Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trusting in Him

          We've previously spoken a little bit about cautious optimism and this week has brought a little of that back again. I visited the Oncologist last week and we discussed the possibility of taking me off of chemo. This was his idea and it surprised me when only just a couple of weeks before he said I'd have to continue with it through the end of March. Now, he thinks I may be ready to stop chemo but he wants to do another CT scan just to be sure. The scan is the only way to determine whether or not there are any further tumors or growths. 

          This past Thursday I went in and had the CT scan done and will find out the results on Tuesday, March 3rd. As you can imagine, we're anxiously waiting to hear those results. If everything is clear, we expect the doctor to take me off chemo and I'll be officially done with treatment! We'll definitely be in prayer about this and hope you will all be praying for us as well.
          It's interesting to stop and review how God uses these events in our lives to change us and to influence those around us. In our case, we are reminded quite often by many of you how God has spoken to you through my cancer. You can't imagine, how fulfilled that makes us and how happy we are that God is being glorified through an otherwise nasty situation. Just in the past couple of weeks we've heard from a couple of different people who have commented on how "calm" we seem to be or "at peace" we are with our situation. Although we certainly appreciate these comments and attribute any calmness to the glory of God, we want you all to know that we are as human as any one and we certainly have our moments of fear, anxiousness, and doubt. I think what you may be seeing is how God has helped us to understand how to trust Him and the contentment He can bring to our lives.
          In Philippians 4:11 (esv), Paul talks about God's provision and writes "...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content". Now, I understand this verse very clearly and I'm sure you do as well. We understand that we are to be content in every situation, but most of us, including me, struggle with that very thing. In fact, I've come to be content in the fact that I'm human and I'm going to have trouble with being content! But, that doesn't let me off the hook. Knowing that I'm "to be" content in every situation puts the responsibility on me to seek contentment but, it doesn't mean that I "will be" content every time I try. After all, I'm human and I have to deal with fear, anxiousness, doubt, and a whole lot of other weaknesses. In the same paragraph, Paul goes on to talk about how he had "learned the secret" of facing difficult situations. This verse speaks very clearly to me also but this is where I draw a distinction between myself and Paul. While Paul had the confidence in knowing that he "learned the secret", I struggle with knowing and understanding that confidence.
          Here's the really great news that clears it all up for me. While I struggle with absolute contentment, I have learned absolute trust in our God. I trust that God is perfect and trust that His will for this world, and every life within it, is perfect. That means that His will for my life is perfect. That trust helps me with contentment and helps me to understand how to face my fears.
          Let's face it, trust is a very difficult thing for many of us to allow into our lives. With all the deceit, abandonment, infidelity, theft, etc, that goes on in the world today, trust is extremely risky. But, in my experience, allowing myself to trust God with my life really wasn't much of a risk at all and it has paid off with huge dividends.

Russ and Robyn

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unexpected therapy this weekend...

          Last week I mentioned that I really wanted to get caught up on a few projects that I've put off since I learned of my illness. One of those projects was to tear up the carpet in the living room and dining room and lay tile down. On Saturday morning I got up and convinced myself to tear up the carpet and see how I was feeling. After only an hour I had the carpet, padding, tack strips and glue all cleaned up and in the trash. Since that went smooth, I convinced myself to layout the tile and mix up a little thinset to lay the first few tiles. I continued working on it slowly and methodically, and by the end of the day I had laid tile in half of the room. Physically, I began to ache in muscles I haven't used in 9 months. My legs and lower back ached and my knees were so sore I could hardly walk...

          While "suffering" physically, I realized that, for me, I had just completed some of the best therapy money could buy. I thrive on using my mind and hands to construct things and I'm used to having some sort of project going on most of the time. I just didn't know how much I've missed losing myself in a project and thinking about nothing else. I enjoyed it so much that I finished laying the tile on Sunday afternoon and on Monday I grouted the tile. By the time I finished Monday night it was all I could do to get myself up off the floor and walk. I was in pain and I loved it!
          I did have a little more motivation to complete this tile job than I let on... You see, last weekend was an "off" weekend from chemo so I was feeling pretty good. But, in the back of my mind, I knew that I will be having chemo this Thursday and will probably not be feeling very well by Saturday. I wanted to get the job done so I didn't have it sitting unfinished for the next few weeks.
          If you think about it and have a few minutes over the weekend I could sure use your prayers for getting through this round of chemo. I'm a little more nervous this time since I had such a bad reaction last time. I'm determined to go through it though and get it done because I'll be that much closer to the end, which I hope will be around the end of March.
          Thanks again for all your encouraging words and prayers. You can't believe what a difference it makes to us to know that you are all out there reading this blog, praying for us and writing comments or sending your words of encouragement through emails and cards. If we can pray for you for anything that may be going on in your life please feel free to write a comment or drop us an email. We count it a privilege to join you in prayer and encouragement.

Because His love and grace is sufficient,
Russ and Robyn 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

All is well!

          Since the last time I wrote I've had a couple of ups and downs with regard to my treatment. On Friday, February 6th, the day after my last chemo treatment, Cody and I were able to attend the FBR golf tournament in Scottsdale and had a great time spending the day together watching our favorite sport. Later that night I came down with a fever which lasted until late Sunday evening. The fever grew to a high of over 103 degrees and was caused by the chemo drug killing off my white and red blood cells. I was pretty anemic for the next several days but I was able to make it through each day at work. On Wednesday last week I went in for a blood test and my blood counts were too low for chemo treatment on Thursday. In place of the chemo treatment, my doctor sent me in to the hospital to receive a blood infusion. After 5 hours and two units of blood, I was able to go home and felt much better over the weekend. Since then I've been feeling like my old self again. I'm now preparing myself mentally for my next appointment, which is on Thursday of next week, when I'll see the doctor again and receive my next chemo treatment. 

          With all things considered though, I really have been doing great. My chemo treatment is relatively light compared to many people who suffer through considerably harsher medications and chemo drugs. I feel very blessed to have the course of treatment that I have and truly admire the strength of those I see week after week going through 5 and 6 hours of treatment at a time. Those are the people we all need to be praying for. Praying specifically for strength, endurance and comfort from God.
          Over the next week I expect to continue to feel good and will be trying to get a lot of things done around the house and at work. I have a few small projects at home that I've been trying to keep up on and work is getting busier every day. I'm supervising the construction of our new church offices and continuing to work with the architects and contractors on the design of our new buildings at the church. For those of you who know me, you know that I really enjoy keeping busy and being involved in the construction process. I'm not physically able to do the work right now but I'm really enjoying the planning and design work.
          If you happen to think about it, when you have a minute, your prayers are always appreciated. Things to pray for would be continued contentment with my course of treatment and patience to endure through to the end of March. As well as praying for those cancer patients who are suffering through their treatment and who may not know the God of comfort.

Blessings to you all!
Russ and Robyn