View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Saturday, December 31, 2016

 Ecclesiastes 3:1,4   There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to weep, and a time to laugh;  a time to mourn, and a time to dance.    

  Job 23:14  He will fulfill what He has planned for me; that plan is just one of the many he has.

Billy Graham, speaking at the memorial service for those lost in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 

Speaking of tragedies in our lives, Billy Graham said: "Times like this will do one of two things: They will either make us hard and bitter and angry at God, or they will make us tender and open, and help us reach out in trust and faith. I pray that you will not let bitterness poison your soul, but that you would turn in faith and trust to God, even if we cannot understand. It is far better to face something like this with God's strength than to face it alone and without Him. My prayer for you today is that you will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around you, and will know in your heart that He will never forsake you as you trust Him."

Yes, it is a time to dance!  2016, which has been a dog of a year for the most part,  has ended on a high note. The results of the PET-Scan are that the tumor in my left lung is GONE, the cancer in my lymph node on my right rib cage is GONE, and the cancer in my left sinus below my left eye is greatly reduced.  Most of the sinus reduction is due to the radiation to stop the bleeding, which has worked like a charm.  The fact that the cancer in the lung and right rib cage is gone indicates that the Immunotherapy is working.  

I had the PET-Scan on the 27th but didn’t get the results until late afternoon on the 30th.  Seems that the last week of the year is when most of the doctors at OHSU take off for vacation, which means if you have a scan during this week, more than likely your doctor will not be available to read the report and call you with the results, and he is the only one that can do that. 

I, unfortunately, fell into this “black hole of no information” and it was only resolved  by my calling for 3 straight days, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day begging for the results. I knew that if I didn’t get the results by Friday, I would not get the results until next Tuesday because of the three day New Years Weekend.  It is bad enough waiting two or three days for the results that are usually available after 24 hours, but to have to wait seven days, that is unacceptable.  My doctor’s nurses finally got him to check his phone messages and he called me Friday afternoon at four.  We had just left our appartment to pick up a prescription when the phone rang so I pulled over to hear the results.  It is a good thing I did because emotionally I was unable to drive.  Jeri and I sat in the car and literally cried.  There is a tremendous release of emotions when you are expecting bad news and instead you receive the best news possible. 

The “elephant in the room” had  started moving out of his corner about three weeks before the scan, moving to the center where you are.  He lines himself up and about a week before the scan he starts lowering himself to sit squarely on your chest.  By the time of the scan you can hardly breathe or even think of anything else until you hear the results. 

The problem this time is that I have been through this so many times over the last 10 years that I expected negative results.  The type of cancer, very deadly with low survival rates, the low success rate with Immunotherapy, my age, all played a role in my low expectations of the results.  Yet the God that I serve and worship has again answered the thousands of prayers that gone up on my behalf by all of you. 

A couple of days ago, my dear friend Tammy in Ecuador posted the following on face book.  I don’t know if it was meant for me but it surely applied to me. 

God has promised to be with you always. Trust and rest in his promises!
Definitely yes there is someone who will never fail you.
Will be with you always, no matter the circumstances or your actions.
What he has promised you, God will fulfill it.
So rest and trust in God.
God is good!
" know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God,
Who keeps his covenant and His loving kindness to a thousandth generation with those who love him and keep his commandments.
" Deuteronomy 7:9

 So for 2017 we have a new plan.  On Jan. 9th we will start the first of 6 more infusions of the Immunotherapy, one every three weeks, then another PET-Scan.  No one has any idea if this will be successful, but it is all we have.  It doesn’t really matter because God is in control as He has already demonstrated.  God has already determined the number of my days and no one can change that.  It appears that I have more ahead than I thought I had last week.  Yet God could call me home today, tomorrow or next year.  He is in control.

Before all of this was Christmas week end.  All our kids and their spouses and our grandkids and their spouses were able to assemble at Randy and Lani’s for Christmas eve and Christmas  day.  What a great time we had visiting, reminiscing and playing games.

 I think all of us were thinking that this just might be the last Christmas that I would be 
around to celebrate.   And it still might be, God only knows that.  But for now we had a Christmas to remember.  If I am to be granted another, praise God.  If not, then I will be in heaven, praise God. 

Please pray for Jeri, as her Parkinson’s is not any better and will not get any better.  We are still adjusting her medication but it has been a challenge because we aren’t getting consistent results.

Again, we both thank you all for your prayers, visits, cards, emails, etc., etc.   It all means a great deal and we appreciate it so much. We pray that the new year will be a year of joy and good health for all.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thunder and turbulence

Every time we experience a trial, the world watches to see the substance of our faith - watches to see if we maintain our love and devotion; watches to see if God will see us through this difficult time. There may often be no better way to minister to others than to simply praise God in the middle of our own trials - no better way to show that God is real than by making Him real in our own life. - Steve Troxel 

Date line:  November 2003

Our Sunday school class has been studying the 12 Apostles.  Two of the lessons were on James and John, described as “The Sons of Thunder”.  During class we discussed what emotions the word “thunder” brought to mind, what kind of personalities James and John might have had.  But what came to my mind were the mighty thunder storms that were encountered on an early Kansas summer night in 1961.

 I was the navigator of a five member crew on a KC-97 tanker that was returning from an air refueling mission down near the Missouri /Arkansas border.  I had picked up on the radar a line of thunder storms between us and our home base in Topeka, Kansas.  It was impossible to fly over them as the tops of many were 30,000 ft and more and the ceiling on a KC-97 was a little over 20,000 ft.  It was a dangerous proposition to fly under them as there were usually turbulent winds and down drafts under these storms and sometimes large hail.  The line was so long it was not feasible to fly around one end or the other.  Our only option, if we wanted to get home that night, was to fly along  the leading edge of the front and find an open space in the storm to fly through to the other side.  We had done this before and it was always a piece of cake.

We made several attempts to turn left in between two thunder heads only to have them merge or close off  in front of us so that we would have to do 180 degree turns and make hasty retreats to safety while enduring turbulent winds and lightning all around us.  As we made another attempt, it again looked on the radar to be clear, and then I could see the area closing off and becoming a solid storm cell on the radar.  I called to the pilot to make a 180 degree turn.  As we rolled out on the new heading, I could see on the radar screen that it had also closed off behind us and we were now in the center of this beast.  The lightning and turbulence increased as I searched the radar screen for any weak areas that we could head for.  I finally told the pilot that we were going to have to fight our way out of this and if we had to do that, we might as well end up on the home side of these storms.  So he did another 180 and we plowed our way through.  It felt like some large hand had a hold of the tail end of that plane and was slamming it on a table.  Stuff in the cabin was flying everywhere.  It was the worst air turbulence I ever experienced.  It was only by the grace of God that the airplane held together.  It gave me a new appreciation for the Air Force mandate that “There is no peace time mission that requires you to fly through a thunder storm”. 

In our lives here on earth, we will – not perhaps, but will – have thunder storms placed directly in our paths.  They may be placed there by God to change our course, or by Satan to harass us, but the choice we will have to make is whether we choose to attack it head on and fight, or go around or between and avoid the conflict. 

Sometimes God closes doors, blocks roads and puts up hurdles to keep us from danger or failure, yet we are so bent on accomplishing our wills that we try and break down the closed doors, plow through the blocked roads and jump the hurdles only to receive exactly what we deserve on the other side – disappointment. 

On any journey in life God will give us choices along the way.  What we do with those choices determines the type of journey we will have.  The journey God has taken me on has not been the fast track to success, was not the smoothest of roads and was certainly not the shortest distance between two places, nor the quickest.  Some of the choices I made resulted in the journey being longer and more difficult than it could have been if I had been more cooperative and submissive to God’s will along the way.  He was going to teach me about Himself and myself whether I wanted to learn or not and it was always up to me how long and how hard the lessons were going to be.  Being the rock head that I was, and can still be on occasion, they were long and hard.  But, the lessons were learned, the road traveled was not the one I would have chosen, yet it was the perfect route for the lessons I needed to learn. 

So, the next time your journey in life is suddenly diverted from the freeway to a gravel side road by a storm, slow down and enjoy the scenery and look for the road signs that might be lessons for you to learn.  Remember that God is in control and you are not there by accident. It may take a little or a lot longer to arrive where you are going, but God will get you there.