Category Archives: Lois

Intentional Reliance upon God

September 8

The past three days have necessitated a new level of relying on God. He’s asked us to “take it up a notch.” Our faith and hope and patience are being stretched. We are learning, again, to practice the spiritual discipline of meekness:

Meekness is an intentional reliance upon God to accomplish His will and His work in His way. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing by himself: he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does…. By myself I can do nothing” (John 5:19.30). Meekness is . . . an openness to see God in the big picture of life and the recognition “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). . . . Think of meekness as bold humility or aggressive patience. It is the spiritual discipline that overcomes the world. (D. Webster in The Easy Yoke, p. 58)

Since Friday Lois has had a hard time keeping anything in her stomach. It’s not that she has a lot of nausea – just can’t keep any food or liquids down for more than a couple of hours. We know she is dehydrated because she can go up to 18 hours without urinating. So we practice meekness.

She sleeps all the time whether or not there is activity around her. Lois doesn’t seem to be in a lot of pain. Since she can’t keep liquids or food down for very long there is plenty of evidence that the meds are not being absorbed completely! When I ask what medication she wants, the only request is for more Tylenol.

Intentionally relying on God is both difficult and welcome. On the one hand I constantly ask, “What can I do?” But Lois always responds with, “You’re doing it.” Relying on God does not mean we do nothing; rather, we are required to do what God has set before us. Nothing more, nothing less.

I find myself repeating Jesus’ words, “By myself I can do nothing.”

My human nature compels me to “take action” but my steadfast commitment to “His purpose” is my constant reminder that God will work all this out. He is in control.

Noticing More of God

Mark Buchanan writes, “The secret remedy for almost all our slowheartedness is to practice the presence of God. This one thing has the power to break borderland’s gravitational hold. Jesus walks the road to Emmaus with those disciples, if only they noticed. Jesus is in the midst of our days and our events, our weeks and our weaknesses, our rising up and our lying down. If only we noticed.” (“Your God Is Too Safe” p.148)

We’re noticing more of God’s presence. His presence doesn’t necessarily make things easier but it does give meaning to what we are experiencing.

Lois has had some difficult days. Sunday through Tues she experienced a significant amount of nausea and vomiting. Wed she woke up feeling really good and actually went to Joy’s house for a couple of hours in the morning and then slept most of the afternoon. Thurs she felt well enough to go to Joy’s house but came home not feeling well and ended up with severe nausea and vomiting and discomfort in her belly.

Thursday night the family celebrated Sarah’s birthday at the local park and Lois missed it. She was just too sick to get out. That was hard. I put my arms around Kari and Joy as they cried just before we all went home. It was a great 3rd birthday party but someone was missing. Jeremy and Kari brought the birthday girl to the house so she could at least see “BaBa” but it just wasn’t the same.

John and Mary – Lois’ brother and sister – came for a visit on Friday. Mary left to drive back to New Richland, MN just before noon on Sat but John had to drive back to Omaha Fri night. We really appreciated their visit even though Lois had a rough day on Friday. Saturday morning she felt well enough for a good conversation with Mary.

The Hospice nurse has been here twice this week. We keep “tweaking” the medication looking for more consistent relief from the nausea, vomiting and discomfort in Lois’ belly. My wife – who never took any medication on a regular basis – now has a score of prescription and OTC drugs!

Thanks for sharing this part of the journey with us!

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.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


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

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.”

God is at Our Side

The past two weeks we have experienced God at work in so many ways that our hearts are full of praise and thanksgiving. We are reminded of Psalm 24:5-6, “God is at our side; with God’s help we will make it. This is what happens to God –seekers, God-questers” (My paraphrase).

Two weeks ago today we discovered that the infuser, what we refer to as the fanny-pack pump, had not been started properly; the result of which was that I disconnected it on Sunday morning, July 12, flushed the lines, injected the heparin and removed the needle! All went well and my worked passed inspection! That was an answer to prayer because Lois and I really wanted her to be able to come to camp. However, the delay meant Lois dealt with the effects longer but still had a great week and was able to attend all the worship services!

On Thursday evening, July 16, she spiked a fever and woke up with it on Friday. One of our key staff, a woman who is very sensitive to God’s leading, took a group to our room and laid hands on Lois and prayed for her. The fever broke! Another answer to prayer and as a result Lois felt well enough to pack and load the car.

We enjoyed a visit from Lois’ sister, Beth, and her daughter Jordan who arrived on Sunday evening. Since Beth was here we had family over on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings and, in another answer to prayer, Lois had the strength to enjoy the whole family.

Wednesday morning Beth and Jordan left to drive back to Colorado Springs just a few minutes before Lois and I had to leave for Iowa City and Infusion #27.

The lab work was OK but nothing to be too excited about and so the Dr. ordered an injection to give Lois’ system a boost. He also told us the CEA number, the tumor marker, was elevated some and confirmed that we would have a CT scan and full labs on August 19.

The infusion and fanny-pack pump went in without any challenges – another answer to prayer! Lois is tired and has some slight side effects but nothing serious. Again, we praise God for His goodness.

Thanks for praying with and for us.

Infusion #26

On Wednesday, July 8, we arrived in the University Hospital in Iowa City for what we anticipated would be a short day. Lois had an appointment to have lab work done and they go right to the Infusion Unit. No appointment to see the doctor. Then we waited an hour and fifteen minutes for a nurse to access Lois’ port and draw the blood for labs. Then we waited some more – ninety minutes for the labs to come back and for an opening in the Infusion Unit. I keep reminding myself that when we go to a world-class hospital the mantra is, “hurry up and wait!”

At 2:20 all the bags of Chemo and related drugs were empty and the nurse hooked up the fanny pack pump for the 5FU that drips for 46 hours. We headed home.

Friday morning Lois woke up and sensed that the fanny pack didn’t feel any lighter. She looked at the pump and it was still full! We discovered that there were two clips this time and one of them was still crimping the tube! (We hadn’t noticed two clips in the past and wonder if in all the juggling of the multiple tubes they use to infuse the chemo drugs an extra was added.) We called the nurse and started the chemo.

These situations remind us that we are not in control and that’s doesn’t mean the medical community is either! Instead, we need to be awakened to the reality of God’s control. Jeremiah was brought face-to-face with this reality when God said, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Lois is feeling well enough that she is determined to go to camp with me and that includes a special retirement service for a wonderful pastor on Sunday morning. So, when the fanny pack pump finishes about 6 am on Sunday, we’ll be in Excelsior Springs, MO! That means I get to “de-port” my wife! I’ve watched the nurse do this several times and it doesn’t worry either one of us. Chalk it up to another new experience!

We appreciate your prayers this coming week as we lead the team at Tri State Camp. We’ll be at a new facility (for us) just south of Ottawa, KS on I-35. Lois and I will have a motel-like room in which to stay and she decided she can sleep there just as well as at home!

Infusion #25

On Wednesday, June 24, Lois had Chemo Infusion #25 and the fourth one since we started the new the new regimen, Folfiri. We arrived in Iowa City on Tuesday evening so we could be at the hospital for lab work at 6:30 am followed by a CT Scan. We met with Dr. Halfdanarson at 10:30 am and learned that the CT Scan showed no change; the tumors in the liver haven’t changed at all since the first of May. In fact, when the radiologist’s report came through later in the day, he thought a few of the tumors may be slightly larger.

The CEA number, that tumor marker we keep track of, went from 13.8 to 15.4. The Dr. waved that off saying a one point change is not unusual and he wasn’t overly concerned with that. We will continue on the Folfiri regimen and plan to do three more infusions before another full set of labs and a CT Scan.

Once again, the drugs they give Lois to mitigate side effects enabled her to sleep for most the infusion time. Because she is tolerating the chemo so well, they were able to speed up the delivery so that the entire infusion was a little more than three hours. I really appreciate the Ethernet connection in the room which helps me use the wait to be productive.

Lois is feeling well enough this morning that we went over to Joy and Tony’s house for a few minutes to be with Broc who is celebrating his 5th birthday today!

Thanks for praying!

Update on Lois

Lois is doing quite well and we rejoice in answered prayer! First of all, the ankle she sprained so badly is healing and she is able is walk. Being mobile and not having to wait for Jim or someone else to do everything is a great improvement! This is God at work.

In addition, the lab work on Wednesday included the CEA number – the “tumor marker” which is used as one of the methods for measuring whether or not the cancer is advancing. The first part of May the CEA number was 18.4 and now it’s 13.8. Obviously, God is at work either using the new Chemo cocktail or any other supernatural means to slow the advance of the tumors in Lois’ liver. Again, this is God at work.

Finally, Lois had infusion #24 without incident. No severe diarrhea, no vomiting, no reactions. Yes, she is still dealing with neuropathy in her hands and feet (the feet are much worse than her hands) but that is really a minor side effect. Two weeks ago the infusion produced some light nausea from day 2 thru day 5 but Lois only vomited once. Lois’ appetite is OK but we know the next few days she will not be very hungry. Those are side effects we can deal with. We recognize this is God at work.

Your phone calls and cards and emails are a great encouragement to us and remind us often of the debt we owe for your friendship and partnership. Thank you for praying with us and for us!

Infusion #23

We had a good conversation with Dr. Halfdanarson yesterday. No matter how long we have to wait, he always sits down and talks and makes sure we understand what’s going on. Lois’ lab work showed the white count was down and her kidney function is OK –that’s good news. However, her liver function is off a little and her hemoglobin was down another 1.5 points. Those are levels we will watch closely for four to six weeks until the next CT Scan.

Because the Clinic was closed for Memorial Day, all the Monday patients were pushed to Tuesday and Wednesday so the place was crowded. We checked in at 8:30 am and finished in the Oncology Clinic at 11 am and waited until 2 pm for a chair in the Infusion center. While we waited we asked for a pager and went to the Melrose Dining Room for lunch and then to the pharmacy to take care of a paperwork snafu.

I moved Lois around the hospital in a wheelchair although her sprained ankle is starting to heal and she can at least put some weight on it. She is still using crutches around the house. The ankle is turning all the colors of the rainbow but at least it’s not throbbing every time she moves around.

During the long infusion Lois was able to sleep and probably got a three hour nap! I spent over two hours out in the skywalk on the phone. Afterwards I was surprised that she was feeling well enough to be hungry for I-Hop. So we stopped there and she had breakfast and I had supper. We arrived home at 8 pm.

It’s Thursday afternoon and Lois is resting. So far, no nausea or diarrhea and she still has an appetite. She is feeling well enough that she enjoyed our four grandsons when they stopped by for a visit this morning. Friday afternoon home health care will come and unhook the fanny pack pump.

Thanks for praying for and with us.