Thursday, April 29, 2010

Update on My Dad

My family has continued to receive an outpouring of love and prayers from many people as we walk through this difficult time with my dad's health. Here's the latest update so that you can be praying more specifically.

My dad has continued to suffer in excruciating pain as the tumors press up against nerve clusters in his back. A major prayer of ours for some time now has been that he would receive relief from that pain. God willing, that prayer will be granted today through a minor surgery. My dad will be having surgery later this afternoon to receive a pain pump. Basically, a small incision will be made in his abdomen to place a pump inside him, with a tube wrapping around under his skin to his back, where most of the pain occurs. The pump will be filled with meds which will be released directly to the point of pain in my dad's back. With this built-in pump, relief from the pain should be as easy as simply pressing a button.

Please pray...
  • that my dad's frail body (he's lost about 90 lbs) will have strength to make it through this minor surgery
  • that this new form of medication will relieve much of the pain that my dad has been enduring for so long
  • that the doctors might have wisdom throughout this procedure and in the days ahead
  • for restful, sleep-filled nights for both my dad and my mom
  • for HEALING!
Thanks again to all of you who are praying. You are such an encouragement to my family and to me!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To keep the beard and dreads or not to keep the beard and dreads, that is the question!

So today I was pondering the deeper things of life, when I remembered that an important milestone in my life is quickly approaching: one week from today marks one year since I started growing my beard! That's right, it's been 358 days since a razor touched this face. Impressive, I know...

Well, it's been a great run, but I'm starting to think it might be time for a change. I was thinking it might be fun to have all my faithful readers join me in the decision-making process. (This is your chance to let me know what you REALLY think about my caveman look!)1 So, I've set up my very first blogger poll to ask for your help in this all-important decision. Believe it or not, your votes will play a large role in determining what I do with my hair!2

So what are you waiting for?! VOTE NOW!!!

1. Mom, your vote doesn't count! I already know what you think! :-)
The poll closes at 12pm Wednesday, May 5th. At that point, 49% of my decision will be based on the top vote-getter, while 51% of the decision will be made by ME! :-P

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Traditions

The annual family picture on Easter. It was great to have the whole family together this year!

And, of course, an Easter egg hunt with the little kiddos!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

on prayer.

"God thinks much more of your desires than of the words in which they are expressed. It may be natural for a scholar to consider the accuracy of your terms, but God especially notes the sincerity of your soul. There is no other place where the heart should be so free as before the mercy seat. There, you can talk out your very soul, for that is the best prayer that you can present. Do not ask for what some tell you that you should ask for, but for that which you feel the need of, that which the Holy Spirit has made you to hunger and to thirst for, you ask for that."

-C.H. Spurgeon, from a sermon entitled "Pray, Always Pray"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Power of Prayer (and the Problem of Pain)

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15)
Most of us have read this passage of Scripture before. We know that prayer is important--that God hears our prayers and answers them (though not always in the way we want). As good Christians, we "know" these things...

At the same time, most of us have known other good Christian people--people just like us--who have died too young. They begged God for healing, but God was silent. They believed in God for healing, but He had other plans. We all know someone like that. And I think, if we were honest, that messes with our heads sometimes. We have lots of questions for God:

God, why do you allow pain and suffering?

God, why didn't you heal ____________ ?

God, can you really hear me? Where are you!?

We all have these questions. And, sometimes, because of these questions we begin to doubt God. We may still want to trust in God, but our faith is shaken. And often times, for this reason, we stop praying. We disobey the command in James 5 to pray because we're afraid that God won't answer our prayers. We're afraid that God won't show up and do the miraculous. We don't want to look like idiots when God doesn't show up, so we simply don't pray.

Most of you know that my dad is terribly sick. In fact, if something miraculous doesn't happen soon, my dad's time left on this earth could be very short. His chemo treatments have not been working. The doctors aren't sure what else they can do. It's getting down to crunch time, and it's time that we seriously get on our knees in prayer.

Tonight we will be putting James 5:13-15 into practice. My dad has called the pastors and the elders of his church together to pray over him and anoint him with oil for healing. We are trusting God for a miracle. It's scary...I mean, what if God doesn't show up? But yet in faith we know that God has the power to heal, and in obedience to His Word we are asking for His healing touch.


One more closing thought. About a year ago, I ran across a passage of Scripture as I was reading through Isaiah that shed some new light on situations like my dad's. In the first two verses of chapter 57, Isaiah writes:

The righteous perish,

and no one ponders it in his heart;
devout men are taken away,
and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace;
they find rest as they lie in death.

It's difficult to think of things this way, but I really do just want my dad to be restored and healed. And I know that in his glorified, eternal body, my dad will be in peace and free from pain. Selfishly, I want many more years with my dad, but God knows what is best. God may choose to heal my dad by "sparing him from evil" and allowing him to "enter into peace." And who am I to argue with God?

But regardless of God's answer in this situation...


Monday, April 5, 2010

Subbing Day From Hell

This past week I had by far my worst day of substitute teaching. I finally decided to venture back into the world of middle school teaching, taking a job at Grissom Middle School that included a half day of teaching math/science classes and a half day of teaching remedial reading classes. The morning math and science classes went relatively smoothly, although the teacher did not give enough work to occupy the students the entire class period. That was really no problem though, as by the end of class I had a handful of 13-year-old boys hanging out by my desk as we talked sports and they asked about my year in Africa.

Things got interesting in the afternoon, though. First of all, I learned that most kids in remedial reading classes are not "slow" or "special needs"--they are simply TROUBLEMAKERS! For the first time in my subbing career--going all the way back to a couple years that I subbed during college--I had to kick two kids out of class. In a class filled with way too much attitude, a couple girls started getting into it, swearing at each other and getting up into each others' faces. I seriously thought there was about to be a royal rumble!

The day wasn't all bad, though. I actually met three kids from Africa, which was cool. One of the girls, Lulu, was from Kenya, and I got to brush up on my Swahili with her.

Finally, the highlight of the day came when I confiscated this note that was circulating in one of my classes:

Ha! The kids freaked out when I took the note. I'm pretty sure they were relieved when I started laughing. I thought it was hilarious!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank You, Jesus.

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal's death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

-Philippians 2:6-11

Thank You, Jesus!!!