Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Message to our Family

Thanksgiving is a time in our country when most people connect with loved ones. Families come together for generous portions of food and love. That is why I am writing to you on this special day, albeit at the end of the day – you are family to us.

Our prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord before our meal today was more meaningful and emotional than years past. I am sure you can understand why. We are so thrilled to have Linda here today, out of the hospital and enjoying food that our children and a few dear friends prepared for us. It has been a wonderful day, and more is to come as we decorate for Christmas. In early February, we had no idea whether Linda would be with us or not. Thank You, Father!

We want you to know the full story about Linda’s visit to the doctor over the weekend. Our GP met Linda and Autumn at his office last Saturday – just one example (though a huge one!) of the love and care of our doctors that I referred to in the last post. The news he gave us, though, was disconcerting. Linda’s health has reached a serious state. It is not the tumor that is such a present threat, but rather the effects of immobility and medicines that have kept the tumor from growing (shrinking, actually) and have kept PCP pneumonia at bay. In fact, in plain terms, our doctor told us that Linda’s body is shutting down. The end is not imminent, but time to reverse this course is limited.

As you can imagine, this is not welcome news. It is one reason our trip to the emergency room was so scary. You need to know that we are not conceding anything! We are realistic, but continue to ask God for a miracle. We serve a great God, which is one reason we read more than a dozen verses of thanksgiving before our meal today. He is able – we all know that. We continue to fervently ask Him to intervene and heal Linda while praying the prayer that never fails – Thy will be done.

As we have related to you already, we have decided to give Linda large doses of natural supplements. The way that her body has responded in one week has been most encouraging. While her liver remains compromised and her cholesterol levels continue to stay high, her kidneys have improved, her immune system has rallied (which made the possibility of pneumonia unlikely, but scar tissue in her lungs looked compelling, which is why several doctors recommended going to the emergency room – thank God it was scar tissue, not pneumonia!), and other systems are functioning better, also. We are eager to see if the liver and cholesterol levels look better on Monday. We are not unaware of the battle we face, which is why we covet your continual prayers.

Linda’s cough and congestion continue to linger. Diabetes has recently been diagnosed and her blood sugar is a fairly long way from normal. The thrush in her mouth creates a great deal of pain and discomfort. She still is unable to move without significant assistance, which makes getting rid of the blood clot and lung congestion a challenge. You know most of this already, but I wanted to give you some specific needs to lift up to the God Who loves Linda more than all of us combined love her! It is not the tumor that is the immediate threat, though it renders Linda unable to move and that contributes to a host of the aforementioned problems. The first order of business is to reverse the slide her body is currently experiencing.

Is it not a comfort to put oneself in the Lord’s hands? None of us want to hear that our bodies are nearing the point of crisis. We all know people who left this earth too soon. Or did they? Are not all our days numbered before one of them is ever lived? We also know, however, that when death seems imminent, God many times chooses to extend life for His purposes and our comfort, and we have the privilege of asking Him to do so. Indeed, it is biblical to bring our requests to the Lord with great passion, asking for help in our time of crisis (Hebrews 4:14-16).

One of our favorite psalms since our earliest years of marriage has been Psalm 138. I trust it will minister to you, also:

I give You thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing Your praise;

I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.

On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul You increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give You thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of Your mouth,

and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.

For though the LORD is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand delivers me.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home for Thanksgiving! Thankful for Home and Family!

Well, we made it home. Linda does not have pneumonia and the doctors wanted her home for Thanksgiving. How thankful we are for this place we call home. After a trial like this, it makes my heart overflow with gratitude, also, for the new home Jesus is preparing for those who know Him! And, we are so thankful for our family. All of our near blood relatives walk with the Lord, so our rejoicing is complete.

And what can we say of the family of God? Do you know that a church in Rome, Italy (really) called a special prayer meeting for Linda!?! Thank you, dear brothers and sisters at Dragona Church - and thank you for loaning Joe Hunziker (especially you, Stefania, Aaron, Mattia, and Gioia) to us for a week. What a blessing he was to our family at a time of great difficulty, and what a great blessing he was to Grace Community Church. And thank you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who prayed for us in these last hours. Oh, how God answers prayers - we are home for Thanksgiving, and thankful for our home and our family.

That, of course, would be a good place to stop, but I want to add how amazed and grateful we are for the loving personal care that Linda has received from EVERY ONE of her doctors! You cannot believe how every one of at least 10 doctors has shown intentional love and care that is well beyond the call of duty for those in the medical profession. Once again, God is good to us. I close with the words I have heard more times in the last 24 hours than I can count - WE LOVE YOU!


It is a little after 7:00 AM - and we are still in the emergency room. Linda sat in the ER Waiting Room for almost four hours. Autumn and Liz stay with her until I arrived not long after she was put in an emergency bay, which is where we are right now. There is good news - she does NOT have pneumonia. The doctor are unsure about the cause of her congestion/cough. No decision has been made yet about whether she will stay in the hospital or not. We will need to hear a compelling reason to stay. Thank you for praying last night and this morning! Please continue to pray for discernment for the doctors and for us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back in the Hospital - Please Pray!

Linda is heading back to the hospital. The doctors are concerned that the congestion in her lungs may turn into pnuemonia, and we need to take care of the problem now. If you have visited this site frequently, you know that challenges she has with immobility, liver, diabetes, extremely high cholesterol, all conspire against her health. Linda's condition has worsened, but do not think we are despairing. First, as always, our hope is in the Lord, not in this life. Second, we are grateful that Linda has begun taking fairly large doses of food supplements to assist in her recovery. Will it make a difference? Only the Lord knows - and He is in control and has been all along, anyway! Our trust is in Him!

Since that is the case, will you join us in asking Him for mercy on behalf of Linda and for those who love her dearly? I know that God is merciful no matter the outcome, but Philippians 2:25-30 will help you understand what I mean. At any rate, we need your prayers. I am home to pick up a few things and will head back to the hospital where our daughter, Autumn, is helping Linda to get checked into the hospital. Liz and Michael are heading here from the mountains. We do not feel that this is a crisis, but it is quite serious. Thank you SO MUCH for standing with us in prayer!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Doctors and Tests

I know that many of you check this blog every day, or at least every few days. Please excuse the delay since the last post. It seems that we spend all of our time at doctors these days.

In addition to the privilege I have to take care of my beloved and the time it takes for us to go to doctors’ offices and testing facilities (x-rays, MRI’s, etc.) I put a fair amount of time into preparing sermons. I can’t tell you how much I love that – I love to preach, and I love preparing the sermons! It is somewhat different these days, though, than it used to be. In the past, I would go into the pulpit on Sunday morning armed with a great deal more information than I delivered in the sermon. Not so these days! What I preach is “all I got!” It is a case, though, of God showing His strength in my weakness, but that’s the way it should be, isn’t it?

Speaking of weakness, Linda and I are! I have begun preaching through Philippians – what a joy. Paul’s spirit of gratitude to God for using him to advance the gospel even in the most difficult of circumstances (imprisonment) has spoken to Linda and me both. She is struggling to reach the point of saying, “I want the gospel to be advanced no matter what it takes.” As she reminds me, it is difficult for her because she has a brain tumor. Hey, I totally understand! It is one thing to make such a strong commitment when all is well in one’s life, but when you realize that it could mean – well, you know – it’s a different story.

Linda had an MRI for her stomach area (checking liver, pancreas) last week. The GI doc called today and said that there is inflammation, most likely caused by high cholesterol (caused mostly by inactivity – muscle weakness on the left side) and medicines (used to protect against infections caused by steroids, which are used to counteract swelling in the brain which causes muscle weakness). The good news with the liver is that it appears to be improving, though there are many medicine restrictions and diet concerns, as if the diabetes did not require enough of those!

It would be difficult to fully communicate what life is like for us, though the previous paragraph was an attempt at a portion of the picture, anyway. But you know what? First, we wouldn’t have had this kind of life if we lived 50 years ago – in fact, Linda would likely not be here this long after the initial symptoms presented if we had lived then. Second, I would not be able to participate in Linda’s treatment to near this level if it were not for the wonderful folks at Grace Community Church – the elders allow me to take the time I need, and there is great understanding and help in ways you cannot imagine from the congregation. Third, this is the life to which God has called us. Really, this could have been stated first and nothing else be said, but all the rest is part of God’s plan, so it is important.

Tomorrow morning, Linda must see the Infectious Diseases’ Doctor, who manages her bronchitis/pneumonia. Please pray that the cause of her congestion and difficulty with breathing will be properly diagnosed and treated (made more difficult by liver concerns) – preferably without hospitalization! On Wednesday, Linda will go to Duke for consultation on the next step for chemo treatment. That will be determined to a large degree by her respiratory and liver issues.

Thank you for caring so much and praying so faithfully! As difficult as Linda’s condition is at present, we pray for a miracle! God bless.