Tag Archives: healing

Can I help you?

As a pastor for the past 21 years, I would LOVE to be able to see exactly what my listeners in the congregation are thinking… and where they are in their faith journey to help steer my praying (my private praying mostly, but also the public prayers) and to guide my sermons to help where people really are. HOWEVER, we can’t see these thought bubbles in real life! We only have two resources in this: people sharing directly with the pastor about concerns, questions, and struggles, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 
Because of the Holy Spirit, we do “get it right” quite often as we follow the Spirit’s leading and “nudging.” But what JOY when people talk directly with us and we can work directly with the Spirit to meet needs, offer clarification, provide comfort, extend a listening and caring ear, and pray personally with someone. 

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Resurrection Sunday

This morning I was faced with a question of “What was a favorite moment of 2013 so far (as a pastor)?” After thinking for a few moments, this was my answer:

At the end of our Easter worship service I asked for folks to be praying for our 4 yr old grandson who was about to have surgery that next week. And I referenced the healing power of God and shared how my sister-in-law (that the congregation has been praying for) had actually ‘coded’ that week at dialysis and was literally brought back to life. If God can do that, then we can expect him to give REAL help as we face the things in our lives!

As I finished, a lady in the back row stood up and called for a nurse. I looked back and saw a man who looked unconscious and unresponsive and I saw his face dark and blackish. Four nurses and a retired doctor headed there and I simply started praying. I heard one nurse later say that she was convinced that he was gone. Less than a minute passed before he just started having color again and ‘woke up.’ And this was BEFORE they could even get him out of the pew to the floor to try CPR or any other intervention!

Easter is well called: “Resurrection Sunday!”

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Do You Want To Get Well?

This morning I picked up the Freedom in Christ Bible as I sat down to spend some quiet time with the Lord. When I went to open it, I stumbled upon Jesus’ question to the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda: “Do you want to get well?

That verse comes from the passage in John’s gospel where Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for a Jewish feast and Jesus saw this man lying there and learned that he had been lying there for the past 38 years. (John 5:1-15) In response to Jesus’ question, he never did say “yes” or “no.” Rather, he gave an excuse why he could not get to the healing pool in those rare moments when it had been “stirred” by an angel, and thus be healed.

In the devotional on the next page, titled: “Do you want to get well?” the author says:
“People who cannot be helped fall into three categories.”

  1. “people who will not acknowledge they have a problem…”
  2. “people who know they are in trouble but their pride won’t let them ask for the help they need.”
  3. “people who really don’t want to get well.”

The first group reminds me of passages throughout the Bible which refer to forgiveness starting with a confession of sin… and then God can forgive. Even Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs, have long taught that step one of recovery is to admit you have a problem. To not do so, is to live in denial. 
Much of the weight I carry continues to be with me, because I, through many years, have denied I really had a weight problem. Until I acknowledged (and confessed) that I had a weight problem, I could not be helped.
The second group reminds me of Scriptural passages like “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18) A lot of people (especially us men), who are obviously suffering with an ailment or injury are like that. They know they’re sick or injured, and yet cannot bring themselves to go see a doctor. there’s a heart attitude there that says ‘I can take care of this all by myself… I am all sufficient to meet my own needs.’ In truth, however, we can never meet all of our own needs. To refuse to look to others for help, we essentially make ourselves into a substitute god. After all, only God is “all sufficient.” 
When I was 11, I lived this out as well. I decided to go sled riding on a late Saturday morning after cartoons at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Walking up the hill across the road from their place, I walked up beside the tractor path that we all rode on coming down the hill. I crunched my way up the hill. At the top of the hill you slid down and turned into the field off to the right of the tractor path.
It had been icy and snowy the night before and, unbeknownst to me, the tractor path was a sheet of ice with a little bit of snow cover over the ice. On to the sled I went and raced toward the turn off below. I turned the sled at the appropriate time and at the appropriate place, but the sled just kept going… the ice prevented the sled from being able to turn off the path.
Now, my grandparents lived one farm short of being at the top of a hollow on a dirt road in Potter County. I quickly looked ahead and to the sides and saw there were no cars coming. There seldom were any cars. So, in my 11 year old thinking I thought: ‘oh well, the road is cindered, that will stop me.’ It didn’t.
So I found myself in the yard plunging forward rapidly. So, in my 11 year old thinking, I thought: ‘OK, I’ll just turn the sled to the left and have all of that big yard to slide to a stop in.’ The sled (for the same reasons noted above) would not turn and I slammed into the cement porch of their house.  My grandfather, upstairs in the house and not the side near the porch, heard the thud and came to investigate. what he found was me unable to catch my breath, bleeding profusely from where my front teeth had been sheered off and cutting through my lower lip, and me holding my back because of the pain. (Years later, I would have to have surgery on my lip where teeth fragments had been lodged and eventually blocked off a salivary gland. Likewise, my back continues to hurt often decades later.) 
Looking back, I recognize that while I could have easily rolled off the sled long before the proch, I didn’t because i was convinced that I was actually in control. I could turn that sled, get stopped by the road, or turn the sled into the yard. I thought I was completely able and sufficient to care for myself. I was not. I continue to pay for my 11 year old pride. I wish I could say I don’t find myself in similar situations any more, but that would not be honest.
That third group, those who really do not want to get better, is where this paralyzed man is. All he has in response to Jesus’ question about wanting to get well is an excuse. And I think it’s pretty significant that the gospel clarifies that he had been in this situation for 38 years! Just lying there and begging for food or money or clothing is natural now. That was this man’s source of income and way of life.

Despite this, Jesus decides to heal the man. “To show his gratitude, the man turned Jesus in to the authorities for healing him on the Sabbath.”

The devotional goes on with a challenge for all of us who find ourselves in a place where we need healing or another chance in life. “If we really want to get well, we will make whatever commitment is necessary to overcome our infirmities or live productive lives through them. We won’t get mad at God or blame anybody else. We will choose to believe that we are overcomers in Christ and that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength.”

“We will do whatever it takes to become the person God created us to be because Jesus did what it took for us to be alive and free in Him.”

Denial, pride, or an attitude of not wanting to change a way of life; these are all signs of one who cannot be helped except by a Sovereign God.

O God, I personally have had times in all three of these categories. Times when I couldn’t believe I had a problem and so denied it. Times when I knew something was amiss, yet thought I could “take care of things” on my own. Times when i was so comfortable with the way things were in the status quo, that I couldn’t bring myself to face the uncertainty that change might bring and so opted to stay longer in whatever situation I found myself. Forgive me. Clarify my thinking. Help me to see my own life as you do. And when I need your healing in my mind, in my heart, in my body, help me to quickly recognize when I’m in denial, feeling self-sufficient, or becoming too comfortable in the status quo. AMEN!

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The Freedom in Christ Bible, Neil T. Anderson, general editor (Zondervan: 2001) pp. 1204-1205.

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What is the Church?

These are my notes for Sunday, July 7th’s sermon at the Clarks Mills United Methodist Church (Clarks Mills, PA).

Please understand these are SPEAKING notes, which means they have commas, elipses, spacing, italics, and bold print to help me, the speaker, to remember to pause or emphasize certain areas. NO attempt has been made to properly punctuate or to use rules for proper grammar. 

ALSO, I refer to God in accordance with the rules of English which speak of masculine pronouns being used to denote masculine objects or objects which have no gender. (It is the same reason I use the Spanish la (the) with casa (house)… not that “the house” is a feminine object, but rather because that’s what the rules of Spanish specify.) I do NOT believe God is a man or male in substance, any more than I believe a house is feminine, even in Spanish.)

SERMON: “What is the Church?”

There is a story about a new pastor who is just out of seminary at his very first church.
First week…preaches about helping the poor and reaching out to the needy…


2nd week… again, a great sermon… but it’s word for word the same thing as week one…

3rd week…SAME sermon again…

Emergency board meeting is called to address this problem!

When asked, the pastor’s response: I didn’t want to move on until we had done the stuff from the first sermon… Wanted to wait until people “got it” & “did it”

OBVIOUSLY, the pastor and the people had different ideas about what the church was supposed to be about…

The people wanted a nice “presentation” each week… The pastor wanted to see people reach out. Nobody had moved from their seats… the gospel didn’t really affect them…

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

One of the ongoing struggles between pastors and their people, between different denominations of churches, between the theologians and seminarians alike, is how exactly do you define “church.”

IN SOME PLACES, THE CHURCH IS SET APART BY A FAMOUS DEFINITION THAT SAYS THE CHURCH IS WHERE YOU GO TO RECEIVE THE SACRAMENTS… That’s pretty much the definition you hear from the I.R.S. as well… a “real” church has the administration of the sacraments and a “real” pastor is one who has those “sacerdotal” duties… he or she administers the sacraments. If that’s it, then why do we have YF groups and PrimeTimers or daycare or United Methodist Women or missions? And why bother with sermons and music? Just come and receive the sacraments…

And the church would never be outside these walls around us.

Thank God, there’s more to the church than just the sacramental duties… Those things happen, but it’s not the whole reason we’re here.

IN SOME PLACES, THE CHURCH HAS BECOME A SOCIAL GROUP… You go to church because that’s where you meet some good people that are fairly trustworthy and would make good friends… or future spouses… or potential customers for your business.

In reality, that’s not so much “church” but rather a group like the “Rotary” or the “Grange” or the “Lions Club” or any number of other very good, very respectable organizations organized for good friendships and community service…

Thank God, there’s more to the church than just friendships and community service projects… Those things happen, but it’s not the whole reason we’re here.

IN SOME PLACES, THE CHURCH SEEMS LIKE NOTHING MORE THAN A ‘PROPER GENTLEMEN’S CLUB’ … the members of their group felt like they were “above” those who weren’t members… you had to have the right credentials and the right skin color and the right status to become a member… and if you were a member of the right club then you were really something…. Prestige, honor, respect… and power… were yours…

In some places, it seems the church has become like that… If you belong to OUR church then you’re REALLY going to Heaven… If you are baptized the right way or do communion the way we like it, then you’re on your way…. If you line up with our doctrines in the right way and If you say the right prayer with all of the right words in the right order, and know exactly when to stand up or sit down, then you’re one of us…

…AND IF YOU DON’T, then you’re obviously going to Hell… and it serves you right!

Thank God, there’s more to the church than just doctrines and beliefs and prayers… Those things happen, but it’s not the whole reason we’re here.

IN SOME PLACES, THE CHURCH IS DISTINGUISHED BY WHETHER OR NOT THEY WORSHIP IN THE RIGHT WAY… Do you sing the old songs or new songs… (and the “old songs” might be hymns or for others the “old songs” are more like Gregorian chants out of the Middle Ages… and “new songs” might mean choruses written last week or a 500 year old hymn like “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”) Do we have the right rituals? DO we do things in the right order? Do we use the right version of the Bible…

Is worship led by the right people… maybe it’s led by a liturgist, or the organist, or the pianist, or a worship team, or maybe even the preacher himself…

But in that kind of church, it had better be done right!

Thank God, there’s more to the church than just pleasing people with our rituals and music… Those things happen, but it’s not the whole reason we’re here.

I’D LIKE YOU TO TURN WITH ME TO THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW to the record of one of Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees… and I believe we’ll see one of the main reasons we’re here as a church… Listen and see if you can spot Jesus’ example for the church in this passage… FROM Matthew 9:9-13…

Now understand, it’s the Pharisees that really get rankled by Jesus when he doesn’t do things the way they think they should be done… They spend their time at the synagogue, and later the Temple, watching to see what He’s going to do wrong next… They’re watching for mistakes… They’re focusing on form alone… and they find exactly what they’re looking for… Because Jesus couldn’t care less about the form of their worship… Or their rules… Because Jesus is concerned about the relationship with God the Father. That’s supposed to be the focus of worship… Experiencing God… connecting with Him as we praise HIM… and as we pray to Him… as we meet with Him and turn our thoughts to Him.

And if someone comes into worship with a need… spiritually or emotionally or even physically, then as they connect with God the Healer, Jesus sees it as perfectly acceptable to heal them…

And if they show up and have made a mess of their lives and are broken hearted or have had lives full of sin, then Jesus welcomes them into his presence… Because that’s his specialty… He is known as one who hangs out with sinners…

Jesus’ answer to those Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, when they accused Him of eating and drinking with sinners is one of my favorite Biblical images of the church. The writer of Mark tells of Jesus’ answer this way: His answer simply was: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

I used to be an orderly in the Olean General Hospital and worked a few months between terms of school at the St. Vincent Health Center in Erie. When I get to this passage here in Matthew, and the corresponding spots in Mark 2 and Luke 5, the questions and concerns about “what is the church?“ start to fade away… BECAUSE THE CHURCH, AT LEAST IN PART, IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE A HOSPITAL!

In a hospital, there are supposed to be sick people and they are tended for by nursing staff and doctors who are subject to the very same maladies and destructive habits as the patients… and yet the sick can still go to a hospital to find healing and hope.

In a hospital, often the healing doesn’t come about in the same way the patient expected it to at their arrival, and sometimes, some people never are completely healed.

The church is like that….

The church is supposed to be a place to meet the Healer…. The one we call the Great Physician…. And those of us who man the stations and work the desk, are like those doctors and nursing staff at the hospital… we DON’T know everything that will cure or help and we may fall into the very same sins and addictions that you have come here to seek healing for… But together, like at the hospital, we the ones who are experiencing healing can help reach out to those who still need healing.

And that healing might come in the least expected ways, through some of the least expected people… but in the church… there’s hope for healing!

If the church is like a hospital, then we are called to be both a welcoming community and a healing community. We cannot help heal, if those in need of healing don’t feel welcomed to come in.

As a pastor, like a doctor in the hospital, I see my task to be to help the “patient” recognize the extent of their illness or injury and how they might begin to be healed. And just like in a hospital, I can help to facilitate that healing, but it will be God and the sick person that actually do the healing.

A COUPLE OF OTHER SIMILARITIES JUMP OUT AT ME AS WELL… You see, in order to be treated in a hospital, a patient has to actually physically show up at the hospital. ALSO, the patient has to actually recognize and admit that they really are sick or wounded and in need of healing.

A patient healing in the hospital also has to allow, and participate with, the life sustaining and restoring remedies doled out by the physicians and therapists.

In short, the one in need of healing must be willing to be healed.

Without that initial desire to be healed, to be made whole, no healing can happen, no matter how open and welcoming the hospital is.

I find the same to be true in the church. The church has opened its doors and welcomed all to come in.

For the one who suffers because of their own sin, repentance and a willingness to change will be the starting point for healing.

For one who has suffered a woundedness through the sins of others, the healing process will be more complicated, yet still possible, as issues of justice and forgiveness are sorted out and resolved.

Either way, healing can be painful, and still requires a willing participation by the ‘patient.’ But without a recognition of the need for healing and a willingness to participate in the healing process, there is little the church really has to offer that one.

That doesn’t limit anyone’s coming to the church, any more than not admitting illness or injury block’s one from visiting a hospital. There just simply is no way for the hospital to treat a visitor with its healing remedies, because the hospital visitor doesn’t allow themselves to become a patient.

To be healed, requires participation, not visitation or spectatorship.

Likewise, in order to receive all that the church has to offer, we must participate, in the remedies of repentance and forgiveness, (Ps. 51: 16-17).

As a pastor then, like that doctor, I must recognize that sin is a reality and not turn a blind eye when I am aware of sin, whether it is done by, or to, one of the “patients” or in our case, one of the parishioners.

Now understand, there’s a stark warning goes hand in hand with this view though: if you do not like being around people who are sick or wounded, then you really should never plan on going to a hospital for any reason… or to a church for that matter.

For these are places where the ill and injured are not only welcome, but they are the very ones who are expected.

The very existence of the church, like the hospital, is designed for the weak to become strong, the wounded to become well, and the sick to be restored.

Hospitals are not associations of whole people trying to keep from being injured, weak, or sick, although there are ways the hospital can help facilitate those very activities after healing has begun.

In the same way, the church is not designed to be a place where “good people” avoid sin, sickness, and woundedness, although once healing has begun, the church can assist each other in remaining free from inflicting or receiving the negative effects caused by sin.

But rather, a hospital, and a church, are both designed as places where sick people go.

A further comparison is possible between the church and a hospital. In a hospital, because virtually all are there have something wrong with them, it is almost always a place where you can accidentally be infected with someone else’s sickness, and where the wounded become even more susceptible to developing illness along with their injury.

Staff and patients alike must be on guard against the further transmission of disease. The church as well, being filled with sinners, runs the risk of “rubbing off on someone else” with their particular sinful tendency, thus creating more sickness, hurt, or injury from within the very midst of the healing community we call the Church.

So what does that mean for us today?

It means that we have to be very intentional about our ministry… Our focus can never be just about details of worship services or particular programs… Our focus must always be experiencing God ourselves and helping others come to that place too… For that, my friends, is a place of healing.

It also means that church is “messy” sometimes…. Things don’t go as planned… just ask an emergency room nurse about how often things go as planned in an E.R… but by their very flexibility to help each person wherever they are, in whatever situation they are in, they are agents of healing…

Can we as the church, be that flexible? Can we meet people where they are… or must they line up with the way we want to do things? Can they come “Just as I am” like we’re always singing?

Ultimately, there is more to the church than just being like a hospital, but one of our traditions I’m told is to not have three hour worship services… so this is enough for this day. But on and off, as the Holy Spirit leads, we’ll be talking throughout this next year about God’s leading and God’s expectations for us as a church… and for every church. I haven’t been here long enough to know what does and doesn’t apply to us yet, so be assured I’m not throwing darts at anyone…

But it just seems fair from the very beginning of our time together that you know and understand that part of the vision and burden that the Lord’s placed in my heart, is to see the church as a place of healing where people are accepted and where all can encounter this Healing God we serve.

For that is WHAT the church is… people worshipping God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And as we do that, we will also find healing.

How do we make sure people see us as a place to find healing… rather than just a place to play softball or eat great food or to take care of kids?

How can we reach out and make everyone feel welcome here?


Jesus offered healing… and people who needed healing came to him because they knew him… and people who needed healing knew him because he hung out with those people… And hanging out with Jesus as one of his followers was like being in a hospital emergency room… never predictable, never boring, always surrounded by the injured and the sick… the really, really sick…

And that’s what I believe we the church are to do in order to really be the church.

And that’s not just a preacher thing… any more than a hospital is just about one doctor… Rather, we all together, open our hearts, and our minds, and our doors to those who need Jesus… and in so doing we find ourselves welcoming those who need help and there’s room there for you and me as well in that group isn’t there?

WHAT is the church?

The church is a lot like a hospital!

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Prayer Request… An Update

I appreciate everyone who has been praying for my mom. She’s actually gotten stronger… although not really better. The medical folks can’t do much… the cancer is there and she can’t tolerate the few things they know to try…

On Sunday, July 6th, I offered to lead a communion & anointing/healing service at the house when Mom was doing about her worst. I told her she could invite anyone she wanted. When the time came, there were more than 25 of us gathered around her and my step-dad Norm! We celebrated communion and then we anointed Mom (and then, Norm, as well) and laid hands on her and we prayed.

Mom has gotten stronger and stronger. Not better, but stronger. She landed back in the hospital at one point, but is back home now. In fact, her oncologist has decided that Congress ought to bring all our troops back home and just send my mom over… cause she keeps rallying and gets stronger! Nothing really seems to stop her!

We recognize that the day will have to come soon where either Jesus intervenes in some miraculous way to remove the lung cancer and its associated brain tumors, or else the cancer will finally stop Mom… or at least her body. Meanwhile, we all are enjoying the knowledge (and the experience) of seeing Mom ENJOY most of her day… almost every day… pretty much free of pain. Family from afar has been able to come. Friends and neighbors are stopping by. This part is good!

Thank you… and please continue to pray…

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A Final Diagnosis…FINALLY!!!!

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!!!!



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Recovering from my boo-boos

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.


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This has been a remarkable week! God has used his people and the medical establishment to humble me… and bless me.

FIRST, on Friday (12/15) The Rev. Dick Burns, one of our Western PA UM evangelists and one of my personal heroes and mentors in the ministry, stopped into my office to see me and because he wanted to lay hands on me and pray for me. I was so humbled and in awe… He shared words of encouragement, a loving embrace of brother for brother, and, as only Dick can do, he shared laughter with me. What a blessing this man of God is!!!

SECOND, on Sunday (12/17), the Reynoldsville church family here at First UMC surprised and humbled me… and left me speechless all at the same time! (And making a preacher speechless is a pretty amazing feat!)

They presented a handmade prayer shawl to me as a constant reminder of the fact that THEY were praying for ME as I went through the medical uncertainties of my life right now… In fact, the prayer shawl itself had been prayed over before it was presented, that it would be a healing blessing every time I prayed with it. Turns out that this is one of the many ministries here at this church that go on in the background pretty silently… and yet faithfully.

Then, after the service was over, about 50 some people stayed after and waited until I was done shaking hands and stuff and came and got me and asked me to meet them at the altar rail. Led by the retired pastor we have in residence here in Reynoldsville, The Rev. Leo C. Cramer, this group gathered around and laid hands on me and prayed… for God to expose anything hidden as I was about to go for further testing and then planning for expected surgery and possible removal of my kidney if things were as bad as they seemed to be. And then they prayed that God would just bring about healing and surprise everyone.

Finally, it turns out that as I was in Pittsburgh all day today (12/19) for the testing and the consults, they were having a prayer vigil throughout the day here at home. They had divided up the day into half-hour increments and there was at least one person praying for every minute of this day. WOW!!!

THIRD, today, we actually went for the tests and the surgical consult. When all was said and done (and we’re talking leaving home at 7:00 am and returning at 9:30 pm) the tests exposed that there wasn’t one mass, but rather two. One mass is about 2 centimeters and the other one is about 4-5 centimeters. But, both were diagnosed as cysts… benign cysts is all they are! So the hidden has been exposed and all that had looked to require surgery and removal has either been healed or they made a big mistake to start with!

With this diagnosis, they don’t have to do anything! They’ll have me redo the tests in six months and then, if the tests are clear, we’ll repeat it again in another six months… but that’s it!

I probably need a lot of time to completely process all of this… but WOW! What a week!


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