Hebrews 12:1-2a

"Let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with Endurance
the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus,
the author and finisher of our faith."
Hebrews 12:1-2a

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mostly good news at 1-year followup visit

Today was Jim's one-year follow-up visit with cancer surgeon, Dr. Parekh, at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Although the news was not completely 100 percent great, for the most part it was.

His weight has gone up and down in the past six months. Currently it is 133 pounds fully dressed. On his last visit to Dr. Parekh in November of last year, he weighed a couple of pounds less.

Blood pressure is up some at 92 /51.

Results of CT scan of his chest shows some patchiness on his left lung. The doctor thinks it could be aspiration where food or drink goes down the wrong tube. He wants another CT scan done in three months. Jim will have that done in August at St. Luke's Hospital here in Cedar Rapids.

If the second CT scan shows improvement then Jim will come back in a year for continual followup. If the CT scan shows infection or inflammation a PET scan will be scheduled.

We are reminded to run the race with endurance with our focus on Jesus. If we keep our thoughts on Him and thank Him for what comes, then we cannot feel sorry for ourselves.  We covet your prayers to achive that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

One-year anniversary May 12 / followup visit with surgeon May 25

The last time I updated The Race was 3 months ago, on Feb. 15. At that time, Jim had gained a little weight at 138 pounds, blood pressure was on the low side at 80/54 and he was slightly anemic. He was to come back in April to see his primary care doctor, but because of other things, the appointment was rescheduled for June 6.

The only doctors he has seen in the past 3 months are the dentist and the podiatrist. A year has passed since his esophageal cancer surgery May 12, 2015. He will have a one-year follow-up on May 25 - a chest CT scan and then a visit with Dr. Parekh at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The days since have been busy and for the most part Jim has been feeling good. Tiredness sets in after doing too much, but then that's a common complaint for all of us. He continues to take Midodrine to increase his blood pressure. Sometimes he gets a little light-headed and I attribute it to not taking the medicine regularly. He is doing better at remembering to take it three times a day.

He continues to serve as interim pastor at Wilton Baptist Church, fulfilling pastoral duties there three times a week. He and I enjoy serving there, being among the members, visiting and working to meet their needs and finding ways to enable church growth. At the beginning of March we started recording his sermons and putting them on the church website (www.wbc2002.com). You can access them there under sermons or go to http://www.podcasts.com/wilton-iowa-baptist-church-8cb59301a which should give you multiple sermon links too.

We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary April 27 with a reception open house on the 30th at Immanuel Baptist. Outdoors it was cold and rainy, but fortunately, we were inside. It was nice to see family and friends old and new, but was sorry for those unable to come.  God answered our prayer for the lilacs to be in bloom, so that was a nice touch. Artificial flowers just aren’t near as pretty and definitely not fraqrant.

On May 7, when I was reviewing "The Race" events of the past year, I wrote the following article.

"Be a glimmer"
 The Scripture for "The Race" was taken from Hebrews 12:1-2a, which says, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."

I was thinking about The Race To Run With Endurance.

It's not just about health, but also our whole life is a race. Keep going. Persevere. Push past every pain, every struggle.

God set us apart to be different, to show the world His Way, His Truth, His Life.

If we're not showing His Way and delivering His Truth, then we most certainly are not living as He.

We have succumbed to a lower power to whom we have bestowed more greatness than the God of the universe and The Son who died to set us all free. We have given Satan free reign over our lives and he will never bring us to gloryland. He will control us. We will hear and believe every negative. We will live and die in bondage. We will forget to whom we truly belong. We will think the lust of the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of our thoughts and wants and desires are what is important; are all that matters.

Satan is the destroyer - one person at a time. He has destroyed many.

Will he, is he destroying you too?

God allows events to unfold. God gives us each free will. The choices we make now will determine the outcome of future events.

Remember His love
Turn Back - Turn Around
Before the hour gets later
Before there is no time

Don't be a statistic ...

Be a glimmer
a glimmer of light amidst the darkness

"To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet unto the way of peace." ~ Luke 1:79 NKJV  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Updates - Day 273

Today is Feb. 15, 2016. I was in the midst of Bible study and reviewing past notes when I realized today is near the one-year mark that Jim was diagnosed with cancer. Results of an endoscopy on Feb. 16, 2015, were revealed Feb. 19 with the diagnosis of esophageal cancer.

In the past week or so I have been I guess what you call in a funk. Down then up and down again. So many things have been on my mind. Thoughts swirl and I go places I am sure the Lord would not want me.

On Feb. 13, I wrote "The Lord's presence gives us peace, yet when our focus on Him is absent, our peace diminishes. The peace of God is so fine a treasure, yet what good is it when we don't give our all to the one who is the giver?"

On Valentine's Day, I remembered last year's theme verse - Hebrews 12:2-3, which says, "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."  

"The Lord says 'Come' " is a poem I wrote today. You can read it on this blog:

The last time I had any updates to share about Jim was just before Christmas on Dec. 21. I will start from that point and give highlights.

On Dec. 23, Jim visited Dr. Brooks, his rheumatologist, at PCI. Jim has osteoporosis and every year for the past five years, he has been given reclast, an IV medicine. This year marked the last time he'd receive it. Something different for next year, and he would need a bone density scan as well.

On Christmas Day, he developed a cold, followed by a cough.

Jim celebrated his 67th birthday Jan. 3. He started a new series at Wilton Baptist Church on What Baptists Believe from the Baptist Faith and Message. The congregation provided a delicious birthday celebration dinner and he also received several birthday cards and gifts. That afternoon Jim and I went to the movies and saw "Star Wars."

Sunday night after work on Jan. 10, Jim took me to St. Luke's ER because of intense right side pain. I had UTI and was given antibiotics.

On Jan. 15, Jim visited Dr. Bailin, his cardiologist, at UIHC. He was given a good bill of heart health. No Afib. Blood pressure was 100/54, weight 128.3 pounds. He is to return in a year.

On Jan. 24, Jim presided over his first deacon ordination, with Ron Dunnahoo and Ken Paper being ordained during worship services at Wilton Baptist Church. It was a special day for everyone.

Jim and I met 28 years ago on Sunday, Feb. 7. Jim's sermon that morning at Wilton Baptist was "The Bread of Heaven" and he had made unleavened bread for the Lord's Supper following the service.

On Feb. 12, Jim attended the first of two luncheons for church pastors of the Great Rivers Southern Baptist Association. The luncheon was held at the Golden Corral restaurant in Davenport and organized by Mike Roberts, director of missions. Jim enjoyed visiting with the four others in attendance and mentioned one of them remembered him from days past when he served as interim pastor at Fairview Baptist in rural Anamosa.

Valentine's Day was Feb. 14. Breakfast was planned for 8:30 a.m. at Wilton Baptist and we were among several who brought tasty breakfast casseroles. The weather was less than cooperative, with snow and wind in abundance. One of the members, Charlotte, a member of the Red Hat Society, brought several red hats for all of us ladies to wear.  (See photos below) So pretty. Red was definitely the color and love the theme. Worship was cut short because of the weather, so Jim did a devotional on "Love" from I Corinthians 13.

This morning, Feb. 15, Jim had an appointment with Dr. Butler, his primary care physician, at UnityPoint-Hiawatha. He has gained weight - 138 pounds fully clothed (must be the candy and sugar cookies I made him for Valentine's Day). Blood pressure has gone down again to 80/54, but there is no dizziness. He continues to take 7.5 mg of midodrine two to three times daily. The doctor said his white count shows him to be slightly anemic. He is to come back in April for a follow-up and have labs done for CVC, metabolic and thyroid. Thyroid levels were up a little in July and normal in November.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Updates - Day 220

It was Thanksgiving and now it is nearly Christmas. It has been a busy month for us as it has for many of you.

Today, Dec. 21, Jim and I both had appointments. I know some of you have said you prefer to know what is going on with Jim than with me, but we are a couple, so our life is about us, not just him and not just me. You can always skip those parts that dwell on me.
          I had an epidural in my back this morning at St. Luke's Pain Clinic. Some of the muscle and joint pain of recent months that I thought was related to my left hip and leg was actually in my low back.
          Jim had a one-week follow-up with his primary care physician, Dr. Todd Butler. Last week on Dec. 15, his visit with Dr. Butler revealed his blood pressure to be 70/42 and weight 132 pounds. He increased Jim's dosage of midodrine from 5 mg three times a day to 7 1/2 mg three times a day and suggested a MRA (angiogram) of chest muscles might be in order. Today, after the increase in medicine, Jim's blood pressure was 80/50 and weight 130 pounds. His waist, which had dropped from 33 inches to 31, now measures 29 inches.  The doctor was concerned about the lower BP readings, but decided not to do anything about the MRA at this time. He would wait to see what Jim's cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Bailin, has to say. We see him on Jan. 15. Jim has not had any signs of dizziness or lightheadedness; his lungs are clear, heart and kidneys fine. Lab work was scheduled this past week, and results were normal. Jim is to return to Dr. Butler in 8 weeks.
          We also received a phone call from the office of Jim's rheumatologist, Dr. Michael Brooks. We had to return to MedLabs mid-afternoon so Jim could have an INI of calcium. Jim is scheduled to have a Reclast, an annual IV injection for osteoporosis, on Wednesday morning, Dec. 23, but that procedure may be delayed a week  if calcium results are not received by early Wednesday. He was low on calcium, and earlier this week, was told he also was low on Vitamin D. Both of these supplements were stopped from May to July, when he was having various procedures at UIHC.

Jim still is tired, probably because of the ischemic stroke and arthritis, but the Lord enables him to accomplish many things.
          On Nov. 29, he decorated the lamp post in front of our house and set up the vintage sleigh, reindeer and Santa my parents made many long years ago. He also set up lights so passersby could see it and the nativity in the evening hours. Most of the decorating indoors was done by Dec. 1, and on Dec. 5, Jim started baking for our open house. I  helped with decorating sugar cookies, writing and printing the Christmas newsletter, setting up the food display, etc. We had 35 people come to our Open House Dec. 12, including four members from Wilton Baptist.
          We have over 50 nativities (as well as multiple Christmas trees, angels and Santas) and 10 of them were obtained just this month. Among them: a silver nativity from Ron and Carla Dunnahoo at Wilton, a glass nativity with Merry Christmas across the top from church members at Wilton and one from a hospice client Jim visits in Central City.
          Various Christmas programs we attended were Cedar Rapids Washington Madrigal Singers during evening services Dec. 13 at Immanuel, Austin's preschool musical Dec. 15 at Taylor School, and Immanuel's youth choir during evening services Dec. 20, also at Immanuel.
We continue to serve at Wilton Baptist Church and love our time there. We are in no hurry to have it end, but that is all in God's timing, so we will enjoy whatever He gives us. Jim and I drive to Wilton every Sunday and sometimes Jim or both of us (if it works out) go there mid-week to visit members or lead a service. He also visits members who have had procedures in the hospital.  A Christmas Eve candlelight service will be Thursday, Dec. 24, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankfulness - Day 196

Today is Thanksgiving Day.

Today is the Day
the Lord has made
Let us rejoice
and be glad in it

Today was yesterday
Today is tomorrow
Everyday is the Day
the Lord has made
Let us give thanks
Let us be grateful
Let us look forward
toward the Lord
Keep us always aware
of Him who will guide us
along the path
He has for us.
(c) Cathy Orrick Luders

Among requests in this morning's prayer time was that Jim would stop getting smaller. He doesn't think he is losing weight, however, his waist size is decreasing and he doesn't want to "waste away to nothing." Before his surgery, he wore 33 x 36 pants and large sweaters; now he wears 32 x 36 or 32 x 34, and depending on the cut, sometimes 31 x 34, and medium sweaters.

Jim still has occasional episodes of dizziness and shortness of breath, but nothing like it was.

Last night, Wednesday, we had Thanksgiving Eve services at Wilton Baptist. It was a good drive down even though the traffic was quite heavy on I-380 and I-80. There was and is much to be thankful for.

Jim has been working on his Christmas sermons. This coming Lord's Day, he will begin advent messages. The first message, on Nov. 29, has to do with prophecies. We enjoy our ministry with Wilton Baptist and hope the Lord will allow us to continue there, at the very minimum, through Christmas.

In a short while, we will travel to Waterloo and have Thanksgiving dinner with Jim's sister, Dianne, who lives in Ankeny, and their aunt, Effie, who lives at Friendship Village. We are looking forward to the visit and hope to play a game of Scrabble before returning home.

Since last writing, we've had our first run-in with snow. Jim got gas for the snow blower and it actually started after a few tries. The heavy wet snow began Friday night, Nov. 20, and stopped late morning on Saturday. He used the snowblower and the shovel on Saturday and was overly tired afterward.

Saturday night we had our family over - Rocky, Christina, Austin and James, for a Thanksgiving gathering - turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, scalloped corn, pumpkin pie, homemade potato rolls. All good. All filling.

Sunday morning, Nov. 22, the roads here were good. The roads and sidewalks in Wilton were not cleared, so ice was in many places. I had the day off from work, so we had lunch with Eric and Kathy in Wilton. It was good food -  Jim ate everything he ordered and even a piece of cherry pie - and a good visit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Other things - Day 187

There really isn't anything healthwise to report re: Jim - he is better, the heart monitor will be returned by week's end, the only time he is short of breath is when he has over-exerted himself.
But there are other things, so I thought I'd share them.

We determined we were going to have our annual Christmas Open House this year no matter what. It is set now ... we have most invitations sent out and are working on decorating in and out. It is coming along much better in than out, because the weather is not very cooperative. We do have our outdoor nativity up, however.

We enjoy ministering to the people of Wilton Baptist. The 60.1-mile trip to and from seems to take less time the longer we serve there. We don't know how long we will remain there. Earlier this year after Jim had had his surgery, we talked about being willing to go wherever the Lord sent us. He sent us to United Federated in Lisbon for three weeks in August and then returned us to Wilton Baptist, where we have been since Aug. 30.

The church is searching for a fulltime bi-vocational pastor. Jim was called to be its interim pastor Sept. 27. For the past 3 to 4 weeks, we have considered applying for the open position.

It wasn't until today, Jim felt a tugging from the Lord.  Of the several devotionals he reads, it was from Oswald Chambers'  "My Utmost for His Highest" that he thought God had given him an answer.
I have included it here in its entirety:

"By Myself have I sworn, with the Lord, for because thou has done this thing ... that in blessing I will bless thee..." Genesis 22:15-19
Abraham had reached the place where he is in touch with the very nature of God, he understands now the Reality of God. 
"My goal is God Himself ...
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road." 
"At any cost, by any road" means nothing self-chosen in the way God brings us to the goal.
There is no possibility of questioning when God speaks if He speaks to His own nature in me; prompt obedience is the only result. When Jesus says - "Come," I simply come; when He says - "Let go," I let go; when He says-"Trust in God in this matter," I do trust. The whole working out is the evidence that the nature of God is in me.
God's revelation of Himself to me is determined by my character, not by God's character.
"'Tis because I am mean,
Thy ways so oft look mean to me."
By the discipline of obedience I get to the place where Abraham was and I see Who God is. I never have a real God until I have come face to face with Him in Jesus Christ, then I know that "in all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is not but Thee."
The promises of God are of no value to us until by obedience we understand the nature of God. We read some things in the Bible three hundred and sixty-five times and they mean nothing to us, then all of a sudden we see what God means, because in some particular we have obeyed God, and instantly His nature is opened up. "All the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen." The "yea" must be born of obedience; when by the obedience of our lives we say "Amen" to a promise, then that promise is ours.
 We spent the afternoon in Wilton. Today we learned the pastor search committee has invited a man to come in view of a call. He will be preaching Dec. 6. Today Jim shared he was interested in the position.

So it is up to God, as it always is. His will be done.

We covet your prayers for His will, not anyone's wishes, but simply His will.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Updates - Day 183

We'll start with Wednesday, Nov. 4 - Jim had his infected tooth that was diagnosed Nov. 2 removed this morning. Has had no problems with it since.

The following Wednesday, Nov. 11 - Jim had a CT scan of his chest, followed by a 3-month followup visit (even though it has been 6 months since the cancer surgery) with Dr. Parekh at UIHC. Results of the CT scan were good - no apparent reoccuring cancer. That is a blessing. His blood pressure is improving - 97/52. He is to return in 6 months and after that, yearly visits.

Today, Nov. 12 - he had an endoscopy to see how the ulcer was healing. Dr. Gerke said it was not healing, and it may never heal, but he was not overly concerned about it. It's not bleeding either, and as long as it stays that way, good. Perhaps this is what you call an inactive ulcer? He recommends Jim stay on 40 mg of Pantoprazole, once a day, to help it heal.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Appointments - Day 174

The first of many appointments today was a visit with his primary care physician, Dr. Todd Butler. Weight is 128.6 pounds with clothes on. Blood pressure is 70/46. Jim's plan of action to reduce the frequency of taking Midodrine was curtailed by Dr. Butler, who said he really needs to be taking it three times a daily so it will last all day and raise his blood pressure. Otherwise the medicine only lasts a few hours and is of little benefit. Results of blood work drawn indicated his thyroid is fine and he is a little anemic.

The consultation with his dentist, Dr. John McGrane, resulted in an appointment Wednesday morning at 11:10 to remove the infected tooth. Then, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m., he will have two fillings repaired.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another infected tooth - Day 173

Today, Monday, Nov. 2, Jim had a dental appointment. There was no indication it would be anything but normal, but something was wrong when the hour appointment stretched into 1 1/2 hours. When he returned home, he said he had another infected tooth - upper right this time. Jim said they took 21
x-rays. The tooth needs to come out soon, so we are having a consultation with Dr. McGrane at 2 p.m. Tuesday to determine exactly what to do and when to do it. Another expense.

We spent a good share of the day in Wilton, where we visited with Ron and Jim had an interview with a reporter from the weekly newspaper, Wilton-Durant Advocate News.

Last Tuesday, Oct. 27, Jim had a colonoscopy. He had one tiny polyp, which Dr. Gerke removed. He is to return in 5 years.

He has reduced the frequency of taking the Midodrine (which raises his blood pressure) from three 1/2 tabs daily to one 1/2 tab. He thought the medicine was causing a decrease in potty flow. It appears this plan has helped as the BP has remained good, with no dizziness, and potty flow has increased.

In addition to the 3-month clinic visit with Dr. Parekh on Nov. 11, Jim is scheduled to have an endoscopy Nov. 12 to see how the ulcer is healing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Second opinion informative - Day 164

Today is Saturday, the 164th day after Jim's esophageal cancer surgery. It has been a mostly quiet day, except for the occasional beep of the heart monitor he is to wear for the next 29 days.

Yesterday - Friday, he had a second opinion appointment with Dr. Stephen Bailin, a cardiologist at UIHC. We like Dr. Bailin - he explains things so you understand what's going on and what isn't and he doesn't give you the impression whatever he says is what you should do. He listens to the patient and the family. He's going to be Jim's new cardiologist going forward. Good-bye Dr. Li.

We arrived 30 minutes early for our appointment. Weight and blood pressure were taken right away - 129 pounds fully clothed and BP was low.... 78/43. The EKG was normal.

We discussed not resuming the Coumadin - he has been off it since Oct. 1, when he was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer that resulted in another 5-day stay in the hospital. The multiple periods of dizziness and lightheadedness in a given day have been absent. He was feeling better. There have been two brief moments of dizziness, however, in recent days - one was Oct. 18, the other Oct. 19. If there were others, Jim hasn't said.

It was determined even though he had one episode of a stroke (ischemic), he has not been in AFib since his June surgery for the bowel obstruction. It was decided he didn't need to be on Coumadin, just a baby aspirin.

We discussed an alternative medicine to the Flomax taken for the prostate. Flomax can cause low blood pressure / dizziness too. Even though he has been on the medicine for a long time, it may possibly be causing problems in his body now.  So the medicine Alfuzoin was considered as one less likely to cause hypotension. But we didn't end up going that route, at least not right now.

Another potential medicine is Midodrine which can raise blood pressure. Dr. Bailin asked if Jim had had an ultrasound. He did have an endoscopic ultrasound March 31. Apparently Jim has a congenital defect, with a flap-like opening in the wall of the heart. Usually this flap closes at birth, but there are some cases where it stays open. It appears Jim is one of those "cases."

Jim had his blood pressure taken laying down (84/49), sitting up (76/43) and standing (80/45). Then he had blood drawn for a cortisol stimulation test, which shows an excess or deficient amount of cortisol and how the adrenal glands are functioning. I'm not sure what his results mean. The preliminary numbers were 8.4. On Monday, Oct. 26, we found the final numbers to be 22.0 - elevated from the standard range.  By Friday, Oct. 30, we learned the numbers were not abnormal, so I'm guessing the adrenal glands are functioning just fine.

The doctor wants to try him on the Midodrine, the smallest dose of 2 1/2 mg 2 to 3 times a day - morning, noon and supper time. The round pills are very hard to cut in half, even with a pill splitter.

Also, Jim is to be on a heart monitor for 30 days to see how he is doing. Records will automatically transmit to UIHC. Whenever he has an episode (dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath), he is is push the button on the monitor.

Interim Pastorate
Jim began serving as interim pastor at Wilton (Iowa) Baptist Church in October. We started traveling to the Wilton area Tuesday, Oct. 13, to visit church members. The next time was Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Jim went by himself. He did just fine driving to and from.

Sunday, Oct. 18, was Pastor Appreciation Day. All pastors who have ever served at Wilton Baptist were invited to a luncheon after worship. On this day, besides Jim and me, there was Mike and Ginny Roberts. Mike used to serve in the Cedar Rapids area, but now is in southeast Iowa as director of missions. Craig Horning, a former Cedar Rapidian and Immanuel member, who now lives in Deming, N.M., came with us. I had the afternoon off from work, so was able to enjoy more of the festivities.

Sunday, Oct. 25, Jim will preach from 1 Peter: 2:11-25 on "The Nitty-Gritty of Every Day."

Awana and Canning
Wednesdays are special - we take our grandson to Awana - Austin, who will be 4 in a few short weeks, is in Cubbies. He seems to enjoy the time there and is learning about Jesus.

Jim often is tired. I can't imagine why sometimes - he has taken up the art of canning and has come to be pretty good at it, via instructions from the internet. On Oct. 14, he canned 4 pints of tomatoes and 2 pints of applesauce. On Tuesday, Oct. 20, while I did Gazette work at home for six hours, Jim made homemade vegetable beef soup and homemade bread. We delivered the homemade goodies, including applesauce, to Cathy's adopted mommy, Miss Anna, and had a nice visit.

Follow-up visit Nov. 11
Jim's 3-month follow-up visit with Dr. Parekh, his cancer surgeon, has been scheduled for Nov. 11. It may be his 3-month visit, but it's 6 months after surgery.

His next appointment with Dr. Bailin, his new cardiologist, is Jan. 15, 2016.