View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Year to Remember

1st Chron. 16:8-11 Give thanks to the LORD, proclaim his greatness; tell the nations what he has done. Sing praise to the LORD; tell the wonderful things he has done. Be glad that we belong to him; let all who worship him rejoice! Go to the LORD for help, and worship him continually.

As I write this, it is just days before Christmas, and while there is every prospect of a white Christmas at home, there is none where we are in Santa Paula, California. It is now the fifth day of constant rain which has amounted to about 8 or 9 inches so far, but we are on high ground and I have not seen anyone building an ark yet.

This will mark the second Christmas in 36 years that we have not spent  on the ranch with family, both times due to my health. It was not an easy decision to leave home two months earlier than normal, yet I knew that I would not be able to contend with the winter weather this year. And from the reports of friends at home I made the right choice. But with every choice there are consequences, some good, some bad.

The down side of this choice was not having Christmas with out kids and grandkids. I have long stressed the importance of family, and holidays have always been a great time of interaction and reconnection. Jeri and I will miss that this year.

Yet there is an up side of my choice in that we will be able to share Christmas with my sister and brother-in-law and their family for part of the day, and then we will spend the rest of it with our niece and her family along with Jeri’s sister and brother-in-law and her mother. This will be a special treat since it has been many years since we have been here at Christmas.

As the year comes to a close, it has been a year that in many ways I would like to forget. Health wise, it has definitely been the worst. But if I were to forget all of this year, then I would also be forgetting all the ways that God has blessed me and I would not want that to happen. How could I forget how so many friends and family prayed and ministered to me and Jeri. This has been a year of watching God meet our every need, of having friends and family give of their time to unpack our trailer when we arrived home in May, pruning our raspberries, weed whacking fence rows, fixing our built in vacuum, crawling under the house trying to find the shorted wire, cutting and splitting firewood, welding a gate, checking the flu on our wood stove, packing wood to the garage, winterizing the house and repacking the trailer so we could leave. How could I forget the four months that my daughter and her family put up with us parked in their driveway while I went through surgery and radiation. I will never be able to forget their worried looks and concern, will always remember their loving care and attention. Then there are the doctors and nurses at OHSU who have been fantastic. They have been so supportive, encouraging, yet brutally honest when we asked them to be. I can’t number the times that they saw me on short notice or took my calls when I know they were busy.

But most of all, there is Jeri, my life partner, the love of my life. She has been most supportive, ministered to my every need, put up with all the ugliness of post surgery and radiation, the many nights when I could not sleep, listening to all the unpleasant noises that come with not being able to breath through the nose, the flushing and blowing of the nose, etc., etc., etc. Long suffering does not even begin to describe it. There has to be saint hood in her future if there is any justice at all.

Yes, this has been a bad year in some ways, but a very good year in many ways. One always questions why something like this has to happen, yet God promises that there is a purpose for adversity. I am sure that there were lessons for Jeri and me to learn, and I am sure that others learned something from observing. But it also allowed others to use their spiritual gifts, and that is a good thing.

I am not sure what all I was expected to learn from this year, but I did realize how important family and friends are in a time of crisis. I came to a better understanding how to be a friend when someone is ill, how to minister to them, how important it is to just be there and maintain a continuity of friendship.

But more than anything, I learned first hand that even when bad things happen, there are good things happing at the same time and in the end they may out number the bad things. It just seems like at the time that the bad things are overwhelming and we fail to see the good that is happening.
As this year closes, I am looking forward to what God has in store for us this next year, as I hope you all are also. It may be a good year, it might not, but I know that there will be good things happening no matter what, and there will be blessings from God if we take the time to look for them.

As I go into the New Year, I am feeling better this month than any since February and that is encouraging. Besides, first time out playing 18 holes of golf in four months I shot 87. Jeri and I wish you all the best in 2011.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ramblings from an Old Man

 
Hanging loose

Sitting on a beach in Hawaii has it's good and bad points.  It is good to be in the warm sun and feel the ocean breeze, to observe God's creation and smell the salt air.  It also gives you way to much time to think.  Some of that thinking can be good, but when you are dealing with a possible terminal disease, your mind can wander into places you would rather not be. 



Mike on the Hoover Farm, 1949

 I have reminisced probably too much lately, going back over my child hood days, the early years when Jeri and I were just starting our journey together, the years raising kids, success and failures in business and life, things I have done or said that I wished I could do over.  But given the choice of living the same life over again or starting over with a new, unknown life, I would choose to live the life that God has given me.  No changes,  no regrets, not one!   I have been truly blessed beyond riches because of family, friends and church family. 



Chuck's Graduation, 1980



Straughn, Indiana, 1961

Luke 6:46-49  "Why do you call me Lord but don't do what I tell you? "I will show you what everyone who comes to me, hears what I say, and obeys it is like.  He is like a person who dug down to bedrock to lay the foundation of his home. When a flood came, the flood waters pushed against that house. But the house couldn't be washed away because it had a good foundation. The person who hears what I say but doesn't obey it is like someone who built a house on the ground without any foundation. The flood waters pushed against it, and that house quickly collapsed and was destroyed."

Just as the house pictured above is built on solid lava rock, I have tried to live my life on the bedrock of Jesus Christ, so that when the wind storms and waves of life come beating on me, I will be on solid ground.  It doesn't mean the storms and troubles won't come, because they have and will,  it means you will be able to weather them no matter what.  If my life stands for nothing else, it will at least be a testimony to standing on the promises of Christ.  It is what keeps me sane through the current trial. 
 
Mat 11:28-30    "Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves  because my yoke is easy and my burden is light".

I wish I had a dollar for every time this scripture has come to my mind.  There were too many years that I heard these verses, but tried to do things on my own, my way.  I grew up in a generation that preached that hard work would bring success.  Well, bull hockey!!  I worked hard on the farm, sacrificed time with my family, material things, only to discover that farming was not my God given talent, and no matter how hard I worked it was never going to be successful.  Only when I fully surrendered to His will was I able to enjoy the gifts that God had instilled in me.  Unfortunately, it took 13 years for that to sink in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Phi 4:11-13 I'm not saying this because I'm in any need. I've learned to be content in whatever situation I'm in.  I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I've learned the secret of how to live when I'm full or when I'm hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little.  I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

I noticed on our three trips to Ecuador on medical missions that the people there seemed content, no matter how poor they were.  The mother and daughter in the picture above illustrates that so well.  They were watching us load up the bus that was taking our team from Cuenca to Sucua.  They were enjoying watching us without any signs of envy or regret, just people watching.  The other picture shows houses on the steep hillsides of the Andes mountains.  They are hard to see, but they up there with no roads, no power, and if they have water it comes from either a spring or small stream.  The owners have to hike up those steep hillsides packing food and supplies and sometimes water.  Yet when you approach them and say hello, they smile and return your greetings.  They are a patient people, and few ever demand things. 

The woman to the right struck me in the same way, just the perfect picture of contentment, yet by our standards she and her family are dirt poor.  They live in a adobe brick "house" with no running water or electricity, yet how could one look any more contented.    I have strived to attain that level of contentment, but it is difficult in our society.  Also difficult when you have a type double A personality.  Oh, well, I have always consider myself a work in progress.
 Psalm 131 1-3 O LORD, my heart is not conceited. My eyes do not look down on others. I am not involved in things too big or too difficult for me.  Instead, I have kept my soul calm and quiet. My soul is content as a weaned child is content in its mother's arms.  Israel, put your hope in the LORD now and forever.

1Sa 1:16 Don't for a minute think I'm a bad woman. It's because I'm so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I've stayed here so long."

The flip side of contentment is this little girl we saw in a small village south of Cuenca where we were holding a one day clinic.  We heard her wailing from three blocks away, and she was very unhappy that her mother apparently got tired of her fussing and just went on her way.  The girl was in no danger, so we also left her to her tantrums.  I have no idea how long she sat there but it was obviously a battle of wills.  I'm betting mom won out.
I regret the number of times when I was younger that I have fussed and complained about what was going on in my life and what was not happening that I wanted.  But God was patient with me and still provided all my daily needs, but not necessary what I wanted, just as any good parent would have done.  That is the amazing thing about God and His promises;  He keeps them, despite ourselves. 

Luke 12:37  Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He'll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. 
When in Cuenca, Ecuador, the GHO team stays in a hotel that the owner closes for the week we are there.  The dinning room is set up like this with a different decor and colors every meal.  It has always reminded me of the wedding feast we will enjoy in heaven when Christ and his church are reunited. 
Psalm23:1-6   A psalm by David. The LORD is my shepherd. I am never in need.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters.  He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name.  Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.  You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.   Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the LORD'S house for days without end.

It probably doesn't surprise anyone that I would show water on a golf course for this.  Yet some of my most peaceful times have been walking and playing a round of golf, admiring God's handiwork, just enjoying being alive and physically able to swing a golf club.  I haven't been able to do that much this year because of all the surgeries and radiation, but I am getting stronger and should be able to start playing golf in December when we arrive in Southern California. 

I have a tee-shirt that has a saying on it that goes like this:  "Let your ball lie in green grass, not in still waters"  Arnie 3:5  (Arnie, being Arnold Palmer)  Believe me, I have made many a sacrifices to the golf gods by donating balls to lakes.

Titus 6:6-9  A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have.  We didn't bring anything into the world, and we can't take anything out of it.  As long as we have food and clothes, we should be satisfied.  But people who want to get rich keep falling into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful desires which drown them in destruction and ruin.

There is nothing wrong with being rich.  The problem lies in how we attain that wealth and what the cost was.  I have never chased the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  My most frustrating time in life was when I was not able to pay my bills on time and I questioned God about that.  I can remember praying and saying to God that all I wanted was to be able to pay my bills and provide for my family.  Is that to much to ask?  Well, it apparently is if you are not where God ultimately wants you.  Once I understood that principle, things changed.  What I came to realize years later was all the many ways God blessed me when I wasn't aware of it.  He always provided just enough to get us by. 

Malachi 3:7-11 You have a long history of ignoring my commands. You haven't done a thing I've told you. Return to me so I can return to you," says GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies. "You ask, 'But how do we return?'  "Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day. "You ask, 'How have we robbed you?' "The tithe and the offering--that's how!  And now you're under a curse--the whole lot of you--because you're robbing me.  Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.  For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers."

This is the only time in the bible that God challenges us to test him that I know of.  And I am here to tell you it works!  God doesn't say He will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, He will give out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.  Once you submit to His will and operate according to His instructions, your life will change.  If you were to tell me in 1986 that within 15 years I would be debt free, retiring, and then would travel to eight different countries, I would have said "In yours and my dreams".  He does not say the blessings will start immediately, but they will come.  I have been blessed with a phenomenal wife and family, friends by the bushel, and a great church and church family.  I really don't need anything else, Yet God has blessed me in other ways.  I am privileged to live where I have million dollar views, my closet neighbor is a quarter mile away, the peace and solitude is overwhelming, and eight months of great weather.  Unfortunately, there are four months I really don't care for, yet God has blessed Jeri and I with the ability to go south those four months where the snow flies not. 


I have probably bored you all enough, much like the young boy in this picture, so I will end this with an update on me. My last CT-PET scan on Nov. 24th was clean, no sign of any cancer. So we are cleared for the next four months when I have the next scan in April. For now, the elephant in the room has been shoved to one side, but he will be back in the center of the room in April. We try to ignore him but he is quite large and imposing. Thank you all for your prayers.




Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bobby G

Psa 90:10 We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the grave yard. Msg

We strive to live long lives yet there is a down side to longevity; you get to watch your friends die. On Oct. 17th, I lost another very close friend. His name was Robert G. Brown, but to me he was always Bobby G. If I had to pick another nickname, it would be “smiley” because he always had a smile on his face.

He was barely 66, short of the three score and ten that scripture seems to indicate we might be allotted. Much too young to die by today’s standards. Yet our time on this earth was determined before the foundations were laid. Our arrival and departure dates were already set before time began. Because God is in control, nothing happens that surprises Him, so on that Sunday morning at 1:30 am, Bob’s departure flight arrived to whisk him back to his heavenly home.

Bob and his family came into our lives the summer of 1970 when they moved to La Grande. Beth’s folks had retired here and Bob and Beth had had enough of California, decided to give Oregon a try. I don’t remember the first time I met Bob but we both were attending First Baptist church and our two families just sort of clicked into a friendship that has lasted 40 years.

I was working for Terry Travel Trailers as purchasing manager and in September of 1970 hired Bob as the material handler, which involved the shipping and receiving of all the production materials. I left Terry in 1972 and started raising hogs. In 1974 Bob and I formed a corporation and purchased 200 acres in Summerville with the idea of farming and raising hogs. Unfortunately, Bob and I had a knack for picking the worst time to start a new venture, and with financing drying up, we were forced to go our separate ways.

In the years that followed, they moved to the Portland area and Bob worked in a variety of fields, sometimes chasing rainbows looking for the elusive pot of gold. He never found it but along the way he did find a closer relationship with his Lord and Savior. In 2001 he had a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm that should have taken his life then, but God was not finished with Bob. He still had some molding and shaping that needed to be done.

There was a period after that where Bob was angry with God for not allowing him to die and be in Heaven. He felt cheated because he was unable to work and yet he wasn’t allowed to die. In the following years Bob began to understand that he had a lifetime of experiences to share with others, and God used him to mentor and counsel others in his church.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent two months going through radiation treatments in Portland. Bob and I met weekly for lunch, spending two or more hours just fellowshipping, talking about God and Heaven, analyzing the two different and difficult roads that we were traveling, trying to make sense of it and understanding what God was trying to teach us. It was a time where we were encouraging each other through difficult times.

Then this year I was diagnosed with Mucosal Melanoma, a rare cancer that involved surgery and another 6 weeks of radiation. We spent four months in Portland and again Bob and I started meeting once a week for lunch. It again was a time of soul searching for both of us, a time of supporting each other, and a lot of speculation as to what heaven would be like. We became as close as brothers, brothers in Christ, brothers in God’s family. I will treasure those days, and will miss those times of sharing.

A couple of years ago Bob and Beth came and spent a long weekend with us. I had borrowed a contraption called a “Rodenator” and it involved pumping a mixture of propane and oxygen into gopher tunnels and igniting it. The resulting explosion and concussion would kill the gophers even in their deepest tunnels. Here were two old guys out in my pasture, blowing up the ground, laughing and having a blast like we were kids again. I don’t think we even cared whether we were killing any gophers; we were having too much fun just blowing up the ground. We did this for over two hours and finally had to break for lunch. Good times, good times.

Years ago I wrote about walking my four year old Doberman on Pismo Beach. Every morning while we were camped there I would take him down to the beach and let him run free. As I made him sit to unleash him, his whole body would quiver with excitement in anticipation of being freed to run with the surf and wind. As soon as he felt and heard the snap release on his collar, he was off like a bullet! He ran back and forth, up and down the surf, chasing sea gulls, exploring sand dunes, always moving, always coming back and checking on me, then off he would go again, full tilt, never tiring. It was a sight that I never tired of. The thought occurred to me as Quincy was being unleashed from my physical control, that this must be what people experience in death. One minute we are shackled to this earth by a body suffering aches and pains and no longer wants to move or operate the way we want, and the next instant we are unleashed, free to move about like never before; free of pain, free of time restrictions, free of stress, free of sin, free to worship in the presence of God and Jesus-- free at last, free at last! Finally I understood visually why Jesus said death could not claim victory.

Bob and I had always questioned why we cling so thightly to this life on earth when Heaven offered wonders unimaginable. God built into us a will to live so we would not quit when things got tough. Bob was not a quitter. He hung in there when others would have given up.

We also agreed that when each of us died, it would be a time of celebration, not mourning. Yes, it is sad for us that he is not with us today, that our times of fellowship are put on hold, but he has just departed on a journey to another world which the rest of us who know Christ as Lord and Savior will follow later. Bob is free now, free of pain, free of all the medications, free to run and jump as never before, free at last, free at last.

Bob is beginning his journey through eternity where there is no sadness. I know the saints in heaven are rejoicing at Bob’s arrival – and so should we. Bob and I agreed that when we die, it is party time! So celebrate and enjoy the good memories of your time with Bob and Beth and the kids, and know that on this day Jeri and I will be dancing a jig on some beach in Hawaii thanking God for the good times we had with Bobby G.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Campsites

It has been just over a month since I last wrote and believe it or not, this is the first week that I have been mentally able to write. In late August a PET-CT revealed no cancer had resurfaced. Then on the 27th of August I under went what the doctors termed “day surgery” that lasted two and a half hours while they removed scar tissue from the first surgery and radiation, and the turbinates in both sides of my nasal passages in an effort to open everything up so I could breathe. And, yes, the surgery was a resounding success. I can breathe like seldom before. It feels like a wind tunnel up there.

For some reason I was equating day surgery with minor surgery, and minor surgery this was not. They put me on a 14 day antibiotic and steroid program which was fine for the first 10 days, but as they were weaning me off the steroids, things changed and I physically went down hill from there. From the beginning I spent a lot of time napping, but that changed to most of the time. I tried to golf and did not have the strength or coordination to do it, so finally gave up for the year. I had to stop driving as I was having trouble staying awake just driving to town. Then I caught a cold, followed by the sinus infection returning. Last week I came down with the flu which I didn’t think was even going around. For about a week I was either on the couch or in my recliner, not sure whether I was going to live or die, and not really caring which one would win. Finally turned the corner Sunday afternoon and now feel like I can start the road to recovery once again.

It has been a frustrating year in that I thought by this time I would be well on my way to being back to full strength, but instead am back to square one and starting all over again. In looking back I see that I probably overdid it after the first surgery, and again after the radiation, but this time will be different. I am just not able to do much physically and that was one of the reasons I put the clubs away for the year, just to avoid the temptation. I am doing as little as possible and trying to be smart when I do anything. I am taking plenty of naps and trying to eat something every meal even though most of the time I don’t feel like eating.

This year we are heading South earlier than ever. In the 36 years we have been on this farm we have only missed one Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrating it here with the family. This year will be the second time. I came to the realization that I do not have the strength to deal with winter in November and December. So we will be pulling out of here October the 25th or 26th, and parking at Randy and Lani’s in Portland until after Thanksgiving. I have a doctor appointment on 10-28, and then Jeri and I fly out to Hawaii on 10-31 where we will spend the first three weeks of November at my sister and brother-in-law’s condo at Waikoloa beach on the Big Island. We are doing this on my doctor’s advice as he says the salt water will be great for my nose. Seriously, that’s what he said! Unfortunately, I don’t think the IRS will by into it as a medical deduction.

We will spend Thanksgiving in Portland with part of the family and friends, then head to California for December. After that, not sure.

This past Sunday our Pastor preached on Chapter 33 of Numbers. In this chapter are recorded the many campsites where the nation of Israel stopped during the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness. He related how his family had spent time camping and remembered some campsites were very enjoyable and others not so much. He shared that life is made up of many campsites, places where we have lived and how each has made an impact on our lives. As I look back over my life and the many places God has provided as campsites, most have been enjoyable. Jeri and I have been camped here on the ranch for 36 years now, and during that time we have experienced some deep and dark valleys and some incredible mountain top highs.

With everything that has happened this year, we are wondering if God is preparing us to start packing and be ready to move to another campsite. We are going to wait until we return in the spring and see what my health is like before making any decisions. God has always made things crystal clear in the past when we were suppose to move on and I expect no less this time. So Jeri and I will be ever alert for those signs and until we see them clearly, we will continue to stay here and enjoy the elk and deer, the hawks and eagles, the coyotes and turkeys, the wide open spaces and peace and quiet, things most people dream about. Yes, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Invalid

Have you ever been an invalid? I haven’t, but I am starting to get a taste of what it is like, and I definitely don’t like it. Not one bit! This whole year so far has been a time of being knocked down followed by a period of trying to get better, only to be knocked back down and start all over. And now a third time, all because of two little polyps that together were smaller than an eraser on a pencil but with the potential to kill me if left unattended. I feel like the old middle weight boxer in the 12th round of a 15 round fight, getting the stuffing beat out of him, and nobody will throw in the towel.



Am I going down a road that no one else has traveled? Heavens, no. There are those who have traveled much harder roads, for longer periods, and probably did it with less complaining. This road of mine has been specially laid out by my loving Heavenly Father, who is still molding me and shaping me into the kind of man he wants me to be when I finally leave the bounds of this Earth and join Him in Glory Land. I’m not sure just what he is trying to accomplish but I do know that it has nothing to do with my physical being, how I look or feel, but will have more to do with my spiritual being, my integrity, how I relate to others, compassion, love, all those Christ-like attributes I apparently am lacking. Surely there must be more to this than giving me fodder to write about. But try as I may, this is the thing that dominates my life and hence, pretty much obscures all else as far as subject matter.



I am not sure if this is because God desires you to read about what I am going through to encourage you or others when you are faced with similar trials, or if it is to show you that no matter what happens in your life, God, the church and most of your friends will be there to help you through the most difficult of days. This year I have had to rely on others to for some of the yard work and getting in my winter supply of wood. (Well, rather the fall and spring supply of wood, since I have no intention of being here in the winter.)



Because of my weakness, others are being allowed to use their spiritual gifts to help Jeri and me. There have been times when I have been the helper, now I am the helpee. It is not an easy position to be in, but I understand it. In order for God to use the gifts of believers, someone has to need help. That doesn’t mean that God intentionally knocks people down just so someone can exercise their gifts; no, Satan takes care of that side. God just provides the help when we need it. He then uses the experience to teach us about ourselves, and about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have written about what I have learned in a previous article, and soon there will be a part 2. Any experience, good or bad, has things we must learn. If we do not, then it is a waste of time and energy.

Now my friend Marcus Carpenter is starting down the cancer road that I first began four years ago. I can relate to the anxiety that he and Sharon are going through. He will be deluged with information and choices to make that will begin to overwhelm him. He faces, at the very least, surgery, then maybe radiation and/or chemotherapy. None of it is pleasant. It means the next year or two will be spent fighting this cancer and then fighting to get well. It is a fight and it takes a strong will to endure. Marcus is in good health, which will make recovery easier. And I know he has a strong will to live and serve God. What we need to do as a church family is to be there with encouragement, prayer, and availability to help in what ever area they need when they ask. Marcus has been much like me, very self-sufficient and able to handle things himself. But the time has come when in the days ahead, they will need help and we need to be there for them. He and Sharon will have to make choices on type of treatment, doctors, and where to have all this done, and we need to support them in what ever they decide.


I have gone through two different kinds of cancer and on this day I am cancer free. I have no idea what tomorrow or next year or the year after will bring, but today I am cancer free because of the expertise of the doctors at OHSU, the gifts of knowledge and insight that God has given them, and most of all the prayers of so many people all over this nation: care groups, Sunday school classes, people I know nothing about, but because of one or two friends getting their church to pray for me has made the difference. Now we must join forces and pray for God’s best for Marcus and Sharon. Then in a year maybe we will be able to sing “Halleluiah” three times for Marcus.






Sunday, August 22, 2010

McCall, Idaho

A couple of weeks ago Jeri and I took a short trip to McCall, Idaho.  As the crow flies, McCall is only 100 miles straight east of us, but by highway it is about 215 miles.  The Eagle Cap Mountains and Snake river sort of get in the way.  The big draw for this area is the pristine skiing in the winter and Payette lake for water sports and fishing in the summer.  And golf.  I don't do the first two but I do the third. 

Payette Lake is over 5,000 acres and seven miles long and at 5,000 feet elevation.  Located on a peninsula sticking out into the lake is Ponderosa State Park, a beautiful mountain campground with over 200 camp sites that are well spaced out.
 Unfortunately, they do have rodents, aka chipmunks and squirrels, that apparently look for new places to take up residence.  Jeri kept hearing a noise so we investigated and found that one of them had been gnawing on the electrical cord door.  A good dowsing of WD-40 on the cord and door seemed to discourage any further reshaping of the entrance. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tribute

VIEW FROM THE RIDGE
Eph 1:4 Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.

Life is a lot like flying. Most of my hours of flying in the air force were routine and mundane, punctuated by moments of sheer terror when we would have engine fires and what not. Most of the days of our lives are much the same, except for the ones we would like to forget. Such a day was Sunday for our close friends Bob and Sue, who lost their 24 year old son, Scott, to a car accident. He had been driving home from town in the early morning hours and apparently fell asleep, drove into the loose gravel, lost control and was killed instantly. Yes, he was wearing a seat belt.

I first met Bob and Sue six years ago. We had just returned from wintering south where the snow doesn’t fly and they had started attending our church while we were gone. We met them the first time in Sunday school with the usual “Hi, how are you?” and I immediately forgot their names since I have terminal short-term memory loss. By the next Sunday, I was able to nail down (sort of) the “Bob and Sue” part and they were in the row in front of us. Jeri nudged me during the last song at the end of the service and said “How about we ask this new couple to join us for lunch?” I gave my OK, but only because I trust Jeri’s intuition. On the other hand, I was mentally weighing the option of what to talk about with people I barely knew. I wanted to avoid a reeeeally loooong 45 minute lunch that seems like 3 hours. What it turned out to be was a reeeally long 2 hour lunch that seemed like 45 minutes. We got on the subject of travel and where we had been and where they had been. That is when they introduced us to short term medical missions with Global Health Outreach (GHO). Bob and Sue have been on trips as pharmacists to Ecuador, Honduras and Nigeria and usually taking one or two of their kids with them. And that is how we met Scott.

Scott was on two of the trips we eventually took to Ecuador, and was on the trip that my grandson and I took to Nigeria. He was a quiet guy, reserved, and usually secluded himself in the pharmacy counting pills or assisting in surgery. But he was always there helping with the heavy stuff when loading or unloading luggage and supplies. He was a neat kid, fun to be around, lots of potential, very bright and deserved more than the 24 years that he was allotted.

There should be a rule, an 11th commandment, something that says a parent shall not have to bury a child. Yet in the forty some years that we have been in La Grande First Baptist this is not the first and it won’t be the last. Over the years Jeri and I have seen too many friends lose children to various and sundry causes, mostly to car accidents.

But never in my life have I had to watch a friend bury two sons in three years. And that is what Bob and Sue will be doing this week. I cannot imagine the heartache of losing one child, but to lose two ----- I don’t have words for that.

Some of you will be asking “How can a loving God allow a family to have two adult children taken from their arms?” There is only one answer. As Christians we worship a loving God who has been down that same road. He knows and understands what it means to lose a son. He allowed Jesus to die on a cross, watched him suffer unimaginable atrocities, to be the last blood sacrifice for sin so that we who choose Jesus as Lord and Savior can spend eternity in Heaven. That is what separates Christianity from all the other religions of the world. The one we worship sacrificed Himself on the cross for us. He didn’t ask us to sacrifice ourselves in a Jihad. He isn’t telling us that we will be reincarnated as something else. He is promising eternal life with Him in Heaven.

Our time on this earth was determined before the foundations were laid. Our arrival and departure dates were already set before time began. Because God is in control, nothing happens that surprises Him.

I again spent time reading about Job and all he went through. I look at Bob and Sue and see a modern day Job experience. I can picture Satan and God having their daily meeting and the conversation going like this: GOD said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Bob? There's no one quite like him--honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil." Satan retorted, "So do you think Bob does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does--he can't lose! "But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to your face, that's what." GOD replied, "We'll see. Go ahead--do what you want with all that is his. Just don't hurt him." Then Satan left the presence of GOD.

Twice God has allowed Satan to strike Bob and Sue’s family. Twice Satan has lost. Twice Satan has tried to destroy the ministry and testimony that Bob and Sue spread through their pharmacy business and across the world through health missions. Satan has caused them tremendous grief and heart ache, but I know that their resolve is not weakened. They will come back stronger for this, be able to minister and council with others who will lose children, and be the servants for Christ that they have dedicated their lives to be.

The last Chapter of Job God restores all that Satan took from Job. GOD blessed Job's later life even more than his earlier life. He ended up with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. Job 42:12 -13.

 When Bob’s first son died, he left three small girls behind. Bob and Sue adopted those girls and are now raising them, not as grandchildren but as their children. Only God sees the big picture. We just get bits and pieces and have to trust God for the strength and energy to fulfill our part of the puzzle. Thanks, Bob and Sue, for your great faith, testimony and witness for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

p.s.  No, Bob, you may not bring out to my place the 14,000 sheep when they arrive! 



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Update

VIEW FROM THE RIDGE

OK, I get it. The general thought on any issue is that about 5 percent or less of people will complain to the powers to be and the other 95 percent will sit on their hands and grumble among themselves. So when several of my friends wondered why I had not written anything lately, they suggested that I bring everyone up to date on what ever progress I am making in recovering from the surgery and radiation. To be honest, I still am reluctant to write about myself, but the fact is – that is the only place my mind has been for the last six months. It has been 8 weeks since I last wrote, 8 weeks since we left Portland and our last visit with the doctors. And that is where we are back to today as I write this – back in Portland, back to the doctor.

Over the last eight weeks there have been some improvements in some areas of my health, none in others. Two or three weeks after we left Portland and returned home I caught a cold. That was one of my fears, that I would catch a cold and not know it because of the already existing head congestion and stuffiness. Therefore, when it became obvious, it was near terminal. Well, not really but it sure felt like it. The doctors put me on 500 mg of antibiotics three times a day and 65 mg. of Sudafed three times a day for 10 days. That meant adding a two o’clock pill taking time to my daily schedule, like I needed something else to worry about. Well, that got rid of the cold, but there was something still blocking my nasal passages and I was still having difficulty breathing through my nose. Difficult as in virtually impossible.

Sleep has been fitful to put it mildly. Lacking the ability to breathe through my nose means sleeping with my mouth open, which leads to a dry mouth and throat and the tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth. Since saliva acts as a preventative against tooth decay, I have been advised to use a fluoride rinse three times a day. There have been nights where I was up more than I slept. I use a saline flush to try and clean out my nasal passages four or five times a day. It has, for the most part, not been successful. But even when it is, the congestion and stuffiness returns within an hour or two. The drainage has decreased significantly, but is still present. The frustration of trying to breath and not being able to is wearing on me. It dominates my every waking moment, making it difficult to concentrate on other priorities, almost impossible to think ahead. And that, my friends, is what brings us full circle back to Portland and the surgeon.

It is not that things have gotten worse. It is that there has not been any progress in getting better. It has been eight weeks and I expected to see some improvement. So today, July 13th, we saw Dr. Gross and he also was concerned that things had not improved at least some. He cleaned out a bunch of gunk and scoped both sides. He said that both nasal passages are healing nicely, that the right side (non-surgery side) is not responding as quickly as he would like, but that happens sometimes. The radiation my have affected it more than they would have liked. But it will get better, in time, and in its own good time.

As for the left side, where the surgery and radiation took place, it also is healing nicely, there is no evidence of any new growths, but there is scaring and some of that scaring is growing together, which narrows the air passage. Add drainage from somewhere in the sinuses and you have blockage. Therefore we are now beginning a two week regimen of antibiotics and steroids to clean out the sinuses. Four weeks from now we will be back here for a CAT scan of the sinuses and an exam to see where we are and what progress, if any, has happened. At that time they will determine if I will need to have sinus surgery in addition to some minor surgery to deal with the scar tissue that is forming.

On any appointment the nurse weighs you before taking you to an exam room. Being a numbers person, and curious to boot, I asked her what the difference in weight was since my last visit. She looked on the computer, whipped around with a startled look on her face and said “10 lbs. in 8 weeks! Are you trying to lose weight?” I told her no, but I wasn’t fighting it either since I still have some reserve that I could do without. I’m down to 172 and will not worry about it until I hit 165; then we’ll level off.

Eating has definitely been a problem. While some of my taste sensors have returned, it is not perfect. Lack of appetite has been a concern and I find my self eating at least something because I know I have to. Skipped meals have happened on occasion, but usually I force myself to eat. Once in a while I actually enjoy it, but it has been rare.

Then there are the energy and stamina issues to deal with. But since there is no energy, there is nothing to deal with, right? I wish! When we first got home, I could barely play 9 holes of golf, riding in a cart. It took about four attempts before I got where I could play 18 with a cart. Now I can either play 18 or walk 18 but I can’t do both. The last two weeks I have played well on the front 9 scoring in the high thirties, only to run out of gas on the back 9 and shoot mid to high forties. Yesterday Jeri and I played nine holes before heading for Portland. I shot 39, and was glad we were done, because I was not capable of playing another nine. I have been able to do some work around the yard and farm, but after about an hour, I am done and need to go back to the house for an hour or two. This does not concern me because the doctors have told me that it would take a year or two to recover from the surgery and radiation. It has only been eight weeks, so, as hard as it is, I need to be patient. I also know that I need to push myself in order to gain strength and stamina, but I also have to be smart about it and not push too hard. That ain’t easy for a type A personality.

It has not been easy watching other people do things for me. It is a humbling experience and it makes me feel old. Oh, wait, I am old! Well, it makes me feel older than I am. The last two years, before all this happened, I felt really good, was playing the best golf of my life and felt 10 years younger than I am. Now, I feel 10 more than I am, or maybe just as old as I really am. Hard to tell.

I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and his frustration with a physical ailment. I am not worthy to have my name on the same page as Paul or Job, but I am able to relate to what they also had to deal with as far as physical limitations are concerned, and how humbling these limitations can be.

2Co 12:5-10 So I will boast about this man (Christ) ---but I will not boast about myself, except the things that show how weak I am. If I wanted to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will not boast, because I do not want any of you to have a higher opinion of me than you have as a result of what you have seen me do and heard me say. But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: "My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak." I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am not where Paul was as far as being happy and content with the present circumstances, but I think I am getting close. I may be weak now, but I am looking forward to being strong again in Christ. Thank you all again for your prayers and thoughts. Jeri and I treasure all of you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What I have Learned

VIEW FROM THE RIDGE
When I made the decision to write for this blog, I wanted it to have a purpose rather than just one man’s rambling. I believe that the experiences each of us are involved in have a purpose in either teaching us something about God or his principles, or something about ourselves.

(2Co 6:4) Our work as God's servants gets validated--or not--in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times;

Or it just might not have anything to do with us but be for the benefit of those who are watching us – family, friends and neighbors – and how we react and respond to trials and hardship. With that in mind, I spent an afternoon reading Job again to refresh my memory of Job’s reaction to his excruciating pain and his “friend’s” attempt to minister and consol him. I had just come out of my daily radiation treatment and was not having a good day. Misery seeks company; hence I went to the book of Job.

If you have kept up with my blogs you are aware of what all I have been through. And, yes, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you.

(1st Peter 4:1) Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.

I have learned not to expect to get my own way. I am still pampered and watched over by wife and family, but I am also told in no uncertain terms that some things are going to be done a certain way, whether I like it or not. I have accepted that.

(Job 3:23) What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?

I have learned that when stuff happens in our lives, it does not have to make sense. I have leaned this over my lifetime of watching others have trials and hardships overwhelm them with no explainable reason. Jeri and I have had some of this and we no longer question God and what he allows to happen in our lives, because we have no idea what he has also protected us from. I cannot count the number of times that I should have been killed or severely injured by accidents. I have now battled two different cancers; one very common in men and very treatable with high percentage of survivability; the other is clear on the other end of the spectrum, almost as rare as hen’s teeth and with questionable survivability. Like Job, I am tempted to ask what I did to deserve this journey and then I have to remember that I am human and have sinned and probably deserve a lot worse. I truly believe that I have been blessed.

(Job 33:19-20) "Or, God might get their attention through pain, by throwing them on a bed of suffering, So they can't stand the sight of food, have no appetite for their favorite treats.

I have learned to eat something even when the thought of food turns my stomach. It is part of not having my own way. The doctors told me that I would lose my taste and lose weight and I laughed at them. I went through 8 weeks of radiation on my prostate and never missed a meal and worked like crazy to not GAIN weight. The first three weeks of this treatment series, I proved I was right! Unfortunately, they were also right. The last two weeks I have lost 10 lbs. From the second week on, food has tasted like metal or chalk, sometimes metallic chalk. No appetite. I pick at food and then leave it. Be careful what you pray for. Prior to January I had been praying for discipline to lose weight. I thought that going through surgery in February would have done it, but nooo, my body thumbed its nose at me and gained weight. I was appalled at the picture taken in Hawaii in March. So much for Pride!

(2Co 1:4) He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

I have learned the truth of this scripture by the number of people God has brought along side of us these last few months. I am encouraged by all the people who have passed through Portland and visited, invited us over to their rigs to visit and enjoy a meal, even played golf with me. I have especially enjoyed the mostly weekly lunches and discussions Bob Brown and I have shared.

(1Th 3:2) and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn't be discouraged by these hard times. He's a brother and companion in the faith, God's man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ.
(1Th 3:7) In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you're doing keeps us going.

I have learned the value of phone calls, cards and e-mail and how much those small gestures lift up and encourage someone when they are not feeling well. I have been one of those that wanted to call but didn’t know what to say. Well, I have learned that it doesn’t matter what you say, just hearing your friendly voice will usually start the conversation. It is always good to hear what is going on in your life, because right now I am tired of mine. Who knows, maybe sharing your troubles will cheer me up!

(Rom 12:10-12) Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
(2Th 1:4) We're so proud of you; you're so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We tell everyone we meet in the churches all about you.

I have learned just how many friends I have, and they are many! I am again blessed beyond measure. I am astounded by the number of friends, friends of friends, churches, care groups, Sunday school classes, you name it, all across this country from coast to coast that are praying for good results from this treatment. I have no idea how God will answer, but I know He hears, and He will answer, and I will accept with thanks what ever that answer is. I expect y’all to hold me to that and remind me if the answer is not what we want.

I have also learned that I do NOT have any friends like Job’s and for that I am extremely grateful. Thank you for all the encouraging notes and e-mails.

(1Pe 5:9) Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith.

I have – AGAIN – been taught that no matter how bad things are there is always someone else who is worse off. I see that every day in the waiting room as young, old and in-between shuffle off into one of the machines waiting to have their various and sundry cancers hopefully radiated into oblivion. Some go in wheelchairs; some come with IV’s attached because they are also undergoing chemo therapy. I can not imagine what that must be like. Today I am truly thankful for the cancer I have because it could be so much uglier. I may not be as thankful down the road, but today I am.

(2Th 1:11-12) Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time--pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.

I have learned that my goal had better be the above scripture. I have tried to live honorably with integrity before God and man. How successful I’ve been will be however I am judged by you and God. Rick Warren was interviewed by Paul Bradshaw and discussed this very subject. He said:

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

(Luke 16:9) I want you to be smart in the same way--but for what is right--using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

And finally;

(Ecc 3:3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

It has been six weeks and 30 treatments in an effort to kill any possible cancer cells that might be lurking somewhere up my nose. They have cooked it, inside and out, and now the waiting period begins, to see if any dare come back to complicate my life once again. They have taken away my energy but have not broken my spirit. It is now time to build my body back up in strength and energy, and to await my new instructions from God as to what my purpose will be for my remaining days. It is now time to let the healing begin.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Treatment Update

VIEW FROM THE RIDGE

Heb 11:1 Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not. KJVR

(Heb 11:1) The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. MSG

I thought it was about time that I brought you all up to speed as to how the radiation treatments are going. As I write this, it is April 26 and Margaret is probably having a conniption because it is not on her desk in finished form. That is what happens when you have a procrastinator writing articles for the newsletter.

I had my 10th treatment today with 23 more to go. Last scheduled treatment is for the 27th of May with an appointment with the surgeon still to be scheduled before we head home. It has been a loooong winter and still a month to go. This will match our longest time away from home when we came south early the year Jeri’s dad became ill and we went to help care for him.

We came home for the weekend of the 17th to open the house, do yard work and touch base with church and friends. Neither of us wanted to come back to Portland. It was so refreshing to see and hug everyone, even if it was only for a minute or two. Your prayers and encouragement are blessings from God.

My daily “work” schedule is get up, get dressed and show up at 8:30 a.m. every morning at OHSU Radiology Department, Monday through Friday, and subject myself to radiation from a six million dollar robot that can take x-rays, CT scans and project radiation to areas within .5 millimeters. The Novalis Tx™ is also a powerful radiosurgery system that offers state-of-the-art, non-invasive treatment of malignancies and other potentially debilitating conditions, without harming nearby healthy tissue and without involving traditional surgery. It is truly an amazing machine as it rotates 360 degrees around my head. The table I lay on is also capable of rotating 360 degrees so that they can focus the beam of radiation in an infinite number of angles to treat virtually any area of the body.

It takes three technicians to prepare the patient and run the computers. Each patient has a specific program and once started the machine is on automatic and progresses through the 9 to 11 different stages that make up a program. A form fitting mask, made during the first set up appointment, is placed over my head and strapped very tightly down so that there is no way I can move my head during treatment. For the next ten minutes the machine rotates to a programmed stop, radiates for anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds, moves on to the next stop. The table I am laying on moves during three of these stops. The following web site at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY0GDjWXnPQ has a 3 minute video of how the machine operates.

On Mondays I meet with the radiology oncologist and he asks me how I am doing and he looks at my nose, up my nose and the roof of my mouth to see how I am tolerating the radiation and that nothing else is being damaged. Other than having a dry mouth from not being able to breath through my nose, the main effect of the radiation is fatigue. It hit me after the 8th treatment, which was about a week before I expected it. The doctors are telling me that it will get worse as we progress through the treatments. That is NOT what I wanted to hear! It is now Tuesday, I just returned from my 11th treatment and I am exhausted, and it is only Tuesday. I think maybe we are getting some direction as to what to pray for. Try energy. And maybe patience.

This is where faith comes into play. I have faith that God is still in control, and there is a purpose for this where His name will be glorified. He has already used many of you in prayer and encouragement for Jeri and me. I have faith that the people who worked up the computer program for the radiation protocol know what they are doing and came up with the right numbers. I have faith that every day I lay under that powerful machine there will not be some computer glitz that causes it to malfunction and burn a hole through my nose and out my jaw bone. Based on the reliability of my home computers, this is taking faith and trust to a whole new level.

Again, thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. We both greatly appreciate them.










Tuesday, April 6, 2010

50 Years

View from the Ridge

Pro 31:10-31 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!" Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-GOD. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises! MSG

Sometime during the year 1955 a very shy, snot-nosed kid of 16 starts noticing a 15 year old Valley girl cheerleader. Their first date was the summer of 1956 when he finally got up the nerve to ask her out. The church youth group was going to meet at Zuma beach for the grunion run. Grunion are a small fish that come up on the beach at high tide and spawn and people take nets and buckets and try to catch them. I equate this to one step above a snipe hunt.

Like a snipe, they never found the group and sat on the beach until way past the time the grunion were suppose to show up – which they never did. The teenagers suddenly realized that they had only 20 minutes to get “Valley Girl” home before curfew and a showdown with a very controlling father. Unfortunately, this was normally a 30 minute or better drive through Malibu canyon. The now 17 year old idiot decided it was better to risk life and limb rather than face her father’s wrath and the two took off for home. Driving his 46 Ford convertible like a Porsche, the young man makes it to her door step just as the checkered flag drops, with no time to spare. This was the beginning of the life and times of Mike and Jeri. She got a hint of what life was going to be like with me and married me anyway. We have never lacked for adventure and excitement.

Our wedding took place on April 2nd, 1960. I was just 21; Jeri was 19. I was fresh out of flight school and our honeymoon was a two week trip to Topeka, Kansas, stopping at Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Denver and the Royal Gorge Bridge. I was this dashing young Lieutenant navigator who appeared headed for a military career. Jeri was yet unaware of my secret dreams of farming – and I was not about to tell her.

We spent 18 months in Topeka, where Chuck was born, 30 months in Newfoundland where Kris was born, 4 years in Pomona going to college, then six years in La Grande where Andy was born and Lani arrived from Korea. Then it was out to the farm in Summerville where we will mark 36 years this summer.

There are varied reasons a marriage lasts 50 years. Ours boils down to two. The first is that God was a part of this relationship from the beginning. I was a new Christian at 17 and I can specifically remember praying and asking God to show me who He had chosen for my future wife. I didn’t want to waste my time dating girls just to be dating and I was surely interested in Jeri, also a Christian; so I let God know that it would be fine with me if she was the one. Besides if Jeri ever rejected me, I am not sure I would have ever had the nerve to ask anyone else out on a date.

The second is that Jeri is probably the only woman on this planet that could put up with me for 5 years, let alone 50. The above scripture is a living testimony to what she has been for me over the years. What has it been like?

The short version is like this: 1) One week after arriving in Topeka, I have to go to Arkansas for a week of tropical survival school, leaving her in our new mobile home still parked at the dealership not 30 feet from a railroad track, in the heart of tornado valley; 2) 18 months later I move her, 2 month old Chuck and the mobile home to California near her folks while I ship out to Newfoundland; 3) Thee months later, she sells the trailer, drives with my mother to Indianapolis in February where I meet them and drive back up to Newfoundland. Mind you, before our marriage Jeri had never been out of the state of California, yet in less than two years she has had one kid and moved three times, a total of over 7,000 miles. Jeri was used to two seasons: summer and not so summer. In Newfoundland there were three seasons: spring (one month), fall (one month), and winter the rest of the year where 250 inches of snow is common. She now has two kids and a husband that is on alert 1/3rd of the time plus flying a couple of days a week.

4) Deciding military life, particularly flying, is not for us, we separate from the Air Force and move 4,000 miles back to California and college for me. Jeri starts working in 1964 as a police/fire dispatcher on swing shift and promptly gives notice that her last day of work will be June of 1968, whether I graduate or not. Just a tad bit of pressure applied for me to hold up my part of the bargain.

Then, 5) we move to La Grande where we live high on the hog while I am Purchasing Manager at the Fleetwood plant, making more money than I have good sense. Mean while Jeri gives birth to Andy and a year later we adopt Lani. Four years later, not content with that prosperity, I return to my idiot 17 year old self and decide that I would rather farm and raise hogs. 6) Three years into the hog and farm thing Jeri and I both have to go back to work in order for the six of us to eat. She works for a while at the post office, and then works in admitting at the local hospital. During this time we move on to the place a 75-year-old house that had been rented out and then used for storage for the previous 5 years and I ask her to make this a home. And she does! This large, two story house is not pretty enough to qualify as ugly, yet she makes it a home. She also planted and cared for a garden, baled hay, drove grain truck, fed sows and cleaned hog pens when I broke my arm, cared for two and three litters of pigs in our bathroom when we would loose a sow or the pigs were rejected by the mother, cared for runt pigs, got up in the middle of the night as we took turns checking on sows ready to give birth, chased cows and horses when they escaped, and raised four kids. In addition she taught Jr. High Sunday school for 32 years. Nothing out the ordinary for a farm-wife, but she never signed up to be a farm-wife. That was never in the picture when I asked her to marry me. I’m reminded of the greeting card with the grizzled old cowboy stating “There were a hell of a lot of things they didn’t tell me before I signed up with this outfit.” Yep!

7) The farm thing doesn’t work out and it is clear that if I don’t change careers – again – we will loose everything. So Jeri continues to work and I am off to college again for two years. Then God, with his great sense of humor, decides that I need to be an IRS agent, which requires 8 months of training in Portland and California and Jeri working. The winter of 1988 I am in Portland, coming home on weekends, hauling hay back to where the horses are and Jeri is having to trek a half mile each way through the snow to feed every day.

You might ask “What were the kids doing?” They were an immense help where they could be, but that is another story. I don’t think you can farm without your kids help, but by 1988 only one was still at home.

Jeri continued to work until the mid-nineties when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A cruel blow but one she has accepted with the grace and dignity shown with life’s past challenges.

Now, with both of us well into retirement, she has watched her husband fight cancer – twice. She cared for me in 2006 as I went through 8 weeks of radiation treatments for prostate cancer, living out of our 5th wheel in Portland, and now in 2010 caring for me again as I have recovered from surgery for Mucosal Melanoma and facing additional radiation for that. Again, living out of our 5th wheel in Portland.

In all the years that we have been married, with all the moves, career changes, trials and tribulations, never once, N-E-V-E-R once has she complained or suggested that I do something different. Never once has she implied that I was off on some fool’s chase, needed to be doing better, or complained about moving or about our living conditions. I have asked her to follow me to New Zealand, Israel, Jordan, Fiji, Tasmania, Mexico, Canada and Ecuador, up back roads and down trails trying to see what was around the corner or next bend, over the next hill or down to a secluded beach. Life with me has not been easy, but it also has not been dull. Not a fat chance of that ever happening!

Is she a saint? To me she is! Is she the only one? No. There are other guys out there that could write about their wives that would equal or better this story. But today it is my turn, to try and give her everything she deserves and to shower her with praises.

"Many women have done wonderful things, but you, Jeri, have outclassed them all!"

With all my love, forever, Mikey