Hello Friends:  Alan Here. FYI:  I’ve changed up Chemo Day from Tuesday to Wednesday so Misty and I can participate in a small group at church on every other Tuesday night.  When the opportunity to participate showed itself it was squarely on my chemo day and I went through an immediate problem solving exercise:

Should I…

  1. Paint Eyelids?
  2. Talk to former Pro Baseball players about “performance enhancing drugs” that could help.
  3. Talk to Strom Thurmond’s former staff members and learn secrets of success in spite of sleeping through meetings.

I'm falling asleep but I look awake!!!!

Does this even need a caption?

All these had good potential, but then I thought, Hey, let’s just move chemo to Wednesday.  This allows me to be as fresh as I get for this meeting tonight.  Woops.  I think I just took away lots of potential excuses for low-performance.  Oh well.

This week has been really OK.  I’ve been tired a lot.  The liver pain has been right on time and very similar to paste cycles.  It was a little more intense and I’m praying that it just means out with the old, in with the new.  Unwanted passengers get off the vehicle!!!

I keep having performance anxiety these days as I go to pick up the computer.  In fact, I’m not even sure right now what I’m writing.  And my mind wanders. As frequently is the case, its just wandered to Five Guys Cheeseburgers and Fries.  Really, if you haven’t gone there, you must.  Simple goodness.  Burgers and hand cut fries.  So I got out of the house by myself four days ago and ended up hungry and within sight of a Five Guys.  So I walked in there.  I don’t know about you, but some days I’ve got things prayed up and tucked away.  Other days I can be so cranky and critical.  I’d like to blame it on low-blood sugar, but I was seriously cranky while approaching the burger-dispensary.  There was ONE cashier and two ladies ahead of me.  Each of the ladies took more than six minutes to communicate their order. Yes, I timed it.  My face said it all.  “Can’t you just get your order in in a timely manner, Ma’am????”  Things were getting off to a bad start.

So it was my turn to order.  It took me 32 seconds to order and transact.  Yes, I timed it.  So I grabbed some roasted peanuts and sat down with my iced tea.  Nibbling on a few goober peas helped my attitude a little, but not much.  I’m sitting by myself and I’m just checking out the room.  To my left I see a couple bankers.  One had on really bad shoes.  (If you know me from business, you may know that I have rigid shoe requirements for business dress)  The guy with really bad shoes gets up to get a refill on his soda.  He’s got cerebral palsy.  The bad shoes with the suit were what he needed to be able to not slip around with his altered gait.  I’m feeling like a real JERK at about this point in my cheeseburger experience.  So I get my burger and bushel of fries and settle in to chow.   As I do, I notice a couple sit down right in front of me and they have a tiny baby.  Really cute kid.  Maybe 3 weeks old.  At this point, I’m pretty calloused to the sound of crying babies.  But it did occur to me that I’d probably have to struggle through my burger with the cries of this baby three feet away squalling for a bottle or something.  About the time such a selfish thought occurred, I noticed that the baby’s mom and dad were very quite.  In fact, they were not speaking.  They were signing to one another.  So mom and dad are deaf/hearing impaired, and baby is either really happy or understands that crying loud doesn’t get her anywhere with her parents.  They would be really glad and happy to be able to hear a squalling baby, wouldn’t they?

I started thinking, “Wow, God is trying to show and teach me something here.”  Too many things were happening at once and in a related fashion.  I’d love to let you know something profane…I mean profound that I was able to learn from this.  Other than “don’t be an A-Hole, you might not know the whole story” I didn’t really get anything strong out of this.  And I’m convinced that God was trying to show and teach me something.  God speaks to us a lot.  He has lots of ways and manners in which to give us His words.  In Five Guys I feel like I missed something He was trying to say to me.  I’ve seen how specifically loud God can communicate to us.  I’m guessing that at times God’s voice is intoned with higher volume than others, but I think the more telling variable is how ready out ears are.  When I’ve heard (clearly) what God has to say it’s been when I’ve prayed up my awareness, my defenses and defeated my desire to steer the bus.  It was an odd set of circumstances that progressed at Five Guys last week.  Don’t get me wrong;  the burger was its standard perfection of fresh ground cow parts a la flat grill.  The fries were likewise outstanding…bringing their earthy flavor to bear while surrounded by the flavor and shimmer of peanut oil and salt.  BUT, I feel that I missed something that day.  Maybe some conversation I was supposed to have.  Perhaps some insight I was supposed to pick up from my surroundings.

Yeah, I was feeling a little self-pity that day but I don’t think the message was “Hey, you could require 20 minutes to order a burger or you could have CP or you could be deaf.”   None of those are bad messages that I couldn’t be enriched to have learned, but I just don’t think this is whatever it was God wanted me to learn that day.  Sad thing is, that’s a great improvement over the days that I don’t even GET that His hand is around me and I need to be aware of it.

It’s up to us to have our equipment at ready.  Sure God CAN turn up the volume to the point that anyone can hear Him.  But that’s not his style is it?  If we are HAM radio operators looking for the valuable transmissions, I guess the squelch that we can control is our presence in the Word and consistency in prayer.  I know that my Five Guys episode was during a time that I was slack in my quiet time.  Wonder what all we’ve missed?

Tomorrow we start Round 13.  I’ve been really nervous walking into Chemo the last few rounds.  It’s just the old “the last dozen times I walked into this room, I got hit in the head with a billy stick”- syndrome.  The smell of slightly stale, slightly burnt coffee in the waiting room makes me want to turn and run (hopefully before vomiting on my shirt).  Monday (Feb 15) we’ll go for a new CT.  We’re praying that the good results reported from December 7 are repeated or eclipsed.  Oh, the waiting…

Let’s all try to find a quietness that at least finds us able to drive some considerate thoughts through our heads.  Let’s try to squelch our HAM(burger?) radio with strong prayer and scripture time so that we can hear what God is communicating to us.  Let’s NOT be sad or discouraged even if we know that we’ve missed reams of communications God has meant for us to pick up as treasures from Him.  God doesn’t give up though the evil one will try to make you believe that you’ve missed your chance.

OK.  I know that I’m supposed to be funnier than this.  I’ll work on some updates for the Jack LaLanne Turbo Leg-Breaker 5000 soon.  I’ve been advised that the recent Dubai Credit Crisis and Fed Seizure of my juicer is confusing for many of you.  For now, however, Misty and I are gonna watch some American Idol and relax.  Thanks for your prayers my friends.  God is good!!  Take care my friends,

Alan

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Hello All.  Alan Here. “Where is here?”, you might ask.  My intention was to write this blog last Tuesday while at chemo clinic to give a Geraldo Rivera “on the scene” account of on-goings in my life.  I’m happy to say that my buddy Randolph showed up and before we knew it we had a huddle of folks having some real nice fellowship in the chemo clinic.  As a result, the window of time for working on this blog was eaten up with happy banter and talk amongst friends at the clinic.  About as soon as the huddle broke up, my vision went to pot (as it does every time during chemo) and writing time was caput.  But, hey, I’m not complaining.  Having friends to talk to and share experiences is a sweet gift from God.

So, it seems that I start this journal entry with an apologetic tone.  Some of you have voiced, “Hey Alan, WHERE ARE YOU?”  (Madge)  I’ll tell you that two things have been in my way to journal entries over the last several days.  One, my liver has felt like a speed bag in the Mexican National Olympic Boxing Team’s training camp.  I take this as a good thing, but it’s hurt like a son of a gun.  I’m under the impression that this pain is the chemo killing what it’s supposed to.  Second hindrance to timely posting on the blog has been my last couple of entries.  These were the story of Jerry and the follow-up there to.  God’s hand has been busy working around us.  I’m convinced that He brought that Discovery Channel show to our eyes and Jerry and his story to our ears and hearts.  I’m more of a writer than an athlete, but to try and put it in athletic terms, Jerry’s story of Heaven was a slow pitch, under-hand, softball thrown my way to be knocked out of the park.  My heart still finds comfort in Jerry’s story and I’m humbled to have been chosen by God to share it with so many of you.  That said, what do you do next?  Evel Knievel had this problem after his first motorcycle jump.  He kept expanding the idiocy of his jumps until he broke every bone in his body.

"Hey, they really liked it when I jumped that school bus. Guess I can jump something bigger and.."

That’s kind of how I feel writing a follow up to Jerry’s story.  But, I guess I can’t hang up my gloves quite yet.

If you’ve read my stuff, you know I LOVE analogy and metaphor.  So Round #12 of chemo is done.  In the modern world of boxing (which according to me and Aiden is no longer a necessary sport with the invention of UFC) 12 Rounds is about the extent of the duration of a fight.  I never really thought that part out when I started referring to my chemo sessions as “Rounds”.  Now I’ve got 12 Rounds under my belt and the modern sport of boxing is starting to lose efficacy as a metaphor for my battle.  When faced with a glaring problem like this in the workplace, I started grabbing in my bag of segues (weird word to write, seems like it should be spelled SEG-WAY).  As usual my bag of segues is bulging at the seam and I see now that my metaphor of boxing is recoverable if I start to think of it as the old bare-fisted prizefighting sport of John L. Sullivan.  See the except from his entry in Wikipedia below:

"Round 12????....I'm just getting started!"

The Kilrain fight is considered to be a turning point in boxing history because it was the last world title bout fought under the London Prize Ring rules and therefore the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title bout. It was also the first American sporting event to receive national press coverage.

For the first time, newspapers carried extensive pre-fight coverage, reporting on the fighters’ training and speculating on where the bout would take place. The center of activity was New Orleans, but the governor of Louisiana had forbidden the fight in that state. Sullivan had trained for months in Belfast, New York under trainer William Muldoon, whose biggest problem had been keeping Sullivan from liquor.

Rochester reporter Arch Merrill commented that occasionally Sullivan would “escape” from his guard, and the cry was heard in the village, “John L. is loose again. Send for Muldoon!” Muldoon would snatch the champ away from the bar and take him back to their training camp.

On July 8, 1889, an estimated 3000 spectators boarded special trains for the secret location, which turned out to be Richburg, a town just south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The fight began at 10:30 the following morning, and it looked as if Sullivan was going to lose, especially after he vomited during the 44th round. But the champion got his second wind after that, and Kilrain’s manager finally threw in the towel after the 75th round.

So back in the day when boxing wasn’t a pretty boy sport, 12 Rounds was just getting started.  Hmmm.  I like that.  Boxing metaphor can remain in use.

Now that I’ve solved my sports metaphor problem, I still need to put my gloves on and fire this blog up again.  I guess I can do it.

Let’s kick it off with a combined prayer request and praise report.  I have a new friend.  His name is Jim and he lives in Missouri.  He just got some rough news from his doctors.  They scanned him and he has a large mass on his liver.  He’s going in for a liver biopsy on February 8 to find out if it’s cancer.  For those that have heard the words “You have a mass”, you know how frightening and damning the statement is to have pointed at you.  Jim is in that stage of fear and uncertainty that takes a tough guy and turns him into soupy oatmeal.  I’d appreciate it if you all could pray for Jim to have comfort and peace as well as healing and sustenance.

While you’re thinking of that, I have something else to add to your prayer.  Two nights ago, Jim asked Christ into his heart as his savior and redeemer.  Please couple rejoicing for Jim’s decision to ask Christ into his heart with your prayer for his health.  God is, indeed GOOD!

So, we’ve stretched my analogy and I’ve thrown a prayer request at you.  I think that I’ve almost made it through my first post-Jerry Story post without actually having written much!  I should probably struggle to add some substance soon…

OK.  Here’s something I’ve learned.  I’m not the only one that’s got a potentially terminal disease.  You do.  So does everyone.  Life is a terminal condition.  We are not promised 76.4 years on this planet.  We need to look at every day as a gift from God.  Also, we need to address the status of our souls knowing that tomorrow is not promised.  My friend Jim is an old man.  He’s had a full and long life.  He could have had a massive cardiac event last week instead of being told he has a mass that could be cancer.  He could have had a car wreck that killed him instantly.  We make assumptions that nice and good folks around us, particularly more senior folks, have settled their affairs with God by asking Jesus to come into their hearts as the counterweight for the sin in which we live and participate in here on earth.  You know what they say happens when you ASSUME, right?  It makes an ASS out of U & ME.  As followers of Christ, it’s embarrassing how easy God has made it to settle our accounts (sins).  He only asks that we acknowledge them (“I’m a sinner”), proclaim our belief in Jesus-God born as man; crucified to death for our sins; Risen and now sitting beside His Father God, and ask Jesus into our hearts as our personal savior.  How embarrassingly easy for us.  How hard for Him.  How cool is that!!!!

Key message for today: Shine the light.  Ask the question:  “Have you settled things with Jesus so you don’t have to worry about eternity?”  What happens next?  God knows and He will give you the ability you need to handle the situation.

Please remember to pray for my friend Jim. Thanks for your prayers for my family.  I shall try to be more regular in my entries (Madge).  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends.  Alan here: It’s not every day that you run across a story like Jerry’s. As much as I’d like to be able to write on such every time I enter a journal, I realize this is not going to happen and that God will provide plenty of other subject matter for us to think on together. BUT, I’ve still got a lot on my mind from the last post about Jerry’s trip to Heaven. Please allow me to get some of it off my chest now…

Jerry said to Misty and me, “It’s pretty sorry when God has to strike you dead to get your attention.” Jerry wasn’t just being funny when he said this. He was pointing a convicting finger at himself. I thought about this a lot and all of a sudden, I’m seeing distinct parallel with my life. Jerry says that it’s pretty sorry that the Lord needs to strike him dead to get his attention. I say, “It’s pretty sorry when God has to allow eight deadly demons into your gut to get your attention.”. Do we need to have life-altering events to get our attention tuned how God wants it?  I guess the answer is, for some of us, maybe so.  While I’m really happy for the perspective I’ve gained in this battle, I often wonder if I could have gotten a fraction of this perspective for a fraction of the health scare (maybe like a compound fracture or a sucking chest wound (don’t ALL chest wounds suck?)).  I can see that many would think that it’s an unfair spiritual advantage to have a cancer diagnosis or a major whooper of a heart attack. Maybe so, but it seems that if everyone needed the remedial “spiritual” help Jerry & I received, most folks would be walking around with half their hearts ischemic or a belly full of tumors. This doesn’t seem sustainable!

So what can we all do to raise the average of spiritual connection to our God…to prevent the need for folks to be struck down dead or chocked full of tumors to get attention tuned properly. “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”

Do we all need the billy club in the head that Paul Newman just got???

Jesus told us to be humble. Some of the most powerful people I’ve met have been very humble. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t be bold or brave or unorthodox when the situation demanded. Maybe I’m a little wrapped up in movie land today, but I’m thinking about Clint Eastwood in the Sphaghetti Westerns and The Outlaw Josey Wales.  Cool, quiet, the new guy in town. Not looking to start any trouble but well-gunned for when it happens.  I’m on a flight of fancy and tangent…I will get back to a point.  Do we all need to be hit in the head or the heart or the gut to get closer to the path God wants us to follow?  Maybe if, as Christians, we would add some boldness to our humility there would be a little less of a “failure to communicate”.

Humble Boldness.  What’s that?  An oxymoron.  Don’t think so.  Examples:

Humble AND Strong

Humble AND Strong

Humble AND Strong

He didn't have to let this happen. Humble AND Strong.

But He stood in Humble Strength to the "charges" against Him.

And carried the weight of our sins here. Humble AND Strong.

All of these were humble AND bold.  Yep, some more than others.  What I think I’m eventually getting to is actually a point.  We all don’t get a Road to Damascus experience.  Most of us probably need one.  Humble is hard in a world that rewards audacity.  As Christians though, I think we really over-do and misunderstand the “humble”-thing and translate it to justify our own apathy and quiet meekness.  We risk offending others by saying “Merry Christmas.”  Our society washes God out of everything.  “In God we Trust” seems such a hypocritical phrase to be stamped on our money.  Do we really trust in God as a nation?  That’s a big question and a debate that we could surely fire up and I’m tabling it for now.  What it does bring to mind is a joy that I receive regularly.  Every so often I’ll talk to someone or have a transaction at a store and in addition to the “thank you’s”, I’ll also receive that person’s suggestion for me to “Have a blessed day.”  For me, I know why the day is blessed.  It’s because God gave me the day and Jesus bought my sins with His blood.  I find it uplifting that someone is Bold enough to insinuate a reference to Christ on a day-to-day basis.  What are we doing to remind others of Christ or to encourage other Christians to be BOLD in their faith.  Are we too embarrassed to mention anything about Christ in the steps of our day?  Or are we just being “humble”?  People might think I’m nuts, but I’m gonna tell everyone I talk to tomorrow that “Jesus loves you”.  If they ask me how I know, I’ll tell them “That the Bible tells me so.”  It’s hard to argue with the logic of that song.

I don’t think this makes anyone defined as Bold.  But it’s a step that might embolden someone else.  Or make someone ask a question they want to ask.  I know that if we put ourselves out there, God will give us opportunities to talk about Him.

If you put yourself in this position, you’ll quickly get questions in your head that will cause you to think that you don’t have what it takes to open yourself to questions about Christ or salvation.  That’s the voice of condemnation in your ear.  It is Satan’s mainstay.  I’m not going to listen to that tomorrow.  I’m going to tell folks that Jesus loves them.  Let’s see what happens.  I pray that it allows me to be Bold for Christ.  Or helps someone else to be so.

Thanks for all your prayers!  Talk to you soon,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here: I’ve got a lot to say today.  We’ll have to table updates on the Dubai Credit Scandal and its effects on the disposition of the Jack LaLanne Turbo Mack Daddy 3000 Juicer.  Reason being; Misty and I have had to stop and apply additional hair product due to the breeze currently being generated around us by God’s Hand at work.  I’ll try to be expedient and tell the story quickly:

So, it’s Tuesday night of this last week.  I had just received my Round 11 dose of chemo.  Effectively, I was like Otis on the Andy Griffith Show until Thursday morning.  After chasing our kids down and administering the nightly scrub-a-dubs, Misty makes it to bed (I don’t think I noticed her arrival given my state at the time) and wanted to watch a little TV before crashing.  She has about three programs that she likes to watch and given my level of unconsciousness and, henceforth, lack of commentary; it would have been a great time for her to watch her favorite programs.  But instead, she was drawn to record and watch a “not so uplifting” sounding program.  It was called, “I Was Dead”.  Misty was drawn to Tivo the program and then after starting to watch it twice, she maintained the compulsion to watch the whole program.  This finally occurred Wednesday night.  At that point I had regained some consciousness and we watched the final segment of the program.

We are NOT talking about San Diego here....

Here are the Cliff’s Notes: “I Was Dead” was produced by the Discovery Channel and aired on Discovery Health.  It featured four folks that have had near death experiences.  You know, heart attack or stroke then floating out of body towards a tunnel of light and a heavenly being.

About the time that I stirred up decent consciousness on Wednesday night, Misty had taken her third stab at trying to finish watching this show.  We were watching a segment about a gentleman named Jerry that experienced a massive cardiac event, went through emergency treatment in his living room, and then experienced a departure from his body, consciousness of what was happening in and around his house at the time, a lighted tunnel transit to Heaven, and a face-to-face with God in which Jerry was told that he had to “go back because there’s more work for you to do.”

Jerry’s story was compelling.  He’s got a comforting Georgia accent and an unmistakable genuineness and likeability about him.  He probably has this effect on everyone, but I felt like he could be one of my uncles.  Those of you that know my uncles know that this is a group of fellas of which I think very highly.  While Misty and I were both taken aback by the message of Jerry’s story, she proved herself to be the Queen of the Internet.  Misty had noticed Jerry’s last name on his mailbox (as far as I know, Misty has never stalked anyone) in the footage of the show.  She guessed that his accent was from Georgia.  Within ten minutes she was “friends” with Jerry on Facebook!

In so doing, Misty got Jerry up to speed on the travails of the Dove Family as of late.  Jerry responded by generously availing himself to our personal phone call.

OK.  Let’s make sure that we are all at the same place in this story.  Here’s a hyper-speed recap of the above:  Alan’s Chemo week/Unconscious/Discovery Channel/Tivo/Near Death Experience Program/Avuncular gentlemen tells story/Misty stalks him down on the internet/Gentlemen happily accedes to talking to Doves.  Everybody with me?  Good.  Now let’s dig in further…

Misty arranged for Jerry to call us on Friday evening once we got the kids down.  Before I share more with you, I’d like to clarify where I’m coming from wanting to talk to a guy that has been to heaven.  Hearing Jerry’s story on the TV was compelling.  I’ve always had an interest in knowing more about the promise of heaven that comes with my salvation through Jesus Christ.  Wanting to talk to Jerry is NO INDICATION that I’m wavering in my battle against this disease that’s hitching a ride in my body right now.  My resolve set aside for a moment, I have some hard news for some of you.  YOU have a terminal disease.  It’s called life. It’s going to end at some point in death whether tumors get you or excess of birthdays does.  No one is promised 76.4 years or even tomorrow.  Every day is a gift from God and we don’t know what He’s giving out tomorrow.  So, yes, I’m interested in Jerry’s story.  And, NO, that doesn’t mean I’m giving up an ounce of fight in this battle.

So now I want to tell you about Jerry’s experience.  When I listened to Jerry on TV, I felt assured that he was a genuine and truthful man.  When I talked to him on the phone I was convinced that he’s a humble servant of Christ and bona fide by stripes of the same.  Here’s the story Jerry told us…

It’s 1993 and Jerry is 47 years old and he’s at home working on his truck with a buddy named Grady.  Jerry was a smoker.  He feels ill and grabs a smoke.  That doesn’t relieve anything.  All of a sudden Jerry feels “six elephants” on his chest.  He tells his buddy that he’s sick and to call 911.  Jerry gets inside and knows that he’s having cardiac trauma.  He tries to lay himself down with his legs up but can’t do any better than the flat on the floor.  This is a major situation.  Jerry, his buddy Grady and his wife Anne manage to get him up on the sofa with his feet elevated.  Less than five minutes pass and EMS arrives.  They know soon that Jerry is in cardiac arrest.

The EMT’s fire the defibrillator twice.  It runs out of juice and seemingly so does Jerry.  Jerry told us that was about when he (or his spirit) rose up out of his body.  He floated above his living room and up over his house so that he had awareness of things un-seeable from the vantage point of his body.  He saw Grady in the back yard throwing up from the stress of seeing Jerry die.

But Jerry told us that’s when he saw the most beautiful lighted tunnel or tube.  DISCLAIMER:  It’s about this point in the conversation that Jerry told us that his words, his language, any body’s words or language are insufficient to describe the beauty of this next part. So Jerry is being pulled into and through the tunnel full of beautiful light.  When he comes out of it, he’s face to face with God, who meets him at the gates of heaven and tells Jerry, “Sorry, but it’s not your time, I’ve got more work for you to do.”  Jerry told us that the place he occupied with God was like pool of milk that he had dived into…but not really milk, just light and beauty.  Jerry described the scene in heaven as something like a glorious huge sports arena that housed the host of worshipping and rejoicing beings.  Jerry said that despite the arena being enormous, from it, he could see for thousands of miles with time and space bearing no mastery over the glory of God.  Jerry loves his wife…his sweetheart from grade school.  He loves his kids.  And he was mad at God for saying that he needed to go back to this Earth.  Jerry tells me that he argued with God.  Looking at His beauty Jerry best explained it as light and glory and beauty.  God looked at Jerry and told him that he had to go back, but that “I’ll give you a glimpse.”  God grabbed Jerry’s hand and escorted him in heaven.

God took Jerry through the gates of Heaven and down by a river where he saw and hugged his mom and dad.  Then an unfamiliar but similarly loving figure approached Jerry and hugged him.  Years later Jerry would visit a cousin who had some ancient family pictures.  The cousin asked Jerry if he’d ever seen a picture of his grandfather who died three years before Jerry’s birth.  She pulled out the picture and Jerry recognized the man in the picture as the last person that hugged him in heaven.

God told Jerry that He’d given him the glimpse and now he had to go back and do more work.  God released Jerry’s hand and back into the tunnel he flew at what seemed a hundred miles an hour.  The back up ambulance and defibrillator arrived and on the third shock of the paddles, Jerry came out of clinical death.

This was 1993.  For the next nine years Jerry only told nine people this story.  He was afraid that he’d be sent to the psych ward!  Jerry is not a guy that was looking to be a center of attention.  The nine people he told the story to in as many years post the event were all terminally ill.  Jerry’s thought was that he’d get limited or at least temporary ridicule from this population and that he’d be able to provide comfort to their passing with his news of the beauty, majesty and peace in Heaven.

What do I take away from this?  Misty had been praying for a sign that everything was going to be OK in our “situation”.  After praying that, she was compelled to record and eventually watch the “I Was Dead” program.  Then the “stars aligned” and within 48-hours we were on the phone talking to Jerry.  Takeaway:  God will give us guidance and assurance of His presence.

Other Takeaways:

  • I told Jerry that I felt assured of my own potential for a similar heavenly experience and that it was based on my belief in Jesus Christ’s birth as a man, God-incarnate; His death by crucifixion; His suffering for our sins in Satan’s realm; and His resurrection and ascension to be and shine as God’s Son in Heaven. I wanted to know that Jerry’s experience was based on the same belief.  I reached out with this before we got to details and I was pleased to hear Jerry profess the exact same belief.
  • Jerry has told the story of his death and visit to heaven hundreds of times now.  He realized after nine years that part of what God wanted him to do with additional time on earth included witnessing to many about his experience.  Despite having told this story so many times, Jerry warned us that he can’t tell the story without being moved emotionally.  Jerry is in his later sixties now.  He’s not part of the generation that has made it so comfortable/acceptable for men to cry.  When you’re moved by something so awesome as what he saw and felt, it doesn’t matter.  He choked up a little when telling us about God’s appearance.
  • Jerry told us that everyone had perfect bodies in Heaven.  They were in the shape we’re accustomed to, but composed of light.  He became aware that no pain or impediments existed there.
  • In our battle with the cancer in my body, Misty and I have been moved to a secure belief that when you call on God for signs and guidance, He will provide.  While I do find it extraordinary to see a program on the Discovery Channel and then talk to one of the principals from that program as soon as I felt up to it, I’m really unsurprised because I see God’s hand in this.
  • Jerry was more than just generous with his story.  He took a genuine interest in our battle and offered to join the army of prayer warriors that pray for our family and healing of my body.  But then he said, “I’ll pray for your complete healing every day.  But if that doesn’t work out Alan, you won’t be disappointed.”
  • I have a new friend that’s been to heaven.  He and his family and his church family are added to the legion of folks asking God to give me more years with my wife and kids.  Jerry emboldens my fight and also reminds me of the ultimate goal…to live on forever in God’s presence.

I told you I had a lot to say today.  Jerry’s program is going to air again in February.  I will give you all a heads up so you can see it.  My body is reacting differently to chemotherapy.  Different levels and durations of fatigue.  Different sensations and pains.  I maintain my focus on God’s ability to rid my body of these tumors and continue to seek Him in prayer.  Things are happening.  As I said earlier, God’s hand is in motion around us.  Please pray that we find the quietness of spirit required to hear His intention and that we move with speed and confidence as He shows us the next step we are to take.

Thanks for your prayers!  Isn’t God awesome?!?  I’m so thankful for all of you and for the news I’ve been able to share with you.  Have a great Sunday!!!  Love,

Alan

Hello All!  Alan here: I bet you are a lot like me.  If I were a rodent, I guess I would be a pack rat or chipmunk with protrusive jowls.  We’ve always employed a lifestyle of living well within our means.  But belt plus suspenders approach has always been Plan A.

Likewise, until recently I’ve done business travel for a living.  In this case, I’ve developed an affinity for fine luggage.  If you’ve traveled you’ve seen it…the snobby businessman with his matching Tumi suitcase and briefcase.  Maybe I am snobby, but the Tumi stuff is really awesome.  It stands up to the rough treatment of travel and somebody that uses luggage actually designed it and put pockets and zippers where they need to be.  Sorry, I’m a salesman.  I love to sell expensive stuff and the Tumi line certainly qualifies.  But that’s not really what I want to talk about today.

BE PREPARED. That’s what Sir Baden-Powell told us when we were Boy Scouts.  With or without his admonition, as human beings we are prone to accumulate stuff that we “need”.  Whether it’s for a trip or a hike, we seek to plan and provision for ourselves.  What’s wrong with that?

For Business Travel...a personal favorite.

A sensible tactical pack for carrying a few things for an adventure. That Bear guy on Man v. Wild keeps his global phone in this to call for pick up and delivery to the nearest Ritz-Carlton.

The next step. For big outdoor adventures: Allows for carriage of food, water, shelter (most of Maslow's Hierarchy).

So there we are, PREPARED; for a business trip, a hike, an expedition, life(?).  We, as homemakers, also take some heed from old Baden-Powell. Our houses are bigger…with basements and big attics full of “stuff” that we “need”.  When we moved to Charlotte in 2005 from Apex, NC we were a family of three.  All done and said, the moving company charged us for moving 16,000 lbs of “vital stuff”.  To put this in odd perspective, the Saturn V Rocket that carried man 250,000 miles to the moon only had a payload of 100,000 lbs and three passengers.  So, moving my crew to Charlotte required 1/5th the payload of a Saturn V Rocket.  That’s weird.  But, I guess you really do need to have your Christmas, Thanksgiving, Flag Day, Columbus Day, and Ground Hog Day decorations.  And your grand piano.  And your garage fridge.  And so on….

As a society, we’ve become consumptive to an absurdity.  We have more stuff than we can carry in bags.  Or in normal sized sedans.  Or in our houses.

The attics fill up...

to the point that we need to rent these for our vital stuff...

Until even the containers we put our stuff in overwhelm their conveyance.

What I’m getting to in such a convoluted manner, is the question of how much we should prepare or worry or store up.  Who’s to point an accusatory finger at the prepared Boy Scout or the hard-working farmer or nation that fills their storehouses?

He's prepared...

He's prepared...

They seem prepared.

Isn’t this the right…the industrious way to be?  So God takes the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery but into a 40-year jaunt in the wilderness (desert).  The Hebrews had the same inclination to seek and store provisions needed for survival and prosperity.  When they prayed (complained) to God and Moses about lack of food, God meet their needs with quail and manna that arrived daily (but for the Sabbath…the original Chick-Fil-A). Though the manna covered the ground, God’s instructions were that only two quarts worth per person be taken up each day.  I know that the Boy Scouts had not been established yet, but some folks there were trying to “be prepared” and they gathered surplus manna to store up against God’s instructions.  The next morning, they found that the manna gathered outside the terms of God’s plan turned maggoty and rotten by morning.  At God’s instruction, on the day before the Sabbath, each person was to gather four quarts of manna.  In THIS instance of adherence to God’s plan, the manna was NOT perishable and sustained the Hebrews throughout the Sabbath.

What are we getting to here?  Our cars are all SUVs.  Our houses are filled with stuff we must have.  We toil at our jobs to afford what we must have and, in many cases, extend ourselves beyond what we can afford because we MUST have so many somethings.  In this post we looked a lot of containers.  Containers for travel.  For adventure.  For homesteading.

Since my cancer diagnosis I’ve thought a lot about all kinds of sustenance issues.  In the area of my health.  In the area of my spirit.  My family.  I was the Boy Scout out in the world filling up my backpack.  I could count on my work ethic and talents to provide what my family needed in the way of provisioning.  And then I couldn’t.  Expensive luggage, container units, tactical backpacks.  What do you need to fill your tank when you’re knocked down or in the wilderness?  It has occurred to me that most of us from time to time will be in the wilderness.  In that position, unless you’re Bear Grylls, and this is literal v. metaphorical, you’ve got to look to God for provisioning.

"I had nothing to eat for seven days.  Luckily I found the carcass of this dead zebra.  Few people know it, but zebra rectums don't spoil for weeks.  Lucky for me, I enjoy the nutty flavor and this should be enough to keep me going to the next roadkill."

"I haven't eaten in 12 days. Luckily I came upon the carcass of a dead zebra. Few people, besides me, know that zebra rectums stay fresh longer than any other part of the animal. Oh, and the yummy nutty flavor!"

So, taking a lesson from the Hebrews’ experience in the wilderness as opposed to one from the rectum-eater on the Discovery Channel, I’ve learned that I have to seek my sustenance from God.  How do you pick it up?  What container does He suggest for picking it up???  I think that he prefers us to look to the equipment that He gave us:

Approved Container

Likewise.

There was a reason that God wanted the Hebrews to gather for one day only.  God wanted them aware of the source and, more importantly, to be in a relationship with Him as they survived.  Things have changed a lot since the days of the Hebrews in the Wilderness.  I’m sure, however, that God still wants to provide for us.  And wants us to seek His care and provision.  And He wants us to trust in His care and love and power. And He wants us to praise and honor Him in the process.  For us, a big part of that is seeking God everyday in prayer and putting the worry over “what’s next” out of our minds and in His hands.  That sounds simple, huh?  Of course it’s not.  I still want to be a Boy Scout.

Tomorrow is Round 11.  This last week off of chemo has been good.  My body is rested and my spirit is ready for taking the toxins tomorrow.  I’m feeling God work in my life.  Please pray for my body to be strong, for the chemo drugs to be vicious, for the God’s hand to be on me and for the cancers in my body to accept their eviction.  Thanks for all your prayers.  I’ll be in touch.  God bless,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here: Some of you have probably been wondering about the conspicuous absence of the Jack LaLanne MegaJuicer 9000.  Several factors have contributed to the lack of “Jack” in both my writing and my life.  To my surprise, despite the Juicer’s seemingly clear title of ownership to my friend Gordon, the recent Dubai credit disaster has surfaced the potential of dubious fractional ownership and underlying credit mechanisms.  Gordon’s attorney’s are looking into this, but despite my heretofore adherence to a gag order, I’m sharing with you all that the Jack LaLanne Masterpiece of Juice has been seized by the Fed’s pending substantiation of the unit’s lineage and clear ownership.  As we receive updates on such and they clear gag order, I’ll do my best to keep you good, interested folks informed.

Sometimes the Word(s) just reach out and hug you....

This afternoon, while I was spending a little quite time (the juicer’s gone, you know) I decided to jump into the Bible and read a little from Philippians.  At church this weekend our pastor called up this letter from Paul several times and it really resonated with me.  I decided to pull down Volume VI of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.  Not kidding here.  Mr. Henry, like Howard Cosell, was quite the commentator.  It took me thirty minutes to really consume the first three verses of Chapter ONE of Phillipians!  Now I wasn’t reading at Evelyn Woods speed, but the author’s commentary gave me the flashbacks of reading Pat Conroy for the first time (once you’ve read him once, it kind of seems like subsequent books are rewinds…but all good).  By that, Conroy has a skill with the language that forces you to re-read un-climatic sentences in the book just to savor the way in which the author mixed the words to convey his point and activate our pleasure.  Mr. Henry has a similar way about him…though he died in 1714!  Nonetheless, you all know me to be no stranger to plagiarism and I wanted to share some of Mr. Henry’s words with you.

I literally only made it through the salutation of Paul’s letter to the Phillippians.  In that salutation, Paul wrote, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Hey, that seems pretty straight forward, right?  Mr. Henry doesn’t think so.  He had the following to say about this “simple” salutation:

Observe, 1.  There is no peace without grace.  Inward peace springs from a sense of divine favour.  2.  No grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and original of all blessings.  3.  No grace and peace from God our Father, but in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Christ, as Mediator is the channel of conveyance of all spiritual blessings to the church, and directs the disposal of them to all its members.

Paul mentions in his salutation to the Philippians that he was praying for that church.  Simple, right?  I would think so, but Mr. Henry sees more to it.  He comments:

Paul thanked God upon his joyful remembrance of the Philippians.  Observe, Thanksgiving must have a part in every prayer; and giving must have a part in every prayer; and whatsoever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving.  What we have the comfort of, God must have the glory of.  Paul thanked God, as well as made requests with joy.  As holy joy is the heart and soul of thankful praise, so thankful praise is the lip and language of holy joy.

Mr. Henry caused me to be a snail’s pace reader today.  I read and re-read and applied my circumstances and thought.  Do me a favor and read over these awesome points of commentary from Mr. Henry.

Thanks for the prayers my friends!  And thanks Bill.  Be good and well.  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here: I’ve written a couple posts since last I published here, but upon reading them (I know that some of you are amazed that I actually read these) I just didn’t like them.  So, let me catch you all up.  Christmas was magical.  The kids had the perfect mix of being hoodwinked by the Santa conspiracy and understanding the importance of Jesus’ birthday.  The New Year came and we were all happy to see it.  Misty and I’ve been serial New Year’s humbugs for about a decade.  We saw the New Year coming and pulled our blankets up and blew out the lights before Dick Clark announced 2010.

Don't you hate it when this happens on I-77? I'm gonna be late!!!

So, we have a new year.  What are we going to do with it?  This is the time of year that we are compelled (or pressured) to think about RESOLUTIONS.  That’s come to mind for me and when it did I started thinking about the word itself.  As I’m prone to do, I pulled out my dictionary.  I’m pretty sure that the most common (and by such the one that interests me least) use of the word runs along the lineage of the word RESOLVE, as in definition #1 below.

resolution |ˌrezəˈloō sh ən|

noun

1 a firm decision to do or not to do something : she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more | a New Year’s resolution.

• a formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting, typically after taking a vote : the conference passed two resolutions.

• the quality of being determined or resolute : he handled the last French actions of the war with resolution.

See note at courage .

2 the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter : the peaceful resolution of all disputes | a successful resolution to the problem.

• Music the passing of a discord into a concord during the course of changing harmony.

• Medicine the disappearance of inflammation, or of any other symptom or condition.

3 chiefly Chemistry the process of reducing or separating something into its components.

• Physics the replacing of a single force or other vector quantity by two or more jointly equivalent to it.

• the conversion of something abstract into another form.

• Prosody the substitution of two short syllables for one long one.

4 the smallest interval measurable by a scientific (esp. optical) instrument; the resolving power.

  • the degree of detail visible in a photographic or television image.

Now, back to resolution.  For the last decade I’ve made a living selling software that either runs radiology departments in hospitals or provides radiologists tools to interpret radiology images.  It’s this experience that causes my hangup with the “resolution” in “New Year’s Resolution”.  In my business “resolution” has meant the number of pixels of information available on an MRI or CT image at capture, storage or display.  You know, like “high-resolution” or “low-resolution” images.

So back to it:  It’s the new year and I’m talking about resolution(s).  I’ve typically been against making new year’s resolutions.  But like many things as of late, one’s (my) attitude on resolutions depends on perspective (resolution?).  Is this as terribly confusing to read as it is to write?

So, instead of merely being compelled by my newfound perspective on life and living and making a new year’s resolution here I am nosing about the dictionary and getting wrapped around the axle on semantics.  Oh well, I guess I have a tendency for such.  What I’m getting to, in no sort of speed whatsoever is this.  A New Year’s Resolution.  Per Definition #4, bullet one; “resolution” is “the degree of detail visible in a photographic or television image”.  As such, my approach to a New Year’s Resolution is as such.  My New Year’s Resolution is not so much what I’m promising to do over the year but what I see in the detail of life pixelization.  What I’m getting out of this is that there’s a couple types of New Year’s Resolution:  That which you do and that which you see.

So here’s what I’m seeing with my New Year’s Resolution (the kind you see):  For a long time I’ve thought myself to be clever.  For at least as long, I’ve been critically intolerant of people that slow me in traffic or walk at non-right angles across the flow of parking lot traffic or take too long in line at Starbucks, etc.  Many people have the ability to think “A” and appear to be thinking “B”.  Not me.  If I’m thinking “you are really annoying me by the way you’re holding up the security line at the airport because you’re a travel novice and you’ve not taken your laptop out of your briefcase” and you look at my face, you’ll be certain that I’m highly annoyed at you specifically.  “Dummy”, “Slacker”, “Moron”, and worse are what echo in my head at times like these.

My New Year’s Resolution (what I can see) shows me that when I’m annoyed by someone slowing me down or being in my way or imposing upon my patience, that person is likewise a child and creation of the most-high God.  The scorn or anger that I show and affect sadden God.  My New Year’s Resolution (that which I resolve to do) is to remind myself every time I get annoyed with a person in traffic, in line at the DMV, etc that the person is a creature, better yet, a CREATION of God.  How can I ask God for so much AND show disdain for his creations?

That’s what I’m going to work on this year.

Under my belt now I’ve got ten rounds of Chemo.  This round was (as I believe the pop singers might say) “down like the economy”.  Rough, rough round in regards to nausea and liver pain.  On the later, it’s a bitter sweet pain that according to my doctors suggests that the liver tumors are shrinking and/or dying.  From Wednesday through early this morning I’ve had the near-tangible assurance of a knife in the chest suggesting that the Chemo is working.  Yes, I said chest.  Oddly, many times when one has liver pain, it radiates on a nerve bundle that shoots pain into the right shoulder/chest.  It’s Saturday now and I’m feeling a good deal better.

Thanks so much for the love and prayers that you all have extended in 2009.  Let’s look forward to more of God’s provision and grace in 2010.  Also, STAY OUT OF MY WAY IN THE TARGET PARKING LOT!!!!!  Ha, ha.  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here:  It’s a beautiful foggy day in Charlotte, NC today.  Let’s have a little ketchup (who here really supports use of “catsup”? Not me!).  Last week we visited the hallowed halls of the North Carolina Cancer Hospital at UNC.  Dr. Goldberg reviewed my CT Scan from December 7 (now a day that will live in praise and honor) and was equally as pleased as Dr. Kuo.  Review of the images shows the liver mets shrinking and hollowing out and the colon tumor shrinking.  Dr. Goldberg perceives this and the liver pain that I’ve been experiencing as evidence of tumors dying.  

Thanks....I needed that!

To quote the old aftershave commercial, “Thanks, I needed that!”  Eight rounds of chemotherapy has not been a walk in the proverbial park.  Last week (prior to the scan) I was as trepidated as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs as we walked into the chemo clinic.  One of the “neat” side effects of chemo is that many patients experience a heightened sense of smell.  Walking into the clinic I could smell the drugs no less than three sets of double doors away from the infusion room.  Imagine smelling rotten tequila while experiencing the worst hangover you’ve ever had.  This was my attitude going into treating two weeks ago for Round 8.  

Now, however, we’ve reviewed the CT Scan and seen that both the liver and the colon tumors are shrinking.  I’ve mentioned to you all that I use mental imagery in this healing process.  As no surprise, the dozen or so Rocky movies make there way into my healing imagination often.  With good news having come last week, I’m reminded of Rocky IV…the one were Rocky fights Drago, the Russian, after Drago has killed Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed in the ring.  

Uhhh, could I fight da ref instead?

Let me recap for you:  Drago is bigger and stronger than Rocky.  Drago is deadly.  Rocky employs his proven method of beating the opponent’s fists to a pulp with his face.  Rocky reached down to his heart and punches for all he’s worth.  Finally, Rocky connects and the beast is cut.  He’s bleeding…for the first time.  He’s shaken and he’s frightened.  The rest of the fight is not easy, but Rocky continues to use both his fists and his face as a weapon.  Beaten to a pulp, Rocky continues to reach deep and find heart to power his punches.  Drago is continually amazed/dismayed that Rocky gets up and continues to fight.

Here’s a Youtube summary.  Warning:  This is ten minutes long.  Only watch it if you’ve got a little time.  If you’re up against a beast, put yourself in Rocky’s shoes.  Watch the heart exhibited.  Watch for Drago to be wounded and frightened around 3:39.  Watch for the beast to be afraid and dismayed.  No doubt, this illness has raised my appreciation for some marginal cinema.  

Like Rocky, I needed to see my opponent bleed.  Now I’ve got new breath and resolve.  We’re going in for Round 9 today at 0915 hrs.  I’m NOT dreading it.  I’m ready to use my face and my fists as a weapon against this beast.  (Those of you that have been down the chemotherapy path can really relate to how accurate this analogy is.) 

Uh oh! I did't know THIS could happen....

In any fight, over-confidence will gain you a quick trip to the canvas.  I’m emboldened by these results and ready to fight with redoubled resolve.  I am NOT foolish enough to think that this status is as a result of me or just medical science.  I’m reading Lance Armstrong’s book.  Let me Cliff Note it very succinctly for you.  According to Lance, he survives cancer because he’s really awesome (just ask him) and so is medical science.  He doesn’t place God in the equation of his survival.  Me, besides just the size of my butt, I’m different than Lance.  I count foremost God’s healing hand as the reason for any improvement in this battle.  I’m also very cautious to avoid bravado or over-confidence that could pop up as a result of this good report.  I’ve noticed something here:  Satan can use good news as a very effective weapon against us and our attempts to have a relationship with God.  My family and I have been ELATED as a result of the good news from last week.  Now, I’m praying that this NOT be a point of pride or confidence and that I continue to place myself in God’s hand.  Have you noticed this in your life?  Have you seen a time when fortune was coming your way and you noticed that it might be a weapon pointed against you?  Disclaimer:  I’m NOT in any way unthankful for our new good news.  Just thinking about it…

So, off to Round 9 now.  Thanks to you all for thinking of us and praying for us.  I know that it’s this that has made a difference.  Talk to you soon!  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here:  You may have heard, though I’m glad to intone it again, we had great news today at our visit with Dr. Kuo to review the results of my CT Scan from Monday.  

Summary:  Colon tumor has shrunk 50%.  The largest liver tumors have shrunk 20+% and they are showing indication of hollowing out.  

So this is new:  Good News.  How does it feel?  It feels great!  In our anxious hours up to hearing this report I had committed that good news, bad news or indifferent news I was going to praise God for His Greatness.  If He wants us to love our enemies on this earth, I’m pretty sure he also wants our praise in good times and bad.  So I stand now emboldened by the FIRST good news we’ve had in this battle with cancer.  With that boldness I proclaim that my God is awesome and all-powerful.  As powerful as He is, I attest that He listens to our prayers.  I thank Him for reversing the course of the disease in my body.  I thank Him for His example that so many of you and others are following as you show me and my family love and concern as you implore Him for a scintilla of His power to be pointed towards ridding my body of cancer.  God is great! 

I’ve been worrisome waiting on this result.  My track record on news from the doctors hasn’t been what we would call “stellar” lately.  I was looking to my battle theme in the Bible for comfort this morning and had an insight that may prove valuable to someone.  My thoughts from this morning are included in bold parenthesis within the regular text below which is scripture.  

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. (This means now…whenever we are afraid…in the face of any danger…but it means NOW.  Tense is present.  God does not want us afraid and he offers up the fact that He is with us (presently!) as the solution to fear.)  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  (This means now too.  Same very present tense.  Whatever we encounter God does not want us to be dismayed.  His solution:  He is our God (now!).) I will strengthen you. (Indefinite future tense!) I will help you. (Same indefinite future tense!)  I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.  (Very same indefinite future tense!!!)

Isaiah 41:10 (BOLD commentary by Alan)

So you and I are told to not be afraid or dismayed NOW or whenever challenges face us.  In these times we’re to look to God’s promise of presence with us and the fact that he is our God.  This doesn’t mean that the source of fear or dismay has been removed!  And while we are to honor God’s commitment in this scripture by being without fear or dismay, strength, help, and victory, while promised, are not defined nor do they take a place on a human timeline.  So in this scripture what I’m getting is this:  Our time and God’s time are both referenced.  Our instructions are clear.  God’s promise is rather clear (strength, help and victory).  His timing, well, that’s not clear at all is it?  This is where I think He tests us and gives us the opportunity to worship and depend upon Him under duress.  

But I have another set of thoughts to share with you.  It’s about receipt.  Often we get a knock on the door or a visitor to the office and the man asks us to “Sign for the package”.  This is a common action we do with very little thought.  It’s purpose is to hand off and confirm physical possession of a package from the sender or the common carrier to the recipient.  We sign for receipt often. 

I still have a problem talking to people and relating my situation by saying “I have cancer”.  I have NOT signed for receipt of this package.  I do NOT own it.  It certainly does not own or define me.  It has been sent to me and it may be sitting on my doorstep, but I have not and I am not signing for this package.  I may be FIGHTING Cancer and I may have cancer cells in my body but I don’t HAVE Cancer.  In fact, I’m actively scanning the form and looking for a Return to Sender box to check.  So, if you talk about me with others (and I welcome this) please say something like, “Did you hear that Alan’s fighting cancer?”  

Some of you with Psychology 101 under your belt may peg this as classic denial.  English majors in the audience may come to the same conclusion positing that a rose by any other name smells as sweet. But I don’t think so.  I’ve got a pretty good clinical grasp of what’s going on here in my body.  I believe that my God can support me to be a warrior instead of a cancer patient.  Is this bravado from my good CT Scan Report today?  I don’t think so.  I worked up this post early this morning before the meeting with Dr. Kuo.   

Signing for receipt applies to every one of us.  Are you “stupid” like someone might have told you?  Are you incapable of accomplishing your dreams because people expect you to fail?  Is one of your kids “just not going to be able to keep up with the class”?  Is there a serious illness in your body? 

You can sign on the form and take receipt of that if you want to.  You can then use it to rationalize limitations that you’ve now agreed to.  “Will you sign for this package?”  It’s not a command, it’s a request.  WE DON’T HAVE TO SIGN FOR RECEIPT OF ANYTHING WE DON’T WANT TO RECEIVE.  

The only thing I’m signing for is the blessing, the comfort, the salvation afforded by my Savior, Jesus Christ.  The rest…I’m not receiving it.  It may stink up my door step and annoy the neighbors, but I’m not going to be defined by it nor responsible to it.  

Thanks to all of you for your prayers.  I know that the pleas to God’s ear have made a difference.  So many of you are keeping track of my treatments and my scans.  I know that you are praying accordingly and I’m humbled that you are with me so close.  I’m seeing God’s Hand working today.  I know that at other times I may be weak and discouraged and less able to see His Hand.  Now and then I will praise God for his mighty deeds.  One of those is the army of love with which He’s surrounded me.  That army is you.  Thanks!

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here:  Chemo Round #8.  Hmmmm.  Pavlov was right.  Ring a bell and I’ll salivate.  Walking into the doctor’s office for chemo Tuesday was like showing up to the “Mike Tyson: I’m Gonna Beat You up and Bite Your Ear Off Office”.  You know the warm thoughts you have of grandma’s kitchen replete with cookies in the oven?  That’s the opposite of what it’s like now to walk into the Oncology Office.  Chemotherapy meds have a certain scent to them and it triggers the Pavlovian response of “Get the Heck outta Dodge, Cowboy!” for me now.  So, I walked in dreading the treatment.  Wednesday after treatment was kind of what I expected.  The Good News:  I actually performed yoga almost all day long.  The Bad News:  I never got past the Wet Dog in Fetal Position pose.  So it goes. 

 

Today I’m starting to see a break in the storm.  The liver is very hot and it’s my prayer that such means the tumors are breaking down in a major way.  We get a look/see towards that effect on Monday.  That’s the next CT Scan.  Please pray for shockingly GREAT results.  I know that God can orchestrate the removal of this disease from my body.  Please ask Him to do so.

I wanted to share a pet peeve with you today.  Have you ever noticed what the word “BUT” does?  I’ll tell you.  It negates everything you have just said.  For instance:

“I’d love to go camping with you this weekend, BUT I have to restring my banjo.”

When we put BUT in a sentence we are just highlighting our excuses.  It’s been noted that BUT should be an acronym that stands for Behold the Underlying Truth.  Everything AFTER the word is the truth.  It turns out to be a verbal mechanism that allows us to say what people want to hear before telling them what we are willing to do.  Another example (this one taken from ABC’s The Bachelor):

“You’re a beautiful, intelligent girl and you light up the room BUT I’ve fallen in love with someone else.”

Like I mentioned, it’s a mechanism for saying what people want to hear before telling them what you are going to do or commit to.  Try this the next time you start to through a BUT around:  Replace the BUT with an AND.  When you use “AND”, it forces the two thoughts to be much more closely related.  For instance:

“You’re a beautiful, intelligent girl and you light up the room AND I’ve fallen in love with someone else.”  

(The Bachelor is then karate chopped by an angry/jilted young lady.)

Using AND causes us to be more honest and congruent about our opinions and our intentions.  Try it for a day.  Every time you’re about to say “BUT”, throw an “AND” in instead.  It’ll trip you up considerably at first, but soon you will start saying things that are much more in tune with your intentions.  

I’m not sure why this point moved to my attention today, but I’ve felt moved to share it with you.  In trying to tie this point of lexicon to a more spiritual application, I’ve thought of the promises and extensions of grace afforded by our Savior.  To paraphrase the majority of the New Testament you’ll note that God’s intent is NOT to tell us what we want to hear and then a contrary path of His commitment.  Instead we are clearly delineated as unworthy of God’s Grace AND availed to it by way of His Son.  No BUT’s!

Please keep us in your prayers.  I’m covered with a peace that tells me that God CAN deliver me from this illness.  Faith and Knowledge each require Belief.  Knowledge that you have, and it’s subsequent belief, are based on having seen something occur before.  Faith has the same requirement of belief BUT (hey, I used a BUT) without any empirical evidence.  That’s tough.  And a big part of why I need your prayers. 

Have a great weekend!  Thanks for your prayers.  Talk to you soon,

Alan