Friday, May 31- I Have It, But It Doesn’t Have Me

    Reality has reared its ugly head in my life. It showed up in the form of a mass…in my head. What started out looking like an ear infection has proven to be…JUST a bit more!
     First things first- I have said that I am heading to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for further tests and treatment. WRONG! Those charming folks in over in Insurance Land don’t cover The Mayo Clinic- it’s not “in network”! Frustrating, even maddening! BUT- I am eternally grateful to a clergy brother who alerted me to that fact. Under current circumstances, I fear I wouldn’t have realized that actuary fact until I was too far down the road to turn back. So, to that unnamed clergy brother…thank you! I sincerely owe you a debt I can never repay!
     So I went from: 1. you have a big…THING…in your head to 2. you’re going to The Mayo Clinic to 3. Oh, did we tell you? You CAN’T go to the Mayo Clinic? all in the span of 30 hours! It has been a…whirlwind…to say the least!
     So where do we go from here, then? Well, one of the hospitals that IS “in network” Is Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, MO. It is a world-class hospital with a sterling reputation. Also…I’m FROM the St. Louis area. I lived the first 36 years of my life in the same town, just north of St. Louis across the mighty Mississippi in Illinois. Then, I started in the ministry and was appointed to a church…just across the river from St. Louis! I was there for 7 years. So I was 43 years old before I EVER lived more than 30 minutes from Barnes Hospital! I have been there countless times as a minister or going there with a family member. I know the area as well as I know anywhere. It’ll be like playing a home game!
     Also, between close family that still lives in the area, friends from my time there and many of the members of my first church, I have a rather extensive network in St. Louis. By comparison, I know a grand whopping total of…NO ONE…in Rochester, MN! So, less than 48 hours after I first found out about this…THING…in my head, I am now shifting gears yet again and planning a trip to St. Louis! Perhaps I can take in a Cardinal game while I there! Going to Busch Stadium is like going to a family reunion!!
     What I DON’T know is when I’m going. We’re working on that, trying to get the date THEY’VE set moved up. What I DO know is what my wife told me later in the day on Tuesday- the day we found out about this…THING…in my head. She said, and I quote, “You have it…but it doesn’t have you!” As I thought through that one (I HAD to think through it- I ain’t always the sharpest tool in the shed!), I realized two things: 1. BOY is she smart! and 2. she is ABSOLUTELY right!
     I DO have this…THING…in my head. I have NO idea, at this point, what it is. It might be benign…and it might NOT be. I might be facing surgery…and I might NOT be. I might be facing chemo and/or radiation…and I might NOT be. A WHOLE lot of question…and very few answers.
     But I DO know one thing- the thing my wife crystalized for me. (Did I mention how smart she is?!) While I DO have this…THING…in my head, it DOES. NOT. HAVE. ME. I am just stubborn enough and just thick-headed enough that I refuse to lay down and let this…THING…in my head get me. I don’t know what the future holds- I just don’t. But I DO know that God is good, all the time. And therefore, the devil can throw whatever he wants to throw at me- I refuse to turn from God. God has stood by me through thick and thin, and He’s NOT going to leave me now!     
     I will continue to use Stick With Jesus as a way to keep you all updated. I refuse to let this become a pity-party where I simply wallow in self-pity. Instead, I feel that God has given me a Job-like (That’s Job, the Old Testament one) opportunity to put my money where my mouth is and remain faithful in the face of difficulty. I invite you to join me on the journey!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow-  “Put On a Happy Face!”

Thursday, May 30- Breaking News

     So an interesting thing happened on the way to life on Tuesday. Let me back up a moment. Last week, in an ongoing effort to find out what was causing some hearing loss and pressure in my right ear, I had a CT scan. I could joke and say that, since they scanned my head…they found nothing! (Buh-doom, ching! Oh, I KILL me!!) But I won’t, because they DID find something. This past Tuesday morning, the doctor called and asked if I could come in…immediately…to talk about the results of that scan. 
     So, my wife and I drove the 45 minutes to the doctor’s office, where we found that I have a rather large…mass…behind my right ear, sitting on top of my jawbone and pressing on both my right ear canal and the temporal lobe of my brain. 
     Is this cancer? Don’t know. Will I need surgery? Don’t know. When will all of this happen? Don’t know. What will the long-term ramifications be? Don’t know.
At this moment, we don’t know much more than that. It’s fairly big. It’s clearly pressing on some things it shouldn’t be pressing on. And something needs to be done about it. Regarding what we know…that’s about it.
     We are in the midst of working out where we are going to go to have this addressed. The doctor is recommending that I go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for treatment. But I just found out last night that the May Clinic in Rochester, MN is…ready? Let’s all say it together…out of network! That doesn’t mean I can’t still go there, but it DOES mean that if I DO go there…my kids will be paying that bill off with their retirement income. So now, I will spend today trying to see who IS in network and has the best chance of helping me!
     It seems clear that Stick With Jesus just took a different turn. I’m fairly certain that, since this IS a “daily look at life as a shaved-headed, earring-wearing, rock-drumming United Methodist minister” after all, my daily life just changed radically. You will be seeing a LOT about what life is like over the weeks ahead…whatever that looks like.
     I already have LOTS of thoughts and revelations that I will be sharing as this unfolds in time and space. I have already experienced every emotion possible…and I’m barely more than 24 hours in. This out to be a WILD ride! I would ask you to pray for me and my family…and continue to read! (It means a lot to me!!)
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- I Have It, But It Doesn’t Have Me

Wednesday, May 29- He’s YEARS Old!

    Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the 3 greatest days in my life. Those 3 days are: my wedding anniversary, my younger son’s birthday AND…yesterday…my OLDER son’s birthday!
     May 28, 1988- an AMAZING day in my life. My wife was teaching at the time (I’m partial, but she was one of the FINEST teachers I have EVER seen!) and “big pregnant”. She was trying to make it to the end of the school year before our first child was born- and this was the LAST day! She had parent/teacher conferences that day. She was not comfortable driving, so I was both taking her to work and picking her up every day. I got to school later in the afternoon- at the time we had set. I found her sitting at her desk. She looked up at me, smiled that beautiful smile that only she can, and said, “I think I’m in labor.”
     For a moment, it became an episode of I Love Lucy, with me running around like a chicken with its head cut off and her trying to calm ME down! Once I got a handle on myself, she said, “Let’s go walk through Target!” “Is that what we’re SUPPOSED to do when you’re in labor? I don’t remember that being cover in the Lamaze Class!” She assured me it was OK and off we went! We then went to the hospital? NO! We went home! She called the doctor and told him what was going on. He allowed as how we probably ought to go ahead and come to the hospital!
     We got there, checking in, settled in and started the process. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that later that night, a beautiful healthy baby boy was born! never thought I could ever love someone as much as I loved my wife…until that moment! It’s a different kind of love, to be sure, but it’s amazing! I held him in my arms and wept with joy! It was a moment I will NEVER forget!
     And now…he’s 25 years old! Yesterday, that milestone arrived. My wife and I think that this was the first birthday ever that we didn’t get to spend with him. But we DID get to spend the weekend with him, lavishing him with gifts, love and LOTS of good food! Son…happy birthday! You are an awesome human being and you make me VERY proud to be your dad!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- Breaking News