Today’s stop: surgeon consultation

Just wanted to post a quick update on our health journey with Carolyn. Thank you all for emailing, asking and praying. 

She had an appointment today at 12:30 in which the surgeon reviewed her PET scan and medical history. After doing an ultrasound on two of the areas in which he was able to see the lumps, he and Carolyn’s oncologist are recommending an outpatient surgery. We scheduled it for December 8.

On a side note, his ultrasound machine was smaller than a standard laptop… I was dying to snap a picture of it but just couldn’t bring myself to do so. (I can take a picture of a cat funeral but not a sonogram machine… Go figure.)

Basically, he will remove the lump in the breast and do a biopsy of it first. If it proves to be Hodgkin’s or some sort of lymphoma, he will not remove anything else. If it’s not, then he’ll proceed to one of the other nodes and remove one of them and do a biopsy of it.

The reasoning is that since all this is happening at one time, that it’s most likely related and not separate cases of breast cancer and Hodgkin’s. We were very pleased with his professionalism, candor and sensitivity.

We’re trying to schedule things around Adelyn’s performance in the Arkansas Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker the weekend of the 6th. 

Again, thanks for your prayers and thoughts!

“But others were tortured…”

Hebrews 11.35 is a rather abrupt transition from a sublime chapter in scripture that some call the “Faith Hall of Fame.” After detailing the feats of faith accomplished by God through the lives of Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson (who I normally don’t associate with faith), and others, one is confronted with these words:

“But others were tortured…” (NLT)

Nice.

Just in case you were beginning to be inspired to tackle hell with a water pistol, God’s Word reminds us that faith is independent of circumstances. Faith is external to danger or fortune. Faith is unaffected by success or failure. Faith is.

That’s why the Hebrews writer began this section with the famous, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (ESV) The Message Bible puts it like this:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

The New Living Translation may be my favorite:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The only problem with this translation is that I generally don’t hope for… torture. I am generally a stickler about good things happening to me. In my mind’s eye, I imagine everything working out in the end (after all, there’s Romans 8.28, right?). I see nasty situations tied up with a nice bow. I envision, “Aaaah. It-all-makes-sense-now” moments.

Most of the time, this mindset is completely shallow and inadequate to confront the realities of life. In fact, a self-promoting interpretation of Romans 8.28 perhaps leads people to confidence in ultimate fiction rather than an Understanding Father.

What is it that we hope for? That’s the real question.

  • Healthy children.
  • Job promotions.
  • Central heat and air (especially during Arkansas summers!)
  • Patience from everyone
  • Punctuality from everyone
  • To be treated by others as we treat them like we want to be treated
  • Happy homes

These hopes bounce around in our minds as entitlements more often than not. For some reason, we have believed that if we believe right information about God that all of the above will be given to us. There’s even a whole strain of “Christianity” that seeks to convince us that God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and own 2.5 homes and 4 cars.

Tell that to the Hebrews 11.35-38 folks. They would be sorely disappointed. You read here about another group of faith-filled believers. In fact, they were so filled with faith that “they refused to accept release.” When offered a chance to renounce their trust in God – for them a firm foundation that made life worth living- they opted for death (which would actually bring faith to fruition and hope to reality).

Hebrews 11.39-40 comments, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

Essentially, their rotten experiences and horrible sufferings were examples for future followers of God. How would you like to know that what you’re experiencing is all for someone else? The way you choose to respond could enable someone else to stand firm.

Much of contemporary American Christianity struggles with Hebrews 11.35… “But others were tortured…” For me, it’s a surreal comfort to know that God’s Word does not shrink from depicting and predicting extreme hardship and agonizing cruelty. It addresses it head on. Yet it also offers a way through and out. It’s the way of faith.

Faith may bring you through the Red Sea… (v29) or it may get you sawn in two (v37). But our faith is not in “getting out of this mess.” Our faith is rooted in a Person. We trust in Him… not in some abstract deliverance.

In my family’s current faith journey, we are reminding ourselves once again that while life sometimes is not pleasant, our hope is not “in everything working out.” Rather, our hope and confidence is placed completely in Christ. He alone does not change. We (and you) can trust His character and rely upon His love. When things do not turn out as we would wish and hope, it may all be to remind us that the object of our hopes and dreams have been misplaced. Our current sufferings only sharpen our hearts to enjoy future fellowship.

Romans 8.18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

And if you’re one of those who is currently having Red Sea Day… pause and pray for Christ followers around the world – the persecuted church – and others who are having another kind of faith experience.

Blog redesign itch

Update (11/22): I’m coming to try this new theme for a while. It’s called Crybook and is a take-off on the old Facebook look.

I’ve got the blog redesign itch again. I’ve been playing around with various new looks over the past few days and haven’t come to any conclusion yet. So I’m tossing this entry out, hoping for some feedback. 

  • What features do you currently enjoy about this blog as it’s currently designed? (i.e., Recent Comments, Lifestream, Recent Posts, Book List, etc.)
  • What have you seen elsewhere that you think would make a nice addition?
  • If I went with “simple,” what are the indispensable elements you would want to see?
  • Other suggestions…

Operation Christmas Child 08

The following is from Michael Kelley’s blog. He gave me permission to post it in its entirety. I was wanting to do an OCC post since this is “collection week,” but his entry was so good, I thought, why duplicate? Thanks, Michael! -

Last night, our family went to Target to fill our Operation Christmas Child shoebox. This is a great organization with a great mission:

Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love. Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed, shipped, and delivered across the globe. People of all ages can be involved in this simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ.

It’s simple – make Christmas better for a child by filling a shoebox full of gifts. But here are a few things you might not know about OCC:

- Did you know that there is a national leadership team in each country that receives boxes? Boxes only go to countries that have a National Leadership Team. This team is made up national volunteer Christians
that have a heart to see their country come to know Christ. They help raise funds to help pay for the transportations of shoe boxes into their country. They make the decisions about where distributions
happen and are responsible for creating opportunities for distributions to all kids by creating a strategic plan (meaning that kiddos get one box- not multiple boxes that they show up year to year
just to get the stuff- the goal is to provide the gospel)

- Every child is given the opportunity to participate in a 10 week discipleship program and plugged into a local church

- Shoe boxes have allowed Samaritans Purse to create roots in communities. OCC opens the doors to focus on relief and community development. Other SP programs include children’s heart project, instillations of water filtration systems/ feeding programs, HIV programs, and Medical Mission programs.

- A shoe box = gospel opportunity. For every box that is distributed a copy of “The Greatest Gift of All” is distributed in the language that the child speaks. So last year 7.6 million copies of the gospel was spread throughout the world. Think about how influential that is. One child gets a box- he/she goes home to his 4 siblings and his mom and dad.

- There are 11 sending countries. The US of A is not the only country giving- Other sending countries include Austria, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Switzerland, UK and New Zealand.

This is national collection week. Click here to find out where to drop off your shoebox.