Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Waiting Room

I am preparing myself for a long wait on Saturday. The doctor wants to see me about my vision/headache problems. But I know that he is waaaay overbooked. So I'm finishing my book today just so that I can start a new one before that long wait. There's nothing worse than running out of book before they call your name.

I'm grateful that God can multitask. Can you imagine if we had to stand in line with our requests or to wait for His healing? "I'm sorry, I know your head hurts but I've got this leprosy case that just can't wait."

As many of you know already, the doctor said that Lex probably had a mild heart attack on Saturday. His blood pressure is very high and he spent yesterday waiting for it to come down enough so that they could give him a stress test. That involves many unpleasant things such as lying in a dark hospital room, all wired up, waiting to eat and wondering if you have been completely forgotten while the alarms hooked up to the old dude sharing your room go off every 15 minutes. Sandra had already gotten some rotten news from her doctor before Lex got his. I saw them yesterday and they looked great, but they always look great. They need prayer as God works His healing power on them, especially on Lex, and as they prepare for the life changes all of this will necessitate.

I'm feeling better. Yesterday was a very good day. Timeless assures me that the predisone is reducing the swelling that was causing a lot of the pain and probably the double vision. I'm getting very tired of sleeping on my back, all elevated and stuff, knowing that I'll have a doozy of a headache when I wake up. But a couple of hours into the day I'm back to feeling almost normal. I can't tell you how grateful I am to be remembered in prayer by so many. It is very humbling to think of your name passing through the lips of the faithful, carried by the Spirit to the very presence of the Creator of the universe. I can't overstate the importance of, the power of, or the joy of prayer. If you have to choose between or Lex and me right now, please choose Lex. But let's be honest...both names only have a single could say them both without losing too much time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Showering Gifts

The surgeon wants to see me Saturday morning about my (short) bouts of double vision and headaches. Obviously, I'm hoping that this is just a little glitch that is easily fixable.

Lisa and James seem to be about the only people in my family who aren't having health issues right now. Mom is going through a few things. Lex and Sandra are going through some more serious things. I haven't had a chance to talk to them yet and get permission to share, so for right now please just lift them up in the knowledge that God knows exactly what's wrong.

Yesterday was my first day back at work and, of course, I overdid it. I tried to clean up the disarray that always follows having a sub for a long period of time. Then I went to the worship meeting before getting home after 7:00. That's a long day under the best of circumstances, but too long when you're still recovering from surgery. So I'm feeling the effects of it today.

Last night I was overtired when I went to bed and so I laid there for a while, going in and out of sleep. The problem was that I just couldn't relax. My mind was going over the day, worried about my family, thinking about the rest of this long week, and wondering whether I would wake up with the pain and vision trouble that have plagued me the last few days. Suddenly, the most beautiful, peaceful rainstorm came. I felt my body melt back into the mattress. Lisa came back to see if I was still awake, if I could hear it. I told her, as ridiculous as it sounds, that I felt like God had sent me a rainstorm.

We never really know everything that God does for us. There were a thousand reasons it was raining, I'm sure. But the sound of it was just what I needed at that moment and I think, no matter what His reasons were, that God knew the sublime joy it brought me. Every now and then, I see something small that I know James would love. And when I give it to him, his smile and laughter light me up inside. I have no doubt that God delights in giving us gifts. Maybe that rainstorm wasn't for me. But I would be a poor son not to give Him thanks and tell him how great it made me feel.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Great Physician Strikes Again

On Friday, the pain in my head was bad. On Saturday, it was worse.

So we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I have no idea how many times I talked to God on Saturday. A lot. And Saturday night, Lisa prayed aloud for me before we put James to bed. I prayed again that night when I laid down. And I know...I know...that many other people were praying for me too.

I slept about 12 hours that night and woke with a great deal of the pain gone. It's limited now to one side and is about a tenth of the level it was. I'm at work today and managing fine. The kids are awesome, as I knew they would be, and were very glad to see me. Now, as I see it, I have just two more hurdles.

First, my pain meds run out today, and while it's better, the pain isn't at a point where it's managable without medication. Second, I've woken up with double vision the last two days and that's a bit of a concern. So I'm calling the doc in about half an hour. I'm a little worried about what kind of help I'll get because, while my doctor is excellent at what he does and a very caring person, the front office

Time will tell and I'll be sure to report back. For now, I am amazed (not surprised, mind you, but amazed) at the healing I've experienced. Nobody simply improves that much that quickly without the Great Physician doing His thing. Prayer works. God loves. And I'm grateful.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Part of my problem with giving people updates on my surgery is that it's just so darned gross. The sturdier folk like timeless will have no trouble with it. Of course, she's seen things in Operating Rooms that would curl our toes. But I'm afraid if I give too many details, some people might turn green and get those little cartoon bubbles over their heads (whilst muttering, "urp"). So I'll try to fill in some blanks and, if you feel yourself getting queasy, click to another blog, pronto.

As I said before, the surgery itself went fine. I actually watched a little of it on videotape today. That's right. I have a lot of students in the Doctor's Academy at Sunnyside and they asked me to bring them a tape. Naturally, when I saw the first snip of a polyp, I hit the "off" button faster than Greg at a guitar sale.

My head has hurt at a pretty good clip all week. I have drugs, but they are only doing so much. I'm going to ask for something stronger tomorrow as I have every intention of being back at work on Friday. I've spent most of the week sitting and reading, but my concentration is pretty low so I haven't read much of anything that didn't have artwork and sound effects.

Tomorrow we are driving back to Palo Alto (3 hours each way) for an appointment they say should last about 20 minutes. It's worth the trip to deal with Dr. Vaughn as he is seriously top of the line. Here's a former Dean at Stanford U. who personally called me a couple of days after the surgery to see how I was. (When I told him I hurt, he acknowledged very apologetically, "I'm sorry. I did that.") I have been told by a few people that tomorrow's procedure will NOT be pleasant, but it's a necessary step. If nothing else, I hope it will relieve some of the pressure I'm feeling.

Eventually this will all be worth it, but I'd be lying if I said I was having much fun. I have been humbled though, by the sheer amount of prayers, calls, and cards. God has blessed me with incredible friends. It makes me keenly aware of how often I am lacking in showing others how much I care for them. It's caused me to make some private commitments about how I am going to live my life when the pain is gone and the air is flowing again. I've been trying very hard to serve God for so many years...I'm not sure if I ever got that He would most have me serve Him by serving others.

Anyway, that's enough for now. I'll have more to report when we get back from the doctor tomorrow. The appointment is at 11:00 and we'll be travelling for quite a few hours. If you're not all prayed out, we could still use some coverage. Thanks to all for your concern. Better days are just ahead.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Home Again

Just a short post today to report that the surgery went well. I feel like somebody has scraped out the inside of my head...wait...somebody did...but I've got good drugs, time to rest and an Awesome Physician.

Thanks to all for your prayers. I truly felt them.

Can I take a minute to tell you how amazing my wife is? She took such great care of me from start to finish. I couldn't love her or appreciate her any more. Just not possible.

More reports as I feel better. Thanks again to one and all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Schmalentine's

I just made my morning circuit of blogs and have discovered a couple of things.

A) Your wives have you programmed.
B) The only blog NOT mentioning Valentine's Day was Cecil's, which just proves that teachers HATE Valentine's Day.
C) I'm kidding about the "programmed" thing. Truth is, you're all incurable romantics.

One of the things I love about my wife is that she's not. Nary a romantic bone in her body and I love her for it. Sure, she's sensitive...cries at the drop of an Oprah...but when it comes to hearts and flowers she's as ughy about the whole thing as I am. We exchange cards on Valentine's Day, go out to dinner when possible, but we both heaved a huge sigh of contentment when we finally realized that the traditional stuff just wasn't important to either one of us.

Take today, for instance. I'm working late, getting ready for a week's worth of sub. There are tests to write, tests to copy, tests to correct, and a hundred things to prepare before I'm outta here for the next week or so. Lisa, meanwhile, will be taking James out tonight (along with our Godson and Goddaughter) and then working late to make up for the days she's going to miss taking care of me. And before you all tap me on the cyber-shoulder, clear your voices with an authoritative "aherm," and insist that my wife really does want all that googly-bear stuff (sorry, just watched "Monster's Inc.") she'd be the first to assure you that it's true.

And isn't love like that? We all give it and receive it differently. I've known women who would melt at a box of chocolates, a bouquet of roses, or a (God forbid) mix tape. Mix CD? Mix digital iPod Nano? You know what I mean. And Lisa does melt when I buy her flowers. But only when they come from out of nowhere. She's much more a "Quality Time" or an "Acts of Service" type gal. See? I know my love languages.

Look, she's taking care of me for the next few days. Do you have any idea what it means to me that I don't have to worry about a thing during my surgery? She knows the route to Stanford. She has booked the hotel. She remembers everything we need to ask the surgeon. She is organizationally gifted. And she shows her love by using that gift for me. That's better than a thousand gifts and a million cards.

God knew what He was doing when He put together two unromantic fools. I don't deserve her and, in a completely inverse way, she doesn't deserve me either. But like Butch and Sundance, like Harry and Sally, like Mulder and Scully,, I'll just say Sully and Mike (Monster's Inc. is hard to shake), we were made for each other.

Between travelling and surgery and recovery, I have no idea how much blogging there will be in the days ahead. Please keep us in your prayers. And, oh heck, Happy Valentine's Day.

There. You happy?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


"I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!"

Sometimes the best thing about a three-day weekend is that you get an extra day off of work. The best thing about this three-day weekend was that God revealed Himself in mighty ways to be alive and powerfully at work in His church. He showed His love and forgiveness in ways impossible to miss and made the path to doing His will clear and well-defined. So that's even better than just getting an extra day...right?

I struggle sometimes in Blogland with knowing just how much to reveal. There are certain things that just aren't appropriate to share, no matter how excited you are about them. So I proceed with caution.

Saturday was amazing! God blessed many of us through a brother's words of confession. God helped both Lisa and I with the words that we shared. And He brought us even closer to the body of Christ. It was a very long day, but one where the Spirit was visible in the way He worked in our lives and the lives of people we love dearly.

Sunday was amazing! When you're not feeling well, it's even easier to feel God's strong hands holding you up. My message on abundant service was bracketed by song and praise, by a great presentation to our children by DCB, and by the elders' commissioning of a group of people who are prepared to serve abundantly on a mission trip to Ukraine.

Monday was amazing! The College Church has had a strained relationship with her sister church for quite some time. Nasty things have been said on both sides and, rather than focusing on our status as brothers and sisters in Christ, many people have chosen instead to focus on our differences of opinion and translation. People who have been hurt by what is said have lashed back with their own words. Wounds have grown deeper as years have gone by.

Now, tell me if this is a "Spirit Thing." The (fairly) new minister of this church visited Brandon's ZOE blog. He tracked back one of my comments to this blog. Then he e-mailed me to see if we could have lunch and talk about ministry in Fresno. We met yesterday and talked about the community. But, more importantly, we talked about the past between our churches. Here was a man asking to hear our side! We acknowledged that there may be little we could do to heal most of the wounds. But we pledged to do a couple of things. We both promised to nip in the bud any negative talk we heard about each other's church. We decided that while we couldn't do a lot to heal old wounds (acknowleding that GOD can), we could try to keep new hurts from happening. And we promised to pray for each other's church.

I plan to ask many College folks to start praying for this other church. It's hard to say or do nasty things to people for whom you are praying. I have no idea where this might lead. But, if nothing else, I've met a new brother who, it should be mentioned, is a baseball fan. We hope to continue to meet occasionally and there is the distinct possibility of a summer trip to catch a game.

God is good. God is alive. God wants the best for His children. God can and will be glorified if we remember what is truly important. I'm praising Him today for an incredible weekend.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Busy and Blogless

Saturday morning I will be giving a talk at a nearby retreat on "The Body of Christ." Sunday morning I will be preaching about "Serving Abundantly." I've never prepared for two talks virtually simultaneously before. I have enough trouble focusing under normal circumstances, but this has been brutal. I find myself thinking about one talk and leapfrogging back and forth with verses, stories, and ideas.

In preparation I have been reading "Searching For God Knows What" by Donald Miller, "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" by Brand and Yancey, "Soul Survivor" by Yancey, assorted books and websites about and by Henri Nouwen, four different Barclay commentaries (so far), an excellent essay by Rubel Shelly that Sandra sent me, some writings by Greg Taylor and Wade Hodges on the Missional Church, a couple of concordances, and about 4 different Bible translations. I think I may have slipped a few Fantastic Four comics in there somewhere because last night I dreamed that Jesus lived in the Baxter Building.

I am also getting ready to miss a week of work. This involves deciding exactly what the kids can do with a sub for three 140-minute periods. I'm putting together three different work packets and hoping this sub does more than the last sub which won't be hard because the last sub spent most of the time telling jokes and passing out candy. Oddly enough, the kids asked if they could have him again while I was gone. Yeah. Right.

Cecil will back me up when I say it's easier to just teach, even if you're sick, than to set up for a sub. I've been told that I just flat won't be able to teach for a few days after the surgery so I'm stuck with the set-up process.

Throw in all the normal day-to-day life stuff and it becomes apparent quickly why I haven't written much this week.

Both weekend talks involve some fairly personal bits, so it'll be a gut-check. On the other hand, God has been so good to me this week. With the exception of one day, I have woken up with Him on my mind, and not just because of the messianic super-hero stuff. He has put a song in my heart and His word on my lips. I'm going through some lousy headaches every day, yet I have never felt a stronger faith or greater peace. I can feel the prayers at work and I humbly ask that they continue. Y'all must be some pretty righteous folks, 'cause your prayers are availething much. Thank you thank you thank you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fun February

How many months have 28 days? They all do! Heh heh.

February isn't my least favorite month. But it's one of them. It's cold and baseball season hasn't started yet. But it's short and there are a couple of holidays. I'll be using one of them to recover from surgery.

My sinuses have been horrible for a long time. I didn't realize how horrible until I had a CT-scan and the doctor told me he'd never seen anything like it. My sinus cavities are all full of gunk and that gunk has to go. Since this includes the big cavity up behind the forehead, I have to have a specialist at Stanford do the operation. It's a little delicate, but not a big deal. The surgeon says the whole thing will only last a couple of hours and I won't have to stay at a hospital. But it will take a little time to recover and I'll miss some work.

I go up for pre-op on the 15th and then the surgery will be on the 16th. Please keep Lisa and I in your prayers as we travel the 3 hours up and back down, and as she puts up with a patient who has a history of whining when he doesn't feel good.

Isn't it wonderful to be able to put everything in God's hands?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

ZOE, Part 3

A few random thoughts that I liked enough to actually write down during the ZOE Conference:

From Wade Hodges' session:

"An hour of study is like an hour of prayer."

"It's better to have wrong faith that's good than right faith that's bad."

"An honest atheist will find God. A dishonest 'Christian' won't."

"We need to stop leading our churches and let God lead."

From Lauren Winner:

"Idolatry is forgetting our address on our way home" (Chesterton)

"We may never get home on this side of eternity. We are homeless."

From John York:

"We want to get the doctrine of grace right, when what we need to do is be gracious in our doctrine."

"Most of what we are comes from our need for identity, security, and control. How we obtain those things defines us."

"Churches are volunteer organizations with corporate structures."

I recognize that those are all over the place, but thinking about them draws me closer to God and His purpose. So I like all of them. Obviously, much more was said but too often I found myself without pad in hand, absorbed in the speakers' words. The bottom line always seemed to be about deepening my relationship with the Creator and letting others (or even helping others) deepen their own relationships in their own way. We are all different, yet God treats us all the same. What an amazing Abba He is!

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