Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Last week I was up to see my ophthalmologist and got the spot on the back of my eye checked. The spot is still there, and about the same size, but it is not growing and the fluid behind it is dissipating. All of this is good news because it means that whatever is back there is not getting any worse and may even be getting a little better.

Then, yesterday I got the results of my latest PET scan, and all is looking good. The scan was clean, which means that there is no sign of cancer in my bones, or anywhere else right now.

Results like this always bring me a large amount of hope - hope in the prayers of so many of you, hope in the doctors and the medicines I am taking, hope in this great God who continues to amaze me with his hands of grace and healing in my life.

I also spent some time talking with my doctor about the future. If there comes a time when this drug stops working, what else is out there. He described cancer as a box. For years the medical field tried to smash the box of cancer to pieces, now they have opened the box up. In opening it up they have found new ways to treat cancer, like my new drug, and they have high hopes for these treatments because they are going after the specific source of each specific cancer.  He said there are a number of drugs in trial stages for my kind of cancer, all of which have a lot of hope tied to them.

A few weeks ago my radiation oncologist said that if the drug I was taking now continued to work for the next five years, then there is a good chance that the next drug I were to take would make my cancer chronic rather than terminal.

Talk about hope.

In going through all of this for the past three years, one thing that I have been reminded of over and over again is the power of hope. 

Hope can open our eyes in the darkest of times.

Hope can be the arm we need to support us as we walk the rocky road.

Hope can be the strength we need to look at the day and say, yes, right now things look pretty awful, but this is not the last word. There is a word of hope, a word of promise, a word that joins with the psalmist and says, "Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Ps. 30:5).

Sometimes that night may linger for quite awhile, but the sun will rise, the morning will come, and it is the hope of that joy that holds onto us in the darkest of times.

Over the past three years I have had my eyes opened to hope in a number of ways - from the clean test results, to the hopeful future for medications, to the loving embrace of family when it was not good news, to the strength of others survivors who helped me to move forward, to the work of hope I heard from God in scripture and embodied in my brothers and sisters, to the ..... Well, the list can go on forever.

Today I live with in the reality of knowing that in three months I will be taking another PET scan and seeing what is going on inside me. I live in the reality of knowing that there will be some tough days ahead, because it is life and life is not easy all the time. 

And I also live in the reality of knowing that I have hope. I have hope in my family, my friends, my doctors and nurses, my brothers and sisters, and the God who claimed me and loves me. And it is this hope that will continue to move me forward and have my eyes opened to that joy that comes in the morning.

Today I pray that your eyes may be opened to the blessing of hope in your life.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Everyday Life - Meet


Read Luke 24:13-35

As humans we are created to be in relationships. We need other people and others need us. It is a part of our DNA, to live in and be a part of community. There are times that we see the amazing blessings that come out of this gift of relationships, and there are times when we struggle with others. It is in both of these times, the good and the bad, that we are blessed to see the face of God shining through others. Yes, God meets us as we meet and interact with others.

In the lesson from Luke that I have referred to above, We hear the story of a couple of disciples of Jesus who have experienced the torture and death of Christ. Now they are on their way home and as they are walking another man joins them. We hear that this man is the risen Jesus, but the travelers do not know that.

So they walk and Jesus talks and explains everything that has happened to him to fulfill the scriptures. Then, when they get to town, they invite him in for a meal. And it is there, in the breaking of bread, that their eyes are opened to Jesus in the midst of them.

I think that it is like that for us sometimes. We meet up with others in our lives, spend time talking with them, getting to know them, crying with them, and celebrating with them. But often we miss the face of God in them because we are so focused on something else. Then, when our guard is down, boom, our eyes are opened and we see God right there in front of us. We then also realize that God was always there.

So for your reflection today, think about some of the people you have met in your life. Think about the roads you have traveled with them. Then ask yourself, where do you see God in this relationship?

Let us pray: God of all grace, open our eyes so that we may see you in the faces, hands, and hearts of those around us. Inspire us with your grace and empower us to live the lives of love you have called us to live. Amen

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three Funerals and a Wedding

So this week has taken a bit of a turn for us. There has been a wedding scheduled for a number of months that Jennifer is doing, but in the past few days we have had a number of deaths, so we have three funerals as well. Joy and sorrow seem to go hand in hand during these times.

It is also this week, today actually, that our oldest daughter turns eight. Another moment of joy in life.

We all know the realities of life, we know that there will be times of sorrow and loss, and that makes the moments of joy that we have all the sweeter. That is why I want to have a weekly post on here where I look at some of the joys in my life and the lives of those around me. I have a feeling that many of these posts will be about things that are embarrassing to me, but hey, as long as I can bring you some joy.

Since it is Sierra's birthday, I was thinking back to a time not long after she was born and we were new parents suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation. We thought we had it all planned out where I would take the shift until 1 or 2 in the morning, Jennifer would go to be early, and they she would take the later shift while I would sleep.

On paper, it looked great, both of us would be able to get at least 6 hours of sleep a night, what an amazing thing.

But again, that was on paper. What babies do and what is written on paper does not match up often.

There were nights it would work and we would get our sleep. There were other nights we would both wake  up when she cried, and  there were nights we would lie in bed, gently nudging the other, saying - no really, it's your turn.

Then there was the night that Sierra started to cry and Jennifer got up to take care of her. I was half asleep, and as she got up I bolted upright in bed and asked what was going on.

I then grabbed my pillow and held it like I was rocking a baby and rocked back and forth. And I really thought I was getting her to go back to sleep.

Yup, sleep deprivation, that is the excuse I a sticking with.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Joy of Children

Yesterday we had Sierra's birthday party. She turns eight on Tuesday, so yesterday we had a gaggle of girls and a couple of boys join us at the ice skating rink for skating, pizza, and cake. There were some that had never skated before and a few who were great out there.

And there was Scarlett. Scarlett is our little daredevil. As I was helping a couple of girls get there skates on I look around and asked where Scarlett was. Jennifer responded by saying she was out on the ice, and sure enough she had taken off on her own and was three-quarters of the way around the rink holding onto the side. She just wanted to go, and so she did.

I love watching her enthusiasm, her drive to get out and try new things. This was her second time ever on skates and she was making the most of it.

After the pizza, cake, and gifts, we went back down and skated some more. Again, Scarlett took off, but this time she didn't stay on the wall. As you can see in the picture about, she wanted to be free.

The day ended with a movie at church that Sierra and I watched. She was worn out, so she curled up on the pew, leaned over and whispered, "I love you Dad." What an amazing way to end the day.

There are many times in life when things seem to be filled with struggles and trials, and then there are times like yesterday when kids do these little things - skate on their own, smile and laugh, cuddle up and say that they love you - that all of the trials blow away. It is these moments that hold onto me and remind me of the many blessings I have been given.

May you be blessed with some joy today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Everyday Life - Everyday God

Throughout my own life and my ministry, I have noticed that we often look for God in the dramatic, in the mountain top experiences, and we miss God in the everyday, the normal, the routine. Over the next five Thursdays I want to spend some time on this blog looking the variety of ways that God comes to us, especially in the normal and mundane, and how God brings joy and new life to those who least expect it. We will be using the Acts of the Apostles as our guide over this time, beginning with the start of the Church – the day of Pentecost - in Acts. There are four main aspects of what it means to be Church, and these aspects will guide our time together – Meet, Care, Eat, and Share.

These four aspects are part of our daily life today. Everyday we have the opportunity to meet, care, eat, and share with others. They are everyday activities, yet they are also vehicles for how God goes to work in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Starting next week, every Thursday I will be posting a passage from Acts for you to read, a reflection on the reading, some questions for you to think about, and a prayer for all of us to pray together. My hope is that through this time together God will open our eyes to the miraculous ways he is coming to us each and every day of our lives.

Gracious God, as we enter into this time of reflection and devotion, open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to your gracious word. May we be strengthened by your grace and empowered by your Good News. We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm Back

So I have taken a couple of months away from this blog as a little breather. In my last one I shared the good news that the pill I am on was working and all of the spots I had were gone.

After that I needed some time to just breathe. The nine months leading up to that point were very stress filled and I needed to take a little distance from all of this and regain some focus.

So I took a couple of months off of here and focused on all of the fall activities that have now started, the new lectionary we are using in worship, and spending more down time with my family. It has been a nice little break, and now I am ready to start up again.

First, on the health note, all is going well. The pill I am taking has very minimal side effects and the doctors are encouraged as to how things are going. I go in monthly for bone hardening shots and I will be having another PET Scan on November 8th, getting the results on the 12th. I am very hopeful at this point. I also know that there are a number of new drugs in trial stages, if needed down the road.

Second, I have been looking at some ways to adjust my devotional life. For a number of years I have been doing the same thing, picking a few passages to read and reflect on daily. Now I am using some guided readings from the YouVersion Bible App. Currently I am spending 90 days reading through the history books of the Old Testament. The reason I bring this up is that it is my goal to have one blog a week focusing on a devotional practice or a devotion itself. I am aiming for this to be on Thursdays.

Third, I was reminded, again, just how important humor is through all of this. So I want one of the blogs I do every week will be something humorous, either in my life, in the lives of people around me, or something I find in the world. I hope to have this on Tuesdays.

And fourth, I will continue to do updates on me, physically, spiritually, an d emotionally, but I want this blog to expand beyond that. But if any of you have questions or want to chat with me, please let a note on the blog or e-mail me. I would love to make this more interactive and even spend some time answers questions, faith or otherwise, that you might have.  Conversation, as you know, is important to me.

So, I am back. The break was nice, and I am ready to jump back in with both feet.

God Bless.

Friday, August 10, 2012

No Cancer!

So this morning I got the results of the PET Scan and it was great news. All six of the spots are completely gone, and there are no other spots anywhere else.

The pill is working and it is working very well.

I am so relieved and grateful and excited.

Thank you for all of the prayers and support. You have all been a blessing to me.

I will continue to take the pill twice a day, and get a bone-hardening shot once a month. I will be going back for another PET Scan in three months. But the doc said that I am responding extremely well to the medication.

Time to breathe!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What a week

It has been a crazy week, and the stress level isn't going to be dropping much in the next few days.

Last weekend I got to preside at a wonderful wedding, and it was a joyful experience. Once the service was over I took a flight out to North Carolina.

A friend of mine from high school and his wife were expecting a child, and then the unthinkable happened and they lost the child to pre-term labor. I went out to do a memorial service with them. It was a blessing I could be there, but the reason why was awful.

After the service I flew back home just in time for National Night Out at the church, which was a wonderful celebration of community.

Today I am doing a few catch up things, and then tomorrow I get to have another PET Scan.

This is the test they will do to see how well my new magic pill is working on the cancer.

Yeah, nerves are a little high this week,

The scan is tomorrow afternoon, and then I wait to meet with the doctor and get results Friday at 11:00 am.

That is going to be a long few hours.

I am going in with high hopes. I still have no pain, the side effects are still happening, so I know that the pill is doing something, and I feel pretty good all around.

So I am hopeful about what is going on with the medication. But I am still nervous.

And how do I get to spend my Thursday evening as I wait for results - at a Congregation Board Meeting :)

So over the next few days I will be taking my own advice, relaxing as much as I can, spending time doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy, and celebrating this gift of life we have.

Prayers are always appreciated and I will report back on Friday.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Seeking Input

This Sunday for our Adult Ed time, Jennifer and I are doing a session on "what (not) to say when people are grieving and suffering."

There are many times when people are trying to be helpful, trying to say something that is comforting in a time of sorrow, and it just comes out wrong. So we will be talking about some things we can say and do to help in situations like that.

And I would like your input as well. What are some of the worst things that were said to you when you were having a difficult time?

I'll start. When my dad had died we had two funeral services. One in Billings and one in Crete, NE where he was buried. The second service was mainly for extended family. Just before the second service started, and I mean 5 minutes before, one of dad's relatives pulled me aside and said, "I know this is a hard time for you, but you are a pastor so its not as hard for you as for us. I am concerned about your dad. He never told me that he was saved by Jesus and so I am concerned that he is in hell and not heaven. What do you think?"

The inappropriate way the question was asked, the timing, and the assumption that as a pastor I don't grieve for my dad as much as extended family grieve for him ... well, I never actually told her what I thought, because that would have meant using language I don't like to use.

So how about you, what are some of the worst things that have been said to you in tough times?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Roller Coaster

There are times when life really seems like a roller coaster. And I think that is especially true when you are battling illness in life.

Now to start - I am feeling great. Everything is going well, I am still very hopeful about the meds I am on and I am looking forward to Aug. 9 to get my next PET Scan and see how well the pill is working.

And yesterday was a great day. We had the day off as a family so we went out to Lake Geneva Beach and swam around all morning. Scarlett and I built a "wall" that I then sculpted into what I thought was a pretty good likeness of a human head but Sierra said was a penguin.

In the afternoon we went to a friends house to go swimming and had fresh corn for dinner (That is always a blessing!)

So it was a good day, a high on the roller coaster of life. Scarlett is even getting better at being potty trained, so life is good there too.

But then, as the evening came, I started to get some messages from people who had lost, or were in the process of losing, friends and family members to cancer.

Now this isn't news, we all know people who are dying or have died from cancer. But for some reason, yesterday it hit me. This disease sucks, and it is sucking the life out of people I know, and people who are dear to me.

Heck, it can suck the life out of me too.

So for awhile last night, things got a little dark. My mind went to that pit that it is hard to get out of. I thought of the things that I may not be around for in the lives of the girls. I thought of what I might miss with Jen. I thought about ... Well, you get the picture.

Then, early this morning, we had a storm. I mean a big, powerful, rip the tree limbs off storm.

And I was laying down, listening to the power of that storm shake the windows. And then it hit me.

It was one of those moments that just hit me.

John 3:8 - The wind blows wherever it pleases.

or, the Spirit blows wherever it pleases.

It was one of those moments where that blowing wind reminded me of the power of the Spirit, the power of God.

God was entering into my roller coaster with a wind that I could not ignore. God was coming to me, in the midst of my doubts and struggles, and reminding me that I was not alone.

Sure, I don't know what the future holds. I don't know what I will be here for and what I may miss.

But I do know that I am surrounded by the breath, the wind, the Spirit of God for every step that I do take, for every memory that I am blessed to be a part of, for every hole dug in the sand and penguin sculpted. (I really think I need to teach her more about penguins. It was a nice sculpture :)

It was in that low point that God, once again, revealed himself to me. And isn't that how it is, in those valleys, in those low points in the roller coaster, God opens our eyes to see how he is present and active. Loving us, carrying us, helping us out of the pits and embracing us with the grace we need.

So this evening the girls and I will go out and make some more memories. Not sure what we will do yet, maybe get a book on sand sculpting, but we will do something. For it is these memories that they will hold onto, and it is these memories that God will awaken in me during those dark times that will come again. Memories about the blessings we have in our lives, and how we need to treasure them every day.

So how about you go and make a memory today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Most of the Continuing Ed I go to is not of the ELCA variety. I am always looking for new and creative ways to use technology, build relationships, and worship creatively. Unfortunately, there is not much in those areas in Lutheran circles, so I search out other areas that I am not as theologically in tune with. And with most of it, I have no problems. Sure I have theological differences, and I have a hard time with their focus on eternity being so great that they really discount the kingdom of God coming to us here, but I can move past most of that and embrace what they are teaching. And when it comes to tech and video stuff, they are light years ahead of us. But when it comes to worship, well, that's a different story. Over the years, I have learned that what they call worship at these events I would call a concert. There is music, sometimes something that is singable by the audience, often times not, a preacher who prays for us, and more music. And that is fine. I like most of it just fine. But for me, it's not worship. Worship involves me, not praying for me, but praying with me. Not singing to me, but singing with me. It involves my participation. Otherwise I am just an observer. When it comes to worship I don't think any of us should be observers. Worship with God is relational, and to be in a relationship I need to be active, a participant. So ther first few worship sessions were exactly what I feared. Poor preaching, unsingable songs, and very little involvement by the congregation. But this morning was different. This morning Laura Story led worship. And it felt like worship. No,there wasn't any liturgy, but the songs were led well by her. Some we knew, some were new, but they were easy to pick up on a dn easy for someone like me to sing even. She preached, in her own way, and it was powerful. She sang her wonderful song, Blessings, to us, but then called us in to join with her in a call and response after it, and the you could just feel the Spirit moving at that time. It was wonderfully refreshing and what was needed to start the day. I love being surprised, especially in worship. And today was one of those days. So today I pray that you may be surprised, and filled, wherever you are.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Currently I am in Kansas City at the National Worship Leaders Conference. It is a nice time for Jennifer and I to get some continuing Ed in, worship together in a setting that is very different than what we are used to, and get some inspiration for the next few months. Right now I think my Ministry Coordinator is getting nervous because of some of the tech sessions I have gone to so far. Whenever I go to Continuing Ed sessions, I try to detach a little from the congregation so that I can attempt to look at my ministry with fresh eyes. I strive to return to the church with a renewed vision of where the church is going and how I can continue to be a part of the mission that God has set before us. But there are also times when that detachment cannot happen. Like today. Just before one of our workshops I got a call from a lady in the congregation. She was in tears and asking me to come and see her as soon as I could. I told her where I was and the soonest I could be back. She understood and we set a time for me to see her as soon as I get back. And why did she want to see me? She just found out that she has cancer. She wants to talk to me because of the cancer journey I am going through and she needs someone who undstands to walk the journey with her. And I wish I could transport back to Beloit to be with her. But I can't. So I am keeping her in prayer, I am making sure that I will meet up with her as soon as I can, and I am praying for renewal for myself so that when I do get back and see her I can be fully present with her. And that is part of the renewal time of Continuing Ed, being able to be refreshed so that we can return and serve in a stronger way than when we left. As the week goes on I will share some of the things I learn with you, and reflections I may have, and I will ask for your prayers. Prayers for me, for healing and renewal, and prayers for my friend who called, that God's healing hand would be on her as well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Improved Vision

So I got some good news today from the eye doctor.

First I had to go through a series of tests, including the wonderful ultrasound of the eye. But after all of the tests the doc came in and said that my eyesight has improved a little bit. From appointment 1 to 2 it got worse and from appointment 2 to 3 it got better. Not much better, but a little.

He also said that the spot on my eye has not grown. This is another good sign.

What it means is that the drug is probably working. If the drug was not working he would have expected my eyesight to continue to get worse and the spot to grow, but neither of those things have happened. So even though the spot has not shrunk, this is seen as a victory. I will see him again in 7 weeks for another follow up. We are both hoping that the drug will continue to do its work and by then the spot will be shrinking and my vision continuing to improve.

Oh, and I am getting the pictures from all of the tests sent to me. So if I can figure it out I will put up some wonderful shots of my eyeball :)

Vision Fun

In about an hour I will be heading up to see my eye doctor in Madison. This is the guy who caught all of this and got the ball rolling on my treatments. But he is also the one who said the word "cancer" again, so there are mixed feelings going to his office.

Actually, there are mixed feelings going into any doctor's office at this point, but that is for another day.

As far as I can tell, there has been no change with the original vision issues that I noticed back on January 1. I knew, in my head, that there wouldn't be, but I was hopeful something would have changed by now. Of course, I have been on the pill for less than a month, so I should know that it takes time. That darn patience thing again.

The fun stuff that I will get to talk to him about has to do with the side effects of the pill. They haven't changed all that much either, but I am starting to have some fun with them.

Normally twice a day, when I get up and when i go to bed, my eyes have a ripple effect. It is like throwing a rock into a clear lake and the ripples go out to the edges of my eye. Then, if I move my hand or anything else in front of my line of sight, I can see waves following the movement. Originally this was quite freaky, now I am starting to make a game of it.

Hey, why not try to have some fun with the side effects :)

So I will share that with him, probably do a bunch of tests on the eye again, maybe the ultrasound too, and then be told that nothing has changed and to come back in three months. At least that is my guess.

And I guess if nothing has gotten worse I should take that as a win. And it is, but I long for something normal when it comes to my health issues. As one doctor said, with all of my issues (cluster headaches, eye distortion, strange lung cancer, etc.) I could be a case study to med students that would fill a week of their studies.

It is nice to be an original, but there has to be a limit, right?

One thing about all of this, I continue to meet some amazing people when it comes to the medical field. The doctors, nurses, and everyone else are great - and when I stop mumbling about not wanting to be an original I can see the hand of god working through them. Yes, there are blessings, every step of the way. I just have to take my own advice and have my eyes opened to them.

So off I go, and if I can get some cool pictures of my eyes to share with you I will.\

Have a blessed day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Remembering the Blessings

This week we have been on vacation in the Rocky Mountains. The past few days have been spent in a cabin outside of Estes Park, CO. It has been a great time to get away and spend some time with the family. My sister and her girls and my mom have been here as week. Watching the cousins play been a blast. One of the highlights of the trip so far was yesterday when we all went on a horseback ride. Just seeing the smile on the girls faces as they got on those animals and listening to them talk to and about the horses was an amazing blessing. And it reminded me once again, the greatest blessings in my life are cuddled up on the couch next to me. These girls and their mom being so much joy to me and seeing them smile is the best medicine for any heart. Today we are taking a gondola ride to the top of a mountain and have a picnic up ther. I will be soaking in every moment, the beauty of the mountains, and the giggles I hear coming from the girls. Have a blessed day and I hope you can hear the blessings in your life today too!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Side effects

Today we are taking off on a vacation. We will be meeting up with my mom, sister, and nieces for a late celebration of my mom's 70th birthday. It has been a long time since all four girls have gotten together and they are excited. It is is also the first day that side effects have started due to my new medication. As with all medications, there is a list a mile long of the possible side effects. Normally I avoid reading these lists because I don't want to think about what might happen. The side effect that I do have is a visual one. Yup, not only do I have the squishy vision thing in my left eye, but now when I blink the edges of both eyes are distorted. It is hard to describe, and my vision isn't any worse. As my father-in-law put it, it is like have the results to taking a psychedelic with the actual drug. The other person in Beloit who has taken this med had the same side effect, and it went away over time. Luckily it does not really affect my daily life, once again it is jut an inconvience more than anything else. I am sure I will let you know if more side effects come, until then, have a great week.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

So I met with my oncologist today, and the word of the day is waiting.

Yup, I get to wait for another 10 days before I can start taking my pill. He wants the radiation to get out of my system before I take it, and that takes two weeks. So on Friday, June 15th I can start taking the pill.

As I told him, I am chomping at the bit to get going with this, but he wants to make sure that everything is okay.

I understand, I really do, but come on! I am getting tired of waiting.

The rest of the visit went fine. All of my numbers are good, there are no other issues going on with me. So all of that was positive.

I did get another shot that helps to harden my bones. I get those every month now, luckily they are not painful at all.

I also set up another visit in a month and a PET scan in two months. That PET scan is the biggie, it will let me know how well the pills are working.

So that is the news today. More to come I am sure.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Radiation Over, Moving Forward

I have taken the past few weeks off from blogging basically because I was a little overwhelmed with everything and needed a break. Now I am back and will catch you all up with everything that has been going on.

I have had my 14 sessions of radiation. The last one was this morning, and I got to keep the mask (which is currently sitting on my desk and I am debating what to do with it - paint it, target practice, or bonfire - you can log in your suggestions as well :) The treatments went quite well and the side effects were minimal. The only real issue I had was a sore throat and that was expected. Hopefully it will go away in the next few days. I was not tired or worn down like many are and I was able to keep doing everything I have done at work and with my family. Overall it was not a large change, just an extra trip to the hospital every day for three weeks.

A few days ago I started having some headaches as well. They are not as bad as the cluster headaches that I get, but they are annoying. The worst part is that they make my mind wander as to what could be causing them. I think it is more likely that I am anxious to get back on my new pill and start that leg of the treatment.

As for the pill, I meet with my medical oncologist next Tuesday and I am fairly certain that I will start the pill then. I am looking forward to this stage because it is the treatment that holds the greatest hope for me at this time. I have heard many positive stories about it and so I am anxious to get going with it. It will also take 2 months before I know how it is working. They need that much time for the drug to do what it is supposed to, so it will probably be in August when I have my next PET scan.

Some of the emotional stuff that has been going on is trying to be organized for the "just in case" moments. I am one who likes to be prepared for anything, and so I have been putting together files and folders for what might be, and that is emotionally exhausting. Hopefully all of that will be done in the next few days and I can leave it behind me.

I also try to find more ways to spend with family during this time. I am looking at ways to make some lasting memories and take lots of pictures, especially funny ones with everyone smiling or sticking their tongues out. These are the moments of joy that help when the moments of struggle come.

And I am still planning things for the future, both for the church and for my life. I am looking at some trips to take, maybe coming to the Cities to see people again later this summer, and some creative ideas at the office. All of this excites me and keeps me focused as well.

So I will update again next week after I meet with the doctor, and please let me know what you think I should do with the mask!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A New Style - The Radiation Mask

So today I got fitted for a radiation mask. The one pictured is not mine, but similar. Mine does not extend below the neck. It is a weird sensation getting fitted for this mask. It comes as a flat sheet with holes in in that they pull over your face and mold to your head. Then it sits there as it dries. Later they took me to get a CT where they put marks all over the mask to ensure it would be lined up the same way every day. It is their way of making sure that they hit the same spot with the radiation every session.

Overall the experience was not bad at all. Even with my claustrophobia I was able to handle the mask fairly easily. During the prep time I talked with the doctor about some of the other therapies I had heard about and he even shared some hopeful news with me.

First, he was talking in terms of years. He said that he was fairly certain that they could take care of the spot on my C2 and it would not come back there (no guarantees of course).  His concern is it coming back in other places, and that is why I will be taking the pill as well.

He has done some research on the pill and seen good results as well. He also acknowledged that if the pill were to stop working then there are other drugs in trial stages that will be available down the road.

This is where he talked about years, which I silently rejoiced at hearing.

Next Monday I will start radiation. I have 15 sessions scheduled, so three weeks worth. The day after I finish my last session I meet with the oncologist and will probably start back on the pill. I also have it scheduled where I will get my radiation at 8:30 am, so I can get my treatment and go to work without any issues.

Emotionally it has been a bit of a rollercoaster the past few days, but now things are looking up once again. I really love this doctor and the hope that he brings with him. I know that I am surrounded in prayer and with the support of so many people, which I treasure.

So I have the weekend to get ready for treatment and then we are off and running.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Treatment YoYo

So today we met with the radiation oncologist to plan out the next step of my treatment. He had been in conversation with a number of doctors to see if there would be any issues in doing radiation while I am on my new drug. And basically the answer was - we don't know. This new drug is so new that there is not anything published on its interaction with radiation.

So the safe thing to do, and what he recommended, was for me to go off of the drug until I finish my radiation therapy, and then start it again.

On the drug, off the drug, on the drug, off the drug

The yo yo goes up and down.

This makes plenty of sense to me, and I agree with it, but it is not fun stopping something I am sure will help and then starting it up again.

But that's the way it goes.

So on Thursday I will get fitted for a radiation face mask. Then next week I will start 15 sessions of radiation. That is three weeks, once a day.

After the 15 sessions, I will resume the medication and see how things are going.

So that was the excitement of the day. More reflection to come tomorrow.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reading About Side Effects May Cause Side Effects

Okay, I haven't really had any side effects in the first 24 hours, but that side effect list is long! I know they have to list every side effect possible, but reading through it all makes it seem like your whole body can fall apart.

I stopped reading after the first half, if I have a side effect I will deal with it. Otherwise, too much knowledge can cause mental damage.

So the process has started, and I have had a day to mentally get back into the treatment mindset.

And, as I noticed in the past, the mindset is a very big thing. It is not always easy to be positive and upbeat, but I try to look for the hope that every step I take on this journey. There are times I crash to floor, but those times often don't last too long and I can get back up and see the blessings I have in my life - family, friends, great church, a God who beat the crap out of death, and the list goes on and on.

Yesterday was one of those up and down days. I met with the oncologist in the morning and we talked about the results. The most positive thing that came out of it was that I can now start this treatment, and it does have a good success rate.

But there was also a reality check. As the doctor said, this drug is not a cure. With it what we hope to do is manage or eliminate symptoms, which you don't really have, and prolong life.

So I said that the drug only has one purpose with me then, the prolong life as long as possible. I still have a lot to do here!

He also said that when it comes to cancer that has metastasized to the bone, it is not the cancer that kills you. Instead the cancer provides ways for other things to kill you. That is why they are so concerned with the spot on my C2 vertebrae.

He checked me out, saw no other signs or problems. I am still an enigma since the only symptom I have had is this eye distortion, which may or may not be linked to the cancer. So he is as pleased as he can be and hopeful about the med.

I then saw the nurse who gave me my first bone-hardening drug. I will get this once a month to help prevent any erosion in my bone, especially my spine. I will also do blood labs once a month to make sure that there are not any issues developing with my kidneys or liver.

I am due to see this doctor in a month to check on side effects and in two months I will have a PET Scan and get the results. At that point we hope to see a change in the spots.

On Monday I meet with the Radiation Oncologist and we will set up a plan for radiation therapy. I am assuming it will be 25 sessions and will focus on the neck area.

So with all the medical stuff in place, this weekend we are going to our Synod Assembly, which is held in the Wisconsin Dells this year. We are bringing the girls with us and will celebrate my birthday up there as well.

The other mental shift that I have made in the past day has to do with where I am going to choose to put my energy. We all know that our time is limited, and sometimes that knowledge is shoved in our face in a fairly uncomfortable way. My re-diagnosis reminded me of that once again. So I want to spend my time, as much as I have celebrating all of the good things and people in my life. I have books I want to read, places to see, the gospel to share, girls to chase, a wife to love, fires to sit by, and sunrises to experience. Like I said, I have a lot to do, so the med needs to work for quite a while and I need to make the most of it.

But don't we all?

So what are some of the things you want to do with your life?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cancer Confirmed

So about 20 minutes ago I got the news I expected, but was hoping wouldn't come. The spots on my bones are cancer, and it is the same lung cancer from two years ago. I knew this was coming, but seeing the report and hearing the words, again, don't make it any easier.

Tomorrow morning I will meet with my oncologist and probably start taking my new pill. I am still very hopeful about this pill and the results it has had for others.

Monday morning I will meet with the radiation oncologist and probably set up a schedule for 25 sessions of radiation. He is looking into how radiation and this new pill will interact with each other before he starts anything.

So the waiting is over, and now, at least I can do something.

More to come later after I process all this.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Getting Hammered, Literally!

Yesterday I had my second bone biopsy, since the first one didn't really produce any concrete answers. This time I had it done at UW in Madison. So after dropping the girls off at school Jen and I headed up for the procedure.

UW has a great facility and the people are wonderful. We arrived a little early and they got us signed in and ready to go in no time. Then a nurse brought us back to a prep room where I got into on of those wonderful gowns and hospital pants, she took my vitals, and drew blood to see how well my blood clots. Then the doctor came in and explained what we were going to do, similar to the last time with a few minor changes. This time they were taking the biopsy from the sacrum and they assumed that the bone would be hard, so I should be prepared to hear the sound of a mallet pounding on the needle to get the bone out.

Hearing a mallet pounding on a needle to get bone out of me, really!

So Jen and I waited until it was time to head in, then I got wheeled around the corner while she went to do work in the cafeteria. We went to the CT room and got all settled then they explained the procedure again.

Then came the happy drugs.

Now these drugs were similar to what I had last time, they relax the body and you you get tired, but never I was never knocked out entirely. They did an initial mark, ran me through the CT to make sure it was the right place, then went to work.

What I remember is the poke of the needle then some pressure as they got to the right spot on the bone.

Then the doctor said, "Now you will hear some hammering sounds."

I am very glad I was medicated at that point.

So the hammering began. I felt pressure in the area and with each pound of the mallet I was moved a little bit. Every once in a while they would stop, take a picture, then start again.

At one point I asked about the pictures, and they pointed to a monitor above my head that showed the pictures, so every time they stopped I would look at the pics and see what they were doing. It was pretty cool.

I have also requested a copy of the CT pictures and will post them once I get copies. On them you can see the area where they took the bone very clearly.

The procedure took an hour and fifteen minutes. They were very pleased with the sample that they got and are hopeful it will provide some answers. While we were in the CT room I also requested to take a picture of the needle and mallet that were used. The doctor said she would bring in clean ones to my recovery room afterwards so I could take the pictures. Below is the needle set that was used, she could not find the mallet.

When  she brought it in Jen asked if this was a common request, the doctor said no, it was a first.

Gotta love be unique.

Our friend, Dave Glesne, was in town so he stopped by during recovery as well. I was a bit loopy at the time, but it was great to have someone else come in and offer a prayer for us.

After two hours, and an omelet lunch, I was freed. My side was a bit sore, but overall very little pain.  We came home, and as the drugs wore off I got quite a headache, but that wore off in a few hours.

They said that it will be Tuesday or Wednesday before I get results, so it is more waiting, but hopefully we will get some solid answers this time.

So hopefully that is the end of the bone biopsies, and now we move forward with the next steps.

Have a blessed Saturday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eye Distortion Continues

So today I had an appointment with my eye doctor in Madison. It was my two month check up to see if the distortion in left eye had gotten any better and what our next step will be. I went through many of the same tests as last time, without the ultrasound of the eye or the florscene test. I also met with a retina specialist, something I did not do last time, as well as my regular doctor.

First of all, the distortion in my eye has not changed at all, it is neither better nor worse. This is both good news and bad news.

Bad news - my eye distortion is not caused by central serous retinopathy. That would have been the easiest, and best case scenario and it would have taken care of itself eventually.

Bad news - The bump in the back of my eye that is causing this is probably metastasized cancer. With my history and the discolorization and shape of the bump, both the doctor and retina specialist think this is the case. I asked if I didn't have a history of cancer what they would think this is they said a Nevus, which is basically a mole in the back of the eye, but those are normally brown and this is yellow. So they are thinking cancer.

Good news - the spot has not changed in size at all in the last two months. This is good news because if it is cancer it is very slow growing.

Good news - If this is cancer then the new meds I may start taking soon should work on this spot as well. So after a while my sight should improve.

They also said that doing a biopsy of the eye is not the direction they want to go right now. If they do a biopsy then there is a very good chance that I will lose the sight in that eye. So a biopsy is a last option.

There is an option to get a shot in the eye to help get rid of the distortion, but I would have to get shots every two months to maintain the lack of distortion. Since the distortion right now isn't that bad and mainly just an annoyance, we are passing on that option for now as well.

So for now, all I can do is wait, again. I have another appointment in July to see if there is any change. Yup, more wait and see. What a pain.

On Friday I go in for another bone biopsy, this one of the sacrum. After I get the results then we will decide what the next steps are. If it comes back positive for cancer cells, then I will start taking my new med and radiation therapy, if not, then who knows what the next step is. I am sure it will involve more tests of some kind. I think they like sticking me with needles of all sizes.

Days like this are depressing. I was hoping for something definitive, maybe even something positive like something not life-threatening. But instead I got a "probably cancer but not positive" diagnosis.

And then this afternoon we had to tell the girls about Dakota. So, not a real happy day here.

At least I got a Java Chip Frappachino to wash the day down. I've gotta find the little joys somewhere.

Now it is time to give Scarlett a bath, another little joy for the day.

Good Bye Dakota

Yesterday I said goodbye to Dakota, my dog of 15 years.

I got Dakota the last few weeks I was in seminary. She was a bright dog, easy to train, who loved to hunt and chase after pheasants when we lived in eastern Montana. She was with me through three moves, getting married, having kids (which she loved as you can see in the picture), my cancer battle, and so much more.

And she loved people. I would warn anyone entering the backyard, we have a dog and she may lick you to death.

Over the past year she started going downhill. She lost her hearing, was losing her sight, her memory was drifting and she had a hard time walking and climbing steps. She also stopped eating regularly, and lost 30 pounds in the last 6 months.

We knew it was time, but that never makes it any easier.

So yesterday Jen and I took her on her final journey. We both sat with her, I had my hand on her neck, and told her that she was loved.

It was a hard afternoon.

Then, on the way home, Jen had the other van and she surprised me by picking up a red bud tree that we are going to plant where her kennel is.

We will be telling the girls after school today, they were with a friend yesterday so we decided to wait.

So yesterday was a day to say goodbye. I will miss Dakota, my dog, my friend.

Have you said goodbye to pets?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I live across the street from a cemetery

It's not something new, we have lived in our house for over 8 years now, but the thought crossed my mind just a few days ago.

I live across the street from a cemetery.

It's a nice cemetery, very well maintained and quiet. It is the one where we do the majority of our funerals as well. It is a good place to go for a quiet walk or bike ride when the weather is nice.

It is peaceful there.

And that is something that I have been searching out lately. Places and times that are peaceful.

With everything else that has been going on in my life, I long for the peaceful. I long to let the mind stop wandering and wondering. I long to just be in the moment, celebrate the activities I have with family and friends, to embrace the peace.

And as you know, that is not always easy. It is hard to turn off the brain and it seems like there is always something that needs to get done, a errand to run, a house to clean, a ... and the list can go on and on. So we end up not making the time for those peaceful moments that we need, and that we will treasure in the future.

That is what I thought about as I looked across the street at the cemetery earlier this week. We rush through life way too much and often take advantage of the time we have the people who are in our lives. In peering across the street I was reminded to slow down, celebrate what I do have, and double check my priorities.

As a dear friend has told me over and over again, "Faith, Family, and Friends - that is what matters."

So my question for you today is - what are your peaceful moments in life?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Signing

Today at noon I am doing a book signing at Katie's Cup  at 502 7th St in Rockford, IL. I would love for you to stop by, get a cup of coffee or tea and chat for a while.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

For the past week, this is what I have been doing.

Waiting, waiting, and waiting some more.

I originally thought that one week ago I would be starting radiation therapy, but now, one week later, I am still waiting.

Last night my radiation oncologist called me and asked with the doctors at UW had been in touch yet, and they hadn't. So he is trying to get in touch with them again. This will be the third attempt. I know that they are busy, I know that there are a lot of people out there like me, but I am at the stage that I want to do something. Anything.

But instead I am waiting, and that means that I have a lot of time to sit and think about things, for good or for bad. Today my thoughts wandered towards the image of scars.

As I was shaving this morning I caught a glimpse of my scar from two years ago. Now the scar is in such a place that I don't see it every day, but what I raise my arm the right way, there it is. Seeing the scar made me think about the variety of scars the we have in our lives, some seen and some unseen.

These scars occurred either because of something we did, or because of something that was done to us. Sometimes the scars visible for the whole world to see, sometimes they are hidden in such a way that only we know about them. But no matter where they are, or where they came from, these scars do affect us.

The question is: do we let these scars define us.

I have some scars that influence my life in pretty major ways. Scars I got when I did something that taught me a lesson, enhanced my understanding of something, or came back to bite me.

I also have some scars that affect my relationships with others, sometimes because I got burned other times because something amazing came out of the situation.

But the hard part is not letting those scars define me as a whole. Sure, they will affect how I work with and deal with others, but the scars do not make up who I am.

I am more than my scars.

I am more than incidents that happened to me.

I am more that actions or reactions of my own.

I am more than all of this.

A friend recently asked for a passage of scripture to help calm her nerves before an interview. Immediately my mind went to Psalm 46 where the psalmist says, Be still and know that I am God.

In those times when I question my scars and how they were caused, I am reminded to be still and know that I am God's.

I am God's child.

I am God's beloved.

I am one who has been claimed, called, and promised by the one who created all.

And remembering this moves me past all of the scars and the pains. It grounds me in who I really am and what really defines me.

A child of God who is loved, cared for, and needed. Even if there are times that I don't feel like it.

So what are some of your scars, and how can you keep from letting those scars define you?

PS - I just got a call while writing this from the doctor in Madison. It turns out that I had a biopsy scheduled, just no body let me know about it :) So on Friday, April 27th I will be having some more happy drugs and they will be scraping out more bone.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Both this Sunday and next Sunday we hear Jesus call out to us with the words "Peace be with you." There are many times in my life, and I am sure in yours as well, that we need this in-breaking of peace. Below is a sermon I delivered two years ago, it was my first time back in the pulpit after my surgery. As I read through this sermon earlier this week I was reminded of many of the similarities between my journey now and my journey then.

I pray God's peace will enter into your hearts.

Peace - John 14: 23-29

The past two months have been an experience, to say the least. It has been a time filled with ups and downs. There have been the emotional extremes of tears to laughter in matter of moments. It has been a time when I walked in some dark valleys and trekked to the highest peaks, a time when I have experienced and seen the face of Christ in amazing ways. It is through this journey that my eyes have been opened to the multitude of ways that I have seen God active in my live and in the lives of others. It has been experience I will never forget

One of the most amazing experiences happened on the day of surgery. Pr. Jennifer and I had arrived at the hospital a little before 5:30 in the morning. It had been a short night, but luckily we had driven up after confirmation the night before.

We didn’t have to wait long before they lined all of us patients up and took us back into these little cubicles. They had me put on one of those wonderful little gowns with the natural air conditioning slit up the back. Then they came and took vitals, drew blood, all of that fun stuff.

After we got settled in, Pastor Pedro from the synod office popped his head in, he sat and talked, shared scripture, and a prayed.

It was getting closer now.

At this point, I still felt rather relaxed, considering everything that was about to happen. Pedro left, and another friend who had driven out from Minnesota popped his head in. He was only there a couple of minutes, and then came the surgical team. Doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists, just piles of people coming in and getting me ready to go. Then it was time, so I gave Pr. Jennifer a kiss, and off I went.

As I was being wheeled down that very white hallway, the nerves started to set in. I started thinking all of those “what ifs.” You know those. Those questions that pop in your head and bring the deepest, darkest fears to the surface.

Then, as they opened the doors to the operating room and were about to wheel me in, it came to me.


Peace Erik, I am here.

Peace, I am with you.

Peace, I am leading you into this place.

That peace, that sensation that overtook me at that moment was exactly what I needed, for I knew I was in good hands, and I don’t mean only those of that very talented surgeon and her team. But rather I was in the good hands of the God who led me into that operating room and gave me the peace I needed at that time.


Have you ever had a moment like that, a time when you were feeling a little anxious, nervous, or upset? Then, in the midst of that anxiety, this calming peace overcame you, and you felt that presence, that sense of comfort, fill your entire being?

On that early morning that gift of peace sustained me at a time when I needed it the most. It was the gift of knowing that I was not alone but rather God was right there, leading the way into the operating room, carrying me.

Today, in the gospel, we hear Jesus give us the assurance of that peace in our lives. This is taking place near the end of his ministry. It is the last night he has with his disciples, and so he has gathered them around, and he teaches them one last time.

During this teaching he tries to let them know that he will be leaving them soon, but even though he is going, he is not leaving them alone. No, Jesus, their friend, their rabbi, their Lord, he is not going to abandon them. He is sending an advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with them until his return. But he doesn’t stop there

Jesus goes on and says – Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you.

Now the peace Jesus is talking about here is a little different than we might think of today. It is not a peace like end of a war or battle. It is not a peace like the laying down of arms. But rather peace for Jesus is two things. It is comfort for the troubled heart and courage in the midst of fear.

Comfort and courage

These are two things we desperately need in our lives. Comfort and courage, this is what gets us through the dark valleys of life that we sometimes stumble into.

Comfort and courage, it is the blessing of being able to face head-on whatever struggles we have and knowing we are not doing so alone.

Comfort and courage, it is the gift of peace, of God’s peace and the assurance of God’s presence in our lives.

You see, that is why Jesus is talking to his disciples about peace on this night. He is about to make that walk, that Holy Week walk, all the way to Golgotha. But before he goes, he wants his disciples, he wants us, to make sure we know that he will not ever leave us alone. Christ will always be with us.

No matter where we go, no matter what we do, Christ will be there. He will shower us with his comfort, his courage, and his peace, all so we know that we are his children, and we always will be.

To put an exclamation point on his teaching Jesus then lives out his gift of peace during his last days. For throughout the events of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, as well as in the resurrection, Jesus embodies the peace he offers here. He lives out this peace as he gives his all so that we might live, and live eternally. Yes, Jesus wants the disciples to know that even though he is leaving them in human form, he is not orphaning them. He wants us to know that the love he has for all his children, for all of us, is so great that he will come and give us the peace, the comfort, the courage we need to make it through whatever the world throws at us.

I have no doubt that this was the peace I was given as I was wheeled into that operating room - the comfort and courage of God as I went into surgery.

I remember being wheeled into that operating room, now more relaxed than I was when I was wheeled down that white hallway. I was told to help move my body from the bed to this cold operating table. I remember laying back on this stainless steel, and I felt the nurse strap my feet to the table.

But that’s it. That’s all I remember.

With the exception of the sensation of comfort, of peace, surrounding me.

Yes it was that peace that gave me the assurance that all would be alright, and it was. Yes, God promises he will walk through life with us, every step of the way. He will grant us the peace that we need to celebrate this gift of life and share it with others so we can go out into the world trusting in the fact that our God is a God filled with love and compassion. A God who blesses us with peace, comfort, and courage, and he does all of this out of the great love that he has for each and every one of us, his children, his beloved. Yes, he does all this for you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Biopsy results are in, and we know ....


Yup, nothing.

When I talked to the doctor today he said that after meeting with the pathologist they saw a little dead bone, but nothing else. What this means is, well, who knows.

The PET Scann still shows a number of active areas that seem to be cancer, and the docotor has no other explanation for what they might be. But this biopsy doesn't show any cancer.

As he said - as of now I cannot say you have cancer or that you do not have cancer.

So that means, you guessed it, more tests.

Tomorrow I will find out the details, but as of now it looks like I will be going to Madison for another bone biopsy (can someone say happy drugs :). This time they will go for an area that showed a little more activity, but is also a little harder to reach. This will probably happen next week, and then I get to wait, again, for the results.

The odds are that this is still my lung cancer that has gone to the bones, but my docs don't want to treat until they have actually cells that prove this theory. So I have to wait to start treatments as I do more tests.

Waiting = frustration.

Tomorrow I will post more as I learn more. I guess this is just another step on the journey of life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bone Biopsy and Breaking Needles

So that is what the needle that was shoved into my hip bone looks like. Sorta cool, and honestly it didn't really hurt.

Here is the update from yesterday:

Around 6:00 am I was showered and ready to go. I took my first Lorazepam pill to get ready for my MRI and waited for my ride. With both girls in bed we decided to ask a friend (who I often refer to as my brother from another mother) to take me rather than trying to get the girls read by 6:45am. Steve came at 6:20, and I was feeling some of the effects of the pill. We checked in, I took my second pill, and soon went into the MRI room.

As I have said before, closed spaces are not my thing. I can handle just about anything better than closed spaces, well, except snakes but that is another story. So I had 2mg of Lorazepam to calm me down before going into the tube. Then the tech explained everything to me, had me lie down and put a washcloth over my eyes. We did a trial run and even though I could feel the edges of the tube on my arms, I did okay. Then we did the real thing.

I was in the tube for about 30 minutes. The tightness did not effect me nearly as much as I thought it would, thanks to the meds and the washcloth I am sure. One thing that surprised me was how unbelievably loud those machines are. With earphones smashed up to my head, I couldn't hear any of the music at all when the machine was running.

But after 30 minutes, I was out and all went well. I was still enough that none of the pictures had to be re-shot, and I was still feeling pretty good.

So I went back out to the waiting area where Steve was still waiting for me. At this point I am quite sure that the hospital changed the pitch of the floors a bit because I was tilting to one side as I walked, but I guess it might have been the meds. We went upstairs to check in for my biopsy, met another member of my congregation who led us to my room and then the waiting began.

Around 8:30 Jen came up with Sierra (Scarlett was at school). Steve left and they stayed until 9:15 or so. Then I did some reading and waited. The biopsy was supposed to be around 10:30, but they were running late. Finally around 11:00 am they came and got me for the next stage of the tests.

I was wheeled back down to the first floor and I found out they were going to do the biopsy in the CT room. I met with the doctor and went through the procedure with him, then I laid down on the CT machine on my stomach. They hooked some leads up to me as well as some IV's and then did a scan of my hip area. They did this so that they could get an exact site to take the biopsy from. Then they gave me some wonderful meds.

I think they did at least.

At this point, things get a little hazy. I remember parts of the conversations I have with the nurse, but not all of them.

I remember the doctor pushing over and over again on my hip.

I remember trying to crack some jokes (boy am I glad they didn't record what I was saying then!)

I remember the team leaving every once in a while to take another CT and make sure they were in the right place.

And then we were done.

As we were finishing up I asked the nurse how long the whole thing had taken and she said about 45 minutes. And then she told me that my bones were so strong that I had broken their needle.

Gotta love that - having bones so strong that I broke the needle. What actually happened was that the needles have little teeth on the end to grind the bone out and my bones were strong enough to bend those teeth down. So he had to push a little harder to get enough for the biopsy.

Then came one of the most painful parts of the day. As I rolled back onto my bed from the CT machine, the leads had to come off. For two of these it wasn't a problem, but the last one, well, it was on a part of my chest that had a fair amount of hair. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to just yank this one off, and man did that hurt!

Then I was wheeled back up to the second floor to rest and eat and let the drugs wear off.

I also had access to my phone, so I had a little fun in my medicated state doing Facebook posts and texting people. It is probably a good thing that my phone battery wore out when it did.

Around 3:00pm I was ready to go, Jen came and got me and I went home and napped for a couple of hours. After dinner (wonderful BLT's) I went to worship. Unfortunately I had to leave early because Scarlett had not napped and she was a little hard to control during the service.

Overall the tests went quite well, and the after-effects of the meds were not too bad. Now we just play the waiting game.

I am not sure when I will get results. One nurse said I would know by Monday and start radiation by Wednesday, another said I may not know until next Thursday or Friday and radiation would start the following week. All I can do is sit and wait and get ready to for the next step of this journey.

And so today I am getting ready by preparing for our Good Friday services. As I sit here and reflect on the Passion of Jesus, I am reminded that no matter what path our life takes us, we do not travel it alone. In looking back I see the face of Christ in Jen and the girls, Steve and his willingness to help, my staff who brought me three packs of bacon today, the doctors and nurses who are God's healing had in the world, and the list goes on and on. So I am enter this holy time with a heart of hope and hands of grace holding on to me.

May you have a blessed Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

With everything that has been going on in my life over the past month, I have seen a number of parallels with the Lent of two years ago. Entering into a battle with cancer, working with doctors and nurses, and holding onto the promises that Christ makes to all of us while preaching his love and new life to others.

So today I am posting a sermon from two years ago. It is the Maundy Thursday sermon that I preached as I was getting ready for surgery. I know that this is a day early, but tomorrow I will be undergoing a couple of tests and I am not sure if I will be able to post or not.

Let me know what you think.

Maundy Thursday Sermon – April 1, 2010

Not long after I became a father, a friend gave me some advice. He said, “Your children will be your greatest joy and your greatest challenge. They will make you smile and cry on the same day. They will fill your heart with joy, and your heart will break when they stumble and fall. But there is one key to being the best dad that you can be - love them. Just love them.

Words that have echoed in my head over and over throughout the years, love them, just love them. For it is in that love, in that wide embrace of grace, that relationships are built, restored, and flourish. It is in that love, that life-giving love, that the face of Christ shines through and we are given a glimpse of the glory of God.

Well, tonight, this Maundy Thursday, is all about love. It is about the love that Christ demonstrates for his disciples and us. It is about the love that flourishes in this body known as the church. It is about the love that we are called to share

Love them, just love them.

And it all starts with an ordinary little action. You see, Jesus uses this ordinary action, the washing of feet, to demonstrate an extraordinary love. And he calls his disciples, he invites you and me, to do the same.

Back in Jesus’ time, people commonly washed their own feet. When guests arrived at someone's home with feet covered in dust from the road, a good host would offer them a basin of water. The host would not do the washing, but would provide the water so that the guests could wash their own feet. In some cases the host would have a slave wash the feet of the guests. But it was understood that no free person would stoop down to wash the feet of another free person. Hospitality meant offering water and perhaps the services of a slave. It did not mean doing the washing.

For a free person to wash someone else's feet meant that he or she was taking on the role of a slave. The only reason someone would do this was to show complete and utter devotion to another person. That is what Jesus does here.

He assumes the role of a slave to show the depth of his love for his disciples. Love them, just love them – and he does this by serving them. And his love does not stop here.

No, Jesus continues to live out the love he has for us by inviting us to share in a meal. He gathers with us at a table. He breaks some bread. He lifts a cup and he says to us – this is me.

This is my body, this is my blood. This is what gives me life. And when you eat and drink of this, when you share in this meal, it will give you life, too.

Yes, in this meal we are given the strength that we need to make it through all trials or struggles we may be facing. We are giving the gift of knowing that the God who called us by name, the God who claimed us as his own, is also the one who showers us with grace and forgiveness. Yes, God is the one who wipes away our sins, cleanses us, and empowers us to go out into this world that he has created and live as little Christ’s for other.

Love them, just love them.

Yes, Jesus does this. He loves us by giving his very being to us and reminds us every time we share in this meal, he is present. He is here. Through his body and blood he is recreating, forgiving sins, and creating a new life in each and every one of us. Talk about love!

He then loves us, just loves us, by encouraging and calling us to community building. You see, in telling the disciples to wash one another's feet, in calling us to share in a meal, and in commanding us to love, to love as he has first loved us, as we hear at the end of the gospel reading (John 13:1-17, 31b-35), Jesus is inviting us to be about community building.

For in the serving of each other, in the eating with each other, in the loving of one another, a community is created. A community that we now call the Body of Christ. And it is in this body that the love of God is reflected. Reflected to those gathered here, and reflected to those who are not yet a part of the body. Reflected to all of creation.

Over the past month I have come to see this love, this amazing love, with new eyes. With all of the struggles, with all of the sorrow, with all of the questioning and the crying out, God has spoken to me through this great body of his. This has forever enhanced the way I see this Maundy Thursday. For I have seen the service of Christ shared with me and my family by you. In prayers, cards, and the wonderful hugs. I have gathered at this table with this great body. Shared in the meal that promises to bring hope and healing. Knowing that I gather with others who are struggling as well, that we all gather to receive that body and blood that we so desperately need. And I have experienced the love, the life-giving love of Christ, for I have seen his face, and I have seen it in you.

Love them, just love them.

That is the mantra of Mandy Thursday. A mantra of love, a mantra of compassion, a mantra of new life.