Well, as expected, busy busy busy here at work. But in a good way, I suppose. But news from Lexington Memorial Hospital isn't good right now: Pastor Mike is still waiting to be transferred to MUSC. We're praying that a bed comes open today, soon, so that he can head down there and begin treatment. In the natural, staying here isn't moving forward any in the healing department. His liver functions are still off, and he's tired, hurting, getting some meds for the symptoms - and all the while there's nothing happening to attack the cancer yet.
Pray for Dawn, that she'll keep her focus on the Lord, rest in His patience (hers is wearing out), and be strong and courageous for this continuing adventure.
... so good.
And so another week begins. Work is going to be full, and I've got to get some time this evening to get by the church, too, to fix the cd-burner. But right now, it's early - Vicki and the kids are still asleep, the coffee is beginning to drip, the dog is outside making a nuisance of herself, and all is relatively well with the world.
I'll write more later. Right now, I need to keep waking up and dig into Hebrews 12 & 13.
Hopefully the nightmare is over.
It appears that the DC area sniper/s have been apprehended and taken into custody. Just way too weird for words right now, and any metaphor I think might play along is just too morbid, too unfeeling for the victims. I hope these are the responsible parties. I hope the children can have recess and that the teachers are able to soon return to "normal" lunch duty. I hope folks will be able to stop for gas and not feel like a target, to shop at the mall and not feel like skeet. And I pray for forgiveness... I really want to watch how this proceeds, but not if it's all a "fry 'em" mentality from the self-deluded omniscient public conscience.
Pray for peace, and for Jesus to be real in the midst of this stuff.
Thoughts from this week's meditations, this morning's sermon:
In Hebrews 12:1-2, the author has finished taking time telling of great saints of the past, folks with faithfulness that stands out from the crowd. And now, "since we have such a great cloud of witnesses" to God's great faithfulness, we are called upon to press on. We're to drop the things that hold us back, and instead we are to press on to what God is calling us towards: Himself.
- Later in Hebrews 12, we're also told that instead of being scared of going to a dreadful mountain like the Hebrews - where touching the mountain would lead to stoning - we are being called to a living and holy mountain, Mt. Zion, the new Jerusalem, made up of living stones, of the brotherhood of believers.
- In Ephesians 2, Paul talks of us being "living stones" for the temple being built as a habitation for Christ. And again in 1 Peter, we are commended to be built into a dwelling place for Christ.
- From all of this, I'm not supposed to be looking forward to the place being prepared for me, as much as I'm supposed to be participating in the building going on right here and right now - we are being prepared for Him.
- Back to Hebrews 12. We are gathering at a living mountain, surrounded by the saints. First of all, am I surrounding myself with "faithful witnesses" who will be my "living mountain" (in FINAL QUEST by Rick Joyner, the Mountain of God is called "the unity of the saints")? And on top of that, are the people around me - those closest to me, able to see me and know me and get close to me - are they "faithful witnesses" of what God is doing in me? Put another way, am I living for Christ in a way that the people around me are being changed, too?
Just pondering this stuff...
Friday Five 10/18/2002 - I try...
Click here for an update on Pastor Mike. He might even be home already this morning. They determined that he has both t-cell and b-cell non-hodgkins lymphoma. The next step is to get in contact with Duke Medical and develop a plan of treatment/attack. Thanks for your prayers!
1. How many TVs do you have in your home?
Three - living room, our bedroom, and small portable for the kids/trips
2. On average, how much TV do you watch in a week?
On average, too much. Probably 30+ hrs, maybe less. That sounds like a lot. While I don't have a particular favorite show, I'm a vegetable just surfing the digital cable for a whole hour.
3. Do you feel that television is bad for young children?
Too broad a question. Most TV is bad for kids. Too much TV is bad for anyone. Barney at any level is bad for adults. But this one's too general.
4. What TV shows do you absolutely HAVE to watch, and if you miss them, you're heartbroken?
Nothing. I'll break appointments to watch particular football games (go gamecocks!), but even then I'm cool if I miss them and can catch highlights on the news.
5. If you had the power to create your own television network, what would your line-up look like?
24/7 religious call-in, talk and interview - with a jam-up sports division covering SEC football, and a Movie-Of-The-Week featuring whacked out Relationship/Truth flicks like CHANGING LANES, THE BIG KAHUNA, THE MATRIX, CADDYSHACK, CHRISTMAS VACATION, etc.
Update on Pastor Mike:
The last two days have held so much for us, I could never tell you every wonderful thing.
On Saturday, between noon and dinner time, I watched as Mike came back to me, improving moment by moment before my eyes. Every one of his conditions improved. Victories on every front:
His calcium level has corrected
He was able to move his bowels and it was beginning to be the right color
He was able to eat solid food for the first time in days
He started urinating again (coming out of renal failure)
His urine changed colors from darker than iced tea to yellow
He actually sat up, stayed awake, and watched the Miami game on TV
He has had no more pain meds nor anything for nausea since Sat noon
His blood pressure was not high for the first time since August
His night nurse cried with us when she saw the difference in him from Friday to Saturday night. She said no medication cleared up the color of his urine. No explanation for that.
The GI doc decided on Sat afternoon to place a stint in Mike's liver to unblock a bile duct because his bilirubin continued to climb from the normal 0.1to 8.0. Overnight his bilirubin dropped from 8 to 3. The doc cancelled the procedure, said he was shocked, amazed and happy and had never seen this before. We told him it was the hand of the Lord moving mightily.
We have had people we have never even met (including two pastors) come in and pray with Mike. They said they just felt led to do it. Another stranger came to pray and left us a check for $100. A man we had never seen before nor had any connection with whatsoever. When I left him tonight, he was walking the oncology unit praying for other patients' healing.
The preliminary pathology reports are suggesting large cell lymphoma, a type of non-hodgkings lymphoma. THe firm diagnosis should come tomorrow some time. There will also be a bone marrow test, and the docs will "stage" the disease (how far along it is) then suggest prognosis and treatment plan. We are hoping this will all happen quickly.
Pray that God will lead us in our decision-making, that he might lead us to the best option (stay here and save time or go to a big name cancer center). The support and love that all of you have given have been overwhelming and humbling. Although I have not returned many calls, I have heard and/or read every phone and email message. They have blessed and encouraged me. God seems to be sparing the children, too, they are all doing well and been protected from most of this so far.
We are still waiting and watching for the Lord's glory and victory to be revealed in the end. Stand strong in faith with us that God will perform His word.
God's good... all the time... only from His perspective.
I know it's Monday already, but I'm dealing...
FRIDAY FIVE 10/11/2002:
1. If you could only choose 1 cd to ever listen to again, what would it be?
I'd probably go to MP3.com right now, find about 20 techno tunes, and burn it fresh. Anything else I could always hum.
2. If you could only choose 2 movies to watch ever again, what would they be?
THE MATRIX and GLADIATOR. No, wait - the next two MATRIX movies. No - maybe SECRET OF MY SUCCESS and CADDYSHACK. This one's tough.
3. If you could only choose 3 books to read ever again, what would they be?
Bible, DIVINE CONSPIRACY by Willard, and THIS PRESENT DARKNESS by Peretti.
4. If you could only choose 4 things to eat or drink ever again, what would they be?
Hammerhead (regular coffee with doubleshot of espresso), Caramel Hammerhead (same, sweetened w/ caramel instead of pink stuff), water, and sweet tea
5. If you could only choose 5 people to ever be/talk/associate/whatever with ever again, who would they be?
Three spots are gone automaticly - my wife Vicki, my son Trace, and my little girl Cammi. After that... hmmm. Wil Wheaton and Franklin Graham. I think we'd have fun.
My first official Friday Five foray. I'm feeling the burn.
College football plus this weekend.
Lots of big games, with Miami beating Florida St. - wide left, Texas blowing a lead right now and losing to Oklahoma, and Notre Dame taking it away in the second half against Pitt. And the big game right now? USC visiting the surprising Kentucky Wildcats. Go Gamecocks! And then we finish out the evening with Florida and LSU - hopefully a Gator loss for those of us wanting to win the SEC East.
Rah Rah Rah.
Update on Pastor...
Just a quick update on Mike's status. The biopsy was performed this morning. Last night they began doing other tests as well including the CT scan of his chest. Still no word on that - I forgot to ask the doc. Pathology reports on the biopsy should begin to trickle in this evening and should be complete by Monday morning. In the meantime, we have had some complications or side issues (I really don't know what to call them.) They have discovered a heart murmor and irregular heartbeat. They've done an ecco-cardiogram and EKG, and called in the cardiologist. He also has a high calcium level and been given medication to correct it. The oncologist mentioned that he has only had one other lymphoma patient that presented with high calcium, and he was elderly. This is concerning me, although I really don't know what it means except that its not typical.
He has developed problems with his kidney levels and liver levels (too high) and the gastroenterologist has been called back in on behalf of the liver. He came in late this evening and tells us this could be very tricky. He wants an MRI, which Mike is leary of, because the open MRI facility is closed on weekends. They haven't really said much about the kidneys or followed up on that issue.
They all could be as insignificant as signs that his body is under so much stress. It could mean that these areas are cancerous also, or something in between those extremes.
Mike's spirit is stayed on Christ - he's strong, while his body appears to be withering before my eyes. But we are walking by faith and not by sight. He is sustaining me as well. He is a good God still.
God be with you as you continue to lift Mike up.
... thanks for praying.
I've got no idea what it feels like...
...to live in the MD/VA/DC area...
...in the middle of a shooting gallery.
from Dawn, Pastor Mike's wife:
Dear loved ones,
I am writing to seek prayer support for Mike Gonzalez, whom you all know and love. He has had quite a year. This past Spring, he began a diet that culminated in 50 lbs. weight loss. What a victory! He maintained the loss through the summer, and began to feel badly the first week in August. After a few weeks, he went to our family doctor, who diagnosed him with a prostate infection. The antibiotic prescribed caused an allergic reation after 10 days of the 14 he was supposed to take it. The gave him antihistamines and steroids to counteract the reaction.
His symptoms persisted, which included many digestive complaints. He was referred to a gastroenterologist. He performed upper endoscopy (scope esophogus, stomach and upper small intestine) and colonoscopy that both revealed no problems. He then ordered a CT scan of Mike's pelvic and abdominal areas. The scan has shown an enlarged spleen and several areas of enlarged lymph nodes. He was referred to an oncologist, whom we saw yesterday for a preliminary visit.
Although a formal diagnosis can only be made after a biopsy (which will take place next Thursday), the oncologist felt certain after physical examination that Mike has lymphoma. The CT scan shows two large masses (12 cm and 8 cm) in his abdomen. It also revealed spots on the spleen that need further investigation (A PET scan to be taken next Wednesday). THe doctor also has other concerns. Mike's hemoglobin has been dropping from 12 to 10.6 in these 2 months. He will be testing for cancer in his bone marrow, and his calcium blood levels are two high so the doctor has prescribed a treatment called Aredia to protect his bones from osteoperosis and pain. He has also had a persistant cough, and occasional difficulty swalling food, so he has ordered a CT scan of his chest to look for more masses (also on next Thursday).
He is in pain, fatigued and having trouble eating, keeping food down, and sleeping at night. Each day and night seems to get progressively worse.
We are trusting God to be our tour guide through this valley. We know full well the power of prayer, and covet all the prayer we can get. We have been praying for healing, peace, sleep, strength, and God's glory through it all. He has already begun to use this as an instrument to transform both Mike and me into the image of Christ. Our prayer is that we do not hinder His work in our lives.
I will do my best to keep you all posted regarding our progress. After these tests are completed, we see the oncologist again 10/21, at which time tests will begin to determine the type of lymphoma and the stage. Also further tests will be done to help them assess how aggressively they can approach treatment and Mike be able to withstand it. It seems there will be several weeks of not yet knowing the full scope of this.
In the meantime, we are researching MD Anderson in Houston and DanaFarber in Boston, two world renound cancer treatment centers in the US (#1 and #4 resepectively, according to US News).
Please be in constant prayer for us, and be assured Mike is a fighter. And better yet, The Word promises him in Exodus 14:14 - "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." We are trusting in Him, trying to stay out of His way and watching for His mighty hand to move miraculously.
peace, comfort and healing
Good stuff. Not the best kids' flick I've seen this year (SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON), but it was good. Pacing was right on, so the 90 minutes felt no longer than the normal 30 min video. And the one-liners were flying fast enough to keep the adults in the story.
Good call, Big Idea.
Marketing we can buy into!
Well, the moment we've been waiting for has arrived - Veggie Tales hits the big screen for real. Previously, some videos have been "premiered" at local theaters, but this is the real deal: a feature length movie, JONAH. And amazingly, it's getting decent reviews:
* "Hey parents, here's how to wrap your head around this one: Imagine a feature-length Davey and Goliath cartoon, only now, the clay stars are talking, singing, computer-animated, anthropomorphic tomatoes! Really. This not-so-shrouded spin on the biblical tale of Jonah and the whale pits brussels sprouts against other vegetables, only to dig up the true nature of forgiveness and love. Strangest thing is: It's not as irritating as you might think..." - E!online
* "(AP) -- The star is an asparagus. His buddies include a tomato and a cucumber. And they're featured in a movie based on the biblical tale of Jonah, the guy who got swallowed by a whale. What's the big idea? At Big Idea Productions, it's that kids' entertainment can teach children a thing or two about morality and religious faith yet still trigger a belly laugh..." - article @ CNN.com
* (good review, but only gave it one star - what's up with that?) - "Bible stories are enacted by a repertory company of crudités in Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. I'm not big on getting lectures from produce, and the Jonah story is not exactly fresh from the crisper, but Jonah is engaging enough for parents looking to introduce their kids to the veggiest story ever told..." - Chris Hewitt, through TheState.com
* (my fave line on the flick) "The message about interacting with people (or vegetables) whose values don't gel with your own comes at a tricky time. After Sept. 11, the movie's plea for forgiveness and second chances flies boldly in the face of American foreign policy..." - John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press
All that to say: I'm seeing it tomorrow evening with my kids, my wife, and a flock of friends with their children. All those veggies, some popcorn, maybe a latte at the end - sounds like a good night out to me.
peace to vegetables everywhere...