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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Starry Starry Night

I wrote this on 11 November 2006

It is about understanding the greatness of God and His personal love for us

Isaiah 40: 25-26:
"To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Last month our oldest son Nic took a trip into the Sinai Desert to climb Mt Sinai. He camped at the top to watch the sunrise from Mt Sinai. When I asked Nic about the trip he said he was amazed by the night sky. The number of stars, the magnificence of the Milky Way galaxy, and all the shooting stars he saw. He was amazed at the number of stars he could see in the desert sky compared to the stars visible in Cairo sky.

As I thought about Nic's experience I thought of Isaiah 40:25-26. I thought of how Isaiah tells us to look at the heavens and see God. I thought of how God met Mosses on Mt Sinai. I thought of how Nic saw God from Mt Sinai. I thought of how Nic saw so many stars in the desert compared to the city sky. And it hit me, the stars did not become brighter or change in any way, the man made lights were removed.

I thought of how the bright lights of our cities block the magnificence of the starry nights.
I thought of how the bright lights of our life, whether it be our job, our accomplishments, our material wealth, even our blessings, can shine so bright we can’t see the magnificence of our God.
I thought of how God leads us at times to a desert in order for us to see the His magnificence.
I thought that just because we can’t see the stars, doesn’t mean they are not there. The stars continue to hang in the night sky, shouting out the name of the creator.
I thought when God calls us He does not shout above the noise in our life.
I thought of how we hear the voice of God so clearly when we are in a trial, when difficulty quiets our life. Like the hearing test I take every year, you have to sit in a sound proof booth to hear those insidious beeps. Sometimes a trial is nothing more then a sound proof booth to block out the noise of our life.
I thought of all the noises and lights in my life that blocked me from knowing God. Work, money, status/rank, personal comfort and self-satisfaction, even my relationship with Andrea, all expertly cloaked in the idea that I deserve them. Until my blessings from God become my god. And slowly God’s voice is drowned out, slowly the magnificence of the heavens no longer shine above the artificial lights of my life.

I thought of how cancer has turned off every light of my own making, turned down the volume of all my self-created noise.
I thought of how magnificent the stars shine in the darkness of this desert.
I thought of how clear I hear God in the silence of this trial.
I thought how many times had I missed God because of the busyness of my life. We tend to see someone in a trial and think about the priorities of our own life and we may even vow to change, but unless we turn off the lights, or get away from the bright lights of mans accomplishments in this modern world, we will fail to see the God we serve. God can do all things, but he will not get in a shouting contest with our misplaced priorities. He knows that when we come to Him in silence, we are ready to listen.
I thought God never shines brighter than in the darkness of a trial.

I thought Nic would have never seen the beauty of that starry sky without looking up.
I thought when we are in the darkest time of a trial; unless we turn our eyes upward we will miss the greatness of our God.
I thought the darker the trial, the deeper we go into the desert, the further we get away from the city lights the more magnificent the night sky, the more of God we see.
I thought He is always there, always shinning in His fullness.

Andrea has always loved to see the heavens. Every time there was an astrological event, either a meteor shower in Alamogordo, the northern lights in Alaska, or comet passing by the earth in North Carolina, she would wake us all up make hot chocolate, gather the blankets and drive until the city lights faded and the sky reveled its beauty. A beauty that was always there, every night every star shines. And we would lay on our backs either on the ground of the White sand desert, or the hood of the car, wrapped in blankets in the cold Alaska night, and wonder at the greatness of the sky. Immediately you seem very small, and things of this life seemed very insignificant in comparison to the play acted out before us in the night sky. I hate that I tend to forget the wonder of what I saw, and allow the busyness of this world to block out the magnificent display that goes on every day.

Over time I have learned to appreciate the darkness of this trial and the closeness I feel with God. Not that I want to or could stay in the dark times. I do not mean to belittle how hard and difficult it has been at times, and there comes a time when I needed the sun to rise and the season to change. But I have been comforted when the days are so hard, and I'm fighting back grief and sadness. Grief that my best friend is so sick. Sadness to see someone you love suffer daily.

Loosing a spouse is never easy, the moment of separating what God has joined into one flesh cannot and really should not be easy and without grief. But cancer adds the dimension of suffering along the way. And that is hard.

I'm Comforted today and everyday I'm reminded I serve the creator of the heavens. How magnificent is He to have hung the stars? Can we even write the words that could capture all He is? I do not have the ability to form the alphabet into words to capture the greatness of God. I can not nor can my mind begin to understand all God is. All I can say is He is indescribable. On the other side of His greatness and majesty is his personal love for us as if you and I are the only ones He created. How individual is He to hear my prayers and care about my struggles. How great is His love to meet me when I cry out? To reach out to me on the darkest of nights and whisper,

"Look up and see all I can do. Look up and see how small cancer is to me."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Faith to Know

I wrote this on 15 Jan 07
And it is about faith

One of the aspects of Andrea having cancer has been the struggle between hoping for and knowing God could cure her, and finally that God would cure her.

In the past I felt I was being tossed back and forth between believing God would heal Andrea and the idea that it may be God's will for her to die. Can I ask and believe for healing when I know He is sovereign and in control? Andrea’s doctor first told us he hoped to sustain her and manage the cancer until a cure was found. I have struggled with days of great hope and days of fear and sadness. I know God can heal but will he? What triggers His healing? Is there something I need to do? Is there a prayer I have missed or a sin I have not confessed? I don't think I could not prayer any harder. Yet we still fight this cancer, and it still pursues us relentlessly. Why does she have to have chemo again? Why is she sick again? Is there a purpose in loosing her hair a third time? We grow tired just being sick. But this past week when Andrea was in the ICU God told me just have faith in Him, not a result. “Have faith that I love you. Trust me; I am God your creator. Stop linking your faith to your joy.” Faith is not conditional.

I had to stop thinking God loves me when I get what I want from my prayers, and stop getting confused and when it does not go the way I thought it would or should have gone. My faith is in God, the God that I have served and the God I know. He is still there in spite of this cancer and the continuing trail. He is not defined by my circumstances, He is just God, and He loves Andrea more then I do. I am still thinking this through and trying to understand it all. I thought of James 1:5-7
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

That is what I felt like, like I was being tossed around in my faith, back and forth based on a doctor’s report or how Andrea felt. It had to end because I was exhausted and confusing myself. There is a great freedom in releasing this to God and just trusting Him, not for an outcome but just trusting Him. Having faith in Him and who He is by reading the bible and knowing and learning more about the God we serve. He is unchanging and His love in unfailing. I have to stop and think when my praises flowing from a thought of healing and just let my praises flow from me to my God. Not attached to anything other then I was lost and now I’m saved. I knew somehow this all fits, He can not contradict Himself. He is not good or bad based on what I get. I will have joy and grief but that does not motivate or de-motivate my faith and praise.

I could wish we never had to deal with this and our life was like those around us who go on about there daily lives "normally." But I'm thankful my faith has grown in ways not possible in a "normal" life. At times I feel sorry for those who have not experienced such an intense trial or God in this way. I was one of them. The things I am learning are eternal. What has true value is not of this world. I want to stand before Christ and have Him say "Well done good and faithful servant,” well done with what I was given, with the talents He gave me, with the time He gave me with the suffering we endured. I believe we have the strongest witness in suffering because our strength is supernatural, it in not from man, it is not from my will power, or internal strength. It is not guts or toughness but weakness displaying God’s strength, and He deserves the praise. And that is what makes it such a powerful witness. I see this as an opportunity to witness for Christ. Not that I would have asked for this or chosen it. I want my life to be lived as a reflection of the greatest gift of all, salvation. I told Andrea all we are fighting for is a few more years on earth, and this life will end, we will face death again. If we are given a reprieve it will only be temporally. And when we are together again in eternity, any time apart will be a like a second to us, as if we are looking back to a minute of life when we were 20 yrs old. We will hardly remember any sadness the moment we leave these fleshly bodies and we are with the Lord. We won't look back with any sadness. I know this life will not be easy, but we have a source of strength that comes from knowing we are serving our savior who also had to face His own trial to bring us salvation. It is real and it is powerful. Life will not be easy but we are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer defeated. I know that if Andrea is taken to be with the Lord I will grieve. God made us one flesh from two and there is pain in separation and I still feel that grief come over me when I see her so sick. But I can not let it affect my faith in God and who he is. He still loves me, and Andrea. I just need to trust Him and keep my faith in Him. It is not easy, it is not a one time decision and I'm done, I won't learn it one time and have it for life. But it is true. I don't get caught up in, "Did God cause this cancer, or is it sin or punishment." The reason does not matter as much as my response to it. I know God will teach me and lead me through this if I listen. And I may not like the path I'm on or would have never chosen it myself but I know He is with me. Satan attacks us in many ways and tries to steal from us, but he can not take from us the security of our salvation or internal strength.

I have found it helps to find a quite place to just pray and listen, even when I don't feel like praying, when I'm too tired to speak.

I’m learning to have faith, not faith in getting what I want or an outcome, but faith in knowing the God I serve loves me and is with me. I had to have faith in God.
Have faith that God loves us
Have faith that Jesus died for us
Have faith that He sits at the Fathers right hand
Have faith that through His shed blood we have forgiveness of sins
Have faith that we will live forever with Him
Have faith that the same god who sustained David for 15 yrs of running from Saul is with us
Have faith that the same God who was with Joseph in the well is with us
Have faith that the God that sustained Paul in prison is with us
Have faith that the same power that raised Christ from the grave is in us
Have faith that the Holy Spirit who is one with the father is in us
Have faith that we have all the rights as a son and daughter of God
Have faith that we will be with Him one day
Have faith that He is with us in this pain, by our side, giving His angles charge over us
Have faith that He created the heavens
Have faith that none of this is a surprise to Him
Have faith that He has a plan for us
Have faith that Christ feels our pain and understands
Have faith that God is in control
Have faith that no one loves us more then God

Friday, May 25, 2007

Christ Like

Do I have the faith when God demands my all?
I wrote this is April 2004.

I have thought a lot about my walk with Christ. What does it mean to be Christ like? What is it I am supposed to do with Christ? As I came to understand the gift of salvation I was faced with the question what now. Am I to earn this gift? Am I to pay back this gift? Works are a result of our salvation they are not the means to our salvation. I know there was nothing I did to receive salvation and a simple thank you seems inadequate. So what does being Christ like mean? To me it means following Him wherever He leads not just where I want to go. To be like Christ is to ultimately lay my life down, maybe not physically but spiritually, maybe both. It is knowing who God says He is and knowing He can do all He says He can do. It is trusting Him no matter what happens. Can you trust Him if your worst fear comes true? Can you trust Him if your prayer is not answered how you had it planned? Can you trust Him? Can you trust Him enough to pray a specific prayer? Or are you too scared He might not be real? Do you doubt just a little in the back of your mind that you can’t let go? Do you trust Him? Do you trust in who you believe Him to be? Did He create you? Did he number the stars and call them all by name? Does He know your words before they are formed on your tongue? Did He send His son in a virgin birth? Did He raise Him from the dead? Was Christ the fulfillment of our sin debt? Do you believe Him? Do you trust Him? Is there something I’m unwilling to do for God? Is there something I just draw the line on, and say no? If so I have not fully comprehended the gift I have been given and I’m looking through the eyes of the physical, when I’m born again in the spiritual. As the bible says we are no longer citizens of this world, our treasures are in heaven.

If I believe that, then I must be ready to be Christ like, to follow a God who loved me and bought me with a price, a very high price.

Do I believe enough to say “Lord, not my will but yours will be done.” That to me is a sign of my spiritual growth and faith. After dealing with death on a daily basis for over 18 months I have changed. I know that God can heal Andrea; there is no doubt in my mind that the God I serve the God of the bible has the power authority and ability to heal. He has the ability to do anything He pleases because He created it all. For many reasons I believe God will heal Andrea. Though at times I do fight of doubt, as the pain, CT scans, tell me otherwise, and the chemo continues but my belief that He can heal does not waiver. My faith is not perfect, for it is in an imperfect body. But I can say if God chooses to not heal Andrea I will not doubt my God. I will not bow down to unbelief. Because if the God I serve has the ability to heal and chooses not to it is what is best. It has to be. Death is as perfect an answer to prayer as healing when you turn it over to God. Who am I to judge God as good or bad based on my expected outcome? Is God only just and loving when it turns out my way, when I get what I want? Why do we only give testimonies in church and to friends when the prayer is answered the way we want? Are we too afraid to praise God no matter the outcome? Not that we have to praise God for trials, but we can praise Him for His faithfulness in the trial, and we should always praise Him IN our trial. He does not make mistakes; His hands are not tied by this physical word. He is not powerless and unable to do as He pleases. Our life is about more then comfort. Do we choose what we want to believe? Do we believe in a God who can part the Red Sea, drop the walls of Jericho, slay a giant with the stone from a Shepherd boy, but some how can’t answer our prayer, because it does not turn out right? Are we so like the Israelites who walked on dry land thought the Red Sea and quickly turned and cried out to God that they were going to starve in the desert? And when God provided manna, are we so like the Israelites when they then cried out to God for a lack of water? And God gave water from the stone, are we so willing to accept freedom from slavery and so quick to turn from God when life gets difficult? Where is the faith? Has God suddenly lost control? Did we receive freedom from slavery; did we receive salvation so we could have an easy life filled with rewards while those who don’t accept Christ suffer all the hardships of life? Really did Christ die so we would no longer face the trials of this world? Is it all about you and me? Is our reward here on earth? Is all Christ did for the here and now? Do I have a contract with God that says life won’t be difficult? When Andrea was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer did I have the right to run to God and say, “This is not in our agreement? You have broken the rules. What about the unsaved, why don’t they have terminal cancer?” The bible says the rain falls on the good and the wicked. Blessings fall on the saved and unsaved that is just part of life here. Just as droughts fall on the good and the wicked. Did I think that somehow I was promised to only have a certain level of difficulty, as if I had done a certain level of good deeds that guaranteed me that my trials would be correspondingly easier? Is there a buy down program with God where we stack up good on one side and it takes away the depth of difficulty we will face? Are we that afraid of trials? Are we that afraid of facing difficulties? Are we just afraid our faith is not strong enough? Or are we afraid that our God is not big enough? Or worse that our God is not real?

As hard as life can be it only magnifies the greatness of God. When we trust in a time we don’t understand we exercise our faith. We put into practice the things we learn about God in the good times. And we allow God to be God, to be as great and wonderful as He is. The more we trust, the more He reveals about Himself. And the more He reveals the more we learn of His greatness, and the stronger we become. Then trials that seemed impossible are reduced because we see them in comparison to our God. And really everything is small in comparison to the creator. We just have to believe, to trust, and too have faith, no matter what we see. There are many tests of faith, many opportunities in our life to use the gifts we have been given, many opportunities to exercise our faith, to put into action the words we speak. Every one of those opportunities are a chance to grow into deeper faith, a deeper understanding of the God we serve, a deeper understanding of why we have received such a gift as salvation.
It is not the existence of trials that sets a believer apart, it is how a believer reacts to trials that separate a believer from someone who is lost.

So my desire is to be willing to be Christ like, to go where He leads, to live where He says to live, to serve how He says to serve. It is easy to say I want to be Christ like, right up to the point where I have to stretch out my arms. Only then do I see if my actions match my faith and my words. Will I suffer for Him? Will I die for Him? Will I speak to that stranger for Him? Will I help that person for Him? Will I give up my free time that “I deserve” to study His word? Will I get up early to meet with Him? Will I overcome what others might think of me to serve Him? Everyday by these and countless other ways I’m challenged to believe and surrender myself to God. To stretch out my arms and say yes, I want to be Christ like. For no other reason than I know He first did this for me. He did not put any conditions on His death. There was no fine print. There was only pure love for mankind. A love I will one day stand before.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The God We Serve

I wrote this on 21 October 2006.

YOU are my God
You ARE my God
You are MY God
You are my GOD

Yesterday I was praying and this phrase just kept repeating in my mind. As I stressed each word I thought of the meaning of each word. I began to think about each of these statements and I let my mind run with all that they imply. It was as if I let my mind out of a starting gate and let it just run with the idea. One meaning would lead to another and I found myself lost in the understanding of my God and my relationship with Him. I found this simple statement took me to all the truths of the bible, it encompassed it all.

YOU are my God – He is God, He alone. It establishes the relationship and our roles. Both of which are important to a successful life as a believer. One of the skills we teach in fighters is how to fight 2 v 1. In other words two good guys against one bad guy. One of the most important skills is to first establish our roles. Who is engaged and who is supporting. There are certain duties for each role that must be fulfilled for us to successfully fight and win, and this must be done first. In the same way in our relationship with God we have to determine who is serving whom? Sounds easy, but this is a major stumbling block for believers and a favorite scheme of Satan. Are we here to be served or are we here to serve? The simple statement of “you are my God” establishes the roles and the relationship. You are God and I am not.

You ARE my God – presence tense, He is my God. Like putting a stake in the ground, the affirmation of my faith, it implies action and faith.

You are MY God – Yes he is my God, a personal God with whom I have a relationship that implies permanence. Let your mind try to grasp that we have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe! It almost blows a fuse in my mind to try to grasp the meaning of those words, He cares for us, He loves us, and He is with us.

You are my GOD – Yes you are God! Not a thought, not a wish, but God, holy, perfect, creator, awesome, righteous, just, sovereign, Ancient of Days ,the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the uncreated one. He sits on his throne, as judge of His creation, He is in control. He will return in might and power to judge this world. He gives authority to whomever He pleases, whenever He pleases. He is so holy we cannot even look upon Him. He is the keeper of my soul, who knew me in my mother’s womb. I let my mind run with all God is, and I felt myself needing to bow. This very God sent His Son to pay my sin debt, to atone for my sin, to suffer not just the physical pain of death but the pain of separation from the Father. And He did this for me.

It was very humbling. And when my mind could not grasp His majesty any more I found myself starting over with the phrase. The more I thought of who I served the more profound it was that He was my God. The more I understood what I have been given the more I understood the bible. It words leaped off the pages in a new clarity. I began to see that as simple as the Word of God is it is beautifully complex as well. That you can read it once and meet your maker and be saved speaks to the simplicity of the message. That you can spend the rest of your life studying the Bible always learning more about God and the harmony of the Old and New Testament speaks to its complexity.

It is impossible for our minds to fully understand God, and for that reason we can’t let our minds define God. It just robs Him of all He is and all He can be and He wants to do in our life.

My Prayer is I will know God more today then I did yesterday, but not as much as I will know Him tomorrow.

How is Andrea?

Death Row
I understand that this may be a strange title and maybe a little frank but I can think of nothing that better describes how it feels to live everyday then this.

"How is Andrea?", is probably the most common question I get asked. And it is hard because I'm torn between answering based on her physical aspect or the spiritual aspect of what is going on. Today at breakfast with some friends I was asked this question and I responded as I usually do, "She is doing great." In fact Andrea is feeling better today then she did two years ago when we arrived in North Carolina. But there are many "small" issues that Andrea deals with even on her best day. Things like a weak voice for almost 10 months straight, her left arm and hand are numb every day, her vision changes, thankfully it is getting better since she stopped chemo. But these are constant reminders of cancer, and every new pain Andrea feels makes us think, "What if it is cancer." I wish I had perfect faith to never ask that question, but the reality is when Andrea says her back is hurting it is a real test of faith.
As I left breakfast I thought about what it is like to deal with metastatic cancer and what I would compare to this journey.

We have had a stay of execution, but we are still waiting for the pardon.

That really sums it up. It feels like when Andrea was diagnosed she was given a death sentence and placed on death row, we just didn't know the date of execution.

Twice so far, in Nov 06 and Jan 07 I thought Andrea might not make it and twice I played out in my mind what life would be like. It is physically and spiritually exhausting.

But Andrea was given a stay of execution both times as the cancer has retreated to a point that it is not an immediate threat to her life. But it was still there. Still lingering in the background, never offering relief from its presence in our life. Weekly doctor visits, blood tests, chemo, and CT scans and the days we wait for the results all remind us we are still in the fight.

We of course believe that God will give Andrea a "Full pardon." We are just waiting for that day. Until then we live life with the reality of where we are. But we also live with hope and faith of what God can and will do.

So to answer the question, Andrea is doing great, yes life on "death row" is stressful and trying at times, but we are truly blessed by God each and every day. I'm thankful every time I get to kiss Andrea goodnight and everyday I awake to see her beautiful smile, I'm thankful every time I hear her laugh, or say, "I love you." It makes my day to walk into the house and see her beautiful blue eyes and that wonderful smile that speaks volumes of her love to me.

I am truly a blessed man.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jesus Are You the One?

I wrote this on Jan 22 2006.
It is about keeping faith when life does not seem to align with what God has said.
Matthew 11:1-6
After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

The one issue we all deal with or at least I have dealt with through this trial is doubt. Not doubt in my faith or beliefs but doubt when I would say, “God did I hear you correctly?” For me this is mostly born out of my expectations not being met. I heard God and believe God said Andrea would be healed but then I play out in my mind how it will happen and convince myself that is exactly how I would do it if I were God. Then when things don’t pan out that way I think, “Did I not hear God correctly? Did I miss something? Because I sure thought we had this worked out and Andrea was supposed to be healed by now. Remember how we worked it out? How everything was lined up perfectly?” This really troubled me for a while and I was beginning to be afraid to have the faith Andrea would be healed as time after time I was “let down.” I was fearful to say with convection Andrea will be okay. As I thought about it those “let downs” were nothing more then my own expectations projected onto God. God was not letting me down I was. As I read Matthew 11 I found myself relating to John the Baptist as he sent his two disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

At this point John the Baptist is in prison and is about to be put to death. As I read this verse I could related to the underling doubt that was in the question. I wonder was John like me and had he played out the events in his mind of how things would go only to be struck by the reality of what was happening. I don’t mean to add to scripture but as I put myself in John’s shoes I would have asked the same question, “Are you the one?” John had to know Christ was the Messiah. In Mathew 3:11-17 it states,

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
What I think John did not know was what Christ had come to do. Christ was not there to free Israel from Roman rule and bondage but to free them from the bondage of sin. Christ did not come to set up an earthly kingdom but and heavenly kingdom. God had an eternal plan that far exceeded John’s earthly imagination. Unless God reveled there was no way for John to understand this. John knew what God had told him and the rest John filled in the blanks if you will. Much like what I was doing in my life. I took a known revelation and expanded it beyond its boundaries only to find out I had over stepped my own bounds. I needed to take what I knew and anything beyond that was faith, not faith to fill in the blanks but faith to trust the way God took me to the destination He reveled to me. Did John wonder what was happening because his physical circumstances and his expectations did not match? When you look at John’s life he knew his calling; he lived in the wilderness, ate locus. Was he not dedicated? Could he have done more? Yet something made him doubt or wonder, just like we do when our life does not match our expectations. We wonder are we in God’s will? Why is this happening to me Lord? This is not what I expected. I think John may have asked, why am I in prison. How can this be for me? Why are bad things happening to someone who was faithful?

Did Christ come to give us an easy life, a life without trials? Is this Christ’s example? Christ came to give us life more abundantly. We love to interpret this to me we get all we want or ask for, and in doing so we set ourselves up to be frustrated and confused when life does not go as we planned. I think Christ called us into a deeper faith, a faith beyond the shallow religion of be good and receive good. We tend to view those whose life is easy or “blessed” as people of faith. We are not sure how to take someone going through difficult times. There must be some sin in their life, as if there is none in ours. Sometimes I think we would give the same advice as Job’s friends. We expect to receive for what we do, of course we only expect to receive for the good we do and we want the bad parts of our life forgotten, by a loving God. Is it funny that we expect a good life because we focus on our good deeds? Yet God sees all of us, even the parts of our lives, our actions, and our thoughts that we don’t want to think about.

Is there any wonder why John ask, “Are you the one?” Is there a little fear in those words? Fear that John was on the wrong track, and he had wasted his life. What could be worse then being totally committed to a calling and then in the end wonder, was I right? Have you ever experienced this type of doubt in your life? Did you take a job or move feeling God leading you, and then after a while things are not going at all like you thought they should? The natural response is to think, “God did I hear you wrong?” Maybe this move or this job change was not God’s will, maybe it was just what I wanted. You see we all face these questions when we see life as only in God’s will when life is going well, when there are no difficulties or trials.

I loved the way Christ answered John’s disciples. “Go tell him the things you see and hear.” (Mat 11:4) When I read that I thought would it not have been easier for Jesus to have just answered “Yes”. Don’t we want those easy to understand answers form God when we are asking questions? We just don’t have the patience or energy when life is difficult to discern or interpret God’s answer. We do like things quick and clear when we are in a panic. We want the answer to so clear to remove our doubt, an answer that does not leave room for interpretation or potential confusion and more doubt. “Lord we are struggling with doubt, make the answer perfectly clear, just say yes or no.” Yet Jesus says tell him: "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Jesus was telling John don’t doubt, Who else could do these things but the Christ? I am the one! At first I thought verse 6, “blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me”, was out of place. But I think Jesus was telling John I know what you are really asking I know you are struggling with doubt. I know you are in prison, yes you will die for me, but I am the one don’t doubt and I will bless you. In our lives where blessed means a good job, a big house, a nice car, we might look at John as being punished by God, but Jesus said he would be blessed if he did not fall away on account of him. How would we look at John’s life? He served God forsaking everything and his reward was a beheading. We would be confused if we only think of blessings as earthly.

God’s calling in our life is beyond an “easy” life. I think that is a shallow view of our God who sent His son to suffer and die for us. Jesus’ example was not, “Follow me and have an easy life.” It was, “Follow me and you will be treated as I was, but you will be blessed by our heavenly father.”

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Relay for Life

This weekend was the Wayne County Relay for Life. First I want to thank all those who donated on Andrea's behalf and for those who purchased luminaries. We were humbled and thankful for your support.

The Relay starts with a survivors lap and ends with all the survivors releasing balloons. It is a emotional event as you watch all the balloons float away, knowing each one represents a survivor, but at the same time you see the track lined with luminaries of those who did not survive.

The atmosphere is very festive at the relay, there are food booths, singers and play areas for kids. But amongst all the festivities are those who are or have dealt with cancer. For Andrea and I it was a time of joy and sadness. Joy that Andrea is here for another relay. Sadness that we are brought face to face with cancer. Walking the track lined with luminaries labeled in "honor of" for those living and 'in memory of" for those who did not survive makes you see the physical reality and the seriousness of cancer. It is a time of conflicting emotions and many questions we can not answer.

After about one hour we had quite a downpour, over one inch of rain in about 30-45 minutes. Unfortunately all the luminaries were soaked. Lighting them seemed impossible as some sat in puddles and all were laying flat from the soaking. Andrea and I made attempts to stand her bags back up but they were too heavy from the water. We were about to give up when I looked up and saw our were friends helping us. Hal, Al, Karen, David, Danny, Gina, Diane, and Ruth and her kids. They all began standing up the bags and soon all 70 luminaries were ready to light. Other than us and 2-3 other groups everyone had abandoned the idea of lighting the luminaries that lined the track.

Soon we had one lit and we used the flame of the lit candle to light all 70 of Andrea's luminaries. Together we had done it! Soon others around us began to do the same and there were more and more lit.

Later as I reflected on that I thought, "That is just how this journey has been."

There was a storm.
It seemed hopeless.
Andrea and I could not do it alone.
Friends came to help us.
Together we shared the burden.
In the end we were strengthened and hope spread to others around us.

We left around 10:30 emotionally exhausted but spiritually uplifted.

This morning Andrea and I got up at 5:30 am to walk the track at sunrise. When we arrived we found all seventy of Andrea's luminaries still burning. It was a perfect morning, clear skies and cool temperatures. The storm had passed and we walked the track and read our favorite scriptures; Psalm 91 and 116. We thanked God for the new day and new life. It was the perfect morning of the perfect day. It was the day after.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I wrote this on 18 Jan 07

I know one day I will stand and give a testimony and praise for God’s healing of Andrea. What a great day that will be. But today I want to stand and thank God for His faithfulness to us and for all He has done for us. I want to thank God for believers who believe and for believers who have the faith to get out of the boat onto the stormy seas and amongst the crashing waves. I’m thankful for believers who know we serve a mighty God whose vocabulary does not include impossible or incurable and for a God who speaks in absolutes like, “I will never leave you”, “All things are possible”, and “You can do all things through Christ”. I want to stand and say thank you to the believers who don’t just want Andrea to be healed but know she will be healed.

Today I want to tell you that amidst the difficulty of this trial, God has given us a pearl, a most precious of blessings. That is the freedom to release, to let go and allow God to be in control and to know that God does not need us to solve this but allows us to be a part of his plan. To abandon myself into the loving arms of our creator is something I could not learn until I faced the depths of despair, until I faced something that humanly was hopeless.
I know one day I will send an e-mail of Andrea’s healing, but I want to express my thanks and praises to God while we are still in this trial. God is good, faithful, and loving while this trial still plays out. At times we still struggle. I look at my wife and think, “I can’t live without her.” I walk into our house I can’t imagine my home without her. I do the smallest of daily acts and think “I don’t want to do this alone.” I awake in the middle of the night and feel her leg draped over me and her arms wrapped around me and I think, “God please don’t ask me to sleep alone.” When we spend time alone walking and talking about life I think, “God please don’t ask me to live in silence.” When I hold her at church I think, “God please don’t ask me to praise you alone.” When she does something silly I think, “God please don’t ask me to give up laughter.” Even now, with all that on our minds, I have been reminded that God is faithful, loving, kind, merciful, unchanging, ever with us and always in control.

I have never experienced closeness to God as I do now nor felt His hand upon me as I do now. I have never felt more secure in a time of insecurity. Never have I felt such peace amongst such fear, and such felt such strength in my own weakness. I have never felt such assurance amongst such uncertainty. I feel the contrast of God’s holiness to my humanness, and I feel safe. I feel loved. I am assured that I can have faith in my creator. I can trust Him. I can cast all these burdens, these human feelings on Him and feel the lightness of His yoke.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:29-30

I praise God that before we receive the desire of our hearts, before we are given the object of our prayers, before the only praise I have is based on the outcome I hope for, I can praise God in the process. I praise God for the changes in me, in my wife and those around us. Praise God for allowing us to experience the body of Christ at work. Praise God for being God, and praise God for giving me faith. God took what would be a desperate situation in human terms and gave us certainty and purpose. Is there a price I could put on what I have learned? Is there a price I could put on my relationship with God and on the creator knowing me? Is there something I would not give to experience this closeness? There is nothing of earthly value I could exchange for the love of God. Is there something this world offers to compare to the gift of salvation and does life here hold a candle to eternity? There is no human love that compares to the pure, perfect and complete love we have from our creator. Is there something I could put before my relationship with God that would even compare? Could I place my humanness, my knowledge, against the one who hung the stars? It is amazing that He can be so grand, so majestic, so far above us that He created the heavens and the earth, yet He can be so close to us, so personal to each of us, as if it were only Him and me in the entire world.

As the song says, “I praise you in this storm.” The witness of praise amongst the storm speaks to people differently than praise after the storm. Amongst the worst situation in my life I have found the most precious of gifts, the most valuable treasures, and the greatest desire in my life. I have discovered the knowledge that my creator knows me, hears me, and cares for me, and that Christ’s death was not an historical act detached from my daily life, but is real and personal to me today. God is not some far off being that has no interest or desire to be in our lives today. I have the right to meet with my father and sitting at His right hand is Jesus my savior. Nothing is as real as my relationship with my God. I was lost but now I’m found. When I came back to my father, he was not just there waiting for me but he came running to meet me. He put a robe on my back, sandals on my feel and a ring on my finger. I am still his son. My expressions of thanks are not to earn my relationship with him but are a result of my relationship with him. I cannot earn what was given to me. I can’t accept the gift and then go back and try to earn at a later date what is already mine. I have found the most amazing reality that God is not so far above me that He does not care for me. I found that the Bible is not a great story about a God that was once involved in mankind but about a God who is seeking a relationship with His creation today. He is life itself and the very thing I was searching for. Among my hardest trial, in the darkest time of my life I have found the one thing I needed and it was more than healing, it was a deeper relationship with my savior. It was a deeper understanding of the God I serve, and closeness to the one I profess as my savior. I needed to know who I am in Christ and what I have as a result of Christ’s actions not mine. It is a life with meaning. It is a joy that makes me want to stand up and tell it to all who will hear. It is more precious than gold and silver that tarnishes. And it was hidden right before me in the midst of the darkness of cancer, sitting, just waiting to be discovered. Its glimmer and value were hidden from my view by the walls I built around myself and the control I refused to release. Thank God for His unfailing love for me and His desire to draw me closer, He never gave up on me that one day I would see in the darkness His gift waiting for my discovery.

Matthew 13: 44-46
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

Talent Of Time

I wrote this in the August 2005.
It is about how we use our most precious gift, time.

Matthew 25: 14-28

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. 19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' 21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' 22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more’. 23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' 24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' 26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

I have always thought of this parable in relation to spiritual gifts, or our finances. But when I read it this time I thought about the “talent of time.”
Early in this trial, on July 4th, I was begging God for Andrea’s healing. I knew God was in control, His will would be done, and it would be in His time. I thought what if this was time for Andrea to die. I begged God for more time. Surely, she could do so much more for the Lord alive then dead. Surely God could better show His glory by healing her then in her death. Then I felt the Lord say, “Do you not think Peter, Paul or any of the disciples could have said the same? What about Christ, He only preached for three years and lived for 33 years, surely if He would have lived until He was 70 He could have done so much more for Me.” But is that true? God has given us all a talent of time, a time to live on this earth, and we will answer for how we used that time. God does not owe us more time because we are faced with the possible end, and we see how we have wasted our time. Most of us never know when we are facing death and we go about our life missing the reason we are given the gift of life, the gift of time. We are to glorify God, to fear our creator to share the gift of salvation we have received. What have I done with my time? I have a chest of military medals and annual reports with glowing comments of my accomplishments. I’ve bought a house and I have many things to make me comfortable. But where does that fit in God’s priorities? Who do these serve? Me. What have I done with this finite gift of time God has given me? Where am I laying up my treasures? I learned facing death brings you face to face with the gift of time and how precious it is. We will all answer for what we did with our most precious gift the one gift given to each of us, the one gift that enables all other gifts, the talent of time.
Then I began to reflect on my request of God for more time, and how much better I will use that time if God. And I felt God tell me, “Why do you ask for more time and waste today? Why do you ask for the future and waste the present? Is not today a gift?”
I was convicted that I was asking God for more time and promising what I will do for Him, and treating the present as if it was mine, a given. This very second is a gift from God just as tonight is, tomorrow, next month and next year will be. What was I going to do with tomorrow as it becomes today? When was I going to start serving God? Was it always a day away? And here I was asking for more time, was I really going to treat it any different then the time God had already given me? God told me to be faithful with what I had, and don’t worry about tomorrow. Begging for healing so we “could” serve God was a ridiculous request when I was squandering the days he already gave me. I learned that everyday we need to serve God, and stop spending our time for earthly gains. Because one day we will all face death, and we will all answer what we did with God’s greatest gift…the talent of time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


As I prayed one day these two simple thoughts came to me. It is about the darkest time in our journey and God's faithfulness. I thought as hard as life can be at times there is always a silver lining because the harder life gets the greater the opportunity for God to revel Himself. It is easy to write praises when things have turned out the way you want but this reminded me that God is with us always, even in life's most difficult moments.

No light is as bright as one shown in total darkness.
No voice is as loud as one spoken in silence.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Exchange Rate

This is about what is truly valuable

One day I will stand before Christ, as we all will. I will stand before the one who paid my sin debt. I will look upon his sacred hands and feet. I will see the one given authority over all, the King of Kings the Lord of Lords, and He will judge me on my life. Not a judgment of my salvation. That is secure from the moment I accepted Christ, but a judgment of my service to the one who saved me.

I want you to close your eyes and put yourself, as best we can, before Christ the moment after you die. You see before you, Christ. Scares on his hands, feet and His side. Before you will lay your gift, eternity. Imagine if you will Christ’s begins the judgment of believers to determine their rewards in heaven and as you step up to the front of the line Christ readies to read your accomplishments, and there is silence. Nothing. Christ has nothing to say. He asks what you have done with the talents He has given you. Did you serve me? Jesus is not judging us for entrance into eternity, that is secure as a beliver, but He is and will judge our works; how we served Him with the gifts He had given us. We will be given a reward for our life as believers.

If your answer is, "Lord, look at the big house I had, and the nice cars. Look at the nice schools I went to, and look at the corner office I had." Or your most prized position. "Look at the huge bank account I have accumulated. " All to which Jesus will respond, I’m sorry but we do not have an exchange rate for those goods, they have no value here.

Our reward in heaven is not based on what we bring to God but it what we did with what God gave us.

As I go back in my mind to that moment before Christ I think the saddest think I could hear from my savior is silence. Silence from the one who gave it all for me to enter eternity. Silence because I wasted my time my talents and my efforts chasing earthly accomplishments.


I wrote this on 17 Dec 2006.
It is about the reminders God sends us to His faithfulness.
It is about how God leads us in our journey.

When you get an assignment to Alaska one of the first things someone will tell you to buy is a “Milepost”. It is a map of Alaska but not like any other map. This map not only has all the roads but it lists everything along the way. The map list the distance of each highway, say from Anchorage to Fairbanks, where mile zero is in Anchorage and the ending mileage is how far it is to Fairbanks. But it also lists everything along the way, like a dirt road at mile 24.5 or a gas station at mile 112.3. Everything along that road is marked by a mileage. Because the environment is so harsh in Alaska it is important to always know where you are. Getting lost in Alaska can cost you your life. The Milepost is the best directions you could get. You know when someone is trying to tell you how to get somewhere they will say, go down this road for about 4-5 miles and turn left on center street, go a little ways and you will see a small street on the left go past that to the next left and that is the street you are looking for. Then as you take off you have an idea where you are going but there is always a little doubt. Had you gone 3 mile or 4, did you miss a turn? Now if that person had given you the same directions but added some landmarks like as you go that 4-5 miles you will pass a Wal-Mart, keep going straight, then look for an underpass, go under and look for a McDonald's, just past that is your street. Now you as you drive you have something to let you know you are going the right way. If you begin to doubt if you have missed a turn and you look up and see the Wal-Mart, you are instantly relieved and because you know where you are in relation to where you are trying to go. And the longer the distance you have to go the more “markers” you like. The Milepost is like that, it is the best directions because you can always look at the map and find out exactly where you are. So if you are in need of food or gas, you know exactly how far it is until the next station. These “Mileposts” take away the fear of being lost, they bring comfort it a hostile environment.

As we started journey I began to feel as if we were trying to find our way, but I did not know where we were or how far we had to go, I did even know where we were going in the beginning. We were figuratively in the dark, trying to find our way to where we wanted to go. We had to first find out our destination. We prayed and believe God told us Andrea would be healed, but we were not told how we would get there, or how long it would take. But as I sought God more I found that our final destination was already set, we are heaven bound and healing from cancer is not the end but a means to the end, an opportunity to allow God to shine through us. Although healing is still something we believe for it has taken a backseat to our desire to serve the God who already has given us a gift we can never repay Him for, salvation. But that is another topic, Mileposts is about how God provides the best directions, how God gives us “mileposts” in our life to keep us on the right path to remind us we are not lost.

I have found that Godly mileposts can come in many forms. A verse in scripture, in silent prayer, in the audible yet silent voice of the Father, in a sermon, in an e-mail from a friend, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a letter, a card, or from a song. There are no limits to how God can speak to us if we choose to listen and be spiritually attentive.

I have found that sometimes God does not give us directions to the end but to an intermediate point, many times not very far ahead of where I am. It is like standing in total darkness, with only the path lit in front of me as far as God wants me to walk. At times it has not been more then a few steps and I could go only go as far as I could see. I had to trust and wait for further illumination from God when I wanted to just take off and get to the destination, and just get this trial over with. At times the slow pace as been more of a test then the trial itself, but I can tell you nothing is wasted by God. But like I said where we are going is set, so it becomes more about how we get there then where we are going.

I have also found out that God provides mileposts to strengthen our faith, and there are times when they come one after another, usually when times are the most difficult. But there are times when it is eerily quiet and I have had to just remember past mileposts to trust. You see mileposts are not for the moment and then forgotten, they become part of us, they scream at us to trust. If God had been then before He is here now, even is the silence and in the madness of cancer. You see if He never leaves us nor forsakes us, and if He is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, then we can wait is the darkest of times and know that we know that we know that He is still with us. Mileposts become the bricks and mortar to the foundation of our faith. We stand on all the past promises met, answered prayers, and we trust. Even though the future is not clear, even if the path that lies ahead is in total darkness we can trust that our Father sees it all. There is no darkness to Him.

I have found that even if we would not take the particular path we are on if the Lord is leading us then it is the best path for us, and we are there for a purpose. Trust me I had figured out the perfect path in my mind several times. Yes Lord I could see it perfectly clear, the next treatment and then we will be done, or now that I learned that last lesson, now we are situated for you healing. Yes Lord just over that next hill and we will be done. But that was never how it worked out. There was another bad scan, a higher tumor marker, or a new unexplained pain, and then more chemo, more side effects and more pills to take away the pain. Until I didn’t know what we were fighting, cancer or side effects from the drugs we were hoping would heal Andrea. You just get so deep into it your not sure which way is up. Then it happens, God sends you a milepost. And you know God is in control and clarity returns to life. Mileposts like: Jacquelyn’s prophecy in Belks, Shelby’s emails, Wayne's prophecy, Silo’s phone call, Virginia’s e-mail, Gina’s prayer, the faith of Andrea’s bible study group they all have reminded us that God is still in control.

You learn that a God who loves you so much to your answer prayers and send believers into your day to lift you up has no problem healing. Suddenly the gift of Christ’s sacrifice is sweeter, more humbling, and you find yourself not asking what God will give you, but what can you give to God. What is too much to give to our creator who died for us? What is too much to give to one who gave His life for us? You started by begging for life, healing and you end up laying down your own life and desires to a loving God. And that is the miracle of God love. It takes our eyes off ourselves and puts them on Him and those around us. It takes away our selfishness. It makes all we have done as filthy rags compared to Christ. It makes you realize there is nothing we have done or will do to deserve salvation. It makes this temporary life, this vapor of time, be seen for what it is. An opportunity to serve our creator, to live a life of service to the one who first loved us.

Today I met a wonderful woman and her husband who are breast cancer survivors for two years. We talked about our common experiences. At times there were tears in her eyes just recounting all she and we had been through. I looked at her and thought how marvelous it must be to be two years out from treatment. Her hair had grown back and was beautiful. There was no exhaustion in her eyes, but cancer had still left its mark. The possibility it could come back, the dread of facing treatment again. That look is only shared by those who have heard the doctor say you have cancer and have faced the chemo chair, the months of sickness, weakness, hair loss, vomiting, and countless side effects of drugs meant to randomly destroy life. But they are also the ones who have the chance to experience the joy of trusting God when life hangs in the balance, to fall back in faith and be caught in the arms of God, to strip away the meaninglessness of life, to feel the love of the body of Christ. I count it all joy to have suffered for Christ.
There may have been some very dark days but God always provided us a Milepost, a gentle loving reminder that says, "I'm right here."

My Hero

I wrote this on Oct 7 2006. I had a version of this it put in the Seymour Johnson base paper that you may have seen. This is the original version.
It talks of Andrea and why she is my hero.

We all have or had a hero in our life, someone we admire or look up to. Andrea is my hero. I want to try to capture the strength of this woman. Andrea is unique; at first glance you would say it is her height or her eyes, the most beautiful blue I have seen. You just feel important when she looks at you, you feel loved, not threatened. Although both these are true it is only the surface. The day I met Andrea, April 19, 1980, I looked into her eyes, at her warm smile and immediately I saw everything I needed. I was at a stoplight and I looked to my right and I saw my wife in the car next to me. I can’t explain it but her eyes loved me the moment I looked into them. Quickly I came to realize she had something I never knew, a peace, a relationship with Christ, and faith. Faith like you read about, faith like a little child, a pure, trusting, knowing faith. She just believed. I love having a wife with the spiritual gift of faith. But faith is grown and matured like all spiritual gifts and Andrea’s faith was tested early on in her life in two significant events. Where most people would have crumbled Andrea grew stronger. Though not easy, she trusted when everything told her otherwise. I met her shortly after these events. I was so attracted to her faith. I was living my own life where I had religion but no relationship with my God or my savior. It was a good life and I was having fun, but when I looked into her eyes, I saw my emptiness, I saw my need. I loved her the second I saw her and I think I knew she loved me at that very same moment.

Fast forward 20 years. Andrea finds the lump, and our life as we know it crumbles around us. Everyone who has received bad news can relate. Your life is changed in an instance, in a flash what was important is no longer, things you have been planning that seemed a must are suddenly forgotten. I look back at that moment and at times wish I could go back to the second before I received the call from Andrea. “I finished my doctor appointment, they found a lump but I’m sure its nothing.” That moment was headed our way and we never saw it. It has changed our life in every way. I looked back on the girl I met at the stoplight and I remember her beautiful blue eyes full of faith and I think it is time to meet her again.

We had 20 years of life going pretty well and we had long forgotten the trials of Andrea’s youth, and so was the faith that carried her through them. Pleasure, success, the busyness of life had replaced it. We were enjoying ourselves, our faith and our relationship with God was relegated to an as needed basis, so as to not interfere with what I wanted and what I was doing. I had never really needed faith. I prayed but I worked for my accomplishments and I think I took the credit for them, even if I was “praying” for them or “trusting” God to help me. I trusted him right up to the point I felt I better get in there and help this situation out. You know push it along and get it going, time was wasting and I could make it happen. It was all working well at least on the surface. The military has a way of confirming this by giving you medals and awards. I can think of nothing that better represents how easy a job can put pride in your life then someone reading glowing statements about what you had done and capping it off with pinning a medal on your chest. It is all about you. No mention of all those who helped you, no mention of your family, and forbidden is any mention of God, no this song of praise is titled “How great I am.” And it sounds beautiful when the chorus kicks in, they can’t be wrong. Heck it is the medals and reports are usually signed by someone very important! It feels good basking in the warmth of your own sun.

But life will send us warning signals that we are not as good as we think. Maybe some trials intensify, maybe we seem to be just barely making it through, maybe we feel more and more overwhelmed by life and deep down we know we are not doing such a hot job. The facade is harder and harder to keep up. Maybe people close to us are beginning to see cracks in our mask. Then God says “Okay you think this is all about you, you seem pretty confidant in your ability to handle life, let’s try a little life and death.” If there ever was any doubt about who is God and who is not, facing death clears that up in a second. It is crystal clear then. But for me it was clear as long as death was a threat. I will be very honest with you. When Andrea was first diagnosed we fell back on our faith and I did grow I did learn my need for faith. But After six months of treatment, we thought, what now. Suddenly cancer was not there. You are done with treatment and the intensity it brings. It leaves as fast as it came. Andrea walked out of her last radiation treatment with balloons and cards from friends who came to celebrate her “being done.” We got in the car and we both thought to ourselves, what now? What do we do now? No one says okay you are healed, you’re just done with treatment. The doctors basically say, “We have given you the legal limit of chemo, and radiation allowed by law, so good luck.” Well I guessed it is over, and I went back to my life as it was the moment before Andrea said “I have cancer.” Sure I was changed by the experience and my faith had grown in many ways, but I was tired from the intensity of faith I needed and I wanted a break from that as much as I wanted a break from the treatments. I wanted my old life back and I did that by letting go of the faith I had needed. I did not carry it over to my day to day life anymore. It was necessary for cancer but surly God did not expect me to live abandoned to Him everyday! I don't think this was a conscious decision as much as a letting down of my guard. So we took a vacation to Europe and moved to Washington D.C. We had geographical separation from cancer, and I built separation from the intensity of my faith as well. I went back to serving me and my desires. Heck I had some catching up to do. That year in D.C. was an amazing void of faith in my life. I was on vacation from faith. I justified it in many ways. We are only here for one year so no need to get in a church, no need to be involved if we are leaving so soon. It was a totally self absorbed year and I deserved it. That is how I felt; I needed a rest from the pressure of cancer and the intensity of faith required. Like many vacations, you find it did not rest you nearly enough and you think about quitting work and staying on vacation, retirement starts to sound pretty good. But you have to pay the bills for that vacation and it is back to work you go. Just like going back to work after a vacation that first day back is awful. Especially if you took a vacation after be totally worn out, exhausted in every way, all you want to do is sleep, and when you get back to work, you find the exhaustion returns all too quickly. That pretty much sums up how I felt when we arrived in Goldsboro in June 2006. Within 2 weeks we were back in the fight. Cancer had returned and with a vengeance. It was a short break and it was time to put the gloves back on.

I began to think back to the girl I saw at the stoplight, and what made her so special, and I knew it was her faith. She had suffered a trail that lasted for several years when she was young and the same faith that had carried her then would be needed again. I relearned what faith was, the strength to trust, to believe, to know what you have never seen, as I watch Andrea face cancer I am reminded of what I saw in her eyes the moment I first saw her. It was what I needed in my life then, and it was what I need in my life today, faith. Unlike the break we had our faith does not need to not be a temporary solution to a problem but a way of life. God is looking for me to live an abandoned life, a life poured out and willing to be used by Him, for Him. This is not a “get me by faith” so I can tell God, “thanks; now I’ll take it from here.” No this is the faith I saw in an 18 year old girl who had faced hard times, times that would cause you to wonder, God, where are you? Yet she believed. She came out of her trial still trusting, she was still abandoned to Christ. She did not have “temporary get me by faith”, she had faith. Now I’m beginning to understand what a gift that is and what I saw in those blue eyes the moment I first looked into them. A living faith is not easy; it is more than just words, and we cannot manufacture it, we can not force it, muster it up, it is a gift from God. I see what makes Andrea so special, and I’m glad I see that faith back in her eyes. She lives her faith in the fire of cancer. It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they faced death for not bowing to the golden image made by King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter3:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."

Andrea’s cancer is her fiery furnace, and when we look at her and see her faith we see the one with her, we see Christ. Andrea has taken the most difficult situation and has faced it with faith, and strength. She has been an example to me and those around her. Those of us who have seen Andrea face this cancer have been inspired to be better husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, and workers. To me, this is the definition of hero.

In Case of Emergency Break Glass

I wrote this on Aug 21 2005.
It's about when and how we allow God into our lives.

I felt after Andrea’s first treatment in Alaska that I could now handle life. I felt like getting back to "normal" was a sign of healing. That life without the intensity of cancer and the need for such an intense spiritual life was what I needed. As if after this trial was over my growing and learning was complete. I reality my growth as a believer will only be complete when I stand before Jesus and not before. Until that time I need to continue to grow and to seek God, to serve God and to become more Christ like. I’m never complete as long as I live in a sinful world in a body with a sinful nature. My pride was that I thought I was complete after a trial was over and it was back to business as usual, until the next trial came along when I would see my inadequacies and inabilities. At which point I would call on God and bring Him out of the box I had placed Him in. On the cover of the box was written, “Break glass in case of emergency.”

I’m learning that I’m never complete, never done growing in my faith, nor do I want to be. When I think I’m done I limit my potential and I limit how God can use me. God, you are not for emergency use only, you are for day to day life. You love us that much, that you care about our everyday life. This is a mystery to us. God’s love and the depth and limits of God’s love. How far does it go? When does our life or the events in our life become trivial to you God? Is there a threshold of importance where God becomes involved or interested in our life? For us we need to ask: “Where do we draw the line?” Where do we take over and where do we allow God to take over? The answer lies in our own limits. Most likely it is at whatever point we feel overwhelmed or inadequate for the job at hand. You see we all face trials some are larger then others. Some we ask for God’s help some we just push our way through. I think that attitude is like what I did, putting God in a box only to be used in case of emergency. When we feel the challenge is beyond our capabilities. I think God cares about every aspect of our life. I think the God I serve is so huge and he could hang the stars and call them by name yet care about the smallest detail of my life. I think that seeing God in any other way is pride and it makes God smaller then He is. I think God can do everything. I don’t want God to be incapable of caring about events in my life, no matter how small they may seem. Because when I face a trail I want God to be big enough to handle my toughest challenge because I knew He was big enough to handle my smallest one. I serve a God who cares about me. There is no issue to big for God nor is there an issue to small for God. We may look at someone and say “I could never make it through that trial.” And that may be true if it was just our own will power that we relied on to make it through a trial. But when we serve the creator of the universe and we know He loved us so much that he sent His only son to die for our sins, to pay the price of mankind’s sin nature. When we know that God knows the words before we speak, then surly He can handle any problem, no matter how big or how small. We just have to allow God to be in our life, in the big and the small areas. If we open our life completely to God’s authority and we live a life abandoned to His will we will find a God who cares about the smallest detail of our life. It is only when we shut Him out, by our free will and do not allow God into areas of our life that we feel God does not care.

Lord, help me grow in my understanding of you. Give me wisdom to seek you, and discernment to know you from the counterfeit gods of this world. Lord, help me to live a life abandoned to you. Help me not only start my day before your throne and end it there, but help me to live my life before your throne. God I want you to be all you are, not all I can imagine or all I want to allow. I want you to be the God of every part of my life. I want to live in the shadow of your wings and never have to run in a panic to your throne, looking for the emergency handle marked, “break glass in case of emergency.”

Part of the Plan

I wrote this in July 2005.
It's about how God uses this trial for His good.

Yesterday we got Andrea’s PET scan results. They were a little scary. The cancer is in her liver and lungs as well as her bones. Satan seems to be piling on. But God has answered. Andrea and I know this is not a surprise to God and this news does not limit God. His hands are not suddenly tied. Never has nor never will this problem become too great for God.

I’m sitting outside the Oncologist office waiting to go in and see Andrea on her third chemo treatment. I feel God is providing us strength every day. I know that God is hearing our prayers and the prayers of other believers. I see the faith growing and being displayed in others, our friends, their children and it is so exciting. I know that if God can change lives like this he can heal Andrea.
It came to me that this cancer is not just about Andrea and me. God’s plan is much greater then my small view. Sometimes I get lost in the selfishness of my immediate surroundings and my personal prayers, but God is using this trial for His Kingdom. This cancer as much as it is changing me and my faith it is also being used in many others. Some I will never meet know or even hear about. At our prayer time I had a glimpse of how He is teaching others. When I hear others step out in faith, to believe and trust for Andrea. When I see them take that faith into their own lives and the lives of their children it excites me. I pray for those who God is reaching, both believers and non-believers. It is so humbling to be used by God in such a way. To be connected to His plan. We offer ourselves for His glory. That can be a little scary to say, to let go of your own desires, but our reward awaits us in heaven, in our eternal home where we will continually praise God in fellowship with other believers and meet people we never knew we impacted on this earth. When I think about that this is not so scary.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Day at The Beach

I wrote this in July 2005, after a day with our friends the Duvalls.
It is about overcoming fear.
It is about Friends.
It is about getting back to the normalcy of life.

Today we spent the day at the beach with the Duvall’s, Nic, Kate and Anthony. It was a great day. But, I’m not sure I want to write about it. Since Andrea cancer returned I have found I don’t like to take pictures or write about events involving Andrea. I don’t like thinking it could be the last pictures of Andrea or my last memories or her. It feels like I’m going to be looking back on this when I’m alone. That somehow trying to capture this memory is giving into the belief that Andrea will not be with me. In contrast I find myself wishing I could capture the days, the events. When I look at our picture albums there is a definite gap since 2003. It reminds me of my fear and I don’t like it. I seem to find that in my life I forget moments I hold very dear. Moments in my life that are very special, but in a year or so they fade and I can’t seem to remember the way I felt, or what exactly occurred. I really want to remember each day and all that is special about Andrea. I find myself thinking about a day like today and wondering will I remember these moments and trying to capture a mental picture the events and the feelings of such a wonderful day.

In retrospect I see so many lessons in this day, lessons of life, fear, and the strength and importance of friends. Lessons that would prove valuable in the coming months. This day reminded me of the fear of cancer and how it threatens Andrea’s life, yet together with our friends and our faith we can overcome this fear. That cancer can’t take away our joy of living. I realized there is life with cancer; we will have happy days as well as sad days and the joys of life need not be put aside during this fight. Cancer does not have the power to take our joy. We have to surrender it to lose it.

It has only been 3 weeks since Andrea was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and our life has been a consumed by emotions. One escape we had from all this was our friends the Duvalls. Their faith, friendship, and advice has kept our heads above water us these first weeks. They have brought us into their family and made us feel loved. Their prayers have been a daily source of strength and have sustained us. The first place I drove after we heard the diagnosis was the Duvall’s. I needed to talk, but more importantly I think I did not want to be alone. That is how much they have meant to us, and I thank God that He placed us together for this season in our life.

Today the Duvall’s, Mike Lori Jo, their children Brack, Anna and Emmaline and Lori Jo’s parents, kindly invited us along on their day at the beach. They took a day that would have been care free and brought along a family burdened and hurting. They shared our pain when they could have easily just gotten away from it all. They did not have to invite us but they did. That is true friendship; that is the body of Christ lived out. For us it was a day to get away from cancer, death and sickness, today was a day at the beach just our two families. It was a day I do not want to forget for many reasons. First, it was a day of normalcy amidst the craziness of our life. Second, because I saw Andrea enjoying life with friends. Most importantly I heard Andrea laugh once again. When life is reduced to life and death it tends to make your life so serious you forget to just enjoy life. To be able to do what most people don’t even think about, just live, to be concerned about the simple events of life and to enjoy the small things like a day at the beach. Today was a day to be normal. Today was a day to learn about fear, friendship and living.

After relaxing on the beach I decided to enjoy some time in the ocean. I was out in the water and to my surprise I saw Andrea coming into the ocean with Emmaline and Lori Jo. First you must know that Andrea’s biggest fear, other then public speaking, is water and more specifically the ocean and the waves. As she walked into the water I went to meet her. With every wave that came at her I saw the fear in her eyes. I held her hand and we walked out jumping over the waves together. As the waves grew and the water was deeper, the waves began to get in her face and nose so I took her in my arms to elevate her petite body above the waves. We walked out to waist deep water, surrounded by our families. Andrea seemed to gain strength by seeing us around her. The longer we stayed her excitement grew and her fear subsided as she saw that together we were okay. I felt her relax in my arms and I heard her laughter in my ear. I loved holding her and protecting her when she was afraid. I loved being there for her as she faced this fear in her life. I loved seeing her smile and laugh as she realized the fear was not necessary.

Afterwards Andrea and I went for a walk on the beach with Anna and Emmaline. As Andrea and the girls walked ahead of me I looked as they walked hand-in-hand. They were on the hunt for shells and shark teeth. I had such a happiness and joy watching their excitement when they found a sand dollar. The girls’ were totally comfortable being with Andrea without hair. They never showed even a moment of embarrassment as people looked at Andrea with understandable curiosity. Just watching the pure love and friendship of those girls was so beautiful. Andrea was normal, she was not a cancer patient at that moment she was just on a walk with friends. I was overjoyed because I know how much Andrea loves being with Anna and Emmaline. She truly loves those girls. I thought thank you God for such a wonderful day and a great memory. Thank you that I'm not afraid to remember. July 24th 2005, was the beginning of life again. Sure we would face many more difficult days but today was just a day at the beach with friends.

I wish I had brought my camera.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Run Andrea Run

I wrote this in May 2007.
It is about the fatigue and endurance needed to fight cancer

Last week I watched the show "Planet Earth" on the Discovery channel. I watched the scenes of the Arctic wolves and there search for food and survival. I watched as they stalked the caribou herd, looking for the weakest, the easiest prey in the herd. In a moment the chase is on the head darts as panic strikes and the threat is sensed. The wolves pursue until the slower or weaker caribou is separated from the herd. The chase is now one caribou and one wolf. The caribou begins to run for its very life, darting and changing direction to try to shake the relentless pursuer. As I watched I could feel the exhaustion of the caribou, so tired yet to rest is certain death. He has only one option, run and keep running. But soon the caribou has no strength left and he collapses accepting the fate that awaits him. The desire to live is lost in the inability to go on. I thought to myself that is what it is like to fight cancer.

As I watched I felt the plight of the caribou. I could relate to the life and death struggle on the screen. Once you are told you have cancer you soon learn it is a relentless, forever on your mind, always making you wonder if it is about to strike back. In a way it is much like the wolf, and you are much like the caribou. You hope you don't reach the point where you are so tired that you can only drop and accept the fate that awaits you. You keep fighting but there seems to be a point where the fight is so exhausting that you just can't go on but you can't stop. That is what makes even the smallest of victories so sweet. They become resting points when you can take a break from the chase. A time to catch your breath and ready yourself for the next chase. You have to find these moments or you will lack the strength to fight. Maybe it is a day where you feel "normal" or as simple as a day without pain, just a day where you don't think or talk about cancer. As Andrea told me today, "Remind me how good I feel today next week after chemo." You have to remember that the exhaustion, fatigue, and sickness will pass and there is life after all this, otherwise you lose all hope and you will soon just stop and accept what will now be inevitable.

I also thought of how cancer comes to us, it spreads fear as those around sense the sudden closeness of cancer. We all hear of cancer but when you learn of a friend or family member with cancer it suddenly seems close and a much greater threat in your own life. I felt as if cancer has singled out Andrea for the chase. She has been fighting with all she has and the strength and the faith granted by God. She has been running, giving all she has. Times like November 2006 and Jan 2007 the cancer drew very close, nearly taking Andrea but by the grace of God she escaped the grasp of death. I can't help at times to wonder why we were chosen from the heard. But I know that God has used this and changed Andrea and me as well as many others around us. But, unlike the caribou heard that scatters when the wolves begin the chase, leaving the lone caribou to certain death our friends and family have come to our defense. Friends who have never left us alone to fend off the pursuer. Friends who write, call, send flowers, cards, meals, gifts of encouragement, and those who sit with Andrea in treatment. Those who have not scattered and left Andrea. Those who have not scattered from the fear of cancer but looked it in the eye with Andrea. Those who have shared in the suffering will share equally in the joy. When we see the exhaustion on her face, we are there encouraging Andrea to keep running, keep fighting, calling out..."Run Andrea Run!"

Last night Andrea and I were reading and came across these verses in 2 Corinthians chapter 1:3-11. I had sent these verses in a monthly update last year sometime but I love these verses and wanted to wtite them again because it expresses the way we feel about those around us and to why we sometimes have to suffer in life.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

View from the Lazy Boy

I wrote this in Oct 2005 after Andrea started her second round of Chemo. It is one of my favorite things I have written because it came to me the moment I sat in the chair and I wrote it in about 5 minutes. It was an amazing experience the and this is an attempt to capture the feelings that poured over me.

I want to share with you an experience of mine this past week. It brought me closer to what Andrea is going through.

It happened this past Tuesday at Andrea’s 10th chemo. Ever since this ordeal started in 2003 I have watched Andrea and I have been amazed at her strength. Although we all have gone through this with her is some form, some have been there physically and some have been there through e-mails but never the less we have all experienced a portion of what Andrea is going through. But none of us have gone where Andrea has had to go. I first felt this when Andrea was taken away to surgery. I had been there when the doctor said she had cancer and during all the decisions of what the best treatment was for her. I had immersed myself in reading about breast cancer. I even sat in the hospital room with her before her surgery, but there came a time when Andrea had to go where only she could go. It was hard to see them role her away and know she had to face that alone. I learned there were times when Andrea had to go where only she could go.

Chemo #10 is complete. The Abraxiene is hard on Andrea. She fights so hard but it is difficult to see her sick. Andrea is so strong. I know when I see her breakdown how hard it must be. Andrea does not want to stop or give in and she never shows how hard it is. But when I see her cry over the pain, and I see her express how much it hurts, I see the conflict within her. It is hard as her husband to see her hurt and know there is nothing you can do to take away the pain but to ask God to have mercy on her. I had a glimpse into her world this past Tuesday. I have seen Andrea get chemo for months. It is always the same, you sit in the Lazy-Boy chairs, they come with the bags of chemo and hook her up, and you sit and watch it drip by drip go into her. But I have always sat and faced her in that chair. The Lazy-Boy is a place reserved only for her. We all share in Andrea’s treatment in some way, some more then others. Those closest, who see her everyday, and see her at chemo, see her sick; experience this cancer and its costs more then others. Some experience it by reading e-mails. But we are all reminded of what Andrea is experiencing and we stop for a moment and give a thought or prayer for her. But this past Tuesday I got closer to her world and what she is experiencing. I only moved three feet in the physical but I crossed miles exponentially. I wish all of those who are praying for Andrea could experience what I felt.

I thought I understood what she was going through. I knew that although we were walking together there always came a time that Andrea had to go where I could never go. I first felt this when they took her away for surgery. There were times and places Andrea had to alone, I could only go so far with her and then I had to let her go. It is hard, very hard to do. I want to be there for her, to hold her hand and comfort her. But I could not go those last steps. Last Tuesday I felt this again, but it was harder then watching her go to surgery. The funny thing I never left her side, yet I found out she was still going where I could not go.
It happened on chemo day, just like any other day in the Lazy-Boy, or the chemo filling station as Andrea calls it. A place I had been far to many times. A place I have seen Andrea “hooked up” far to many times. Knowing full well she will soon be sick. It had almost become to common and to routine. We talk and laugh, trying not to notice all those around us who look one step away from death and hope we do not look the same, or hope we will not soon be in their shoes. Surely God will not have us go there. Do they look at us and think, just wait; I was once like you before chemo took its toll. Full of life and naive to the reality of cancer. Hoping against all hope I could win, knowing only a few of us will win the lottery, the lottery of life, where the grand prize is to leave this room, and return to life among the living. There are only two paths out of this room, only two reasons you do not come back. We escaped once but it was only a short respite and here we are again. Why, I do not know, but here we are.

But this Tuesday was different. It started out so normal. I would meet Andrea and Lisa at the chemo room. I would usually stay and short while and allow Andrea and Lisa some girl time. This day I stopped on my way to pick up some paint samples to get Andrea and Lisa’s opinion on what color to paint the squadron bar. I arrived one hour into and expected three-hour chemo session. But it was Tuesday after a holiday, the chemo filling station was packed and behind schedule. Andrea had yet to be hooked up. We talked and little and began to look at the colors. Andrea then got up to have her weight and blood pressure checked, then Andrea decided to go to the bathroom before this all got started and I went back to sit with Lisa. For some reason I sat in the Lazy-Boy and began to talk with Lisa.
When I sat down I got a little closer to what Andrea has been going through. You would be amazed how different the chemo room is looking from the Lazy-Boy then it is looking at the Lazy-Boy.

I had stepped closer to where Andrea has gone, where she has to go alone. As much as I could go with her to chemo only she had to sit in that chair and all that came with that chair. I felt closer to Andrea as I sat there. I felt closer to what she must feel every week. I felt closer to the struggle she must be going through. I felt closer to the fight she is fighting. I felt closer to the fear of that chair. I understood the fear she had when she knew she had to go back. The anguish of knowing you are making yourself sick. Of knowing you are bringing yourself closer to death just to have a chance at life. I felt closer but I felt the distance that reminded me that this seat was Andrea’s. I felt the space between us. I felt sadness that she had to go there. I felt closer and I felt far away at the same time. I felt I wished we were not here. I thought I understood what Andrea was going through, but I did not. I felt the enormity of the task before her. I felt the weight on her shoulders. I felt the dread of what was coming. I felt sad for my wife. I felt sad she had to go to such a place. I felt the loneliness of the Lazy-Boy.
Andrea returned, she stood before me and I looked up from the Lazy-Boy and all I could say was…I’m sorry.
I’m sorry you have to sit here. I’m sorry you have to face this. I’m sorry you are sick. I’m sorry you are scared. I’m sorry you have to go here alone.

So when I see Andrea hurting but still going, when I see her cry from the pain, when I see her tired from the fight, when I see chemo take it’s toll, when I watch her vomit, when I see her hair fall out in clumps, when I see her eyelashes thin, and when I see her put on her makeup. I see her trying to hold onto normalcy, to hold onto her womanhood. I see her try to keep life normal to be my wife, to cook for her family. I see her fighting not to give into the Lazy-Boy. Because if you stop all these things you give into the reality of the Lazy-Boy. You get one step closer to those others in the chemo room who are so weak and tired from the fight there is no fight left in them. The Lazy-Boy is their only hope to live, but it is sucking the life out of them.

I know Andrea does not want to give into to Lazy-Boy. She is a fighter and that combined with her faith is her greatest asset and our greatest hope to get out of the Lazy-Boy. God has made her so special. I love her so much. She touches so many people. I think it is because she is so small physically her strength seems disproportional to her size. She inspires with her drive to keep her life normal. When she puts mascara on those last few eyelashes she shows her determination to hold onto life. Those of us around her are challenged in our own life by her example. When Andrea goes out she is always fixed up, matching her scarves to her outfit. I think people are surprised, I think people expect to see Andrea beaten down, but she is not. They have no idea of the fight that Andrea is in, or how much fight Andrea has in her. None of us will ever know unless, God forbid, we have to face the Lazy-Boy and face the reality of that chair. Last Tuesday I felt a glimpse of the Lazy-Boy and the road Andrea walks alone, and I’m even more impressed and humbled by Andrea.