During this career transition over the last six months, we’ve had to be super careful and even scale back in some areas. It has always been my opinion though that we Westerners don’t know how great we have it. I live in a 1,500 Sq Ft apartment with four girls, and some people would pity me for that. When I was in Mexico and later in India, I really got a sense for how spoiled we are, so my perspective is that I live in a mansion. Ran across this video a couple of weeks back and I can’t stop thinking about it. It reminds me that creativity and a healthy mindset go along way toward helping us be content in any living situation.
“Shut up and Just Do It” is my interpretation of this Art Williams (Billionaire) speech given back in 1987. Taking this to heart and thought you might want to do the same.
Each Year I Go Into the Woods
A Poem, Quatrain, Ballad or something of the sort by: Jason Reynolds
Each year I go into the woods;
I tell others it is to hunt those deer!
The truth: it is to put my feet where grandfather stood
Find my soul and wrestle my fear.
Sitting on the ground, trying not to be found,
Melting into the solemn autumn, white flag on a big buck’s bottom,
Singular concentration trying not to blink wrong, the birds sing their song;
About the time the crickets cease, the sun’s arising and so is the peace.
The sassy doe with her inquisitive bow and teasing stomp,
Mere feet from me I find pleasure in her attitude;
Earthen air fills my lungs and my heart awakes to nature’s pomp,
The leaves float down to me here where lives all solitude.
My only quarrel is with the squirrels,
The only plight with the breeze that carries my abbreviated sneeze;
Eyes begin to droop until I see that majestic deer stoop,
And it is on again: me against him it is time to win!
Sneaky as can be the allusive antler carrier is a bruiser,
A mystical mammal showing only his face;
I work hard to beat him at his game but I am the loser,
Like my stress he’s disappeared and I am put back in my place.
Hunting is less and less about the actual killing,
More and more it is being with like-minded burley men who seek balance,
As we escape the chaos of life to rediscover it is well worth living.
Nature has no substitute: refreshment is found in the woods alongside man’s silence.
I am a gushing fan of Lance Armstrong. It is true he gives no credit to an all powerful creator God for curing him from cancer, but I like him.
I like him not only because he is a Texan, but because he is more patient with the French than they deserve. I like him because he is returning to the Tour de France with only a slight hope of winning. I am not saying he cannot win, but I am saying that his motivation seems to be less about boosting his ego with an 8th win and more about promoting American Cycling and his non-profit LIVESTRONG.
In case you have been in a closet, LIVESTRONG is an organization focused on bringing awareness to and funds for cancer research and cures. It is a fantastic effort and as you can see by this brief video, people are getting into it. I especially like how friendly he is to all the people he passes on hills… taking time to converse that he really doesn’t have in his busy schedule. He has been known to be a hard core dude who is big on maintaining his privacy and training regiment, so seeing him reach out like this is encouraging.
LIVESTRONG.com has nice tools for getting and staying healthy as well, which fits in great with his overall goals of helping people fight cancer. I don’t know that there has ever been a more well put together cause. Contribute where you can and cheer Lance on beginning Saturday as he attempts to tackle Le Tour another time.
[Update] Abby is all well. We took her to the doctor Wednesday and Thursday morning and her bilirubin level was a mere 13. Should go down continually now without the need for lights. In total, she spent 8 hours in the contraption you see below. Essentially like laying on a tanning bed for that period of time. Would have gladly done it for her if I could. NO FUN.
When we arrived home on Monday we noticed Abby had a bit of Jaundice. Wasn’t too much to worry about, but at the request of Ashley’s mother, who is staying with us for three weeks to help out, we took her to the doctor on Tuesday. Her bilirubin results were at a 15.2. A blood test bilirubin level of 14 is where treatment must begin for jaundice.
So, last night we were told to keep her on a bed of lights. Home health brought it by. I snapped a picture for all of you to see exactly what Baby Abby had to go through Tuesday night, but it looks like something out of an alien movie if you ask me. She basically went into a paper jumpsuit that is Velcroed to the light table with the back and legs exposed directly to the light. I hear adults can get Jaundice too, but boy that would have to be one big table and jumpsuit to hold me down all night long!
I have a former employee at my current church who quit working for us to go on a one-year round the world missions excursion on a bare bones budget. Read his commentary on this trip blog.
The crazy news is that he was robbed at gunpoint in Johannesburg last night and all his possessions were taken. If you can send a few extra dollars his way, instructions are below on how to do it. Here is his story on the robbery:
James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
I am writing to tell about my experience last night. We have been working in Malawi with Harvest international ministries (HIM) for the past two weeks. Him is a ministry that plants churches in southern Africa and we were working with them in northern Malawi. God has been teaching and growing us there, and we have learned a lot about the history of Slavery, Islam, and Christianity in the region. Our teams have been able to share the gospel and help the Malawians in showing the Jesus film in the local Chichewa language. After they show the movie many people accept Christ and then a church is planted in that village. This month of ministry has been the best yet and I know the devil is trying (but failed) to steal our joy.
We arrived here in Johannesburg last night and were getting ready to leave for India on Friday and Saturday.
Then the unimaginable happened – we were robbed.
I was talking with a friend on another team here in the lobby area of the hostel when 4 gunmen busted in to the hostel saying that this is an armed robbery. At first I didn’t think this was serious, but it soon came to be. One man pointed a gun at my face and cocked it. We were all escorted into the billiard room / bar area and forced to lay face down on the ground. The gunmen said to give them all of our phones and other valuables. They also searched a lot of peoples pockets while we lay on the ground. They said that if we moved they would shoot us and it was a very intense situation. There is a dog that is here and it was barking and the gunmen would yell at it to shut up.
I was getting ready for the dog to get shot but it never was. The girls on our team were even more terrified because when the gunmen went into their room they asked for phones and money. When they said they didn’t have any phones the gunmen were like, “We will have to shoot someone then.” They then cocked their gun to prove the point. No one was shot though.
After about 15 minutes of laying on the ground the robbers left and everyone got up. A lot of the girls were obviously disturbed and we all pulled together. When it was happening we were on the floor praying. And I know God was with us. He always is. Psalm 139 says “Where can I go from your Spirit?” It’s true God is with us always. This robbery was not a surprise to Him and knew it would strengthen us in Him.
I had a lot stolen. My Bible, journal, laptop, camera, iPod, external hard drive, U.S. passport, foreign cash and a lot of other stuff that was in my backpack. They just took my backpack with everything in it. I am sad to lose the stuff, especially my hard drive because I have all the digital pictures I have ever taken since 2000 and all the ones from this year. Luckily they did not take my wallet, just all the cash in it. It was on my bed and they just grabbed the cash out of it. If anyone would like to help me out I would greatly appreciate it and your prayers would be great too for my entire squad. There are others on my team who lost this much and some even more. At least I still have some clothes, albeit a little dirty, but they had theirs taken.
I was able to get my passport replaced today praise God and I will be able to get my India visa tomorrow.
If you would like to send any money, please send checks made out to my father David who will deposit the money for me. If you are going to send any please e-mail me too. Please though, only send money if God leads you to.
4793 Suzette Ave NW
Massillon, OH 44647
Thank you for keeping up with me and supporting me this year. I appreciate you all and can’t wait to see you again. Stuff in life doesn’t matter much so I just want to say that I love you all. Stuff is replaceable but people aren’t. I could have been killed last night, but I have been blessed with life and am going to run after the prize even harder.
I said in April I am preparing to cycle RAGBRAI 2008, and this weekend is part of that preparation. I am riding one of the top 100 rides in America (according to Bicycling Magazine) with my younger brother. Goatneck had 2,350 riders last year. That makes it one of the largest rides in America, though nothing compared to RAGBRAI.
The Goatneck is hosted near where I grew up in Cleburne, Texas. I remember it being a big deal while in Jr. High and High School. I have yet to ride it though. So, this is returning to my bicycling roots in a way. I wonder if we’ll ride on some of the roads where I learned to dodge enormous jumbo grasshoppers on that old BMX bike?
If talk of a Goatneck, grasshoppers, and some place called Cleburne is all too unfamiliar, consider checking out these lyrics (which Pat Green recorded at some point) with some Texas towns worth visiting:
Source: Cowboy Lyrics
I was toting my pack along a dusty Amarillo road when along came a semi with a high canvas-covered load He said if you're going to Amarillo I'll give you a ride. So I climbed up into the cab and I settled down inside. He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand and I said "listen Bud, I've traveled every road in this here land" I've been everywhere, man I've been everywhere, man I've crossed the deserts bare, man, breathed the mountain air, man Travel I've had my share, man I've been everywhere I've been to: Waco, Hico, Hondo, Navasota, Winnsboro, Jacksboro, Hillsboro, Santa Rosa, Austin, Houston, Galveston, Texarkana, Frisco ...
As you may remember from our hospital stay and the update, one of “my little-darlin’s” had an airway event week before last that threatened her life. This morning we went in for the procedure to scope her airway with the anticipation of finding something structurally wrong or possibly some other kind of odd obstruction. After a 10 minute procedure and a short 1 hour recovery, praise God my daughter is fine.
By fine, I don’t just mean gorgeous and altogether brilliant, or that she recovered well from the procedure. I mean her airway is perfectly normal. The ear, nose, and throat doc is left shaking his head and saying “it must have been one of the worst cases of croup ever”. Yet, there is no remnant of inflammation, an aspirated obstruction, or anything else that would have caused the problem. From the looks of things, there is absolutely nothing wrong and she has never had any issues. What is wild is that she never really had horrific coughing or the other symptoms of croup!
So, some will ask, was this a “healing” or a “miracle”? Did the prayers of literally hundreds of Christ-followers across multiple time zones, in at least 6 large churches, and from all our family and friends make the difference? Was it the determining factor that lead to her now “normal” condition? Most cessationists would probably say no. Bible.org does a fine job of laying out the issue, but here is a snippet:
The [non-charismatics/cessationists] generally make a distinction between sign gifts and edification gifts. Sign gifts, they say, served their purpose in the first century by attesting to the authority of the apostles and their divinely-inspired message. Once the New Testament canon was complete, miraculous gifts were no longer necessary, and they gradually disappeared from the church. Hebrews 2:3-4, for example, is used by non-charismatics to imply that signs and wonders had already ceased by the time of the second generation of Christians. Some also build a case for the cessation of sign gifts from 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.
I am sure some folks would even ride the fence and say that the gift of supernatural healing and the outcome of supernatural healing are two different things, thus the cessationist argument can hold true. It would indeed seem short-sighted to believe God accomplishes NOTHING supernatural through his people on earth these days. My own view is that if God’s character never changes, then He can not help but continue being Himself … which involves creation, healing, judgment, undeserved grace and mercy, miracles, et al.
Ok, ok, back to the question. Yes, I believe this was a healing. Having been with her when she nearly went to see Jesus, I know how serious it was. She was moments away from checking out. Then, within less than 24 hours she was nowhere near deaths inevitable door. Within 2.5 days one did not know anything had ever been wrong. And now, there is no evidence of anything that would have caused the situation. I believe the prayers of many made a difference!
Did we move God? Nope, I don’t think so. I think this was all within his plan and purpose for all of our lives. Not much stirs the heart more than a sick infant, does it? God allows this stuff to happen for our faith and growth. It is to accomplish His Glory! In a sense, Ashley and I were asked in this crises to give up our right to our youngest daughter in the same way we had to give up a mis-carried baby who we named Samuel. Christ was quietly asking, “do you love me enough to …?”. We answered “not our will, but yours.” We are guessing most of you prayed alongside us in a similar way.
God is faithful regardless of this outcome, but it sure feels great to be perplexed over exactly how she became whole again. Will there be similar issues down the road? I dunno. I do know my daughter is now well, those I love have supported me in ways unimaginable, my faith has grown, and that my Jesus remains Holy and Just. Thank you all for walking this bumpy road with us.
First of all, thank you for your support and interest in how our 15 month old has been doing since her time in the hospital.
We have had 3 doctor visits since we were released, and Sydney is doing well on a day to day basis. Her upper airway has been inspected three times, and all is well there. The inflammation seen below the trachea seems to have lessened to some degree. The ear nose and throat doctor charged us a week and a half ago to “keep her in a bubble” until we could figure out what is going on.
The concern is that a cold, infection, virus, allergies, bee sting, or something else could cause her airway to inflame and close again. So, we have been doing our best to keep both daughters cooped up and un-“exposed”. Ashley is especially tired from keeping the little bits while I am at work, so please pray for her.
This Wednesday, little Sydney will be put under around 7am for a 10 minute rigid bronchoscope where they look at her airway and into the lungs. The ENT has indicated it is either the worst case of croup he has ever heard about, or some anatomical problem may exist. Most anatomical problems are correctable through surgery these days, but there are a few conditions which could impact her quality of life. We’ll no more on Wednesday.
Thanks again for you care and prayer during this trial. God is using it in a number of ways and He is in this like all the other trials Ashley and I have been through together.