Friday, October 31, 2008

What am I living for?

ANDREW WRITES:

I've been having some ups and downs lately. Physically it has been difficult because getting off my addiction to narcotic pain meds really really throws my body into a physical and mental depression. Praise God that after months of struggling with this I'm basically off! Once in a while I take 1/10th of a dose if my body is freaking out, but these should be the last few days of narcotics. The good thing is that I'm more alert and able to function more normally. The bad thing is that I feel a lot of aches and nerve pain in my neck, head and right shoulder. This makes it very difficult to sleep at night. Please pray for my rest at night and for relief from the pain, I haven't had a good nights rest in as long as I can remember.

On Tuesday I had a lunch meeting with Bob after physical therapy. I was really struggling that day to find joy in anything. On top of the physical difficulties of aches and pains, I've been struggling mentally and spiritually with motivation to do anything helpful for my family. I told Bob that all of my goals have been dashed to pieces. I looked forward to growing in my marriage with Grace and sending our kids off to school and growing old together. I longed for the day when I would send AJ and Gracie to school on the bus, or when I would sit down across from AJ and tell him all about college before sending him off. So much for dreams of making enough money to travel or have a comfy retirement, or even providing financial security for my family. I'm even unmotivated about keeping myself alive through my feeding tube because there is nothing satisfying about it anymore. So what am I living for?

Bob responded by saying, "If these are the things that motivate you, then you're not living for the glory of God. Everybody struggles with this, but you're just more aware because you're facing the end of your life."

That cut to my heart. How could I have been so blind to this. I've always thought I wanted to live for God's glory, but when God starts taking away what seems most important in life, the heart motivations are exposed. I mean I've boldly preached the gospel, I've served at church, I'm teaching 2 kids about the bible, I'm working on my marriage, I study God's word all the time. Could all that stuff be done with faulty motivations? During the 1-mile walk back home from our meeting I spent some time thinking and praying about this. I felt so ashamed. I'm starting to see who I really am deep down inside, and how deceptive my heart really is. It's so awful and ugly. I never knew that it could be this hard to face who you really are.

But praise be to God that through Jesus Christ my filthy stains have been washed away. Jesus died that sinners like me may live. And though I fail all the time, Jesus works in me to actually change me from the heart, not just on the outside. And through Jesus I can start to live for His glory rather than for myself. By seeing myself more clearly for who I really am, though I'm dying, I think I'm starting to truly live.

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

There is A Fountain Filled With Blood, William Cowper, 1772

Prayer Requests:

1) Pray for complete healing, relief from pain, and that I would be able to rest at night.

2) Pray for Grace as she keeps our family together. There is just so much work to do as I am on a time consuming special diet and I need fresh juice 6 times per day. Praise God for her help and encouragement!

2) Pray for me about what I shared above. Pray that God would start changing my heart motivations in life to the glory of God alone and that He would grant me true repentance.

3) Pray for safety and quality time with my family, extended family, and friends during our trip to California. Pray that we would be an encouragement to others and that our time together would be profitable and for God's glory. Praise God for providing our friend, Johnny, who is going to drive with us there in an RV, leaving Saturday Nov 1.

4) Pray for wisdom about alternative and experimental treatments. We're not sure to what degree we will do the Gerson Therapy at a clinic in the Los Angeles area. We might start it at the clinic, or we might just learn it and start it at home. Pray also for wisdom about doing experimental Immunotherapy and Gene Therapies that are in clinical trials at MD Anderson and Sloan Kettering.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beyond What We Ask or Think

We had prayer meeting last Wednesday night and the elders prayed over me. Bob encouraged us to pray believing Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us."

Do I truly believe that the great God of the universe who created all things from nothing can heal a few tumors?

Do I believe He can do FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY more than that?

Do I believe that He can transform the Twin Cities Metro with the gospel through the Holy Spirit? Can I imagine crime decreasing, welfare cases decreasing, divorce rates decreasing, unwanted pregnancies decreasing, or children obeying their parents because the gospel is transforming hearts of stone into hearts that worship the true and living God?

Do I believe that God can transform a nation through the gospel?

Do I believe that God can transform the entire world through it? He can do it, and abundantly more than that!

I was greatly encouraged by John Piper's sermons on prayer and fasting from January of 1995. If you haven't already heard them, I highly recommend these sermons as they give much biblical and practical counsel on the subject of prayer and fasting. Piper's book, A Hunger for God, is similar in content if you prefer to read than to listen.

I know so many people have been praying, and perhaps fasting, begging God to heal me for the past 2 years. From Eph 3:20 I believe God can do that and so much more. Lets pray that God will not only heal me, but blow our minds by answering BIG prayers for our cities, country, and nation. Lets hunger and pray not only for healing of physical sickness, but that the Holy Spirit would come and revive the spiritual deadness in our world and cause us to hunger for God rather than for food, or comfort, or money, or vacations, or promotions or whatever it is that can never truly satisfy us!

As fellow brethren from all over the world, would you please consider a group fast as individuals, small groups, or churches every week from Wednesday after dinner until dinner on Thursday for 5 weeks ending at the Thanksgiving feast?

1) Pray that Jesus would return soon.
2) Pray that through the Holy Spirit the gospel would go forth and transform our families, our cities, and our nations for His glory.
3) Pray that God would perform a miracle before our very eyes to heal me of cancer and restore my speech and swallowing.

4) And please encourage everyone by sharing how God is answering these prayers and whatever other prayers are heavy on your hearts that we may praise God together, that He truly is the God who does far more abundantly than what we can ask and can far surpass the furthest extents of our imagination.

They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth.
And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood.
"It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"
And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again."
After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, "He is dead!"
But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.
When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, "Why could we not drive it out?"
And He said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer."

Mark 9:20-29 (NASB)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Plans modified

As we've been praying and talking about this alternative therapy, it seems as if God is changing our hearts to modify our plans a little. In light of the priorities that we laid out last week, it doesn't seem like being away from my children, and doing such an intense all-consuming therapy will be good for us. Instead, while I'm still up and about I think we should have as much fun together as possible, and fit parts of that therapy into our lives so long as it doesn't take too much time.

Our friend is going to allow us to borrow their RV for a few weeks so we can get away and travel a bit. With an RV we can travel but still be able to feed me healthy foods and juices and spend lots of time together. We still want to go to Southern California to be with our friends and visit a clinic where we can learn the therapy. Instead of doing inpatient therapy, we plan to do a few outpatient classes or have a trained therpist come to us to teach us how to administer parts of the therapy.

Thanks to everybody who generously offered a place to stay. We're considering our options and will need to stop somewhere in SoCal. Hopefully we'll be able to see many of you face to face.

We'll keep you updated!

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In the meantime please pray for my rest at night. My neck continues to hurt more and more, especially as I've been getting off narcotics. Its not a severe pain, but more of a constant ache that makes it difficult to sleep.

Continue to pray for full healing and restoration. God is able to do far more than we can ask or think.

Praise God that things at home are continuing to run more and more smoothly, and we've had help setting up our house.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prayer and help

Grace and I are looking into doing an alternative therapy that may require us to travel. Our options are to:

1) Go to a clinic in Loma Linda, CA near Riverside.
2) Go to a similar clinic in Tijuana, Mexico.
3) Have a caregiver come to our home in Minnesota and teach us the therapy.

In all three cases we will learn the therapy and continue it at home. Please pray for wisdom about what to do, and that God would open and close the doors according to His will for us. In addition, pray that if God wills for us to do this that He would provide for the logistics and the help we need. Personally I would lean toward the California location since that is our old stomping ground.

If we go to Loma Linda or Mexico we will need a place for our kids to stay nearby since they can't stay at the clinic. We'll bring somebody along with us (person yet to be determined) to help with the kids. If anybody reading this has a rental or a place in the Los Angeles or Riverside areas we could use for a few weeks in early November please email me. Thanks!

Please also keep praying that we would trust God and treasure Him more than life itself. It is easy to get caught up and stressed out by relying on our own efforts.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To Be Held

ANDREW WRITES:

Dr. Yueh said that usually when cancer spreads to a place like the spine people on average live about 1 year. He said that you never know because his uncle lived 7 years even through the doctors told him he had about a year. Dr. Yueh also said that for me things will probably get very painful, so I might end up on very high doses of drugs which will make me unable to function properly. In addition, there might be a point where I lose by voice to the cancer, so I can't expect to be a fully capable person during the entire time I'm alive. In a conservative plan, I think we should plan for 6 months of alertness, and if I do better that would be awesome.

The pneumonia that I mentioned in my last post is clearing up. I'll be on antibiotics for longer this time. I actually felt pretty good by Tuesday and met with Bob at Starbucks to talk a little more about priorities. Grace and I are so thankful that the elders of our church are mentoring us through this because they are so much wiser than us. I wouldn't even know where to start in terms of making preparations to die. Bob gave me some good guidance to start prioritizing my time and planning for the next few months.

At first I was a little hesitant about making plans to die, because it seems as if I'm throwing in the towel. But Bob told me that we need to both believe and pray that God will prolong my life, and at the same time get things ready as if I was going to die soon. Its like praying for the best but still being prepared for the worst. He gave me the example of how God said David's son would die after he sinned with Bathsheba, but David still prayed and fasted begging God to change his mind. Although everything we know about my current health situation would say that I may die soon, we can pray with faith begging God to prolong my life. If God does, then that would be awesome, but if God allows me to die of cancer then I want to be as ready as possible.

So in the next 6 months I'm going to focus on 4 main things:

a) Spending quality time with my wife and kids as well as some time with other loved ones.

b) Writing lots of letters of encouragement and instruction to my wife and kids especially for watershed moments in their lives.

c) Preparing Grace for life without me. That includes instructing her on future decisions, teaching her to do some of my jobs like the finances, reorganizing and setting up our house for her to be effective, etc...

d) Keeping myself healthy and mentally alert by exercising and doing miscellaneous work.

This week despite the sad news we've been quite happy. Not only have I been feeling better from pneumonia, I think God has answered your prayers and greatly encouraged our family. I've postponed my speech and physical therapy appointments until we figure out what we're going to do next. That gave me some time to just get out with my family and enjoy the beautiful fall colors. We drove through some parks in Minneapolis and took walks around some of the lakes and along the Mississippi river.

Since my health has been stable all week, we decided we should use Saturday to get some things done around the house. Friday afternoon we sent out a late notice email to ask for help for an hour to move our bed, 4 bookshelves, and some miscellaneous stuff around in our house. Since I was diagnosed with cancer just weeks after moving into our house, we've been waiting for a long time to get things set up properly. On Saturday 6 or 7 guys showed up and moved that stuff in about an hour as expected. Then to our surprise they kept asking what else they could do. We had a million other things that we needed done but didn't want to burden others with so much work. The guys stayed all afternoon and just humbly served us and completely rearranged and organized our 3 bedrooms upstairs and our family room. Somebody even vacuumed, mowed the lawn, raked the leaves, and brought a stack of firewood into our garage. Then to top it off they reconfigured our printers, TV, DVD player, lights and everything else that got moved, tangled and unplugged. Wow.

At the end of all the work I was resting in my recliner upstairs and our dear brother, Mark, came up before he left. I had asked him in the past specifically to pray for me and hold me accountable because I was struggling with leadership of my family. He asked me about it and I told him that my great anxiety right now is feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done to prepare my family for life without me. And my second greatest anxiety is fear of pain.

Mark said to me, "We love you guys so much. We would do anything for you guys. If you die God is going to take care of you family no matter what." He also reminded me that not only is the church going to take care of them if I die, Jesus is going to shepherd them. He is their Chief Shepherd. After he left, I felt so encouraged because the words he said to me were proven to be true with deeds. God sent men to our house to take care of more things than I could have asked for today, and He will continue to take care of all our needs.

I was holding Gracie the other night and she fell asleep in my arms curled up in a ball. I just sat there enjoying her soft breathing and the content expression on her face, wishing that I could go back to the days when my parents held me like that. Oh I how I longed to be tenderly held and cared for like my baby Gracie. Today, I truly felt that way.



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Prayer requests:

1) That God would heal me of cancer completely. Especially of the tumors in my neck and spine.

2) That we could continue to be encouraged by God's promises to us. We have good days and bad days, but pray that we would just have good days.

3) For wisdom about alternative treatments

4) That we would be able to effectively use our time according to the priorities described above.

5) That I would not be anxious about what needs to be done or about pain but would cast those cares upon Jesus.

6) Pray for relief of discomforts in my neck and that I would be able to rest at night.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sooner than later (updated)

ANDREW WRITES:

This cancer is mad, and it just won't go away. I had an MRI yesterday and the doctors are pretty certain that there is cancer in my spine on the back of my neck, and there might be cancer in the base of my neck in the front. The MRI wasn't clear enough to make that determination, but I'm pretty sure there is cancer there as well because I can feel it. Not only is there a sore lump on my neck near my thyroid, my blood tests showed that my thyroid function is pooping out faster than expected. So, it is likely that I have cancer in my neck that is invading the thyroid.

Since the spine cannot be operated on, the doctors say that there really isn't anything I can do at this point but wait and see if it grows in 3 months. I could do a biopsy to confirm it but it is not guaranteed to be conclusive because needle biopsies into the spine are not extremely accurate. Removing a tumor from the front of my neck would require me to lose my voice box and have to breath out of a hole in my neck. Given that there is tumor in my spine, that would be pointless. I might as well keep my voice as long as I can.

So, the reality is that unless God intervenes, I'll probably be leaving this world sooner than later. That doesn't mean that we've given up on fighting cancer, it just means that we're going to think realistically about my situation. Only God knows how long I have left and He might just heal me, or even provide some new alternative therapy that cures me. We've been trying different alternative therepies over the past year, from diet, to aggressive juicing, to supplements, but in the end it is all in God's hands. I'm praying that if God takes me home soon I'll be mentally alert and able to talk until the bitter end.

We talked with Bob, our pastor and brother-in-law, and he helped us think about our priorities better. I think this whole time we've been making survival our top priority and everything else in life secondary. After exhausting all conventional cancer therapies and many natural therapies, I think its time to rethink the game plan. We're still praying about this, but I think quality of life is going to now be top priority, and any treatments will have to fit into that. Therefore, I won't be doing any more major surgeries or chemo treatments unless it will increase my quality of life. I want to spend my last days with my family and prepare them for a life without me.

I feel like there are so many things I want to say but perhaps not enough time to say them. For one thing, I wish I could travel all over the country and see everybody one last time before I go. Maybe that will happen. Or perhaps people could visit.

Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom."

As I meditate on that passage and look back on my life I see so many wrong decisions. I wish I could go back in time and change them. Instead of making a list that could go on and on I need to recognize firstly that God is sovereign over those mistakes, and secondly that each of those mistakes should serve to make me more and more humble, and more and more dependent on forgiveness through Jesus. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus died for my sins and and forgives me. As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed my transgressions from me (Psalm 103:12).

Looking back, one thing I'll never regret is following Jesus Christ even if it meant hardship. When I was 21 years old God placed in my heart an inescapable desire to follow Him. When I first became a Christian I spent a lot of time reading Paul's letters in the bible and came to believe that the Christian life was often described as a very difficult one. My old small group leader from UCLA emailed me the other day and reminded me about something I had shared in small group as a new Christian. I said something along the lines that suffering was good because God clearly uses it to grow His children, so we ought to ask God to grow us even if it meant we were inviting suffering.

Phil 1:29 says, "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, "

Phil 3:9-11 says, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Rom 8:17 says, "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. .

I deep down had a feeling that God was preparing me for hardship. The other guys in the room thought I was a lunatic because it seemed as if I was asking for suffering. I never asked for suffering, but just desired that God would grow and stretch me and that He would put His name on display in my life. I never would have imagined that this could happen to me, but I think that was the Holy Spirit working in my heart to prepare me for this trial later in life. We all suffer to varying degrees and in varying ways, but God has chosen this particular path for my life that He might conform us all into His image.

In Matthew 16:26 Jesus says, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" It is foolish to waste our lives chasing success and pleasure when we have not dealt with the most important matter at hand - the well being of your soul. Am I prepared to die? What will happen after I die?

Tonight God is impressing upon my heart to warn of the coming judgement. Whether or not you consider yourself a Christian, I ask that you read on. We all need a daily dose of the truth.

The book of Genesis says that God created the entire world including humans and set a standard of morality for His creation to adhere to. All people, even ones who seem really nice on the outside, sin in some way and offend God. We are greedy, we cheat, we exaggerate the truth, a.k.a lie. If you still don't think you've offended a holy God, have you "loved the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and strength" as He commands in Deuteronomy 6:5? Jesus says that is the greatest commandment. Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." God, being a just God, must punish our crimes against Him just like a felon is punished in a human judicial system. But God in His great love for His creation provided a wonderful way out. He punished His own Son, Jesus, in our place!

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

We all need to humbly recognize that we have sinned against God and cry out to Jesus to save us. We can say, "Lord, I know that I have gravely offended You by not worshipping you with my life and not loving You above everything. I have served myself rather than You. I am such a sinner, but I ask that you please rescue me from my sins. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins, so please save me!" This was the cry of my heart in 2001 when God humbled me and showed me my great sinfulness after years of living a selfish life of drugs, pleasure, and self accomplishment. God is faithful to answer those cries.

In addition to recognition of our deep sinfulness and asking Jesus for forgiveness of sins, Jesus also tells us to count the cost of following Him with our life. In Luke 14:27-28 Jesus says that we must consider whether or not we are willing to follow Him unto death, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?"

Jesus says to His followers that they will experience tribulation in John 16:33 says,"In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

Jesus promises that if we give up everything to follow Him on earth, we will gain life everlasting in the new heaven and the new earth. God's plan for my life might result in me losing my life at a younger age, but I can look forward to my reward in the new heaven and new earth where God Himself will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds...This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new " And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. "He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
- Revelation 20:11-21:8

Here is an old video from March 2008. These were my final words before the last surgery that crippled my speech and swallowing. That cold, wintry, Minnesota night we had no idea what the next 7 months would entail. One thing we knew back then and we still know now is that this trial that we face is a part of a much bigger plan that God has for the world. My prayer is that the world is watching and listening to what God is saying.

video

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Prayer Requests
1) Praise God that we made it through today even though I'm sick again. Grace had supernatural strength to take care of me today.

2) Please pray that the peace of God will rule in our hearts and that God will protect our minds from wandering into useless thoughts.

3) Pray that in 3 months my next scan would reveal nothing in my spine or neck.
4) Pray for my precarious health. I feel terrible as I have a very high fever again, 3rd time in a month. The doctors think that my pneumonia stuck around somehow so I'm on antibiotics again.

5) Pray for wisdom about what to do next. We might try an alternative therapy soon which would take about 3 weeks. Pray that God would make it undeniably clear whether or not we should do it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

PET to MRI

ANDREW WRITES:

Everybody is wondering whether or not I have cancer. Well, I'm still wondering the same thing too.

The PET scan lit up in 4 areas of my body. That means that there was suspicious activity in 4 places. The doctors all got together and with a high level of confidence dismissed two of them as physiological changes due to surgery and radiation. Those two were in the tongue and the back of the voice box. So we'll watch those areas and see if it gets worse in the next scan in 3 months.

The bad news is that the other two areas are highly suspicious for cancer because they lit up a lot. Those areas are my left spine at the back of my neck, and the right thyroid cartilage (basically the right base of neck). These two areas did not receive much radiation and were not surgically operated on. I was expecting for them to give me some weird news like that anyways like they always do, so it didn't surprise me. But I was glad that there isn't a large tumor in my voice box and tongue, which are the areas that are giving me pain. For now, it's probably just still sore from radiation. I was also glad that I don't have tumors in my brain, lungs or liver. So praise God for that!

I guess Grace and I weren't too worried today. God gave us grace to just take the news in stride. We decided to do something fun after our appointments so we went to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Dinkytown called Pagoda. I'm not able to eat via mouth, but I was able to order some clear soup which was satisfying to my few taste buds. I really haven't been able to enjoy much of anything through my mouth since before my surgery 6 months ago, so that was a real blessing! After that it was nice to just take a walk with the kids on a nice sunny day and enjoy them. I even bought them a nice egg custard treat which they LOVED. Praise God for my family, they're so fun.

Before we do any biopsies they want to do an MRI to get a better picture. I went in at 6PM this evening to have that done but I couldn't complete it because I kept gagging on my own saliva and coughing. Any slight amount of movement like that forces them to start over. I hope they don't charge me for the wasted MRI. The last time I did an MRI I was able to swallow just fine, so this wasn't a problem. I'm going to try again sometime in the next few days or try to find a place that will do an MRI sitting up if my insurance will allow it.

So its back to the waiting game. In the meantime pray that I'll enjoy the process, and enjoy each day that I have more and more. After being sick for 3 weeks, I'm pretty excited to be able to do some normal things like exercise and stuff.

Bob, my brother-in-law and pastor, said two things that were helpful to me today. He reminded me that its ok to have anxieties or cares, but we need to continually cast them on Jesus. Trying not to have anxiety or not caring isn't godly. Having those anxieties and then casting them upon Jesus is godly. Thats what the bible calls me to do.

The other thing Bob said was that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. If I disappear from this earth, my family will be okay because Jesus will still be their Chief Shepherd and will lead them to green pastures.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

ETP

I get the PET scan results tomorrow morning. I was definately more anxious the past few weeks than I am right now. Now I kind of want to get tomorrow over with. Even if the doctor says I'm cancer free, it really just means for the time being. Thats what they said last year at my first scan after radiation and chemo. We got a negative scan in August, moved to Minnesota, and got a questionable scan in January followed by a positive in March. We'll always be on our toes, but if the Lord wills we will soon be able to make bigger steps towards a more settled lifestyle.

Tonight our family prayed together in our living room about tomorrow's results. At first I wasn't in a super spiritual praying mood but as I started to pray the Holy Spirit starting convicting me that I feel aggrevated that things aren't in order in my life. Like I wanted tomorrow's results to be negative so that I can finally get my ducks in a row and be able to sit back and relax. I quickly realized that even if the scan is negative, things aren't ever going to be easy. I have major disabilities particularly with speech and swallowing that will make life uncomfortable for the rest of my life. But God wants me to be content in difficulty. Sean Higgins, the student ministries pastor at our old church, used to always say that you need to "ETP" or enjoy the process. That is the key to godliness. I need to be content AND happy to suffer with cancer, or suffer without it. Otherwise I'm going to be one hard-to-get-along-with husband and father for the rest of my life.

I'll keep you posted tomorrow afternoon (Oct 8) on the results of my scan. Good night.

P.S. Phil Johnson added our blog to his list of things to read while the Pyromaniacs take October off of blogging (Thanks Phil!). I've noticed that this has significantly increased traffic to our site. If you are new to our blog I want to welcome you to experience this trial with us and grow as we grow (first cancer blog is 1/15/07). I know everybody feels the pains of trials in their own unique way, so let's persevere together. I invite those who don't know us to join in and comment, or email me to introduce yourself. We'd love to hear from you and quite frankly could use the encouragement. Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

To Die Living

ANDREW WRITES:

I know you all have been praying for me fervently, and I thank you. Praise God for all the ways He is answering. Today I physically feel so much better than I have for a long time. Three weeks ago I was at the peak of the pain in my mouth and throat, then I got sick, then got pneumonia which postponed my PET scan from Sept 18th to Oct 1, which on top of everything made me wait anxiously for 2 additional weeks to know if this swelling and pain is due to tumors in my neck and throat! Then, to top it all off, after I got past pneumonia and was starting to recover I caught a cold again.

God really brought me to some low and dark times these past few weeks. To be honest, I didn't take it like a champ. I complained a lot and wanted to just escape my weak body. Though I hate being so sick, when God brings me low like that it always reminds me of what is really in my heart. The reason I feel so frustrated with everything when I'm weak is not because I can't give myself to my wife, children and friends, it is because my idols are not being satisfied. My idols of comfort and pride are just two obvious examples that were at the forefront of my mind this week. And they are the same idols that always distracted me from giving myself to my family and others when I was healthy.

Please pray that I would continually be repenting of these sins and make progress in dying to myself, and giving myself to my family. Pray that I would be like Christ who gave Himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:6) or like Paul who said "But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all" (Phil 2:17). In addition to praying for healing please pray specifically that I would use 100% of my 50% energy level to give myself to serve the Lord especially in leading my family, even if receive news that there are still tumors in my body next week. My family needs leadership and an example of Christ more than ever, and with so many things changing all the time I need supernatural wisdom to know how to do that.

Even if the doctors tell me again next week that I'm going to die of this disease, my priorities to serve God should remain the same. The truth is that I've been dying since I was born. So now, as always, I must die living to make God famous. That's what Jesus did.


My wife wrote a blog last night about my trouble breathing. Today I woke up feeling like I'm over my sicknesses. My lungs and throat are clearer of mucus. Praise God! I know that God has answered your prayers for me and refreshed me both physically and spiritually after bringing me through some dark times. And I know that He will continue to answer your prayers for me.

This morning, I went to the gym and exercised and shot a basketball for the first time since before surgery in March! The surgeries and massive amounts of radiation have permanently damaged my neck, shoulder and right arm. I don't have strength in my wrist and shoulder to propel the ball very far yet. Yet I was able to take shots at 3 feet, then eventually made it to about 10 feet from the basket. I'll keep you posted on my progress in the coming weeks if I stay healthy.

Today was a breath of fresh air. After all that has been happening to me, it was nice to get out and play. Thank you, Lord!

Breathing

GRACE WRITES:

Andrew made it through his PET scan on Wednesday. We should be finding out results next Wednesday.

In the meantime, please pray that Andrew's breathing would be easier, it seems to get harder and harder for him to find comfortable positions to breathe from which really effects his sleep. As he cannot swallow, his saliva is constantly blocking his airway which causes him to cough and choke a lot. Lord, please make Andrew's breathing easy from this moment on.

Praise the Lord that Andrew is now on 1/2 the pain meds he used to be on, his pain has reduced so much ever since pneumonia gave him a break from physical therapy. The withdrawal symptoms are still difficult and taking longer than expected. Please pray that the withdrawal symptoms would relent and that he would be able to get off his pain meds soon.

Please also pray that we would not be faint-hearted but that the Lord would give us the strength to persevere and endure, that Andrew would feel motivated to keep up with all the different things he has to do each day from physical therapy to consuming all his meals and that I would be able to stay on top of helping him with it. Please pray the Lord would greatly encourage and saturate Andrew's (and my) heart with the gospel each day.

To sum up:
1. Breathing
2. Get off pain meds
3. Strength and motivation to keep up with daily demands/Saturated with the gospel

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Psalm 46:1-3

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Scanning

I'm now in an isolation room awaiting my scan. They just injected me with radioactive glucose using a 2 inch lead syringe. Now I'm supposed to sit for about an hour so that the glucose can absorb into my cells, and then lie in the "tube" for about 45 minutes while they take various pictures.

I've been begging the Lord all day that the scan would be accurate and that there would be no more cancer. I'm so frustrated with my body. I was once so youthful, and free, and now just about everything is painful and difficult. I even choke on my own saliva so I constantly have to spit in a cup.

Lord, please rescue me from my anxieties and complaining. You have been so faithful to me. You spared me from self destruction during my adolecent years. You were faithful to answer my cries to rescue me from my lonely, miserable life, and brought me into a life as your child. You answered my prayers for a wife and gave me more than I could have imagined. When Gracie was born on our bathroom floor you answered our cries for Grace and Gracie's lives, and Gracie was healthier than we could have imagined. You answered the first time I had surgery, radiation and chemo to restore me and make me as good as new. You answered when we begged to move to Minnesota. You provided a house for us. You've taken care all our needs these past 6 months, and you even answered our prayers to lessen the pain.

When we prayed a few years back that we would not waste our lives and that we would have an impact on this world, and that you would rescue us from our desire to live for the typical American dream of a 3 car garage, comfort, ease and a retirement package, you answered with cancer. It is your hand that has afflicted us for your glory. To teach us and those around us that you are God, and worthy of worship and praise. Don't let us waste this cancer.

Help me to have the mind of Christ. Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross . Help me to have joy in my suffering, joy in my humiliation. Please give me joy in weakness and in shame.

Time to scan.