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

Friday, January 13, 2017

God IS good ...

God IS good, all the time. 

If we would but remember that, and keep our focus on Him and let Him take over, then we wouldn't get dismayed every time things got tough. But. we don't remember, we don't keep our focus on Him, we don't allow Him to take control all the time and we certainly do get dismayed.

Yet He hears the prayers of His children. And He answers .... it is in His own good time and sometimes the answer is Yes, sometimes No, sometimes Maybe or Perhaps or Later. Whenever and whatever He answers, it always will be for His purpose, always for us to learn to trust Him more, and always to His glory. 

This week has been a long one. Eight nights, 7 days, 4 visits to the doctor, 2 different antibiotics. Concern, anxiety,  with a leg very inflamed and lots of swelling and pain, and a diagnosis of cellulitis, gave way to more calmness as by Wednesday night, Jan. 11, it appeared the swelling was decreasing...the redness was lessening. There was still tenderness, but with Jim resting his leg by keeping it elevated as much as possible, God's healing power was evident. 

Friday morning, Jan. 13, we visited Dr. Butler, and to say the least, he was very encouraged to see how well the leg was faring.  During the day, Jim felt well enough to resume de-decorating the house of Christmas decorations and even sent the big Christmas tree packing down the basement stairs (also known as letting it slide).

The Scripture verse (Hebrews 12:1-2) we relied on during our journey with Jim's cancer during most of 2015 is a reminder the verse is for every day. 

"Let us lay aside every weight, (every hindrance, every difficulty,) and the sin (unkind words, for instance) which so easily ensnares us, (captures us, locks us in,) and Let us run with endurance the race, (the journey, our life,) that is set before us, looking unto, (keeping our focus on,) Jesus, (only,) the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him - (the joy of our salvation) - endured, (dealt with patiently,) the cross,  despising the shame, (the abuse done by others,) and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (has returned to His rightful place of honor)."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Leg is stable

This morning when Jim got up, he thought the leg was more inflamed, although the redness had not spread. It was still painful, still swollen.

Late this afternoon he had his appointment with Dr. Butler and the doctor was encouraged by what he saw. The redness hadn't spread. The leg looked much like it did the day before - with lots of swelling and tenderness, but it hadn't got worse. So it was a good sign. The leg was stable.

The appointment for Wednesday afternoon was cancelled. Jim is to come back at 9 a.m. Friday.

In the meantime, whenever he is sitting or laying and is at home, he is to keep his leg elevated above his heart. That is his assignment. By doing this, the swelling will go down and the redness will lessen as well. He will remain on the Levaquin once a day. We talked about the side effects of the drug, whether he should discontinue taking it, but Dr. Butler felt it was useful for him, so we will continue. He said it is a common drug, often used in hospitals, and is also given to pneumonia patients.

His blood pressure had improved from yesterday too - 88/50.

Monday, January 9, 2017

a new adventure ... NOT

A new year ... a clean slate ...

Jim's 68th birthday was Jan. 3. Had supper (and a game of Scrabble) the night before with our family and lunch the day of with longtime friends.

And then came Thursday, Jan. 5. Bedtime to be exact.

A scratch on his lower right leg. Nothing abnormal about that ... he's had scratches before. And this was not an open sore. It was healing. But Thursday night the leg was very red, puffy and hot to the touch. At first we put Melaleuca oil on it, but by Friday night, determined that because the oil was so concentrated, it could cause less good and more trouble, so we stopped that treatment.

On Friday, Jan. 6, Jim said he didn't sleep very well. The leg was painful. It hurt to walk on it, especially when getting up from a sitting or laying position. I didn't sleep well, so was aware when his breathing became labored.

Before I continue, I want to share the Scriptures I read that morning. It was a promise God gave to us, that as long as our focus stayed on Him, things would be fine. We were not to worry, not to fret, not to fear. Just trust Him.

From Isaiah 43: 2-3: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not flow over you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, Your Savior."

Originally Jim was going to a walk-in clinic alone, but I decided to work from home, so we both went to the clinic (Hiawatha Urgent Care). We arrived at 9:50 a.m. -  there were 7 people ahead of us - it was going to be at least an hour before he could be seen. He mentioned Dr. Butler's name, and lo and behold, there was a cancellation at 10. The Lord orchestrated that just brilliantly.

The usual readings were taken - weight and blood pressure.  The BP was not good. It was taken three times - 70/42, 68/42 and 72/50 - all abnormally low. Butler was concerned that the consistent low readings could lead to kidney problems, as in shutting down. Dosage for the midodrine, taken to increase his numbers (which he hates to take, primarily, I think, because of the cost - $100  a month, with insurance), was returned to 3 pills 3 times a day. It seemed he was doing fine with 2 pills 3 times a day, but this new turn of events makes one wonder.

He was prescribed an antibiotic - 2 meds in one - called Amoxicillin / Clavulanic Acid 875-125 mg. Looks like horse pills and he takes one twice a day with food and plenty of water.

Dr. Butler told him that if he became light-headed, felt like he could pass out or had a fever, he should go immediately to the ER. He was to come back in 5 days for a follow-up - that would be Wednesday, Jan. 11.

We got home shortly before 11:30 a.m. Friday. He slept, I worked. He started taking 1 Ibuprofen for pain as needed.

When we had meals, he discovered the antibiotic makes some foods have no flavor. He especially noticed this with hamburgers and waffles / syrup. He could taste the sherbet, the pizza and the beef tips. It's a good thing not every food had lack of flavor, or he wouldn't be eating anything and he certainly doesn't need to stop eating.

On Saturday, Jan. 7, I also worked from home all day. Jim's breathing was not labored through the night, and although his leg still was painful, he was able to rest. Just before bedtime seems to be when we notice changes - Saturday night the redness started spreading to the other side of the leg and it was still swollen. But fortunately, there were no signs of being light-headed, passing out or fever - Thank you Lord.

Sunday, Jan. 8, we returned to Lincoln Street Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, where we are providing interim pastoral care while the congregation's current interim pastor is out due to health conditions and they are deciding what to do in the future. We thought if need be, we would share driving duties going down, in case Jim's strength wasn't at its best. But he did fine. He didn't notice the pain in his leg, probably because he was preaching.  He slept on the way home and most of the afternoon.

I posted on Facebook and the Immanuel email requesting prayer. There were some who suggested we go to the ER, especially since the redness was spreading. We were in a quandary. God told us not to fret, not to worry, not to fear. And all three of those were spouting their ugly heads.

Sunday night, the redness spread to his ankle. He started putting his legs up to reduce the puffiness.

Monday morning, Jan. 9, we called Dr. Butler's office and a return call got us an appointment for 4:30 this afternoon.

His blood pressure is up - 80/44. He was put on a different antibiotic - Levofloxacin 500 mg (Levaquin) and is to take 1 tablet once a day, at a different time than his vitamins. He'll start it at supper tonight. Dr. Butler remains concerned, but not sure a visit to the Emergency Room is warranted. Jim is to return to his office at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to see how he is doing with the new antibiotic.

We appreciate your continual prayers for healing as we strive to stay close to the Lord and proceed as best we can.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

a new year begins

Today is nearing the end of the first day of the New Year of 2017.

Health-wise it has been relatively quiet.

In mid-October he decided to reduce the amount of Midodrine he is taking. Midodrine helps to increase his blood pressure. He has been taking 3 pills three times a day. Now he takes 2 pills three times a day. He has had infrequent episodes of shortness of breath, but he does not relate it to the decreased amount of Midodrine. But I always take note of it when he mentions it or I notice he is breathing harder.

Jim had two doctors visits in December.
... lab work followed by a physical at Dr. Butler's office was Dec. 13 - results were good. His weight, fully clothed, added a pound, so he checked in at 139.6 pounds. His blood pressure continues to waiver - 84/60. Thyroid remains normal. Labs showed no abnormalities.

... a CT scan of his chest was ordered by his cancer surgeon, Dr. Parekh. It was done Dec. 13 at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

... a visit to Dr. Brooks, his rheumatologist, was Dec. 21. He finished his 5-year plan on Reclast, a once-a-year IV regimen for osteoporosis, last year, so this year the doctor decided two shots annually would be the plan. Insurance approved it, and Jim had the first shot Dec. 28.

... bone density scan was Friday morning, Dec. 23.

We continue meeting with friends and members of the church Jim served at in Wilton as interim pastor (1-year through the end of August 2016), keeping up-to-date with news and sharing Scripture and prayer with each other. Sometimes we get together for a meal or a movie too and always lots of visiting.

Since the last Sunday of November we have started serving as "interim" for the interim pastor who is recovering from back surgery at Lincoln Street Baptist  Church, a small church in Mount Pleasant.

We have a new website that we have named Glorify GOD Ministries. GOD stands for Go His Way, Obey His Commands, Do His Will ... Glorify His Name. That is our goal. We both liked the name, so I put something together. You can look at it here: http://glorifygodministries.blogspot.com/  It includes Jim's sermons since March, links to my blogs, his resume, contact information, about us, how to be saved.

We are considering the possibility of incorporating Bible study with our visiting and have ordered a book on "Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere" to review.

House Work - indoors, outdoors
Jim felt well enough to start cleaning the basement in mid-October. We have talked for more than a year about cleaning out the area underneath the stairs and putting a lot of our Christmas stuff in there. So he started and finished in relatively quick order. The things he found were interesting to both of us, but a lot of stuff was pitched.

He mowed the yard himself much of the summer and when Christina and the boys came over to rake leaves this fall, he mowed and mulched the yard.

One day in mid-November when the temperature was comfortable, he put up our outdoor Christmas decorations and decorated the lamp post. He took them down today without any problems.

It has been an eventful and sometimes troublesome 2016.

But now the slate is wiped clean and a new year begins.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

And on we go ...

The day after Jim's visit (Sept. 12) to St. Luke's ER he still had blood in the stool, but on the following day, Sept. 14, it was clear. Hallelujah! On that same day he also had an appointment with his primary, Dr. Butler, who determined more labs were unnecessary. Blood pressure still remained on the low side - for the nurse it read 70/40 and for the doctor it was 88/40. Dr. Butler requested a followup visit with Dr. Gerke in Gastroenterology at UIHC.

On Sept. 15, we received an email from Dr. Parekh's nurse, Joan Ricks-Mcgillen, who noted the CT scan done July 6 at St. Luke's - Cedar Rapids shows no recurrence of esophageal cancer. Great News! Another CT scan of chest will be done in late December.

Although we are no longer the pastor at Wilton Baptist Church, we continue to minister to its members, many of whom have become lifelong  friends. We attended the last WBC Senior Day of the year on Sept. 27 and were blessed with visiting with so many we hadn't seen for nearly a month. Sometimes 4 weeks seems like forever!  Pastor Appreciation Day is Oct. 16 and we plan to also attend those activities.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Jim had an appointment with Dr. Gerke in Iowa City re: the rectal bleeding Sept. 12. His weight is 137 pounds, blood pressure is 102/56 (good!) and temperature is 97.3. The doctor said he could have an internal hemorrhoid, but not necessarily - a rectal exam would not give an accurate picture - so recommends nothing be done unless another bleeding episode occurs.

Today - Oct. 6, Jim had an 8 a.m. appointment with Dr. Hoxie at PCI Urology - Cedar Rapids.
The ER visit Sept. 12 revealed:
  • portion of right urinary bladder distended, recommends cystoscopy
  • mild increased dilation of distal common bile duct in the pancreas, measuring 8 mm in diameter compared to 5 mm a year ago. IF there is concern of biliary pathology, a right upper quadrant ultrasound would be recommended.
Jim returned from the appointment at 9. The doctor did a scope and said everything was fine. Dr. Hoxie said sometimes CT scans indicate things are abnormal, when they really aren't.

Thank you Lord for every miracle.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

If it's not one thing, it's another ...

I updated the blog just Saturday, and two days later, I'm doing it again.

If this gets too graphic for you, I suggest you stop reading now. Otherwise, dive in.

Since the last time Jim had blood in the stool (that brought on the internal bleeding in October 2015), he has determined that if he ever had blood in the stool again, he would tell me.

So, this morning, guess what?! Blood in the stool. Lots of blood. He said there was a little Sunday morning, mostly on the tissue, but thought it could be because of straining. But this morning was a different story.

I called nurse friend, Lorraine (AKA Lori), who suggested we call our gastroenterologist (Dr. Gerke) in Iowa City, so I did. When the GI nurse returned the call, she suggested we go to the ER.
It was already late morning and I had appointments at 1:30 and 3, so we decided we'd go to St. Luke's after my last apointment.  Hence we became part of the sit and wait, go and do, and sit and wait some more crowd from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Jim's blood pressure was actually high. Of course, medical staff was concerned over how low his readings were. The first reading was 80 over ? with an adult cuff, second reading was 88 over ? with pediatric cuff, and when he got his own room, a recheck showed it was 96/46.  It has never been this high in the 9 months he has been taking midodrine to raise his blood pressure. At least not that I can remember. He has gained another pound to boot, coming in at 137 pounds fully clothed.

Jim had the pleasure (NOT!) of having a rectal exam, then he had blood work, then a CT scan of his rectum.

At 7:50 p.m., Tina, physician's assistant, came in with the findings ...

  • CT scan showed no obstruction 
  • He does have constipation 
  • The bleeding could be a tear as a result of straining
  • There appears to be area of pancreatic duct that is dilated
  • Prostate is enlarged
  • Bladder is distended
  • Hemoglobin count is 9.6 

Other details going forward ...

  • The blood pressure was 102/54 when last checked at 8:07 p.m., and it was thought it was because he was getting fluids. So he still needs to drink more water than he does. 
  • The hemoglobin count is near the point where a blood transfusion might be necessary. 8.0 is the magic number he doesn't want to reach.
  • He took a capful of Miralax (a more gentle stool softener/laxative) at 9:55 p.m.
  • Make appointment with Dr. Hoxie, his urologist, to follow up on abnormal bladder findings
  • Make appointment with Dr. Butler, his primary, to see if bleeding has subsided and do a repeat of CBCs
  • Call Dr. Gerke's office and advice him of details
  • Return to St. Luke's ER if he has worsening symptoms, which includes dizziness and shortness of breath

    That's all folks. 

Thank you Lord for getting the answers we needed quickly, even though it seemed so slow and we are not very patient.

Thank you Lord for enabling us to go home, not having to spend the night at St. Luke's or have to drive to University Hospitals in Iowa City.

Thank you Lord for all you do for us. We are so undeserving, but without you, we would be thankful for nothing. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Busy summer months; continued low blood pressure

The summer months were busy. Jim was often tired and short of breath, especially when taking care of yardwork, such as mowing, that others could have done.  Sometimes he would do the back yard one day and the front yard the next day, but usually he  mowed both yards all in the same day, with a breather inbetween.  It didn't do much good to lecture him about his health, when his mindset was if it needed to be done, he should take care of it.

He was short of breath at other times as well, making us think his blood pressure must be low.

On June 6, a visit to his primary doctor, Todd Butler, definitely indicated his BP was low - 66/40 when taken by the nurse and 70/42 when the doctor took it. Jim wanted to get off the midodrine (which is supposed to help raise his BP), but that was just not going to happen. Dr. Butler scheduled a CT scan with angiogram - contrast for July 6 to determine reason for continued low blood pressure. There were no answers.

From June 13-15, we attended the Southern Baptist Convention and annual meeting in St. Louis as messengers of Wilton Baptist Church. The congregation graciously paid for our lodging, mileage and food. It is the second time Jim has attended the convention - the first time was in the 1970s in Kansas City when Billy Graham was the keynote speaker. This was the first time I had attended the convention, and Billy Graham's daughter, Ann Graham Lotz, spoke at the Ladies conference.

On June 19, we began our two-week vacation through northwest United States to Prince Edward Island, Canada - the smallest of the Canadian provinces. The most troubling part of our trip, which we had so looked forward to, was the endless driving, which resulted in more friction than necessary between the two of us. The four days spent in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada, were relaxing and most enjoyable. All in all, we saw lots of interesting things, visited old friends and made new ones, and took over 600 photos.

When he wasn't short of breath and legs very tired, it was the ringing in his ears, which seemed to have gotten worse, especially at bedtime. He started taking a medicine, Inner Ear Plus, to improve it, but he's not sure it is working. Probably have to give it 3 months or so.

On Aug. 8, one month after the CT with angiogram, Jim went back to see Dr. Butler. His weight fully clothed was 136 pounds. Up 2 pounds! Blood pressure remains same - 70/42 on first reading and 76/44 on second reading.  He is to remain on current dose of midodrine - that is 3 pills, 3 times a day. He is to come back in December for physical and labs.

Also during August, Jim was to have a repeat CT scan of his chest per instructions from his surgeon, Dr. Parekh, during his May visit. So far it has not been scheduled.

Jim continued serving as interim pastor at Wilton Baptist through August 2016 - a full year. Tuesday, Aug. 30, was his last day, a bittersweet one for both of us, with gifts, a love offering, well-wishes, hugs and tears.

Aug. 30 reading from "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers:

"Jesus Christ says, in effect, Don't rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfill God's purpose, as long as you keep in the light as God is in the light.
   The tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived. The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that Our Lord heeds in a man's life is the relationship of worth to His Father. Jesus is bringing many sons to glory." 

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.