Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Does It Take To Save A Life

Along this journey, we have said many times that our perspective and priorities have changed. Most of the things that were a normal part of our lives are things that we can no longer include in our schedule. I had a discussion the other day with a friend about what was important in life. We agreed that our relationship with God, our families and other relationships were important. Our jobs and other responsibilities were also important, but when you face a life threatening illness in your family, your true priorities become obvious.

We often say that we would do anything to save our kids and our family. But we have found that it was easy to say that, but being put to the test takes more than lip service.

A few years ago there was a movie that dealt with real life issues of teenagers called To Save A Life. It dealt with the hopes and dreams of a basketball star and his cheerleader girlfriend. Their lives were changed when a friend took his life and they were faced with decisions that would effect the future of their lives.

This journey we are on has forced us to evaluate our decisions. We have had to change plans, readjust schedules and put many of our hopes and dreams on hold. We have quoted the verse before "How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? from James 4. But this is the first time in our lives when we really have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

As we have readjusted our priorities we have been faced with the difficult issues of life. We have had to make decisions about prolonging life and had the difficult discussions with Josh about what extent we would take to save his life. Along the journey the financial impact of his medical treatment has been one of those issues that we follow but have very little control over.

Every week we get medical bills and statements from the insurance company telling us what bills have come in. We have never had any major illnesses in our family before, and I don't know that we have ever used up our deductible before in a calendar year. But this year, we spent our deductible after his first week in the hospital.

As we have watched his medical bills come in over the last few months, (we are very thankful for insurance and for the medical providers who have partnered with us to fight the cancer that is trying to kill Josh) we have been faced with the question of what is a life worth. 

We support a child in the Philippines through Compassion International.  There is a link on the top right hand corner of this page that will take you to their website. To save a life in the Philippines, it costs $38 a month. With Joshua's medical bills to date, you could feed 2,200 children for an entire year. What makes my sons life worth more than those 2,200 other children in the world?

I can't answer that question. I can't put a dollar value on the life of my son. But I do know that what I am learning from this journey is that God has a purpose. He has a plan and He wants to use the challenges we are facing to point people toward Him. He has allowed Josh to get the necessary treatment to save his life, at a cost far beyond what we could ever afford.

Maybe this year as we approach Christmas, He wants to use Josh's story to save the lives of 2,200 children around the world. Maybe He wants all of us together to find away to share the love of God with the people that we know. What ever the reason, I know that in God's eyes, my son's life is worth more than a million dollars. In God's eyes, every life is worth saving, He was wiling to give His Son's life to save each one of ours.

As we move into this Christmas season, think about what you will do with the life God has given you. He gave us all the gift of life, it is our choice how we spend it.

Josh was released from the hospital yesterday (Tuesday afternoon). He is home resting, and has been eating a little better. Please pray that we will be able to stay home until his next chemotherapy treatment on December 12th.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Overflowing With Thankfulness?

Josh had a better day. They continue to ween him off more of his medications. The infection seems to be under control. They still have him on one heart med and will do an echo cardiogram in the morning to determine if his heart is strong enough to take him off more of the medication.

The EKG today did not show any abnormalities. That is good news, and we are hoping that the irregular heart beat the other day was from low electrolytes. If things look good on his echo cardiogram, they will start lowering his heart medication and put him on a Holter monitor (mobile EKG) for a day or so to see if they can see any patterns with his heart.

Josh has been up most of the day and is eating and drinking better. Thank you for your prayers, they are helping.

Our faith has been tested along this journey. We have been forced to evaluate every aspect of our lives and re-evaluate or priorities. We have talked about our faith our entire lives, but we have never before experienced the challenges that we have faced the last few months.

This week as we were getting ready for our Sunday School class, we decided we would use our time together to share what we were thankful for. At that point, we anticipated being home (not in the hospital with Josh). As I was getting ready for the class this morning, I began looking for verses about being thankful.

I came across a number of verses in Colossians that talk about thankfulness. In Colossians 2 it says,

7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

I'll be honest, it is hard to feel thankful, let alone overflow with thankfulness when you are in the midst of a trial, so as I read this verse I had to stop and think it through. I am not thankful that my son is sick. I am not thankful for the strain this journey puts on our family and finances. I am not thankful that the things that were normal in our lives are no longer normal.

So what am I missing? I would say that we are rooted in Gods word, and we have built our lives around a belief that God is who He says He is. So why are we not overflowing with thankfulness?

Maybe it is because it is so easy to focus on the things in our lives that don't last. We are focused so much on what we don't have or getting more of what we think we need, sometimes we get to living like life is all about what we experience or collect here on earth. In Colossians 3 we read:

2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

If we focused our thoughts on what God was doing, and what He considers important, maybe it would be easier to be thankful for what He has done and is doing in our lives. 

So what should we be focused on? In Philippians 4 we are told to think about these things:

 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

When we focus on things that are true, honorable, right, pure and admirable; thankfulness follows.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Heart Issues

Josh was doing pretty good today (Saturday) although he didn't sleep well. He was feeling agitated much of the night, but finally got some sleep this morning. They have been lowering his heart medication, but this morning they did an echo cardiogram and found that his heart function had dropped so they put him back on some of the heart medication.

Then around 5 pm his heart started beating irregularly (PVC). The doctor came in and she called the cardiologist who came by and looked at his readings. They ordered an EKG for the morning and a echo cardiogram for Monday.

They couldn't find anything conclusive with his heart. They are giving him potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They are hoping that the extra vitamins and minerals will help his heart beat more regularly. 

They are still trying to identify the bacterium that he has, but they feel that the antibiotics he is getting are fighting the infection. At this point he has not run another fever so once they get the heart issues under control they feel they could let him go home. They think it could take as much as a week to get his heart back to normal.

There are times along this journey when we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. Josh gets frustrated when he gets sick. He is so tired of being in hospitals and having IV tubes hooked up to his arms. Its that feeling of waking up while it is dark and thinking that morning will never come.

Psalms 130 says:

 5 I am counting on the Lord;
      yes, I am counting on him.
      I have put my hope in his word.
 6 I long for the Lord
      more than sentries long for the dawn,
      yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.

As dark as it sometimes gets while we are walking along this journey, our hope is not in modern medicine or science or great doctor (even though we have some of the best). Our hope is in a God who loves us and has a plan for us.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Around 8pm Thanksgiving Day, Josh's blood pressure started dropping. They moved him to PICU to monitor his blood pressure and other vital signs. His blood pressure was low enough that they started him on heart meds and did an echo cardiogram. His heart function was within normal ranges with the heart meds. They added another antibiotics and gave him platelets and 2 units of blood.

They needed to put 2 more IV lines in his arms to get all of the medication in him. At one point he had 10 different medications going and a couple of meds waiting. Within  few hours (by 2am) he started feeling better.

While some people were camping out waiting to get some deals at the local mall, we were camping out trying to negotiate our way out of the hospital. This morning they told us that his blood culture was already growing something, so they felt like they caught it early. He is feeling pretty good this afternoon, although they have restricted his diet until he is doing a little better.

They are weening him off of his heart medication hourly as his heart function improves.  They have told us they he may need to stay here for 7-10 day to make sure that he recovers completely.

Thank you for your continued prayer.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Josh had a pretty good morning. He slept in, but wasn't running a fever and was feeling pretty good. At around 11:30 he didn't feel well and his temperature went up to 100.5 which is when we are supposed to call. The doctor said to check it again in an hour. We went a head and ate our thanksgiving dinner that the Fields had graciously made for us and started packing just in case. By 12:20 (we couldn't wait till 12:30) his temperature was up to 103.

We finished loading the car and called the doctor to let him know that we were on our way. On the way to the hospital Ilene called the Ronald McDonald House and got a room lined up. 

I was surprised by how many cars there were in the parking lot when we got there. It looked like there were a lot of visitor seeing family and friends. This is another new experience for us, being in the hospital on Thanksgiving day. I am thankful that the nurses and doctors are giving up their Thanksgiving Day to be available to get Josh well.

They tried to get him to take some Tylenol when we got in a room, but he threw that up. So they got him some Tylenol in his IV followed by some zofran to to settle his stomach. 

They took blood cultures to see if he has an infection. They will start him on IV antibiotics and will keep us for at least 48 hours, and then if they can get the fever down, will let us go home on antibiotics. 

The Lord has provided for our every need. He protects us and puts a shield around us. Even when we are in the hospital, we know that He is watching over us. I read through Psalms 107, and was reminded that God takes care of His children. Even when they disobey Him and get themselves in trouble, He rescues them and heals them.

So today, Thanksgiving Day 2011, we want to praise the Lord for His great love.

Psalm 107 8-9

8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
      and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
 9 For he satisfies the thirsty
      and fills the hungry with good things.

Hope you have a blessed day with family and friends. Make sure to stop and thank the Lord today for His blessings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time for a Blood Transfusion

We just got the results back from the blood draw. Josh's blood counts are low so we are headed for Amarillo for a blood transfusion. Pray that we can get done today and back home for turkey tomorrow.

How Has God Blessed Us

As we think about being thankful for what God has blessed us with, the question comes to mind, "what is a blessing". Yesterday we thanked God for providing for our needs. Does that mean that anything above or beyond our needs is a blessing?

On this we have seen God take care of our needs. He has provided food from unexpected sources, he has provided shelter when we are away from home. God has even provided emotional and spiritual encouragement when we needed it most. One thing we have learned is that our perspective of what we need has changed. As our lives have been changed over the last few months, the things that we have felt were essential, have lost importance. 

Have you ever contemplated the question "what is the difference between not enough and more than enough"? When driving, we usually know when we do not have enough gas to get to our destination. When having company over for dinner, we try to make sure we have more than enough food to serve everyone.

But when we are considering how God has provided for our needs and blessed us, if we can determine the difference between not enough and more than enough, then we can know when to thank God for blessing us.

In my experience, the difference between not enough and more than enough is usually my attitude. Today I am thankful that God has blessed us with more than enough.

We are sitting in the hospital, thankful for the modern medical technology to give my son blood, to save his life. Hopeful that we can be done in the morning and be able to drive home in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Do I Need?

This week we are looking at 5 ways to be thankful. Today I wanted to look at being thankful for God's providing for our needs. If you were to make a list of what you need, it might look very different then what God knows you need.

My list might include stuff like a new truck or hiking equipment. I might include things like power tools or sporting equipment, trips to relaxing places or a better paying job. There are many things that we can put on our "Needs List" that have become a part of our daily lives. Things that we become so accustom to that we don't know how we could live without them.

What about running water? Electricity, natural gas, fast food restaurants or cars. How long could you survive without cable TV? I saw an advertisement on TV while sitting in Josh's hospital room that allowed you to take you cable box with you when you move and get your TV working right away, before the moving truck gets there with your stuff.

We have heard people say "I need to change the decorations in my house, it is almost Christmas" or "I need to change the oil in my car". Our perceived needs are very different then what God knows we need. If God gives us what we need, but we don't get everything that we want, it is easy to complain rather then be thankful.

In Matthew 6 we are told that God already knows what all your needs are and He will take care of them:

26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Have you thought about giving thanks for enough food to stay alive (and have a variety of choices), have you thanked God that you have cloths, probably more than one set to change into; how about something to drink? Do you have clean water (some people can't even buy bottled water) to drink? I have ten different types of bottled drinks in the cupboard that people have brought over to Josh.

That is a pretty short list of needs, that God knows we have and yet the last time I checked, he provided  a lot more than food, drink and clothing.

In Psalms 104 we see all that God does to provide for us and for the rest of creation. Not only does God care about our food, drink and clothing, He also enjoys making us happy and comfortable.

 14 You cause grass to grow for the livestock
      and plants for people to use.
   You allow them to produce food from the earth—
    15 wine to make them glad,
   olive oil to soothe their skin,
      and bread to give them strength.

God has provided for my families needs, and He has blessed us with more than we need. He has also given us enough so that we get the privilege of sharing some of our abundance with people who have less than we do. And when we share, we get to experience a little of what God feels, when He gives gifts to us.

Josh had a good day yesterday. He was up most of the afternoon and had a good appitite. His blood counts came back and he does not need a transfusion yet. We will check them again tomorrow. We continue to hope and pray that he will remain fever free until we return for the last round of chemo in December.

Thank you Lord for providing for my needs, and giving me more than I need so that I can participate with you in giving to others.

Tomorrow we will look at Being thankful for Gods Blessings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey Week

Thanksgiving has been a favorite time of year for our family. It has not always been that way. One year Ilene's grandmother who had been living with us (she was on hospice after having numerous strokes) passed away the night before Thanksgiving. Then an hours later Ilene's brother, who is a truck driver, had a vehicle accident on his way home. He was in a tractor/trailer and the other driver swerved in front of him and hit him head on. The other driver was killed instantly. It was hard to focus on what to be thankful for that year.

But for many years Thanksgiving has been a time when we do things together as a family and we have had many things to be thankful for. 

This year we have not known how to plan for Thanksgiving. Before our life journey took a turn, we had planned on getting away as a family to a cabin in the mountains. We wanted to spend the week in the quiet hills of Glorieta. Much of our family was planning on coming and we expected to celebrate all of the things we had to be thankful for.

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, Josh began asking for turkey. On Thanksgiving I usually get up early (after staying up late) to get the turkey in the oven. I usually get a 20 pound bird, and stuff it with cornbread stuffing. Often times I will try out some new recipe for either backing the bird or the stuffing recipe. We almost always have sweet potatoes with marsh mellows (for Sarah and I) and grandma brings green bean (with bacon) some one brings rolls and carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and a multitude of pies and desserts.

Turkey week snuck up on us this year. With Josh's health, we canceled the trip to Glorieta, and today I posted a "No Visitors" sign on the front door. Don't get me wrong, we all love visitors, we would love to have people over all day long, but as Josh's blood counts have dropped, we have had to follow the doctors instructions and limit visitors. 

In hopes of getting Josh to keep eating, this morning (I know it is still Monday) I got up and put a turkey in the oven. No stuffing, no green beans, no pie or green jello dessert, not even any sweet potatoes, just a 14 pound turkey with instant mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce.

(We do have some friends that have insisted on bringing us a Thanksgiving Dinner wherever we are on Thursday)

Josh ate as much as he could. He even enjoyed sitting up at the table with us, until he choked trying to swallow one of his pills and that was all he could take. He went back to bed to rest. He did eat a little more while in bed, but as I looked at him I could feel the anxiety growing. What if ..... 

That is one of those feelings we get when he sighs or coughs or stumbles as he walks. We hope for the best while keeping an eye out for the worst.

He doesn't have a fever today, we are checking his blood counts later today and trying to get him to drink more. But he is starting to get circles around his eyes and he is still skin and bone. His heart races when he stands up and his breathing gets rapid after he walks across the room.

So, what could we possibly be thankful for this year?

No matter what tomorrow brings, I am thankful for so many things. Even the journey we have been on over the last 4 months has shown us what is important in life. We have a God who protects and provides. We have family and friends who show us love in tangible ways. We have a community that has gathered around us and prayed for us and supported us through this difficult journey. I have a wife who loves me and children of whom I am proud of.

I hope that this year, sometime before Thursday, you can make a list of what you are thankful for, and share it with others. Send us a note of what you are thankful for this year. We would love to celebrate what God is doing in your life.

Lord willing, this week I will give you 5 ways you can be thankful. The first is "we can be thankful that God answers prayers." In Isaiah 65:24 God says:

I will answer them before they even call to me.
 While they are still talking about their needs,     
 I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

We have experienced answered prayer this year. Many times over, and have seen that God answers our prayers, sometimes even before we finish asking. And I am thankful for that.

Tomorrow we will look at being thankful for how God provides for our needs.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Puppy's For Christmas

I am sure you are all wondering what to get your kids or that someone special for Christmas. Well, in the next few weeks we will be having a puppy auction. Here are the puppies. There are 5 of them and they are very cute. (If we don't get them adopted soon, we will get to attached and want to keep them all).

Here are pictures of the mom's Samantha and Sasha.

Sasha is a beautiful chocolate brown and she has 4 puppies that will be ready by Christmas

Samantha is black and brown and she has one puppy that is a few days older 
than the others.

This is Samantha's puppy.

Isabella is black and brown like her mom. Born 10/28/11

This is Buttercup, and she is a golden tan, born 10/31/11

This is Bubbles and she is silver/grey with some tan, born 10/31/11

This Missy and she is black and brown with some white, born 10/31/11

This is Jasmine and she is mostly black with some white on her tummy, born 10/31/11.

Puppies must be picked up, we will hold them for you until Christmas eve. Starting bids at $200 (USD). We will keep the auction open until December 15th. Please email your bid to . I will update the bid price each day. We will post more pictures as they get older.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Answered Prayer

The week started off looking a little challenging. Josh was very tired after his lumbar puncture, and then had a headache and fever for a couple of days. He didn't want to eat or get up, he just slept.

Then Wednesday, the good news started coming in. We got results back from his echo cardiogram. We had been told a few weeks ago that his heart had been damaged by the chemo. They told us that he had heart damage that was not repairable, but we would most likely be able to control the problem with diet and exercise. 

This changed our entire approach to his treatment. When we got the results back that his heart had completely recovered, we knew that it was an answer to prayer. 

Josh had much better days on Thursday and Friday. He got up and walked around, and his appetite was back. Saturday morning, he got his last round of chemo at 4am. His oncologist, Dr. C. Turner came in around 9am and told us we could go home. By the time we were done packing up, and getting cleaned out of the Ronald McDonald house, it was close to 11am. We ran a few errands in Amarillo and then we headed home. 

Josh has been tired all day. He slept on the drive home and has been sleeping since. He is not complaining about anything, but we think he is worried about getting sick again. He would really like to be home for Thanksgiving.

After arriving home, we received a call from a family in Amarillo. Their church is handing out Thanksgiving dinner meals and they wanted to know if they could deliver one. I asked them if they knew that we were in Dalhart, and they said they did, but still wanted to bring it. They have gotten our information from the Ronald McDonald House.

A few hours later, they arrived with a turkey and all of the fixens (frozen) and we had a nice visit with them. It was another opportunity to share about how God continues to be faithful to us and how He uses other people to bless us.

We are thankful to be home and pray that we can be here through Thanksgiving. We pray that this season God will bless you and that you will share with others what you are truly thankful for. We are thankful for answered prayer. God healed Josh's heart, he allowed him to tolerate chemo well, and He got us home safely.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I spent most of the day in Dalhart yesterday. I left before 6am and drove the 75 or so miles home to shower and get ready for work. In the past, Josh has tolerated the early days of chemo pretty well, so I decided to try driving back to Dalhart each morning to get some work done.

They give Josh his chemo at 4am and 4pm. He slept through most of the day. He has not shown many side effects although he is very tired and doesn't have an appetite. He wakes up long enough to take his medications and then goes back to sleep. When I go back to the hospital this evening, he was complaining of a head ache. We don't know if it is a side effect of the chemo or maybe from his lumbar puncture. Tylenol didn't do much for him so they finally gave him some fentanyl.

They delayed giving him his blood pressure medication this evening because his BP was running a little low and his heart rate was running a little high, but that may have been associated with the headache.

Each step along this journey there has been so many ups and downs and twists and turns. We find ourselves feeling apprehensive at each step, not sure what is coming next. He continued to run a fever through the night and his heart rate remained on the high side (over 100). This morning (Wednesday) the oncologist came by. He is not overly concerned about the fever as it could be a side effect of the chemo (etoposide).

Josh woke up around 3 am (Wednesday morning) and started a discussion with his nurse. He had lots of questions about how sick he had been a few weeks earlier (this is the nurse that was on duty when his BP dropped so low). He was very open with her about his faith in God and how he knew that God was at work in his life. The nurse told him that she had spent a lot of time praying for him that night a few weeks back.

He finally went back to sleep around 5 am. This morning, the doctor told Ilene that if his head ache persists, he will consider doing a "blood patch" over his LP sight to stop any further leakage of spinal fluid. They took a blood culture to make sure he doesn't have an infection, and they are watching him closely for other adverse side effects. We continue to pray that Josh will tolerate the remainder of chemo well and will be able to go home on Saturday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Round 4 of Chemo Begins - in Amarillo

We drove down to Amarillo again this morning to start Josh's 4th round of chemo. We had his blood drawn yesterday afternoon, and his platelets and hemoglobin were up, but this morning they told us that his ANC's (Absolute Neutrophil Count) is low.

They said they will go ahead with chemo as there is a risk of relapse if we delay chemo much longer, which after talking to the oncologist is more of a concern then not having his ANC's not recovering.

Josh did gain another pound from last week, so he is up to 110. He is negotiating with the nurses to try and get out for lunch, after his lumbar puncture and before they start chemo this evening, but the doctor is concerned about his ANC's (and wether he will come back for chemo). He is also trying to negotiate to have as many of the unpleasant things (like dressing changes) to occur while he is under anesthesia.

His spirits are good (although he didn't sleep well - was up numerous times during the night) and he has been entertaining the nurses and doctors. They did his lumbar puncture and will start his chemo this after noon.

For all of you that have had an ultra sound, Josh knows how fun it can be to have all of the gel smeared on you. They did an echocardiogram to check his heart function (which he barely tolerates) although it is cool to watch his heart moving. We will update you with all of the results later.

He is always funny, but even more so when under anesthesia. You'll have to ask him if you can see the video.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Waiting Some More

Monday we were scheduled to start the next round of Chemotherapy at BSA in Amarillo. It involved getting packed (which meant we were up late) and getting up early enough to get to Amarillo by 9AM.

We spent a couple of hours there as they were drawing blood and checking vitals and making sure everything was ordered and ready. As they were numbing his back for the spinal puncture (and he was complaining about the gooey mess on his back) Josh's blood tests came back and to the doctors surprise, his platelet levels were too low to do the lumbar puncture or to start chemo. Josh of course was thrilled that we could go back home for a few days.

The doctor did not seem to concerned about his blood counts coming down (they had all been substantially higher last week when we left the hospital) so we are just praying that his counts recover enough to start chemo on Thursday.

We have been able to get a few things done around the house this week like installing new flooring in Sarah's room and getting caught up on some laundry.

We even had a little excitement when one of the neighbors electrical line caught a tree on fire during a rain storm. Their electric went out and there was sparks and pops. The fire department and electric company came out to take care of it and we sat in front of the fireplace and had a nice visit with them until things were fixed.

No one was hurt (the tree huggers might disagree with me since the tree got singed and then trimmed) and we got a chance to visit with some neighbors.

Or planis to check his blood counts on Wednesday or Thursday and hopefully start chemo on Thursday or Friday.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We have been home for 3 days now and things are calming down.

Ilene is feeling better this morning and Sarah felt well enough to go to Youth last night. Josh is doing well and has been eating much better. We are hoping that he can gain some weight before he starts the next round of chemo on Monday.

As we have walked this journey, our perspective on life continues to change. The things that seemed so important in our daily lives just a few months ago have little significance now. Each day, each moment is an opportunity to experience Gods love and grace. We treasure the time together with family and friends, we look forward to each opportunity to be in church celebrating what God is doing in our lives.

This journey has been a battle against leukemia. It is amazing how much leukemia is a reflection of what sin can do in our lives. The leukemic cells begin to grow and then they crowd out the other good cells, preventing them from doing what they are designed to do. In Josh's case, the white blood cells don't fight off infection. And then the red blood cells and platelets are crowded out so that his body doesn't get the oxygen it needs and is in danger of bleeding because of low platelets.

His body becomes enslaved by the leukemia, and until something begins destroying the leukemia cells, he is a prisoner. In our lives, sin can take hold and begin to grow. It it is not stopped, it crowds out the other things in our lives. But God has already put a plan in place to eradicate the sin in our lives. God frees us from the power of sin allowing us to live our lives the way we are intended to, free to live wisely and pure, with integrity, filled with love and patience. 

Titus 3: 4-7
“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.[a] 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

So much of our lives are controlled by self seeking motives. We go about our lives looking for opportunities to promote our own desires and to fulfill the things we want. It takes something drastic to take our focus off of ourselves and to see what God is doing in the world around us. 

Once we have the confidence that we will inherit eternal life, free from the consequences of sin, our perspective should change.

Titus 2:11-14
 11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Yes, we are still to live in this world, to build relationships with others and to show others how much God loves them, but we are free from the slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin and can live lives committed to doing good. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

Along this journey that we are traveling together, the question no one wants to put into words is "How much is too much?". At what point can we no longer take anymore challenges, any more bad news or difficulties?

Ilene has been fighting pain around her kidneys for a few weeks. Well after another sleepless  night she went to the doctor again today. He started to give her a stronger medication until he saw the welts that she thought were spider bites. Come to find out, Ilene has shingles. Shingles are not contagious, except to people who have a compromised immune system (like Josh does after chemo). So our prayer is that she gets over them before the end of next week.

As I was writing this, last paragraph, our lead custodian, Alice came into the office in pain telling us that she just fell and landed on her elbow. As I write this she is headed for the emergency room to get checked out.

As I was putting my thoughts together to write this I was reading in the book of Job. I have studied the book of Job before and know that you can't ever stop half way through. You must read the entire book, and then reread the first two and then the last chapter.

Job was known as a blameless man, full of integrity. there was no cause for him to fall under the judgement or punishment of God. Yet as we read his story, we see every area of his life destroyed. One after another, 4 messengers bring news of great calamity. The loss of his children, the loss of his business ventures and then finally the loss of his health.

Jobs attitude when losing his children and businesses was "naked I came into this world, and naked I will leave. the Lord gave m everything that I had, and now He has taken it away, Praise the Lord. Job essentially said, I will praise the Lord for what He gave me, and I will praise Him if He takes it all away.

After Job loses his health (he is struck with boils all over his body), and his wife tells him to "curse God and die" (perhaps she loves him so much she can't stand to watch him suffer anymore) he makes a very unusual statement.

Job 2:10
Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” 

What did Job know about God, that we don't seem to grasp? What did Job know about the important things in life that we don't seem to understand?

Could it be that there is more to life then what we see, feel, experience and know? Is life more than the sum total of our bank accounts or processions or relationships? Could there actually be more significance to life then the sum total of our individual (or combined) accomplishments?

If there is a God, is He more than a distant monarch or disinterested dictator. Is God a random disciplinarian or sadistic overlord? Or could He possibly care about each aspect of my life (and yours). Could He really have a plan and purpose for me that has value and makes sense of the circumstances in life?

I believe Job knew the answers to these questions. I believe that regardless of how much we have to endure, there is nothing random or sadistic about the turn of events in my life. I believe that the experiences of life, the good, the bad and the painful have a real purpose that can only be understood from a perspective different then what most of the world sees.

At the end of Job's story, God gave back to him more than he started with. Not to reward Job for his suffering, but to show others that Job loved God. Job loved God not because of the stuff or the health he had, but Job loved God because God loved Job first.

So how much is too much? There is no such thing as too much, because God loves me and there is no such thing as too much love from God.

A comical bright spot in all this chaos --- we have 3 dachshunds. In all of the travels, the 2 females went into heat the same week. This weekend, both had their puppies. So now rather then 3 dachshunds we are proud parents of 8 dachshunds. When God turns 3 into 8, that is more than a double blessing. (Call us if you want to buy a dachshund - they should be ready for Christmas). Pictures coming soon.

P.S. Josh is home, slept in his own bed (22nd night in 3 months) and is having a good day. Pretty proud that his dog is the father of 5 puppies. He is still tired and weak, but looking forward to being home for a few days. Thanks for your prayers.