Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Internet Down

We have been without Internet service for several days (holiday weekend, you know) - finally restored today. Today, Linda was taken off Coumadin - her levels are actually high. We will go back for blood work on Friday to make sure the levels are still good. The doctors are quite surprised - this can take months to stabalize, and Linda's blood stabalized in two weeks! We are convinced this is a direct answer to prayer! Thank you for praying about the blood clot.

On the other hand, the blood clot is evidence the tumor is still there. Even if it is not growing, it almost certainly had something to do with the blood clot. So, keep praying about the tumor!

On Friday, Linda will begin her five day regimen (which comes every 28 days) of Temodar, the oral chemo. The dose is much higher this time. She got quite sick on the first night of her last five-day treatment. We will try to manage it better, but please pray about this, also.

We continue to look only to God for helaing. This tumor is a nasty one, but as one of your children told her in a homemade card in February: "This tumor is nothing to God." We know that He can heal, though it is His choice. The brevity of life confronts us more every day, not only because of the tumor, but from many different accounts that come to our attention of sickness, accidents, and the ending of life for elderly friends whose lives didn't seem all that long. We have also been aware of the pain this life holds for so many people. And, we are thankful for the cross of Jesus! That's our hope, isn't it? THAT"S GOOD NEWS!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Balance Restored!

Praise the Lord! Linda had blood work done today to check her blood levels for the clot. She has been taking two injections a day of Lovenox to work with the blood clot in her left leg. The doctors were quite pleased today with her levels, so much so that they ordered the shots discontinued. They told us that blood levels are rarely restored to normal this quickly. So, she is back in balance! Thank you for praying specifically!

Wouldn't it be nice if we could balance our lives as quickly as Linda's blood levels were restored to normal? When we recognize that we have been too busy to spend time with our Savior, it usually takes weeks or months before we choose to do anything about it, employing any number of excuses along the way. It should be a simple matter of "repent and worship," but - well, you know. I think if we knew the spiritual and emotional benefits of refocusing our personal priorities, we would move quickly toward the Lord and begin enjoying the peace Linda is enjoying tonight with the news of her blood levels!

Monday, May 21, 2007


In blood levels, that is! We are praying for the blood levels to be balanced. As I mentioned last week, Linda has a blood clot. She is taking shots and swallowing pills to thin the blood. Last night, she had a nose bleed. It stopped quickly, but it is something to be aware of. Please pray that the blood will be regulated soon.

The Lord is so good to us! God bless you!

Saturday, May 19, 2007


OK, here are the details. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, Linda was diagnosed with a blood clot yesterday (Friday, May 18). She began taking "twice a day" shots of Lovenox along with a once daily pill of Coumadin, both anticoagulants designed to help the body take care of the clots and prevent others from forming. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about - you have been "friendly" with anticoagulants for years! My good friend at Grace, Bill Miller, was taking six shots a day in the stomach for weeks. My heart was with him during that time and will be when he must resume them. I felt sad for him, just as I felt sad for Linda yesterday.

But, we are much more upbeat today! It is not that we were ungrateful yesterday, but the new morning brings renewed gratitude to God for life (this one and the next!) and a renewed awareness that the medicine, difficult as it is, keeps Linda (and Bill) with us. Of course, when you know Jesus as your Savior, you are in a win-win situation. Remain on this earth and live the life God designed for you, blessing all those around you. "Lose" the battle to the enemies that ravage the body and be immediately in the Lord's presence (2 Corinthians 5:6-9). That is what I call a true win-win!

Well, we want Linda (and Bill) to be with us as long as the Lord will allow. That is why we continue to petition heaven for healing. We recognize that God is using medicine to extend Linda's life and it is our desire that the tumor, with all its side issues (like blod clots), will disappear and life will resume its normalcy - well, we are not quite sure what a normal life is, anyway.

For these next six days, please pray as we give Linda her shots. Autumn and I gave the shots last night and this morning, and thankfully, Audrey Laney, a sister in Christ at Grace AND a nurse, will be giving most of the shots from here out. (The cheering you hear in the background is coming from Linda - just kidding) The shots come around 10 - AM and PM - so, if you think about it . . . Of course, also pray that she will not have side effects from the medicine - a prayer that many of you offer frequently concerning your own treatment with anticoagulants.

More later. Thank you for praying and for caring so much!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A New Development - And A New Plan

First, the new plan. It is my intention to update the blog much more often than in the past month or so. Rebecca Brisson, our secretary at Grace Community Church, receives calls every day asking about Linda. I hope that updating this blog more often will ease her load a bit. The fact that she has to answer questions about Linda every day leads us to say THANK YOU for your love and concern. It also leads me to another reason I plan to write more.

To this point, Linda and I have wanted the blog to focus on God as much as possible, trying hard not to allow it to become a self-absorbed cathartic diary entry. Thus, writing has been quite time consumming. Now, I feel better about keeping you more up to date with the latest medical information about Linda. Why?

For starters, almost every day someone tells me, "Our family is praying for Linda every day!" Can you imagine what that means to us? It is humbling and encouraging all at once! From the earliest days of this challenge, it has heartened us that God has led so many people to pray so much for Linda. I understand so many people praying for her in February (the first month after diagnosis), but I am not sure I understand that in May!

So, please check the blog for updates before calling the office - not that Becky minds talking about Linda, but this will be the best source of information. We will do our best to overcome the tendancy to always talk about biblical principles (which delays publishing because of the work involved) so that we can get more information to those who want to pray specifically about Linda's needs. We have quite a request tonight because of the new development.

Linda had two doctors' appointments today - oncologist and radiologist. We have been concerned about the swelling in her left leg, which has increased quite a bit in the last two days. Dr. Moore ordered an ultra sound, even though swelling was the only symptom. The ultra sound revealed a blood clot - a deep venous thrombosis. It is an extensive clot, but can be treated at home with anticoagulants.

I am sad. I am sad for Linda. She is doing OK, but it is just difficult news. This diagnosis did not take God by surprise any more than the CT scan revealing the tumor did. We are not disappointed with God, we are not dangerously discouraged - but our whole family is just sad that she has to go through this. Of course we will find God more than sufficient, but we are just a bit numb tonight. We will be more than OK, because God is faithful (Psalm 136), kind and loving. We have given thanks for the many ways God directed and cared for us today! No matter what, we love Him and trust Him.

We love you!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

It's About Time!

It is about time that I wrote! For those who check this blog regularly, I am sorry that it has been a week between posts. I would sincerely like to apologize - to both of you! :) Hey, thanks for your patience. When we returned from vacation, life was going full speed. Linda began her five-day regimen of oral chemo on Saturday - and got very sick Saturday night in the middle of the night. Not sure it was the chemo, but we are managing better, now. She finished today and is sleeping peacefully as I write.

I will begin preaching again this coming Sunday, and with sermon preparation along with all that was waiting for me when we returned from the beach, time is precious. Thus, this will be a short post. I hope to write soon (before Sunday, if possible) about an important conversation Linda and I had about faith and healing and God's will, etc. It was one conversation, but it was based on more than three months of wrestling - biblically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally - with weighty issues.

We have not yet heard from Duke, s0 we would appreciate your continued prayers about this. Also, we have a meeting with the Social Security office on Friday - please pray that it will go according to God's will. Last, please continue to pray for a miracle of healing and that we will glorify God with our lives! We love you!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Grace Like Rain

Our family has been enjoying a wonderful week of vacation at Myrtle Beach. Linda has been doing exceptionally well - walking more freely (still with help) than she has at any time since the day we went into the hospital. It has been such a blessed week - we are conscious of all your prayers and good will.

I wanted to share a rather lengthy thought about grace - our need for grace, just like the earth (and its inhabitants!) need rain from heaven. You will be able to access this "article" on our church web site in the next few days, but I wanted to send it to you now. Again, the warning that it is rather long. Here goes:

Grace Like Rain

We could use some rain around these parts. Does it seem to you that we can have years of normal rain, and then with only a month or two of relatively dry weather you start hearing the weather forecasters say, “We are dry – we need some rain!”? All that good rain seems to mean so little when the sky refuses to produce moisture. Once the flow ceases, the hand-wringing begins.

I asked Mike Moneypenny, our resident meteorologist, about our need for rain these days. I had planned to summarize his comments, but it seemed to me that you would find this information helpful and interesting! It will certainly help you to know how to pray, when the weather calls for it. I asked specific questions about drought. Mike’s response reads well enough without including the questions here:

“We are 4-8 inches behind for the year thus far. We had a wet Fall and ended 2006 with a surplus. We are not in a drought in central NC...the mountains are in a moderate drought (classified D1) and the foothills (from Charlotte and Greensboro west to the mountains) are classified as D0, abnormally dry. Inflows are low, but the water supply reservoirs are 2 to 4 feet above normal due to conservation efforts over the winter in anticipation of a potentially dry Spring and Summer. We expected the dry weather due to a strengthening La Nina, which actually affects rainfall in NC very little except to increase the number of tropical systems, potentially providing us a soaker in the late Summer or Fall.

“There are two primary types of drought; 1) Agricultural drought, which has the earliest onset and most immediate consequences to crops and livestock, and 2) Hydrologic drought, which lowers the groundwater table, and reduces reservoir storage, thus limiting the amount of water available for consumption and power generation. Hydrologic drought takes longer to develop, but harbors potentially graver health and economic consequences. San Diego, for example, could weather a severe year-long drought due to water rights signed long ago to water from the Colorado River basin. Phoenix and Las Vegas, being newer and very fast-growing cities, have rights to less water, as those rights were acquired more recently. Their 'water buffer', therefore, is considerably shorter."

“The definition of a drought...50 percent or less of normal rainfall for a 6 month period. This is not a 'true' definition, as it does not take many months to clobber the agricultural community...2 months of little rain coupled with hot temperatures will do it. Rivers will dwindle to trickles in a similar time frame as the base flow (from the soil, not runoff) will slow and springs dry up. Again, it's not an easy call, since you can have near normal conditions at 50 percent of normal rainfall as long as it's well distributed both areally and temporally...on the other hand, 3 inches of rain from a thunderstorm provides almost no help as it is largely drained off and evaporates quickly.”

So, while we are not as dry as we have been in the past, you sure hear a lot of people calling for rain! It’s a perception thing. Our perceived need for rain reminds me of my need for God’s grace. My formative spiritual years were spent in quite legalistic settings. Though I had been saved by grace, I thought I should grow by an effort that would keep or regain God’s favor on my life, if I felt I had lost it. I constantly sought to live good enough to avoid God’s judgment. Even though I enjoyed periods of rest in God’s grace, the dry times of “earning His smile” would make the moisture of His grace a wistful memory.

Oh, how I need to swim in God’s grace! It is difficult to swim in a pond that has been wracked by drought, though. What is one to do who lives life in fear of God’s judgment (it’s either that or smug Pharisaical self-righteousness) because of persistent failure? How to experience the refreshing, life-giving rain of God’s grace?

My tendency is to write a list because that’s how I learned both to cope and to teach. But, it is a matter of perception, isn’t it? It is an understanding of Who God is, who I am, and how God expects me to live. Oh, He expects me to obey Him, no doubt – it’s all through Scripture. But, I obey Him out of gratitude for His work in my life, not so that He will accept me.

Brennan Manning speaks eloquently (in books like, The Ragamuffin Gospel, and Abba’s Child) about the need to receive God’s love and grace, anticipating His smile rather than His frown. Manning emphasizes God’s love almost to the exclusion of God’s wrath, which is a theological mistake. One cannot deny God’s wrath, and it is most important that His wrath against us be placated by repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ death being the payment for our sins. Nonetheless, I am so grateful that Brennan (hey – when you read his books you will be on a first name basis, also!) writes to assist recovering legalists like myself.

Before I include an excerpt from Manning's book, Ruthless Trust – some of the most important reading I have done – I want to encourage you to purchase this helpful book before your summer vacation. You can easily read it in a week. Perhaps a small sampling will entice you:

“Rather than being surprised that we have done anything good – as certainly we have – we are shocked and horrified that we have failed. We would never judge any of God’s other children with the savage condemnation with which we crush ourselves. Indeed, self-hatred becomes bigger than life itself, growing until it seems as the beginning and the end. The image of the childhood story of Chicken Little comes to mind. In our self-hatred, we feel that the sky is falling.

“Understandably, then, we hide our true selves from God in prayer. We simply do not trust that He can handle all that goes on in our minds and hearts. Can He accept our hateful thoughts, our cruel fantasies, and our bizarre dreams? we wonder. Can He cope with our primitive images, our inflated illusions, and our exotic mental castles? We conclude that He cannot and thus withhold from Jesus what is most in need of His healing touch.

“In order to grow in trust, we must allow God to see us and love us precisely as we are. The best way to do that is through prayer (and I, Brad, might add, prayer that is based on the truth of Scripture). As we pray, the unrestricted love of God gradually transforms us. The Spirit opens our eyes to see what really is, to pierce through illusions so that we can discover we are seen by God with a gaze of love.”

When was the last time you perceived a “gaze of love” coming from God? Is your spiritual life in a bit of a drought? Allow the rain of God’s grace to refresh your spirit and experience the joy, once again, of singing praises to God in the rain!

If you want to meditate on God’s love toward you and His grace in your life, consider these verses: 2 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:6-8; 8:31-39; Psalm 103; Psalm 130; Psalm 139. OK, I know, I know – you are already familiar with these verses! The question is, do you believe these verses? Happy swimming in the pool of God’s love and grace!