Recent conversations about missions, have reminded me that while in seminary, I was required to participate in a “transcultural” experience. Because of timing (and expense) I chose to participate in an already scheduled group transcultural of two weeks in Haiti. Since I was enrolled in United Theological Seminary’s “in-context” program, I wrote my report at the end as a public piece which the local newspaper, the Union City (PA) Times-Leader, printed in the Spring of 1998 as a three part series.
Monthly Archives: May 2007
On Tuesday I got a call from Pittsburgh and the pathology report came back after being reviewed by Johns Hopkins Cancer Center and then on Friday I got the paper copy of the report itself.
YES the mass in my kidney WAS a cancer. A Renal Cell Carcinoma that they hadn’t seen before… it looked a lot like an oncocytoma (just a benign non-threatening kind of tumor that you shouldn’t have to worry about), yet it was really a malignant cancer.
BUT… it was caught so early that it apparently hadn’t had a chance to even invade the surrounding kidney cells, let alone make it to the urinary tract or the incoming arteries or the outgoing veins… or any of those other places. AND since we just simply removed the whole thing, it CAN’T spread!
No chemo, no radiology, nothing but get double checked every 6 months for the next three years… (like a CT scan and an ultrasound). THAT’s IT!!!!
We’re praising God on this end!!!!
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a pastor’s letter I wrote in 2002 for the Trinity Highlights monthly newsletter of the Trinity UMC, in Patton, PA. This is especially an important year for my mom and me as we both played the hospital game at the same time… While I was having my kidney out in Pittsburgh, she was in the Bradford hospital diagnosed with pneumonia and suspected lung cancer. We’re both home now and reestablishing our strength until we find out what the next steps are for each of us. We have a sort of daily telephone support group going on most days.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Isaiah 66:13
Recognizing and honoring mothers has been a long-standing tradition of Methodism. In fact, it was a Methodist woman in West Virginia just about a hundred years ago that rallied the church, and the country, around the idea of setting aside one day a year just to honor moms.
John Wesley himself, the founder of Methodism, was quick to tell how his spiritual nurture and Christian training went back to his mother Susanna who personally modelled and taught what it meant to follow Jesus Christ.
In the past few years, my own mother has moved back North after a couple of decades of living in Alabama, and I’ve had a chance again to get to know my mom all over again. Within the past few months, she’s re-introduced me to some of the more mature relatives on her side of my family tree… folks I hadn’t seen since I was fourteen. And I’m learning something about my family and my mom, about me, and about our God.
You see, as I grew up, my Mom didn’t always attend church, so I picked up an attitude that she wasn’t a “real” Christian and I, of course, believed I was! So I copped an attitude that I didn’t have to listen to her… How wrong I was!
What I’ve begun to learn in the past few years is that, even in my mom’s lowest moments, on her most “down” days, God was still using her in my life… and in the lives of my brother John and my sister Laura. Of course, God was working through her as she cared for us, like we expect a parent would, but God also used her quite often to speak words of truth and guidance to me… even as an obnoxious self-centered teenager who thought he knew it all. And imagine my surprise, as a college kid some twenty years ago, when I began to realize that my Mom was also a great dispenser of spiritual truths as well! And SHE was praying for ME! She actually knew this God I thought I exclusively called Lord!
God has used my mom to teach me so much… about life, about dealing with hard times and lean times as well, about loyalty to those you love… even when they might seem unlovable. But God has used my Mom to teach me about Him as well.
For you see, I’ve come to recognize that our God is loyal to loved ones, even when they make wrong choices, just like my Mom. God is always concerned about the best choices and opportunities for his children, just like my Mom was for us kids. God, and my Mom, finds staying angry difficult because of the love within. And in the same way that I still go to my mom for a listening ear, I can always go to God, who has that same caring and compassion that my does.
And I now understand that in the same way that I so arrogantly thought I knew more and knew better than my mom, that’s the way I quite often have approached God… But the truth is they both have much to teach me… if I can simply learn to listen.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, let’s thank God for them and, if they’re still alive, let’s remind them of how much God has used them in our lives. And how we have learned about the nurturing, mother-like heart of God Himself.
OK… I’m up in the middle of the night. I was sound asleep and my three year old son (who had apparently climbed in to mommy & daddy’s bed sometime prior to this) all the sudden sat up with a sigh or a cough or a something and leaned against me… against my left side where my surgery was. I was INSTANTLY AWAKE!
And couldn’t get back to sleep.
Of the two weeks I’ve been home from the hospital though, I have to admit that this is the first time Josh and I have ‘collided.’
While I was in the hospital, his sisters, his mom, and Gay’s mom, Sherry, all talked about how Daddy was sick and had “a lot of boo-boos.” So when he saw me in the hospital bed, it seemed to click… even though all he could see then was bandages.
When I got home five days later, the first thing we did was raise up Daddy’s shirt and show him the boo-boos (with bandages off by that point… just staples on four separate incision sites).
Understand, Josh still crawls into our bed in the middle of the night every so often, and as long as he starts in his own bed, we haven’t made a big deal of it… lots of transitions, moves, first time with his own room, etc. So, in anticipation of that possibility, Gay bought me one of those giant human size bed pillows to put on my left side… as a safety buffer in case he crawled in.
I knew he had pretty much gotten it the night that I heard Gay about 3 am say to Josh that he needed to go to the other side of her (which would be between Gay and me so she could get out). And this mostly asleep little toddler said, “NO! Daddy has lots of boo-boos!”
I’m pretty much over the need for the giant pillow and actually, with care, can sleep on my left side again (which has always been a very comfortable position for me). However, this morning I was on my back and Josh must have started dreaming or something and thus I am here e-talking with you!
All in all my recovery has been pretty good!
Starting on the first day in the hospital I knew that I couldn’t eat or lose all the tubes and stuff until I could tolerate consciousness without having to use lots and lots of pain medicine. So, I figured since they gave me a pain med pump (I’m sure there’s a real name for it) I would try not to use it unless I was really feeling out of it. Relying on my vast knowledge of medical procedures I knew that no matter how times I pushed the button on the pump it would only give me real pain medicine when it was really time for me to have more. I figured that was probably about every two hours… so i tried to only push the button every three hours or so. And I just ‘roughed it’ the rest of the time… cause I wanted to prove that I could handle being conscious so they would want to let me go faster!
Turns out it was set to allow me pain medicine every 8.5 minutes! And by Day 2 I was hurting big time! By that following evening, I swear I lived out something between “dark night of the soul” and/or waking dead nightmares! (I learned to push the button OFTEN very very QUICKLY on Day 2!)
On top of all that, being perceived as a heavier person (nobody ever said FAT to me), they had arranged for a special bed for “larger” people. Frankly, someone who weighed three times my weight could have enjoyed that bed! But for me, it was an absolute struggle to get out of it… and I had to get out to be able to go to the bathroom (I consider this a non-negotiable!).
Now remember this is now about half way through the black pit of despair night after day 2… I finally roll/jump and get on my feet at the side of the bed… and my privacy gown (boy, there’s an oxymoron!) fell… and I couldn’t bend over enough to even pick it back up! So there I am in nothing but an IV standing next to my bed when I realize that whoever came into my room last, left the door open (and I’m the visible room from the visitor’s lounge). AND I can’t get my gown, and I can’t unplug that stupid IV to get to the bathroom so I finally ring the stupid call button.
In walks some nurse/aide/someone, who isn’t Bill (my nurse for the night) and she starts to ask how can I help you? when she stops halfway through the sentence and asks “Can you tell me why you’re standing naked in the middle of the room?” For the record, I DID NOT share the many thoughts that came to my mind in that instant. I simply said, “I’d love to… but the short version is that my gown fell and I can’t reach it to put it back on.”
The next day we got rid of that gigantuan bed and replaced it with a normal one and I could get in and out and even make to the bathroom without help… and with a degree of modesty.
I find it MUCH funnier now, than I did at the time!
Upon getting home, I’ve pretty much been sleeping like a baby (up for a few hours, down for a few hours, and occasionally feeling like crying). Gay and the girls have gone out of their way to make sure I have had what I needed and just helped wherever and whenever they could. Michele even learned how to help apply my bandages (cause I can’t see my side to do it myself) and, despite her nervousness, learned how to get all that tape off to remove old bandages without completely making Daddy cry! (Although she uncontrollably laughed nervous laughter the whole way through the first time!).
The people of the Reynoldsville church have been phenomenal as well! They’ve sent cards and notes and meals and even loaned DVD’s!!!!
I did have one set-back… this past weekend I started ‘leaking.’ It turns out that obese people sometimes (OK, often times) will have difficulty with their incisions staying closed… there’s just too much fat and the two sides of the incision start to separate… and leak a bloody, serus fluid. So I spent some time in the DuBois ER just to make sure I wasn’t going to completely come unglued or whatever… I didn’t and my doctor double checked me again today and I’m doing fine.
One last story… again involving Josh. He regularly asks to see how Daddy’s boo-boos are doing and so I’ll lift my shirt and he’ll look and give his assessment: turning to Gay or Michele or Sarah and saying, “Daddy’s got a lot of boo-boos!” But one day, whe we were just getting up he got up on my bed and saw my side and wanted to help Daddy get better. So Gay and I told him he could GENTLY lay his hand ON TOP of my belly and pray for Jesus to help heal Daddy… and he did! Gay led him through a basic prayer of healing and Josh literally bounced away afterwards. The next day, when it was the very first day of him staying with me part of the day instead of going to the babysitters, we both laid down for nap time (I was ready LONG before he was) and he saw my side and asked “I pray for daddy?” I said yes and he gently laid his hand on my stomach like Gay had showed him and whispered something like “Jesus, heal Daddy’s boo-boos.”
I recognize that the main purpose of this whole thing was to remove a potentially cancerous tumor that had invaded my kidney… but I’m learning a lot about the love of my family and my church, about my own faith, and especially about having the faith of a little child.
Dear God, help me not to forget.
I received this by email from a distant cousin who works with me on genealogy stuff via internet. Thanks, Lowell!
BRILLIANT answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions.
Why did God make mothers?
1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.
How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He Just used bigger parts.
What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.
Why did God give you Your mother & not some other mom?
1. We’re related
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.
What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy
3. They say she used to be nice.
What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?
Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.
Who’s the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.
What’s the difference between moms & dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home & dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power ’cause that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend’s.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.
What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.
What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery
2. Diet You know, her hair. I’d diet, maybe blue.
If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that.
2. I’d make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
OK… if you’re still reading after this LONG of a post, then you need to call or visit or write your mom! Just Do It! Git-R-Done!
I’m just starting to get to where I feel recovered enough to READ a blog, so this won’t be long… BUT when I was at the Allegheny General Hospital a lady named Dorothy brought up get well cards each day. (Mail Call is a wonderful thing!)
But beyond the cards, she gave me a little angel she had hand-made.
She said she had bought the head, the halo, and the harp, but everything else she made using noodles! A Peni noodle is the body/dress (sorry if I’m misspelling these… noodles are not my line of expertise… nor are crafts) and the arms are macaroni noodles. The wings are from a bowtie noodle and the hair is from pipi noodles (or something like that).
Any way… I was BLESSED!
Thought some of you crafty people might enjoy seeing this.