Monday, September 29, 2008

Full of faith and grace...

Have you ever had someone in your life that consistently showed their faith in God and gave grace no matter what the circumstance? We all meet people like that here and there but having a long standing relationship with someone like that is a unique opportunity. A couple of weeks ago in this blog, I asked you to pray for Barb Moulton because she was battling cancer. Barb and her husband Ken are the kind of people I'm talking about. Never thinking of themselves and always thinking of others. Always praising what God is doing and giving Him the glory for what has been done. Always trusting Him for what was and is to come.

Robyn and I met Ken and Barb 27 years ago when I was selling furniture and appliances in Southern California. They became repeat customers of mine who had a particular way about showing interest and concern for me. They displayed a gentle and kind spirit and discussed their belief in God without apology. They were the genuine article... When the four of us got together an immediate kinship was developed and we became best friends. Over the years we raised our families together, lived together, moved together, and Ken and Barb became the examples by which we gauged our spiritual lives. We live far apart now, but no matter the distance between us, they have always been part of our family.

Yesterday, Barb lost her battle with cancer but won the war against death. She is with our Lord today and even though we have suffered a loss, heaven has gained a saint. We will all miss Barb and her genuine concern for others, but those of us who knew her should also reflect on what life would have been like without her in our lives. Please join us in praying for Ken and their daughter, Kendra, as they mourn the loss of their devoted wife and mother.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Faithfulness and Grace

As you can imagine, there is a lot of time to think while recovering from a life threatening illness. In my case, there hasn't been a lot of time spent on "why me" or "why now". I believe that's because of our faith in God and the support of family and friends who remind us quite often that God is walking by our side during this illness. Many of you who read this blog are among those who boost our spirits by these kinds of reminders. I've spent some of my time thinking about your faith and the example that each of you are to us. Your encouraging comments have been a demonstration of your faith to us and a reminder that God is faithful.

As I began to think about what it means when God is "faithful" I realized that it is very easy to misinterpret the word. It is easy to relate God being faithful with Him solving the problems at hand and making everything all better. But nothing could be further from the truth. When God is faithful to us He is fulfilling the promises that He has made to us.

"...The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." Psalms 145:13-14

It is important to remember that not one of the promises God has made has ever failed. He has always been faithful and will be faithful forever. What is easy to forget is that He has never promised to make our lives easy. On the contrary, Jesus warned us that "...In this world you will have trouble." John 16:33. But He followed that up by reassuring us that He has overcome the world. In other words, we will all have trouble in our lives but God will be with us to walk by our sides through it.

I think that it is easy to confuse faithfulness with the grace of God. God is faithful when He fulfills His promises but He chooses when to give grace. For example, He chose to give grace by giving eternal life, to those who believe, through the death of His son, Jesus Christ. He didn't have to do this therefore, He wasn't being faithful to us. However, now that He has promised eternal life He will be faithful to us by granting eternal life to those who believe in Christ.

To bring this full circle, if you consider that each of us is expected to be a reflection of Christ, then each of us should be faithful to our promises and show grace to those around us. In our case, we have been the recipients of your faithfulness and grace in countless ways. So many of you have been faithful to "uphold us during our fall" through prayer and have shown your grace through encouragement and financial gifts. You have all been such a testimony to us and have taught us so much. But more important than us, your words of encouragement have been seen by more people than you can imagine and have had an effect on the lives of many, thus, God is being glorified through your faithfulness and grace. Glorifying God through this challenge in our lives is our one and only goal. Thank you again for being faithful and gracious in the name of God.

Russ and Robyn

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Latest Update

Here's the latest... Robyn and I saw my Oncologist yesterday and we developed a strategy for the next course of treatment. As you know, I was struggling with the decision to continue on with additional chemo therapy because there isn't any factual data that it would be beneficial. During our meeting with the Oncologist we all agreed that the next step is to get another CT scan to see if there is any indication of additional cancer in my body. That scan will happen over the next two weeks and once we have the results we'll discuss the chemotherapy again. Chances are I'll be going through the chemo regiment just to do everything I can to avoid any repeat of this disease. But this doesn't mean I have to like it...

For those of you who read the comments from the last few days you would have read about Barb Moulton who was recently admitted to the hospital in Kentucky. Barb and her husband Ken are like family to us and we are very concerned about her. She went into the hospital early last week and by Friday was transferred to ICU. She developed serious complications overnight and the doctors had difficulty in determining the cause. Saturday they confirmed that the problem was lymphoma and they administered a high dose of chemotherapy. Initially, Barb's health continued to disintegrate but she has responded very well to the chemo and she is now doing better. I share this with you in hopes that you would add Barb and her family to your prayer list. Barb and Ken have played a very critical role in our spiritual lives over the past 27 years and we are deeply concerned for them and their daughter Kendra. We can only hope that God will be glorified again by the coming together of His children to pray for another one of his flock.

Blessings to you all,
Russ and Robyn

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A very long week...

You're all probably wondering "when is that guy going update his blog?" Well, I have to tell you it's been a very long week and a half for me and I just haven't had the energy to belly up to the computer and sign on... Thankfully, the radiation treatments are over and I've lived to tell about it. Although, at times I didn't know if I would live or not... The last three days of radiation were coupled with a dose of chemo each day and by end of those treatments I was in bad shape. I spent the next 5 days curled up in a ball either on the couch or in bed. But, here's the good news! I began to feel better on Wednesday of last week and now I feel great! I'm actually feeling like I'm getting back to my "pre-surgery" self. 

I have about two more weeks of recovery before I'll need to make a decision on the next round of chemo therapy. I'm still sitting on the fence on that decision but hope to get a few more details from the Oncologist on the 16th of September. If you don't mind, please continue to pray for us and that decision. 

Aside from my health, things for us are getting back to normal. I've been working for about a month now at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Chandler and I'm so thankful for God placing me in such a great and caring environment! The position seems to be a perfect fit for me and I'm enjoying interacting with people again. Robyn and the kids are all doing well also and continue to lift my spirits and keep me humble.

Speaking of lifted spirits and humility, we want to continue to thank all of you who have been praying for us and sending us such kind and encouraging words through your cards and emails. We are so blessed to have so many of you walking this path with us and we do appreciate every single one of you. At some point, we hope to be taken off your prayer list because there are so many in need, but for now, please continue to pray that God will be glorified through this event in our lives!

Blessings to you all,
Russ and Robyn