Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Home and back again

Hello everyone! This is Josh!

Today we are back at MD Anderson waiting to meet with my primary Doctor, Dr. Wells, to establish what is going to happen today and over the next week. Though we are not excited about being back, we are excited to get this over with and headed home once again.

I very much enjoyed seeing everyone and sleeping in my own bed! Thank you to everyone who brought food! It was so nice to eat some home made food!

Today, will be a long day. Already this morning I have had a CT Scan, Blood Tests done, and am waiting to meet with the Doctor before finally having a Lumbar Puncture done and another Bone Marrow Biopsy done. I'm not worried though. They put me under for it and I finally get some sleep, and as Mrs. Weatherly knows, there are some...funny side effects.

After that my day winds down a little bit until it is time for chemo. Thankfully we are going into this next round a little more prepared!

Anyways, I'd like to say thank you so much for all your prayers and for those of you who have decided to fast! It warms all our hearts that we have such good people behind us on this journey!

God bless.

Josh

Back At MD Anderson

We are back in Houston and have appointments today at MD Anderson. We spent 5 days and 6 nights at home (sounds like a special deal on a cruiseline) that was encouraging and refreshing.

Our day will start with a 6:30 am CT scan, an appointment with DR Wells at 7:45 and then a bone marrow & LP procedure at around 10:00am.

One of the challenging things that we face is waiting. We wait to get results, we wait for the doctor to explain, we wait for the treatment to take effect, our lives are spent waiting.

In my devotions (a little more rushed then I would like) I read about how Judas and Jesus other disciples were waiting for Jesus to set up His earthly kingdom (and make them rulers with Him) and conquer the Roman authorities over them. When Judas found out that Jesus wasn't doing things the way he wanted, he tried to force Jesus hand. As a result he betrayed the one person who knew him and still loved him.

As we sit here in Houston, it is easy to wait and grumble and get frustrated when things aren't going the way we want or expect them to. But this morning I am reminded that God has already established His kingdom, he has defeated the enemy, liberated the captives and sent me out to share the good news -- the war is over, you don't have to keep living under the old kingdom -- you are free.

Here in Houston, there are a multitude of people that we see every day that haven't heard, they still think the only option is to go along with the world, they haven't heard that they can be free from what has taken them captive.

No more waiting for the wrong type of kingdom. Let God establish His kingdom in your heart. If He has already, then don't keep it a secret, show those who are around you and tell those who will listen.

Thanks for your prayers. Time to run.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Arrived Safely With a Little Drama

We arrived in Houston with only a little bit of excitement along the way. Again we saw God's faithfulness in protecting and providing.

After filling up north of Ft Worth, I began to feel a miss or slip as we were headed up one of the overpasses. It was intermittent, but then the check engine light came on. I pulled over at a gas station to to see where the nearest auto service shop was and they directed me 30 miles down the freeway.

We pulled into the Toyota Dealership thinking "this will get expensive" and told the service writer our situation. "We are going to Houston, have to be there at 6:30am tomorrow, our son has cancer, please work a miracle". His first comment was, we will take a look at it, but we probably don't have the parts if there is anything wrong.

True to their word, they got it right in and looked at it, and found the problem. The coil was bad, and they didn't have the part. After telling us that they would look to see if they could find an after market part (which they couldn't guarantee) I told them it was fine, we just needed to get to Houston.

No one in town had the part, but they assured us they could get it in the morning. We could rent a car and come back. I told them we would chance it and head for Houston. He went back to have the mechanic put it back together. Then he came back and told us that the mechanic did a temporary fix (I would have used duct tape and bailing wire) that should get us to Houston, and they weren't going to charge us for it - not even for the usual fee to just look at it.

As we pulled back onto the freeway were were reminded that we have a big God that takes care of even the little things like car break downs.

We are checked into the Ronald McDonald House, after a nice dinner at Olive Garden (the first time Josh has eaten out in 6 weeks) and headed to bed because we have our first appointment at 6:30 am (then 2 or 3 more before getting checked into the hospital).

Thank you for your prayers, meals, fellowship and abundance of love and kind words. We were so blessed to be home and see so many friends. Josh is not very excited about being back here, but we know that God is at work.

Monday, August 29, 2011

HEADING BACK TO HOUSTON

After 5 wonderful days of being home, we are heading back to Houston in the morning. Josh has an appointment at 6:30am Wednesday, in Houston so we will get there in time to spend the night and spend the day in the clinic. They will admit him after doing another bone marrow biopsy, lumbar puncture and CT scan.

They will probably start his next round of chemotherapy soon after admitting him.

We have a had a good time at home. It was refreshing and encouraging to be with friends and church family, and Josh has not had any fevers while here. He continues to get stronger every day which is encouraging. We are praying that he continues to gain strength to be ready for the next round of treatment.

Pastor Rodney spoke this weekend on Faith. We looked at I Kings 18, when Elijah told King Ahab that God would cause it to rain. Six times, Elijah sent his servant to look for rain clouds, and each time the servant came back to tell him that there were no clouds to be seen. And then on the seventh time, the servant could see a small cloud.

We continue in faith to look for God's healing, God's provision and primarily His will to be done in our lives. Every day we see His hand at work as He draws people to Himself. We are so thankful to be in the middle of His will, and we are convinced that no matter what happens, He will be faithful.

Pray for us as we make the long journey tomorrow. Pray that we would experience God's safety and that He would give us the opportunity to share His faithfulness with others who don't know Him and don't have hope.

Thank you for your prayers and support and encouraging words.

Friday, August 26, 2011

TGIF

TGIF

Isn't it funny how we look forward to the weekend and having time off from work but when we are in the work world, our work can sometimes be a defining factor for who we are. I enjoy my job and feel like God has blessed me with a job that I am good at. Although there are times when I am ready for a break from work, most of the time I enjoy my job. After spending the last 5 weeks in the hospital with my son Josh, this week it has been good to be back at work.

Early this morning we took Josh over to get lab work done, and then over to Dr. Turners office to have his vitals checked. All of his blood counts are improving which is a good sign. He does not need a blood transfusion so we are glad for that.

Then Josh came into work with me after his Dr's appointment to see his friends Domingo & Alice and Rick as well as the other people at the church. He usually comes in and helps the custodians once or twice a week, so he really wanted to come in today and work with them because he has been gone for 5 weeks. He hung out with them at break time, and then wanted to go help clean bathrooms and toilets. They all convinced him that he could not do any work, so he hung out with them for a little bit.

His heart is in the right place, both wanting to reconnect with friends and serve by helping them do their jobs (even if it means cleaning toilets).

This morning in my devotions I read about how sometimes we use the language of the Bible or the traditions of our religious beliefs to excuse our sin. Jesus was talking to the Pharisees and they asked him why his disciples didn't follow all of the religious requirements of the day.

Jesus response was to ask them why they were breaking the commandments for the sake of traditions. They were basically saying, it is okay if I sin, as long as I make it look like I am "doing the right thing" or doing "what we have always done as a church". Sometimes as people who grew up in church, we think that if we are doing what is expected of us (going to church, reading from the King James Version, singing only the kind of songs we like), that it is okay if we don't follow the rest of Jesus commands (love God with all your heart, love your neighbor).

So at this point I was thinking, okay, here is some great stuff I can write about to help other people look and see what they are or aren't doing to show their love for God and neighbor. But then I was faced with the question, "what traditions do I keep that are an excuse for not doing what God wants?"

Things like looking for my identity in my work rather than finding my identity in Christ. Or like being nice to people who are like me but treating people who are different (speak with an accent or believe in a different religion) like ... well like they aren't the same as me, you know, an American, protestant, middle class person who knows all the right words to say and does all of the right things to blend in.

Am I willing to sacrifice my "middle class" lifestyle in order to show Christ's love to people who aren't like me? The thought of it makes me uncomfortable, to the point of coming up with some good reasons to keep doing things the way I do.

But if that was the case, if I base my life on what is comfortable and safe, I wouldn't be spending my life in a hospital room with my son who is a whole lot more uncomfortable with his new circumstances then I am.

So I guess it is time to be uncomfortable and show Christ's love to people who aren't like me. To be a Christ follower, to be more than a "T-Shirt Christian" (as one friend called it) and do hard things.

What about you? Are you ready to live outside of your comfort zone?

TGIF - Thank God I'm Forgiven.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back Home For Now


The ride home from Houston - helped along by Starbucks

Part of the greeting committee

It was wonderful to spend the night in our own beds in our own home. Josh slept well. Still no fevers. Other than Dad checking his temperature at 4am, he wasn't awakened by nurses taking his vital signs every 4 hours and having blood drawn at 4 am.

I woke him up at 8am to flush his PICC line (I inject heparin into his IV to make sure it doesn't get clogged) and gave him his medication.

Then I headed off to work. It was a strange feeling to come back to the office and begin thinking through what needed to happen today. It made me think about how much we base our identity on our jobs (especially as men). Whether we love our jobs or hate them, we tend to see ourselves (and expect others to approve or disapprove of us) based on what we do for work.

I have, in the past, been so shallow as to make a decision to change jobs based on what I thought others would think of me or how I thought it would improve my self worth (or net worth). But when we base our identity or self worth on what others think, or even on what we think of ourselves, we are missing the point.

I have learned, this last month, that God doesn't get excited about how good I am, or how smart or strong I am. He doesn't even need me to make a lot of money or be the best pastor or salesman or farmer that there is. In Psalm 147 we are told:

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.

What the psalmist is telling us in this passage, is that God isn't impressed by a strong horse (or more powerful tractor) and He doesn't need a strong or well equipped army to win the battle. He is doing the work. He is bringing people to Himself, building them up, blessing them, showing the world what it means to be His child, and He just wants me to "fear Him" and "put my hope" in His unfailing love.

So then what does He want from us? The last verse in Psalm 147 tells us.

Praise Him. Praise the Lord.

Praise Him because he gave us peace, protection, food, blessings and His word to instruct us. Praise Him because He wants to do His work in spite of my weaknesses.

Praise Him by telling others how He has been faithful to me in my time of crisis. Praise Him that even as we wake up each day unsure of what will happen next with our medical journey, we know that He will be there; and He will be faithful. I am so thankful that my identity can be found in a God who adopted me as His son, and that He chooses to bless me, just so that others will see it, and will want to become His children also.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

We drove through Amarillo and Boys Ranch and Channing, then finally Hartley. Each mile that passed raised our excitement level and reminded us of how good it is to be headed home. We drove past the new football stadium, and then by the church and saw people headed in to prayer meeting.

We were told we needed to come by the front of our house, and as we did, we could see a huge "Welcome Home Josh" sign hanging across the front of the house. It had been signed by dozens of people. Standing next to our house was our neighbor Selene and our doctors wife Christie (and two of her kids Ben and Alyssa), with tears in their eyes welcoming us home.

As we stood on the front walk our friend Tim stopped by (he shaved his head for Josh) and as we stood talking and hugging, more friends just stopped as they drove by; the Morrison's and Petty's and the Simpson's. Then the youth group came by to se Josh and as we sat and talked to Kurtis and Dana, Dr Turner came by.

We are sure glad to be home and blessed to have so many great friends.

Thank you Lord for safety on our drive home, no fevers, and the blessings from friends. Father protect Ilene's mom, Barbara, in the hospital in Apple Valley and get her home soon. Amen.

P.S. We will get some pictures up tomorrow of the drive home and home coming.


On Our Way

We had another answer to prayer yesterday. After the results of the bone marrow test and with Josh not running a fever, the doctors discharged us at around 4pm. We went back to Ronald McDonald House and Josh really wanted to start driving for home (I think he was afraid we would take him back to the hospital if anything changed).

So we got everything cleaned out and packed up and left Houston around 7pm. We drove to Waxahachie (near Ft. Worth) and spent the night. Josh continues to do well, no fevers and he is tolerating the drive well.

Growing up one of the passages of scripture that I memorized was Psalms 121.

1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

It is a psalm that the people of Israel sang as they were headed toward Jerusalem to worship God. To an Israelite, going to Jerusalem was like going home, to the house where their Father was. They would be encouraged and refreshed, they would be forgiven of their sins and made right with God.

As we head for home, we can say without doubt that we have experienced God's protective shade, that He has kept watch over us and that our help has come from Him.

We are all very excited to be heading home, Josh left home on July 18th and has been in the hospital since then.

We are scheduled to be back in Houston next Wednesday August 31st. They will run some more test and start his next round of chemotherapy, which will be 8 days of treatment in the hospital.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We plan on being home later today. We will continue to keep you updated each day of Josh's progress. Please send us your stories of what God has been doing in your lives as you walk this journey with us.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Live Out Loud

What has God been doing in your life? Our lives have been turned upside down. For the last 5 weeks we have had a totally different focus in our day to day lives. Before we went to the hospital 5 weeks ago, each day we went about our routines making decisions based on what we thought our priorities were. We thought we were doing good things, many of them had to do with our involvement in church.

When we heard that Josh had a life threatening illness, most of our priorities changed. Many of the things that we thought we had control over changed. Many of the decision that we were accustom to making were no longer important. A crisis has the tendency to refocus our attention. We cannot do anything to change Josh's health so we have been forced to either look to the world for hope or put our trust in Jesus.

We have learned that even in the shadow of the valley of death (when we walk past deaths door) that God is faithful to sustain us, and He allows others to watch Him sustain us. We have believed for many years that God wants to use us to influence the 8 - 15 people whom He has strategically put in our lives in a positive way.

There is no question in our minds that we have seen people here in Houston positively influenced in their walk with God. We have seen Gods children choose to make sacrifices for God's benefit and we have seen doctors and nurses begin to wonder what kind of God gives His children peace and hope in a time of crises. The doctors and nurses have watched a God's children have cared for us in ways that they don't understand.

Many of you have been walking this journey with us and praying that Josh would be healed. We would love for you to share your story with us. To hear what God is doing through you to impact the world around you.

Send your story to brian@fbcdalhart.org and we will begin posting them on the blog and on the churches web site.

Monday Josh had a bone marrow biopsy. He tolerated the procedure well, and gave Ilene and Debra some laughs as he came out of the anesthesia.

He continued throughout the day without a fever, feeling pretty good. The doctor finally came in around 4pm and told us that the biopsy results were back. They told us that his bone marrow was pretty much wiped out by the chemo (which is what was supposed to happen). Based on that they will wait for a little while before starting chemo, they would like to see the bone marrow start producing again before they start the next round of chemo.

They encouraged Josh to continue to eat and drink as much as possible, and get as much exercise as possible.

He had a good night without a fever and we are hoping and praying that this will continue throughout the day. We have been to this point before (three times) were they are saying he could go home if he doesn't get another fever, so we are reluctant to get our hopes up again, but they say they are willing to let Josh get out of the hospital for a few days before they start the next round of chemotherapy if he continues to do well.

We have been blessed by you comments and emails and we keep you in our prayers. Our continued prayer for you is the same as what the Apostle Paul prayed for the church in Thessalonica.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Live your life in such a way, that those around you would see that you are a Christ Follower. Thank you for your continued prayers. We are looking forward to hearing about what God is doing in your lives.

Monday, August 22, 2011

He Is Able

We are thankful for continued answered prayer. Josh has gone almost 36 hours without a fever. The doctors seem pleased that the anti-biotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal cocktail they have prescribed is working.

We are thankful that God answers prayer.

Today Josh will have a bone marrow aspiration (Lord willing) to determine what is going on with his leukemia. It has been almost 4 weeks since he had his first round of chemo; its hard to believe that we have been in Houston that long. The results could show that his body is not producing any cells and then we would need to wait to for awhile before doing more chemo.

The results could also show that his body is producing all good cells (remission) and then we would wait to see if the leukemia starts coming back. Or the results could show that he continues to have "blasts" (his body continues to produce leukemic cells) and then they would consider beginning chemotherapy again.

Although we continue to pray that we could get Josh home soon, our over-riding prayer is for his improved health. And if that means staying in Houston for a while longer then we will trust God to sustain us, because we know that He is able.

Our friends, Rodney and Debra Weatherly (Rodney is our senior pastor), drove down to Houston with Ilene and Sarah yesterday, arriving late last night. We are very encouraged to have them here. They are another answer to prayer. We have experienced the isolation that comes with being away from our church family and are thankful to be able to fellowship with them for a few days.

In my devotions today I read about looking into our lives to see what God would change. I don't know if you are the type of person who tends to see your own failures or if you tend to mostly see your accomplishments. The reality is we all have some of both.

I have seen tremendous growth in my faith and walk with the Lord over the last month. I also have to admit that there are many areas in my life that need Gods healing touch and cleansing (impatience with people who come in at 2am and wake up my sick son). But what does God want or expect from us?

Psalms 139 gives us insight into that question.

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.

This constant watchfulness by the Lord can bring fear if we are walking in sin or it can bring peace if we feel lost in a dark world. I don't think about God's watchful presence as much as I should, it would give me greater peace and would be a reminder to guard my heart and tongue more often.

In the last part of the chapter the author makes himself vulnerable to God and records a prayer that we should pray daily as we go about our lives.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

It is never easy to ask someone to point out our flaws, but when someone lovingly shows us an area of our lives that needs improving, it gives us the opportunity to become better people. If we ask Him to, God will lead us along the path of everlasting life.

If there is one thing that Ilene and I have consistently prayed while we are here, it would be that God would show us what it is in our lives that He wants to correct. If there is sin in our lives we want to confess it and turn from it, if there is a lack of faith, then we want to learn to walk by faith; if there is someone that needs to hear about Him or see His faithfulness, mercy and grace in our lives, then we want to be reflections of His light.

Thank you for walking this journey with us. There is a song that we sang growing up.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

It comes from 2 Timothy 1:12.

12 That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

As Christ followers, we can make that same statement with confidence. That when we entrust Him with our hearts, He will be faithful until He returns to take us to be with Him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Waiting For the Next Step

Josh had a good day yesterday with very little fever. He is still very tired and has gotten weaker. We will work on getting him up and walking more today, he only walked once yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon they moved us back down to the pediatric floor (10th floor). We don't have as nice of a view, but he sleeps better as the nurses are used to working with younger patients. It is also helpful to have his doctors on the say floor as they are able to check on him more frequently. The nurse on the 12th floor were very nice and loved coming in to see Josh because of his great attitude so I think Josh had a hard time moving again, but heal ready knows all of the staff down here on the 10th and they come in and cheer him up.

They have scheduled Josh for a bone marrow aspiration tomorrow to determine how well the chemotherapy worked on his leukemia. Based on the results they will decide when to start the next round of chemotherapy. The next round will be 8 days of treatment with the same three medications as before.

Keep Ilene and Sarah in your prayers as they drive back to Houston today. Ilene drove back to Dalhart (700 miles) on Friday to get somethings done at home and to take Sarah to a friends 16th birthday party that she had been looking forward to. They also got a chance to sort the mail and pet the dogs who may have forgotten who we are.

God continues to show his faithfulness. Each day we trust Him as we walk this journey. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Me, Schwinky and a new friend!

Hello everybody! I haven't done a post in a while so I thought I would share with you all how I am doing these days! So today I was supposed to go home but sadly last night I spiked a high fever of 103 and for some reason they wouldn't let me out:/ But all is good! One thing I have learned from being in the hospital is that God is in control and He knows the exact date and time when I will be discharged! Tonight as I was reading my Bible and I always like to see if there is a verse that just jumps at me and tonight it was Proverbs 18: 22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. I'm so thankful that I have parents who tell me each day that we have a big God and that He can do anything He wants to.

So now I would like to tell you about the title of this post. Today I got a very nice package from a very good friend of mine who lives up in Iowa! It was great to get it and it had an awesome card in it including a Plushie Joker! Batman has always been my favorite superhero, so I very much enjoyed getting him! Not only that but now Schwinky has a play buddy! I do believe I am going to have to do another Schwinky's Adventure here in the next few days!

Thanks Glenna for my cards and gifts! They have made many of my days! Hope to see you sometime soon!

Before I go I would just like to put my favorite verses up. These verses have really helped with a lot of the things that I/we have been going through.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings; in all your ways submit to him and He will make your paths straight!

That is the most powerful verse I have ever read in the Bible. It is so inspirational and so motivating, it has made this whole journey much easier. I can't even begin to imagine what this would be like without our God!

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes and for your cards and gifts! It is so comforting to know that we have such good people waiting for us to come home!
God bless you all!
Josh

One Day At A Time

Early on in our battle against AML, Ilene's sister Emmalena told us something that we have learned to be true. "Take things one day at a time". One of Troy and Emmalena's daughter's began having seizures over a year ago and they have been looking for solutions since then. They have weeks and sometimes months without a seizure, and then they come back.

Over the last two weeks we have experienced both times of encouragement and of dashed hopes. We see progress in the right direction and then just as we get to the place were we think Josh is healthy enough to go home, the bottom drops out. We initially thought Josh would be released last evening. A Home Heath Care company brought us medications to take home so we could give him IV antibiotics at home, his blood count numbers had improved for 3 days, he was up and around; eating and drinking and feeling good.

And then he started to look tired and pale.

I could see the frustration in his eyes and hear the disappointment in his voice as he told me that he was feeling warm.

After the nurses finished taking his temperature and blood pressure and the doctor came by to check on him, he looked at me and said "sorry I am keeping you up dad". It was after midnight (not that I could sleep anyway).

This morning as I sit and wait on the Lord, knowing that my son needs to be here in the hospital for a while longer, knowing how disappointed my wife is at not being able to go home, I search for answers. We miss Dalhart, our friends, our church family and our puppies. As I began reading through His word looking for encouragement and guidance I was reminded of a song.

The words to the old hymn, "It is Well With My Soul" by Horacio Spafford. came to mind. I had heard that he wrote the song during a time of tragedy in his life, so I did a little research. Look at the link for more details about his life and how God used him.

He was a successful lawyer in the Chicago area and a close friend of D.L. Moody. But his life began to unwind when his 4 year old son died of scarlet fever. A year latter all of his investment properties along the shore of Lake Michigan burned down during the Chicago Fires of 1871. In an attempt to get his wife and 4 daughters away for some rest, they planned a trip to England to help D.L. Moody with an evangelistic campaign.

Before boarding the ship in New York, some urgent business matters came up; not wanting to ruin the holiday he sent his wife and 4 daughter ahead with plans to follow shortly. Nine days latter he received a telegram from his wife stating "Saved alone". The ship they were on had collided with another ship and sank in 12 minutes claiming the lives of 226 people.

Stafford's wife survived but their 4 daughters perished in the sea. Stafford took the next ship to England to be with his wife. As the ship he was on crossed the place in the Pacific Ocean where his daughters had drowned, he penned these words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

When I read his story (and the book ofJob in the Bible) I have very little to complain about. God is good, and continues to protect and sustain us. Our continued prayer is that our journey would encourage you in your relationship with God. My prayer today comes from Psalms 19:14

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

And our hope is expressed by Psalms 40:1-3:

1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.

We are confident that as a result of what God is doing in our lives, many will see what God has done and be amazed, then they will put their trust in Him.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Disappointing Delay

It is 11:11 pm the night before we are supposed to go home (for the 3rd time) and Josh is running a fever. He started to feel warm about an hour ago so we tried getting some fluids in him. Half an hour ago I felt him and he was pretty warm so I checked his temperature and it was over 101. I rechecked 15 minutes later and it was reading 102.

I reluctantly told his nurse which starts the ball rolling. The doctor just came by and told us that they will take blood cultures again to see if they can identify the source of the fever. They give him tylenol for the fever, but will have to wait before they make any decisions about us going home. It sounds like we are back at square one and may need to wait another 48-72 hours before they lets us go.

Josh is of course very disappointed as are we. Ilene is just picking up Sarah from the airport; she is returning from New Jersey.

This journey we are on is filled with twists and turns. Each new corner we turn brings new challenges and opportunities to wait on God to show His faithfulness and mercy. Whatever this new twist has in store we will choose to praise the Lord.

Hoping To Go Home Friday

Well, the doctors, our nurse and the case manager came in to tell us that they are working on getting us discharged. Initially they were trying for this evening, but the doctor wants one more blood test in the morning to verify that Josh's blood counts are still good. If everything looks good we will leave early in the morning for Dalhart.

A Home Health company came by to teach us how to give Josh his IV anti-fungals and anti-bacterial. We are also waiting to hear from the doctor to see if we can change our appointment for next Wednesday to a week later so that we can be home for more than 4 days.

Pray that Josh's numbers continue to improve and that he stays healthy and strong for the next week. We are also praying that we can stay home for a few extra days. Our hope is that we will leave early in the morning and get to Dalhart before sundown.

We are looking forward to seeing all of our friends and church family soon.

I was again reminded that God is at work here. The nurses on our floor (12th floor) have heard about Josh and his story from the nurses on the 10th floor. I was riding up on the elevator and one of the interns from the 10th floor (pediatrics) got on and told me that she had heard about the blog and had been reading it. She told me how touched she was by our journey.

God is good ... all the time.

Armor Up



Have you ever noticed that in the Bible when God says something that He wants us to pay attention to He says it over and over again.

This morning the doctor came by and told us that if Josh does not run a fever and his blood counts continue to improve, we will be able to go home tomorrow. Now we have heard that before so our first response was to guard our heart against disappointment, but then we began to hope and look toward what we needed to do in order to be ready to go home.

My devotions this morning was about faith out of Romans 10:17. It expanded out to look at what faith is which means you have to look at James 2:26 (faith without works is dead) and included Ephesians 6:16 (shield of faith).

As I dug deeper, I read the surrounding verses in Ephesians 6. I noticed that God said twice to put on His armor. God knows that we are in a battle and that we need to have protection. In the news the other day I heard a report about how the US military was concerned over the effectiveness of the body armor the they were using.

It made me think about how important it is to have protection for our soldiers (our oldest son Robert being one of them) against the enemies bullets and shrapnel. Proper protection can save the lives of our soldiers.

Paul, in Ephesians is telling us the same thing. We must armor up. We can't go on to the battle field (your place of work, they grocery store, the mall, etc.) wearing street cloths. We must put on the armor that God gives us to protect us against the spiritual battle that is being wages against us. There are spiritual terrorists lurking in the shadows waiting to ignite a bomb when we least expect it.

I love the imagery that Paul uses to describe this battle.

- Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power
- stand firm against all strategies of the devil
- resist the enemy in the time of evil
- hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

Paul finishes the paragraph with a challenge for us to pray.

Ephesians 6

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.

And that is what we would ask you to continue to do. Pray for every believer and pray for us, that we would have the right words to say to whomever God puts in our path.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back Online

As Josh sleeps, we tend to go looking for the doctors to see what the next step is. Our short term goal is to get home for a bit before his next round of chemotherapy starts. A week ago when we thought we were headed home or tentative return date was for August 24th. At this point we are hoping that they will put that off for at least a week so that we can get home and catch our breath before round 2.

This morning as I was reading through Psalms 17 (one of my daily devotions habits is to read the Proverb that corresponds with the day of the month) I came across verse 22 where it says "a cheerful heart is good medicine", and it reminded me how important it is to keep our sense of humor even during this challenging time. In Philippians 4 :4 we read "rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice!"

The NIV includes an exclamation point. God wants us to rejoice, to rejoice in Him, to rejoice in what He is doing, to rejoice in spite of our circumstances. It isn't easy, and many times it feels close to impossible, but when I take my eyes off of my personal circumstances and quit complaining; then I remember what He has done and is doing and most of the time it brings a smile to my face or tears of joy to my heart.

One of the most frequent statements Ilene and I have made in the last month is how good God is. Sometimes on the worst days, when we can't seem to find any good news, God does something so amazing that we are humbled to the point of being embarrassed. Have you ever been showered with Gods blessings to the point that you are overwhelmed by His grace. So blessed by His love that you truly feel like the child of a king?

We have, right here in the middle of the worst circumstances that we have ever faced as a family. God has shown His faithfulness to us and we know, without a shadow of a doubt that He takes care of His children.

If you aren't one of His children, I would encourage you to seek Him out and let Him become the guardian of your soul, the purpose behind your life and the payer of your debt. Let Him heal your heart and change your life.

Thanks for your prayers.




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday

Last night the hard drive on my (the churches) computer crashed. So I wasn't able to write a blog this morning. It is a reminder about how much our lives become connected through the medium of technology.

Josh has been having a fairly good day. His fever has come down under 101 degrees, but stays a little above the 99 point. He still does not have an appetite for anything so we are constantly trying to find things that he will eat just to get nutrients into him.

Josh was doing well enough to allow Ilene and I to get out together for a few hours. We ran over to Target and go Josh some sweats and t-shirts and then over to the mall and had lunch. We took the computer to the Apple store and they confirmed that the hard drive had crashed. I can't complain as we have gotten 4 good years of use out of it.

Most of my stuff is backed up, so I shouldn't lose much.

We are still waiting to hear from a lung specialist about his bronchiscopy. He seems to be responding well to the anti-fungal treatments and is out with Ilene for a walk around the unit.

Keep us in your prayers as we pray and wait, hoping still to get back home before the next round of chemo.

P.S. I am using Ilene's computer to type the blog.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope


Hello everybody! This is Josh!

So before I get too far I just wanted to say that I have always been a geek when it comes to movies, such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and of course Star Wars! Ever since I was young I have collected figurines, cards, models etc. of these film series. I loved to show my friends, who also collected things, what new item(s) I just got. It was all very exciting but I grew out of it and now they bring smiles to my Nephew Ethan!

Today we received some encouraging news that was much like, "A New Hope" which is the inspiration for my title.

I went in for a CT Scan today and they did a nasal cavity and chest scan and found that I have "fuzzy nodules" growing on my lungs. It sounds worse than it actually is but with this new information they can send the anti-fungal medicine to a specific place rather than filling me with antibiotics. The Lord really takes care of us!

Also I would like to say just how much I appreciate everybody getting together on Sunday to help us as a family! We know we are not walking this path alone and we are grateful that we have such good friends in our Church body! The cards and the letters and care packages have just been so wonderful and are a blessing to have! Thank you for your prayers and your good wishes!

And the hat that won was the red beanie! Thanks everybody for playing along!

Thanks again!
Josh

CT Test Results

We spent the first half of the day waiting for the CT scan, then about 2 hours down in the imaging department while they took his scans.

The doctor then told us they were bringing in and "infectious decease specialist". They looked at Josh's CT results and told us that they saw some "fuzzy things" (medical term) in his lungs that they believe are fungus. The plan is to start treating him with an anti-fungal medication and then do a bronchoscopy. As ominous as this sounds, we feel a sense of relief in knowing what is probably causing the fever and hoping that we can get the fever under control.

They will try to get a sample of the fungus to determine the best treatment for it. They hope that the treatment will begin to take care of his fever. We have heard different things from each doctor (3 today) about how this will effect our ability to get out of here and head for Dalhart.

At this point we will continue to take things one day at a time knowing that God is in control and will get him home in His time. Pray that the anti-fungal will begin working and his fever will go away. Pray also that we will not get discouraged if our time here is extended longer than we hope.



Hat Pole Results

We are waiting to run down for a CT Scan so I will have Josh write a blog when we get back to tell you about the results of the Hat Pole.

We also received some pictures of the spaghetti dinner from yesterday that we will post later as well. It is a blessing and encouragement to see pictures of ya'll, we only wish that we could have been there with you.

They still don't know what is causing the high fevers; nothing has shown up on the blood cultures. The next step, if they can't see anything on the CT Scan will be to change antibiotics.

We didn't get much sleep last night as they come in almost every hour between midnight and 6:00 am to check something or draw blood.

My devotions for this morning was again from the 8th chapter of Romans.

In the 29th verse it says "For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son".

Have you even wondered why God allows things to happen in our lives? According to this verse, God knowing in advance that He wants us to become like Jesus, works everything in our live towards that purpose. He desires that the good and the bad things I our lives would make us more like Christ.

Oh, and if you look at the verse just before that, Romans 8:28, it is one of those well known verses by those who are facing struggles and trials. It says that:

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

After 28 days of sitting in a hospital room watching our son get progressively worse from chemotherapy, it is really hard to see how God would work it out for good. That is until we begin to look beyond our small window and we begin to see how God is using our circumstances to bring others closer to Him.

There is no question in our minds that God has drawn us closer to Him in this process and we have seen both our faith and our sons faith grow through this, but we are also praying that God would touch your hearts and draw you closer to Him through this. That your faith in God would grow and other around you would see His light in you.

So if part of this journey is to get your attention and draw you closer to God, if even one of you opens your heart to a relationship with God as a result of what Josh is going through, if even one person who doesn't know Christ, turns their hearts to Him because they see Him at work in you; then it truly will be God working this out for good.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Growth Through Testing

Each new day that we are here is a challenge in patience and faith. We are at that place were there are lots of questions and no one has any answers.

Josh ran a high fever all night, so they began putting ice bags on his forehead and under his arms. They tests for infection are still showing negative which is a good sign (we think) but they can't tell us why he is running a fever.

They have him scheduled for a CAT scan in the the morning to make sure he does not have anything in his lungs. They are trying to get him moved back to the pediatric floor so they can watch him closer but they are waiting for a room to open up.

This morning in my devotions I read about how afflictions (trials or challenges) can be a means of refining or purifying. The title was Teaching By Trials and was from Romans 8:18.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

As I studied other verses about trials and suffering, I came across a verse in Job 36 (warning ... don't read Job unless you want your faith to grow). One of Jobs friends who had remained silent for a long time finally spoke and asked Job how he could question Gods motives.

He went on to say in verse 15

15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.

We are confident that God has not abandoned us in Houston Texas. That He is working on something that will reveal His glory through us. So the question is, God what are you doing and how can we be a part of it.

We know that athletes grow strong by doing things that are painful, students study to learn, in our marriages we have to go through difficult things to grow closer. In our spiritual live we have to go through times of trials to grow in our faith in God.


In the devotion the author told of a discussion with a doctor who told him that a person who had fought sickness and disease all their lives was better able to resist it then someone who had never been sick a day in their lives.

Our bodies build up immunities to fight off infection by going through the test of being sick. Spiritually, we can build up defenses against sin and giving into temptation through the trials we go through. Our faith is strengthen by exercising it. The exercising part is not fun, but it prepares us for what God has in store.

We don't enjoy being in the hospital watching our son fight off cancer, but we are confident that God is growing our faith in Him and preparing us to serve Him, and we choose to use this experience in our lives and Josh's life to draw others to Him.

We hope you have a blessed Sunday.


P.S. Only a few hours left to vote on your favorite hat.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Learning to Wait

Josh and I had very little sleep last night. Starting at midnight the nurses were in every 2 hours taking blood, checking vitals or replacing IV bags. His fever was high all night and by about 4 am his blood pressure was dropping.

This of course worried the doctors which worried the dad. They gave him extra fluids which dropped his temperature and raised his blood pressure. So now we are hoping to get him some sleep.

My devotion this morning was titled "Wait Up". At first I thought seriously about skipping it because, waiting is not something I want to hear more about right now, and I especially don't want to "wait up" after being up most of the night. The passage was Psalms 27:14

Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the L
ord.

As I read the verse, I realized that I would like waiting much better if it was "Wait until Saturday" or "Wait until 5 o'clock". Even as kids we may have heard the line "wait until your father gets home", but at least we knew how long we had to wait.

But reading wait patiently for the Lord, Yes, wait patiently for the Lord doesn't give us a timeline. For us, the timeline is all about control. When we know how long we need to wait, we can figure out what to do until then. We can even justify our impatience if we have to wait longer than the prescribed time.

But to wait patiently for the Lord (repeated twice for emphasis) means that He is in control and we can't do anything to change the timeline. And the patiently part implies doing it without griping. This can be hard to swallow, but lets read what David wrote in the first part of Psalms 27.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The L
ord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

4 The one thing I ask of the Lord
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the L
ord all the days of my life,
delighting in the L
ord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.

What a great question, Why should I be afraid? What do I have to be afraid of if the Lord is my light (in a dark world) and my salvation (from whatever this world throws at me). If He is protecting me from danger, I don't need to tremble, I can remain confident.

The best part is He tells us what we are waiting for, the thing we should be seeking after most of all, that we could live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in His perfections.

I have often thought that David meant that he was eager to go to heaven, but in closer study, what David is saying is that he wants to dwell or live in the Temple, the place were people go to worship God and serve Him.

We don't often think about living at church, but if church was a place that was safe, where we could encounter God in a relevant way and offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, wouldn't we all want to live there?

Today we will wait on the Lord. We long to be back home with our church family, but most of all we know that we don't have anything to be afraid of because the Lord is our light and our salvation.

Read the rest of Psalms 27 today, it will encourage you. Thank you for your prayers and make sure you vote on your favorite hat.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Best Hat Contest

For the next few days Josh would like your feed back on the hats that he has collected so far. To the left is a poll where you can choose the hat that you like best. The poll ends Sunday at 5pm and we will announce the winning hat.

# 1 Red Beenie

# 2 Black Baseball Cap

#3 Dark Blue Beenie with visor

# 4 Tan Beenie



# 5 Mario Bros Hat

# 6 Orange Beenie


Another Disappointment

I woke up at 2:00 am and they were drawing more blood from Josh. This was unusual because they usually wait until 4:00 am. I must have slept through the midnight vitals check, because they told me that his temperature at midnight was 102.6. So they were drawing blood to check for infections.

By 4:00 am when they came back to get more blood, his temp was normal, but now as I sit waiting for the doctors, it is back up to 103.

I didn't sleep much, just thinking about the disappointment of not getting to go home, so I spent much time in prayer. We continue to believe that God has us here for a reason and that He will turn this for His good even though we would prefer to go home.

Ilene reminded me of the verse from Jeremiah in chapter 29 (if you haven't memorize this one, you should) that promises us that God has a good plan for us.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

I love quoting this verse because it gives peace and comfort and hope. But when you read the verses before it, there is an instruction from God to trust Him and plan on a long journey. You see the children of Israel had been taken captive to Babylon and they wanted to be rescued and return home, but God told them that they needed to build houses, plant gardens, raise your families and plan to stay for a while.

That is the part that I don't like to hear. I love the part of Gods good plans for us, a future of hope, but we want our prayers answered right now, we want to go home now. But God sometimes says, I have a better plan that takes some waiting.

He goes on to command the children on Israel to work for the peace and prosperity of the city in which they are held captive. And to pray for the welfare of that city because its welfare will determine their welfare. I can easily pray for the welfare of Houston, but I can't imagine being held captive in enemy territory and praying and working for their prosperity.

This morning God is telling us to wait on Him and stay in Houston. I don't know if I will plant a garden, but we will be praying for Houston and looking to see how we can impact the lives of the 8-15 people that God is strategically placing in our relational world. And I know that we will experience His blessing as we shine His light into the lives of the people here in Houston.

Thank you for your prayers. We have heard from many of you, and know that many of you are reading and praying but not commenting which is fine. One of our friends from California called it "lurking". So whether you are a blogger or a lurker, either way, we care most that we are in your prayers and want you to know that we are grateful for you. Thanks to the Field's who were in Houston for a meeting and stopped in to encourage us. We hope that our journey is an encouragement to you.

And we hope also that you will choose to work for the peace and prosperity (spiritual growth) of those that God has put in your life because their prosperity will impact your prosperity.