Continuing to Live in the Miracle

Today Lois received Chemo Infusion number eleven. The first thing that happens when we arrive at the UIHC (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics) is lab work. An RN accesses the port in Lois’ upper right chest and draws blood. She is weighed, her blood pressure is taken and they update her general condition during the past two weeks. All this data is used to prepare and adjust the amounts of Chemo drugs and the length of time required to infuse them into Lois’ system.

The Lab work on the blood is especially important as it produces a report which covers thirty different items. One of the blood reports the oncology team is specifically interested in is the CEA number. CEA stands for Carcinoembryonic Antigen and is a type of protein molecule that can be found in many different cells of the body, but is typically associated with certain cancers. Lois’ CEA level was as high as 20 just a few months ago but in the past two weeks it fell to 4.8. That is within “normal” range!

Both the oncologists we saw were very pleased with that number – and so are we. This is a definitive answer to prayer. Not only have the tumors stopped growing, they are no longer throwing off carcinogens which show up in this CEA marker!

Lois continues to respond to Chemo without any major side effects – something that amazes the medical staff who attend to her every two weeks.  We are scheduled for another Chemo infusion on Dec 10 and then on Dec 24 (that’s right, Christmas Eve!) we are scheduled for a major round of testing including a CT Scan and Oncology Team evaluation.

We are reminded that surgery to remove the tumors is still not an option and that we face Chemo infusions every two weeks for the foreseeable future. However, we are confident that God is using the wisdom of the medical community to accomplish His will in and through Lois and our whole family.

We ask you to rejoice with us regarding this good report even as you continue to pray.


Last week, following the election, numerous pundits began churning out advice for the president-elect. One list of suggestions by Jon Kraushar entitled, “The President as CEO,” caught my attention. Although I’m not comfortable with a parallel comparison of the pastor as CEO, Kraushar makes some insightful observations which are worth our consideration.

Local church pastors need to reflect on how well they are functioning as:

Chief Essentials Officer. Pastor, you are the spiritual director and must determine what is of utmost importance for the household of faith. Don’t re-invent the wheel on this one. Scripture makes our priorities very clear: The Great Commandment, the Great Commission, worship, Holy marriages, Biblically centered families, etc. Keep the essentials front and center.

Chief Educational Officer. People need to know the essentials and the pastor is a teacher. You must educate those under your spiritual care regarding the foundations of our faith. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming others are filling this role. Don’t substitute evangelism for education.

Chief Explanatory Officer. The people who learn to believe the essentials must know why they are imperative. One of the reasons why so many of our young people are walking away from faith and the church is because they don’t know why they believe! Even older adults, when faced with crises, often become bewildered because they mistakenly believe God would not allow them to undergo hardship and suffering.

Chief Expectations Officer. Pastors need to work with church leaders in setting clear objectives, standards and guidelines. To use Paul’s analogy, do people know they’re expected to move from milk to meat? Are you communicating the expectation that people establish a rhythm of life that includes worship, work and family?

Chief Elimination Officer.  It is important to determine what the local church should stop doing. This takes us back to determining what is essential. As pastor you must lead in such a way as to eradicate the practices and programs that are unproductive and counterproductive.

Chief Evaluation Officer. The pastor must examine and reexamine the quality and value of what is happening with the essentials. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a numbers game. You must wrestle with how to determine whether or not people under your spiritual care are growing and maturing – becoming more and more like Jesus. If a course correction is needed, don’t put it off.

Chief Example Officer. The pastor is not perfect and should not be expected to reach that ideal in this life. However, the pastor must be aware that he serves as a model for others to follow. What you say is important. What you do SCREAMS! This is a particularly heavy burden but . . .

If you read Kraushar’s article you’ll note I didn’t use all his points. Some of them don’t apply. And I want to make certain you understand the disclaimer: Pastors are not CEO’s is the sense of corporate definitions. Pastors are spiritual directors called to prayer, studying the Word of God, pressing truth into this messed up world. We don’t work for profit margins or stock incentives – our reward may never be seen in this life. We are not called to make stockholders happy by producing dividends but to be faithful in obedience and humility.

November 12 – Chemo #10

We continue to be amazed at God’s grace! He is answering prayer daily as we see Lois experiencing such a wonderful measure of health and strength in spite of the cancer and chemo drugs.

What a testimony to God’s faithfulness as each time we arrive at the Infusion Center, the nurses and medical techs marvel at how Lois’ body is responding to all the chemo drugs. The expected reactions and side effects are so light that it really is a miracle.

What else should we expect? God is working out his will in our lives no matter what. With cancer or without cancer we are committed to lives of humble obedience, waiting on His direction in all things. In all of this we are reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 from The Message:

Just think-you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.