Thursday, March 25, 2010

Laying Down Some Tracks

A few weeks ago, my buddy Tim heard me working on some music and encouraged me to record some of the songs I've been writing. To be honest, I've always felt like that would be something that I would enjoy doing, but I never had the motivation or confidence to actually record anything. Well, luckily Tim is a technical/sound guru, and he was able to set up a bit of a makeshift recording studio at my house. Check it out...

Tim's "studio" (aka my dining room table). With a mixer and some recording software, the sound was actually pretty good!


The nice thing about recording in my own home was that I could wear my pajamas to the studio!

In all honesty, through this process I've learned that I'm definitely NOT a professional musician, but I still really do love music. I think I'm more cut out for leading worship, which is why I started playing guitar in the first place several years back. Anyway, it's been a fun little experiment. Maybe one of these days (or months...or years), I'll post the audio tracks of a song or two.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Latest on My Dad

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my dad. Here's the latest update:

My dad is still in the hospital. He was discharged briefly last Friday night, but his pain levels shot right back up, and at 3AM Saturday morning my mom had to bring him in to the ER. So, he's been stuck in the hospital again all this week, as they try to keep his pain at a tolerable level and try to figure out how to best attack his cancer.

We received some pretty rough news this week, as CT scans were done on my dad's hips, pelvis, and tailbone. Essentially, the cancer has eaten through my dad's pelvis. There is a gaping whole where it should be, leaving basically just a shell of fragmented bone. As I mentioned earlier, the bones in the ball joints of his hips are also dead. As if that wasn't enough, his tailbone also has fractures and seems to be breaking apart. Needless to say, the pain involved with all these complications is more than most of us could ever imagine. Our most common prayer right now is that the Lord would provide relief for my dad's pain.

My dad is also on an incredible amount of narcotics to keep the pain bearable. In fact, one doctor recently said that if a healthy person took one dose of my dad's medicine--which he takes hourly--it would be fatal. His body is simply fighting so hard against the pain and the cancer that it goes through the narcotic drugs at an incredible rate. Another way that you can be praying is that they could slowly ween my dad off of the drugs so that he can return home soon.

Next week, they are sending my dad down to a tumor specialist in Indianapolis. Some major decisions will need to be made soon, potentially involving some surgical procedures that could put my dad in a lot of risk.

Please keep praying!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two of My Favorite Things...

Last night was a combo of two of my favorite things: Chinese food and my family (not particularly in that order!). Sarah and Nick, my sister and bro-in-law, are back home somewhat indefinitely from the mission field in Mexico due to my dad's current health situation. So, I invited them, along with my brother, Dave, and his wife, Andrea, over for some of my homemade Chinese food. We made Kung Pao chicken, pork steak with broccoli, and jasmine rice with Mae Ploy sauce. We even busted out some fancy chopsticks that I brought home with me from China a few years back! Good times...great food!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jesus is Not a Weapon

Yesterday I stopped by the hospital to spend some time with my dad. When I got to his room, my dad wasn't there. A few minutes later, he came rolling in on his bed, chatting away with his nurse about everything under the sun, including politics and the economy. (Fortunately, while my dad's body is in pretty bad shape right now, his mind is still sharp!) The male nurse--about my dad's age--was clearly a liberal, and my dad being the staunch conservative that he is, it made for an amusing conversation, to say the least. After the nurse (somewhat jokingly) rebuked my dad for being a Rush Limbaugh listener, my dad changed the topic and said, "Let's talk about religion." Much to my surprise, the previously jovial countenance of the nurse turned rigid, and he blurted out, "The way I see it, believe in whatever makes you a better person, but if you're going to use religion as a weapon against me, I don't have time for it."


I was shocked on multiple levels. First of all, during the discussion on politics, it had come out that this man was a devout Catholic. Now, here he was saying that people should simply believe whatever makes them a better person. In light of the postmodern world in which we live, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to hear yet another universal claim about the relativity of "truth," but seriously I still find it absolutely mind-blowing that people who claim to follow Jesus Christ refuse to acknowledge that he is the only Truth. I mean, did he cut John 14:6 out of his Bible or something? I don't understand...

Upon further discussion, the nurse actually gave his definition of the Gospel: social justice. (Take that Glenn Beck!) This devout Catholic man did volunteer work with the homeless and with drug addicts over at Hope Ministries in South Bend. To him, THAT was the Gospel. And, given passages like Matthew 25:31-46 (the sheep and the goats) and James 1:27 (true religion = caring for widows and orphans), it's somewhat hard to argue against the "social gospel." However, this version of the Gospel is incomplete, and when it leads to universalism, it's VERY incomplete. I felt sorry for this man and his misunderstanding of the Gospel.

Finally, the imagery of using religion as a weapon left a deep impression on me. No matter the religious affiliation, people of religion can be downright nasty sometimes...and often times Christians are the worst. We walk around hitting people over their heads with our Bibles and preaching condemnation and eternal damnation, all the while proudly steeped in our own self-righeousness. We loathe the "pagan" much like the New Testament Jews despised the Gentiles (ie. Acts 22). Somehow, we believe that we can hate people to Jesus. (Have we cut Matthew 5:43-48 out of our Bibles?) We're so messed up...

Lord, may it never be said of me that I used You as a weapon to hurt other people...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another Update

My dad is still in the hospital, and they have been able to finally get his pain under control. The doctors have also figured out what is causing all the pain. Due to a lack of blood flow in his hips, the bones in the ball joints of both of his hips have died. Today is an important day, as my dad will be meeting with his oncologist and neurologist to try to decide what to do next. If things continue to get worse, hip replacement surgery is an option, although my dad's body is not in good shape for a major surgery like that. Other options include trying to stimulate the hip area in order to return blood flow, in hopes that the bones might regenerate, or simply continuing my dad on heavy doses of pain meds to keep him from being so debilitated by the pain.

Please keep praying that the doctors will have wisdom today in what steps to take, and continue to pray especially for strength for both my dad and my mom.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Update on My Dad

Many people have been asking how my dad is doing. For those of you who don't know, my dad has been battling cancer in his spine and tailbone for more than two years now. This past week, he received some more discouraging news. The cancer has recently spread into his lungs, where numerous tumors are growing. As if that wasn't enough, he continues to battle excruciating pain, especially in his hips. The doctors are still trying to figure out the source of that pain. I know that many of you are prayer warriors.

Please pray...
  • for my dad to receive a Spirit of encouragement during these discouraging times
  • for my mom to remain strong during these difficult times, as she has for two years now
  • for supernatural wisdom for the doctors to know what drugs to use and how to best fight off these aggressive cancer cells
  • for complete healing. We serve a God who loves to restore the broken and has the POWER to do so! "Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' And immediately the leprosy left him." (Luke 5:13)
  • for God's will to be done...that however He chooses to "heal" my dad might ultimately bring Him all the glory.
My dad, brother, and me in Wisconsin a few years back.

Urgent Update: I just got a call from my dad. The pain has become unbearable; something is wrong. My dad is checking into the hospital this afternoon to try to get the pain under control and figure out what's going on. Keep praying!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Day on the Job...

Today was another rough day in the world of substitute teaching. I subbed for a freshman World Geography class at Penn today, where we watched episodes of Man vs. Wild every class period. I would be offended that teachers assume that substitute teachers like myself are absolutely incapable of actually teaching, but to be honest I really enjoy getting paid to read or watch TV!

My highlight of the day came during my prep period, as I sat reading in the cafeteria during the students' study hall. A random kid came up to me with a goofy grin on his face and said, "You remind me of Jesus...can I take a picture of you?!" He was so pumped up when I laughed and said, "Sure." So he whipped out his iPhone and got a funny picture of the caveman-for-a-sub to show all of his friends.

All in a day's work! :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What if?

These questions have been haunting me recently:

What if I truly believed the things Jesus said? How would I live my life differently?

I get excited and scared thinking about the answer to these questions...and the implications for my life.

***Special thanks to The Tom Carpenter for ruining my life with these questions!!!