bad news in your own life? That's when I learned that comparison can suck the joy right out of the day.

On Friday, I heard that someone became cancer free. Instead of rejoicing, I simply dwelt in the valley of Whys: Why does he get to have a surgery? Why not me? Have I not been faithful? Have I not been prayed? Why is my immediate future filled with chemo and more tests? Walking in this valley just got me angry; so much so that I began taking it out on other people. Finally, Gail enters the picture to find out what's wrong with me and the anger dissolved into tears. I hadn't fully realized it but Gail had already visited this particular valley on multiple occasions. By Prayer and Presence, she walked me right out of it. By being so focused on how He chose to heal someone else, I nearly missed all the ways He is moving in my life:
  • A buddy whose friendship I measure in decades arranged it so that I was able to preach my sermon on Resiliency: the Art of Bouncing Back at Prestonwood Baptist Church to their Singles department. If you've got 40 or so minutes free, click here to listen and let me know what you think.
  • Another buddy, also a decades long friendship, was up from Houston and took care of a number of honey-do tasks outside and inside the house.
  • Another friend, who I've gotten to know over the past few years, came over to mow my lawn. It wasn't the first time.
  • I got an email this week that a radio program in Australia wants to interview me about my I am Second film.
  • On Wednesday, I learned that my tumor marker was down to 45; the range for a person without cancer is 0-35.
  • For the last three weeks, I've actually gained weight. For the 10 or so weeks prior, I was losing 1-5 pounds every week.
  • Had lunch with a buddy who has a very intriguing idea for a book. I'm looking forward to contributing what I can.
  • Another friend and sushi-buddy was talking to his young son about me and his son was moved to write me a get well card and draw one of my favorite things in the world - sushi!

And the list goes on. By focusing on how He's moving in my life, I am aware of His Presence. And in His Presence … well, that's where I want to be.

For Prayer:
  • At 10am on Thursday, I'll be having an ultrasound on my legs. They're a little swollen and we just want to make sure there are no blood clots. At least the gel they use for the ultrasound is very warm.
  • Next week, I'll go in for a CT scan. It will give us an idea of whether this current round of chemotherapy is effective and if the tumor is shrinking.
  • My blood counts have been low so we've tweaked my chemo schedule to where I'm taking the infusion every other week. What this really means is that I only have to pay the co-pay 3 times every 6 weeks instead of 4; every little bit helps.

In the Palm of His Hands,

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Roller Coasters

Roller Coasters

I love roller coasters. Not in the same way I love my wife, of course, but there's something about the speed, being pushed into your seat, twisting rolls, huge drops that is just ... exhilarating. It always brings me to the summers of my youth, going to park after park in Southern California to ride old favorites as well as the newest and latest. There are times, however, when roller coasters are not nearly so much fun. These past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of sorts; emotionally ... physically ... even spiritually.

Many of you know I had a procedure a couple of weeks ago to take a closer look at the tumor. We then met with the surgeon who confirmed the tumor was non-resectable - no operation. It was disappointing; we had hoped our surgeon would be able to do his thing and I'd be on a road to recovery instead of ... more of the same. That's when I realized that the most disappointing moments have been when things didn't happen when I thought they should. Thus, the seeds of a sermon on being resilient began to grow.

I preached that sermon last Sunday. When we reach a breaking point (or points), are we a resilient people? Will we be defined by the breaking point or by our response? We cannot change the cards He deals us; just how we play the hand.

We met with our regular oncologist on Tuesday to go over all the results. My tumor markers were zigging instead of zagging; three weeks ago, my markers shot from 61 to 91 (low number good, high number not so much) which is ... attention getting. The results of the most recent test weren't in yet but if my markers continued to rise, I'd go in for a CT scan and I'd be put on a more aggressive (and more debilitating) treatment.

Yesterday, I learned my markers are at 63. The phrase "Thank you Lord" was never uttered so quickly.

I know many of you are continuing to pray that tumor will be reduced enough for an operation and that God would heal me fully and completely, restoring me to good health. I covet those intercessory prayers and appreciate all who find the time to lift up me and my family. But, if you'll indulge me, I'm requesting that your prayers for me today would not be about Asking; instead, let them be about Praising:
  • Praise that the tumor is actually getting smaller. The latest scans show it went from 5cm to 4.8cm. Who knows? In 5-10 years, I may be called into that surgery I so very much wanted.
  • Praise that my grandkids (oblivious to the physical changes in me) smile brightly when they see me.
  • Praise that He's given me the energy to keep working. My job has a very real eternal perspective as well as a mundane technological one.
  • Praise that He is in His Heavens and He does what pleases Him.
  • Praise that it pleases Him to meet me in at my breaking point.
  • Praise that cancer is a poor obstacle and a lousy excuse not to conform to Him.

In the Palm of His Hands,