Lois is OK but having a lot of discomfort. She has a hard time keeping food down the past few days. Hospice has outlined a plan for her care and we are giving special attention to making sure she is as pain-free as possible.

Many thanks for all your prayers, calls, cards, etc. You are a blessing!

We’ll post more details later this week.

I received a harsh but well deserved chastisement last week.

It’s true. The past few weeks have been intense and I haven’t taken any full days off since July 4&5.

Therefore, I am taking days off for the rest of this week and through (US) Labor Day. I hope to be back “up to speed” by Tuesday, September 8.

God Is Rock-Firm and Faithful – an update on Lois

Do we place our expectations on God? Are we so arrogant to think we can advise Him – tell Him what He ought to do? Could it be that we have convinced ourselves that it’s “OK” to make plans and just assume that God will bless?

James has a harsh warning: Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16 (NIV)

We continue to learn that God wants all our expectations, all our hopes, and all our plans. He expects us to trust Him for every minute of every day. Totally – nothing held back. We are learning to say, “OK, God, we know our very next breath is in your hands, now take that knowledge and make it a reality in the way we live.”

Wednesday we had a scheduled CT Scan, lab work, and a consultation with our oncologist. This is what we learned:

· Most of the tumors have grown. The largest two look the same size as June 24, but the small ones (there are scores) have grown – some by as much as a centimeter. (If there are 40 tumors and each one grew by half a centimeter you can imagine how much that increases the size of the liver)

· The CEA tumor marker is 29 – up from 18.6 two weeks ago and 13.4 on June 24.

· The intermittent fevers Lois has been spiking are tumor fevers. Nothing can be done except treating the temp with Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

· The cancer is no longer contained in the liver sac. There are tumors growing outside the liver.

The conclusion: The Chemo is no longer working and there will be no more.

You may recall that over six months ago there was an extensive study of cultures from the tumors they removed in the surgery in May of 2008. That lab work resulted in a list of Chemo drugs which would be most effective with the exact type of cancer in Lois. We have tried all the combinations. There is no other medical protocol to pursue.

Our Dr had a difficult time admitting we were done. In the past 14 months we’ve become friends and the difficulty did not come from pride or from missing out on some personal gain but because he realizes that now it’s only God who can make a difference.

We’ll begin working with a local Dr to manage symptoms and pain (when it comes) and continue to consult with Palliative care specialists. Since both Lois and I have taken the Hospice Volunteer training, we anticipate involving them when the time is right.

Over fourteen months ago, when Lois was diagnosed and had surgery, we began preparing for this. As we shared the news with Joy and Tony, Peter, and Kari and Jeremy, we all had an overwhelming sense of peace. We know that God is in control. We haven’t been fighting this cancer, just learning to live with whatever God allows in our lives.

We’ll take one day at a time. We’ll watch for the “signs” from Lois’ body about what the cancer is doing and let God be God. The prognosis from the medical community is 2-6 months. Only God knows the exact number of days. For right now, we won’t change any plans for retreats or conferences or working with pastors and churches. We will trust God! He is rock-firm and faithful!

When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy,

I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence, but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then you bless me.
You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!

Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God
— oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home. God, I’m telling the world what you do!

Ps 73:21-28 The Message

Three Words

One of the receptionists walked up to us in the waiting area and said, “The Doctor you’re scheduled to see is running behind by at least 90 minutes (it actually ended up being four hours). If you want to go for lunch just come to the desk and get a pager.”

We checked the time. The Melrose Dining Room, where we like to eat in the hospital, wouldn’t open for another fifteen minutes. At 11 am I went to the desk and asked for a pager. Based on previous experience, when she handed it to me, I asked her to test it by sending me a page. They tried. Nothing happened.

The receptionist took another pager from the basket and tried that one. Nothing.

She asked one of her co-workers for help. Together they tried a third pager and, again, it didn’t work. One of them opened that pager and discovered it didn’t have any batteries! The first pager was then opened and it didn’t have any batteries either! We all laughed about the possibility of a “battery thief.”

After some healthy laughter we got a working pager and went to an early lunch.

Lois was really tired and there wasn’t much conversation at lunch so I had a lot of time to think about what just happened. As Christians we can make some obvious, well-worn connections: Without Christ we have no power; OR Stay charged up in the Word, but that was not the direction my mind took.

When this took place we had already been in the waiting area for over two hours since we have to arrive 45 minutes before we see the Dr so lab work can be completed. It was plain that Lois’s Dr wasn’t the only one running late. We had witnessed (heard) several people who let their frustration turn to anger and then took it out on the receptionists. Their tone of voice, volume, and body language was unmistakable.

I’m quite certain that when I approached the receptionist to get the pager she was bracing herself for yet another angry patient who was upset about waiting. When I was the first one to laugh about the battery situation, it quickly became contagious. The whole atmosphere of the reception area changed.

I thanked her for the pager and she smiled and said, “No, thank you for being so understanding.”

Now, I have to admit, I had a choice. I could have chosen to be just as upset as anyone else. It would’ve been easy to justify with, “if enough of us let our frustration be known, maybe someone will do something!” Every member of my family and many of my friends can attest to the reality that I am capable of letting my voice be heard and opinion known. Many a customer service rep has been on the receiving end of my frustration. (Something I’m not that proud of.)

As followers of Jesus, do we have a responsibility to be quiet and patient? To introduce laughter in tense moments? To show restraint and kindness? Even when we don’t feel like it? Or especially when we don’t feel like it?

I’m not suggesting that we use this as an excuse for letting people walk all over us or take advantage or overcharge or fail to honor warranties. However, I am suggesting that we ask God for truckloads of grace and discernment so that we know the proper time and place and even select the correct individual to voice our complaints to. Isn’t that part of being “salt and light” in this world?

I want my behavior in every situation to be of such a high caliber that those around me want to know more. Not in a way that’s patronizing or seems fake, but with genuine humility. Your character; my character reflects the one whom we claim to serve.

There are three words I hope define my relationship with Christ as lived out in my family, with friends, in interacting with those I serve, in all my life. Those words are: Obedient. Faithful. Humble.

Infusion #28

It was a long day. We arrived at the Hospital at 8:50 this morning for lab work scheduled at 9:15. We were scheduled to see the Dr. at 10 but that didn’t happen until just before 2 pm! We left the hospital at 5:45. The labs were about the same as two weeks ago. Lois’ hemoglobin is still on the low side but not so low as to require any action. The infusion and injections went in without any reactions (another gift from God) and the fanny pack pump is hooked up. (Yes, we checked: the clips are undone!)

Lois and I have both noticed some hair loss the past two weeks. The Dr confirmed this is not too unusual and might just be short-term. In other words she might not lose all her hair. On the other hand, after 13 months of chemo infusions the hair loss is not a surprise.

Pray for Lois (and for me). We arrived home at 8 pm and within 30 min I had the car loaded and was on the road for a four hour trip to Kansas City. (That’s where I’m writing this at 12:45 am) I have meetings and appointments for the next 11 days in MO, OK, IN and OH. Lois is OK with all this but I don’t really like being gone right after the big infusion and while she still has the fanny pack pump running. Even though she hasn’t experienced any major problems . . .

So we trust the Lord. I’ve been thinking a lot about Ps 31 while I was driving. I’m stuck on vs 3: “Since You are our rock and fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide us.”