Lois and I have asked ourselves, have we come to idolize good health? Is it possible that we’ve taken one of God’s good gifts and made it something more? After all, there are no guarantees that life will be free from sickness, pain, and hardship. Quite the opposite. Scripture assures us that difficulties, hurts, and illness in the lives of Believers become opportunities for us to experience the reality of God’s abiding presence, overwhelming compassion, and boundless grace.

In  2Corinthians 12:9 we read, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

So we write this to boast about Christ’s power at work: Lois is doing very well; no pain and very little discomfort. She is getting noticeably stronger everyday and is more active. Recently she explained to someone that she is sleeping so well at night she no longer wakes up to change position which is amazing considering the size of the scar and the extent of surgery.

We believe all this is in answer to prayer, so, thanks for praying.

This coming week is full. Bettye Lou, a dear friend of my Mom, Clarice, and of our whole family, is coming from Indiana for a visit. Mom will certainly enjoy that. Over the holiday weekend, Lois’ sisters are coming as well.

Another answer to prayer: this past week Clarice had her three month checkup from the surgery for her broken neck. Although the bones haven’t fused very much, the surgeon was pleased the screws are holding everything together. He gave permission for her to take off the neck brace as much as she is comfortable with. That will make life a lot more relaxed not only for her but for her care givers at the nursing home.

Answered Prayer

In the past few days there have been many questions about how Lois is doing. The only possible response is that she is doing better than anyone can believe and that’s an answer to prayer! Maybe the following statements will help communicate that Lois is doing great:

  • One morning last week Lois spent an hour outside with all five grandkids blowing bubbles.
  • Lois has resumed taking care of all the laundry at our house and helps Kari and Joy with theirs.
  • She is cooking, doing light cleaning, and taking care of the many flowers and plants she’s received.
  • Lois is driving, running errands, and visiting people.
  • She has been with me multiple times to visit my Mom in the nursing home in Sigourney.
  • On Father’s Day, she attended church and then we spent until 3 in the afternoon at Joy & Tony’s house with all the family.
  • Lois is experiencing very little pain or discomfort and is only taking Tylenol and Ibuprofen as needed.
  • She is able to sleep well at night and takes at least an hour nap each day.

Last week at this time we were talking seriously about Lois going with me to meetings in Ohio. However, over the weekend it became apparent that she is doing too well to sit around in a hotel room while I’m in board meetings so she stayed home. Monday she spend all day at Joy’s houose helping with the kids. (Turnabout is fair play: After all four of Joy’s C-sections, Lois had to lift the kids up to sit on Joy’s lap. Now its Joy’s turn to put the kids in the chair with Lois!) Fortunately she did stay home because the dentist called today. They had a cancellation and were able to take Lois this morning to begin the dental work that has to be completed by July 9.

Thanks so much for praying! I hope you have a better understanding of the answered prayer we are experiencing.


The rain continues here in Iowa. They are calling the floods in central and eastern Iowa unprecedented due to the incredible amount of water that is moving through the state. When we were in Iowa City yesterday, for Lois’ appointment with the oncologist, there were sandbags and roadblocks everywhere as they get ready for the river that runs through the city to crest next week. Although we had no difficulty getting to Iowa City, we have now learned I-80 will close tonight due to high water.

As of right now, we haven’t had any more water in the house. Thanks for praying.

Now, about the appointment with the oncologist: We really appreciated how they conducted the meeting. First, a resident Dr who works Dr Halfdanarson, met with us and made sure we had the correct information about the cancer, where its located, how it metastasizes, that its in stage four, etc. We looked at the CT Scan on the computer and, via technology, moved through the liver and could see where the three tumors are located.

We learned that if we choose the most aggressive chemo, Lois will need to finish some dental work begun in February before the first chemo treatment due to the risk of bleeding and clotting problems. (We’ve already called and have dental appointment on June 24.)

Radiation is not an option as the cancer is too widespread.

Dr Halfdanarson explained all the options and patiently answered our questions. He was hesitant to give statistics since most of the colon cancer they see at stage four is in older people. He was willing to recommend a “chemo cocktail” he predicts has a 50% chance of having any impact on the tumors in the liver and that if the chemo does have a positive impact, there is a 50% chance the tumors will shrink enough to make surgery an option.

We have chosen to proceed with a “chemo cocktail” with these main ingredients:

  • Fluorouracil which is used for colon cancer, rectal cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, head and neck cancer, liver cancer, and ovarian cancer.
  • Oxaliplatin which is used to treat colon or rectal cancer that has spread (metastasized), it is often given in combination with other anticancer drugs (fluorouracil and leucovorin).
  • For the second and following infusions they will add Avastin which is used for metastatic colon or rectal cancer, as part of a combination chemotherapy regimen

Although the list of possible side effects is long and scary, the Dr explained that for a patient of Lois’ age and health he expects no debilitating side effects. He currently has patients on the same regimen who come in the morning for an infusion and go back to work that same afternoon. Lois was warned to begin using skin moisturizers liberally as this “cocktail” can dry the skin; and to watch for sores on the palms of her hands and soles of her feet. Also, there could be some tingling sensation in her fingers and toes. She is to be very careful of eating or drinking anything cold for 48 hours after an infusion as that often causes a sensation which makes a patient feel as if their airway is becoming blocked.

This will all begin in Iowa City at the University Hospital on July 9 and here is the schedule:

  • 8:00 am labs – We have to leave home at 6 am to make this!
  • 9:00 am Interventional Radiology to surgically install a port in Lois’ upper right chest. After this port is installed it will be the site for all injections, infusions and blood for labs.
  • 11:15 am CT Scan to determine the baseline so that progress can be accurately measured.
  • 12:15- eat lunch after CT – her first meal since midnight
  • 1:00 pm Dr. Halfdanarson to go over all the labs and CT Scan
  • 2:00 pm chemotherapy infusion which they predict will take until 6 pm to complete. (Future infusions should only take 2 hours and we won’t have to do all the labs and scans each time.)

When we head home Lois will have a pump in a fanny pack to continue sending drugs into her system for 48 hours after which it can be disconnected by a local RN.

Two weeks later, on the 23rd, Lois will have the second infusion which will include the Avastin. There will be four infusions two weeks apart and then we will have another CT Scan and a full set of labs to determine what progress is being made. At this point they could adjust or even completely change the chemo drugs depending on what the tests show.

We asked what the possible outcomes might be:

  • Tumors might begin to shrink – if so, they would continue with the same cocktail for four more infusions. They don’t expect enough shrinkage for surgery from just four infusions.
  • Tumors might grow – if so, they would change the drugs in the cocktail and do more infusions or give us the choice to discontinue
  • Tumors might not change at all – if so, we face the difficult choices of what to try next – there aren’t many options.

This is a lot of information but we hope it helps everyone understand what we face and how to pray.


Recently, as Lois and I have been dealing with life, Doug Webster shared the following with us and it was a great encouragement. These words describe both where we are and where we want to be. We will stay in this story. Our children and grandchildren will continue to tell and re-tell this story. It is the story of God. No matter what your circumstances today, this is for you, too.

“Life is shorter than you think. In Christ, there is more than enough strength and joy for this short journey. I agree with the apostle Peter when he wrote, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

“Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Psalm 126:4-6)

Joy is characteristic of the Christian journey. “Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience” (Peterson, Long Obedience, 92). We know that joy doesn’t come from entertainment or adventure or money or prestige. We can’t order it on-line and expect it to be delivered. Nor is joy dependent on good health and avoiding pain.

Joy is nurtured by living in God’s great salvation history. Everyone has a story, but only one story redeems our story. To use the imagery of Psalm 126, joy is often grown by sowing in tears. Suffering, pain, hardship and loneliness are not absent in Christian joy. We are tempted to eliminate things that hurt and live selfish lives. But disappointment and grief is the hard ground we sow our seeds in—that’s life. Happiness equates adventure with vacations; joy equates adventure with ministry.

“Joy is what God gives, not what we work up. Laughter is the delight that things are working together for good to them that love God” (Peterson, 96; Romans 8:28). Happiness is an escape from boredom; joy embraces those in need. Joy involves a reality bigger than our circumstances. Joy is a grace greater than our grief, rooted in the love that will never let us go, no matter what We don’t have a right to such a joy, much less the power to create such a joy, but we do have the God-given capacity to receive this joy and to cling to it even in desperate times. When tragedy strikes worldly happiness is always the first to go, but true joy is the joy that lasts even when everything else is lost. Job was a man at the end of his rope, filled with despair and anguish, but he imagined one remaining consolation, “My joy in unrelenting pain, that I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10). To deny this one relationship would have been to deny joy itself, but Job was not about to do that.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”
(James 1:2-5).

God’s grace is greater than our grief. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).

No guilt of life, no fear of death / This is the power of Christ in me /From life’s first cry to final breath / Jesus commands my destiny / No power of hell, no scheme of man / Can ever pluck me from His hand / ‘til He returns or calls me home / Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
(In Christ Alone Lyrics by the Newsboys)

Update Monday June 9

Lois is improving everyday. She is walking further and sleeping less; eating normal foods but often – she eats something every two to three hours. Saturday night Lois decided to try one pain pill instead of two and she still slept through the night. Monday, June 2, when we went to Iowa City to have the staples removed, was the last time Lois took pain medication other than at night. She does take some Tylenol and Ibuprofen during the day.

We have finished cleaning up the mess from the water in the lower level of the house. Tomorrow the carpet that won’t dry out will be removed. Although its been raining a lot the past few days there has been no additional water.

Sunday I drove to Indianola and spoke in the two morning services at the Christian Union church since their pastor was out-of-town. It was good to be with the people there some of whom we have known since 1993.

We are looking forward to our appointment with the Oncologist in Iowa City on Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully the flood waters in that area don’t postpone that meeting! We have quite a list of questions and are anxious to hear the options for reducing the liver tumors.

I’ll try to get out an update on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

Wednesday, June 4

Monday morning, Lois and I drove to University Hospital in Iowa City. The surgeon, Dr Wilkinson, checked the incision and they removed the staples. He was very pleased with how Lois is recovering and gaining strength. We did talk with Dr Wilkinson about what future options we might face. He talked about it from his view point as a surgeon but urged us not to reach any conclusions until we meet with the oncologist, Dr. Halfdanarson, on June 11. Dr Wilkinson expressed serious concern about the tumors in the liver. Waiting to learn all the options is difficult. We were back home in Hedrick shortly after noon.

Lois is resting and napping a lot during the day; eating small meals every 2-3 hours; and walking more everyday. Tuesday she even ventured downstairs a couple of times and today her activity level continues to increase although she is taking more naps, too. Lois enjoys phone calls and visits and we are both enjoying the food so many wonderful people are sharing with us.

Tuesday morning the 3rd, we woke to a severe thunderstorm which dumped three inches of rain in less than an hour and, for the first time in the four years we’ve lived here, the sewer backed up. It started slowly and I was able to get everything off the floor except some flattened boxes behind the freezer. By 10 am 75% of the lower level had at least three inches of water and there were four other men helping try to deal with the flood. At one point there were two pumps that were brought in trying to keep ahead of the rising water. By 1 pm the standing water was gone leaving a lot of soaked carpet on the concrete floor.

A carpet cleaning service spent an hour sucking 260 gallons of water out of the carpet and floor. About the same time, they started working on the sewer line trying to figure out how and why it got blocked. Using a power snake, they discovered a blockage about eighty feet from the sewer access. It took several tries over two hours but they were able to break through and drains started running freely again.

I spent all day Tuesday and all day today trying to deal with the mess and figure out how to put things back in place without allowing them to touch the floor. The carpet has to come up even if we can get it dried out because of the bacteria in the water. I looked at the carpet in a closet and discovered it has a foam backing which is glued to the floor and in won’t even peal up – it disintegrates. I learned that it will take a special chemical to get the carpet up and deal with the remains of the padding.

Hopefully in the morning I can get my office functioning again. Fortunately none of the books in the library were damaged – yet. I’m worried about mildew in the air and have a fan and a dehumidifier running in that room. I don’t look forward to having to move all the books in order to replace the carpet. One of the components that made this so difficult is that much of the stuff from my Mom’s apartment, which we vacated in April, was in the spare bedroom. So I’m being forced to sort all of that quickly.

It’s been a tough time: February, the tragic death of Evyn Gentry; March, Mom fell and broke her neck and the subsequent surgery; April, vacating Mom’s apartment and moving her to a nursing home; May, discovering Lois has advanced cancer and yet didn’t show any symptoms until May 18. Now a flooded basement. I’m tired.

Sunday June 1

Lois is having a good weekend. She was feeling well enough that we decided I should go and do the leadership retreat in St Joe, Missouri that had been planned for some time. I left early Friday morning and returned about 8:30 last night. Kari spent most of the two days with Lois.

Lois is dealing with a back ache. We are unsure if this is surgery related or is from sitting and reclining and sleeping more in the past two weeks than she has in the past two years! Ibuprofen and Tylenol seem to relieve most of that discomfort. She is taking the stronger prescription pain medication at night and sleeps most of the night.

Her belly is sore and she holds a pillow to her belly when she coughs, blows her nose and gets up. Lois is usually self-sufficient and that hasn’t changed. She get ups, get dressed, takes showers – all without assistance. Many people have brought in food and she is eating small meals every two hours or so and gets her own food and cleans up the dishes, too!

Several people have stopped by and many have called. Most have remarked that Lois is much better than they imagined. We attribute the reduced pain and discomfort and the speed at which she gaining strength to answered prayer.

Tomorrow we get up early and head to Iowa City. Lois has an appointment at the surgery clinic at the University Hospital to have her staples removed. Hopefully that doesn’t leave her too uncomfortable.

We appreciate continued prayer. . .