“Hepped Up” Day 1

crazy guy dancing

Today’s blog could be summed up in a text I received and answered yesterday. My longest-term friend (He doesn’t like it when I say “oldest friend”!) – we met on the bus to Kindergarten- sent me a text that simply said, “How are you doing?” I responded, “Days 2 and 3 are “hepped on steroids” days, so I feel good. The “storm” will probably come Friday about noon and last through Saturday.”

It weird how that works. I spent 6 hours getting poison slowly pumped into my body on Tuesday. I spent a quiet evening of writing and watching “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” on Netflix” while my wife and younger son both slept off being sick. I went into work early yesterday- I am behind because A. I missed Tuesday and B. a busy time of the church year is gearing up.

I spent the morning cranking out as much as I possibly could. (no one comes in on days you miss and makes the fries that day. So, when you get back in the office, you not only need to make the fries for THAT day, you have to find a way to make the fries from the day(s) you missed! (My old “fast food” days still creep in from time to time!)

But the other problem I had was that, Tuesday night at about 9, as the credits for “Batman V. Superman” were rolling, I suddenly remembered something- I was supposed to have a prescription for those Day 2 and Day 3 steroids…and I didn’t. No one said anything to us before we left the infusion center and I forgot to ask. And I was supposed to take the dose yesterday morning. So as soon as the pharmacy opened at 8AM, I called them to see if they had anything. Nope.

The next step was to call the infusion center and see what was what about you know what. I have been IN that center at 8AM, so I thought I would be able to call at 8:15AM. Nope. They don’t turn on the phones until 8:30AM, so I got the answering service. So, about 8:35AM, I called back. Still the answering service. “They haven’t turned their phones on yet.” I tried again at 8:45AM. Same deal. At 8:55AM, I called again. It sounded like the person on the other end identified themselves again as the answering service. I said, “Wow! They STILL haven’t turned on their phone?!” There was a pause, “This IS the Cancer Center!” Oops! NOT the way you want to start a conversation which includes you wanting them to do something for you!

I was sent to the nurse’s voice mail, where I left the message about the meds. She called me back about 10:15AM and said that they had called something in and it included 10 refills. So, I called BACK the pharmacy…only to have them reiterate that there was NOTHING new for me! She asked what they had supposedly called in. I didn’t know the name but knew it was a steroid, it was only four pills taken over two days and they had filled it before so it should be in their system. She found one from early August. I assured her that was the one. She said, “Well, they put 11 refills on it!” “Oh! NOW I get it!” So, it was a quick jaunt to the pharmacy, swallow two pills and back to work!

Days 2 and 3 really ARE gifts, in a way. If you have ANY sense at all, or if the doctors have properly prepared you, then you know that to be true. After the infusion, it’s not a bad thing to have two days that you pretty well KNOW that you are actually going to feel GOOD- frankly, better than you did when walking INTO the infusion center…before the treatment.

So, I READILY accept yesterday and today- where I feel like my “old self”- knowing that starting later tomorrow…that won’t be the case. But I ALSO know that the “storm”, as I referred to it earlier, will also be temporary. In the end, you do what you have to do. You accept the thing you can’t change. You make the best choices and decisions you can. And you keep on marching forward because giving an inch isn’t an option. I have it, but it does NOT have ne!

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The Second Transport Is Away!

star wars     To paraphrase a line from Star Wars 5 (5! It will ALWAYS be the sequel to the original, or #2!) The Empire Strikes Back, “The SECOND transport is away!” (Cue the bad actors/locals who were hired to stand stock still, half-heartedly raise one arm up in the air and let out a rather uninspired cheer!) I got the second “big deal” chemo treatment yesterday.
It went pretty much like clockwork. The two blood work numbers that wouldn’t allow treatment last week were both back in the normal range…barely. Another couple had inched closed to “out of range” in the meantime. But the bottom line is that everything was between its bottom and top number and so- we went.
The visit with the oncologist (A MUST prior to the treatments) went well. She is still happy with how my thyroid “looks” (from the outside) and feels (ALSO from the outside!). I had only lost a pound. My temperature has been running slightly low for several weeks. It was again. My blood pressure still makes “healthy people” jealous! Pulse ox was good, which means I am having NO trouble breathing. So, off we went.
The infusion rooms are in the same place as thee exam rooms, so it’s a short jaunt from one to the other. First order of business- find a vein and get the IV in. I have shared that, while the folks who draw blood get the vein that is right in the crook of the elbow (And mine is still easy to find), the chemo infusion folks save that spot for the blood draws- they don’t want to scar the vein there too much, in case of an emergency.
So, they get the tourniquet. They get the heat pack. They do their very best to actually FIND the veins in the middle of the inside of my forearm. (They have taken a beating and have gone into hiding!) Yesterday…she hit it first try! (There was GREAT rejoicing in Mudsville- Mighty Casey did NOT strike out!) And then they start the saline. While that is pumping in, I get the oral Benedryl. Then, they switch IV bags and I get steroids pumped in. After that, anti-nausea meds are pumped in. And then, the chemo drugs start.
Those take hours- one bag at a time. And while the first of them runs, I have to wear a blood pressure cuff- just in case. But because they are pumping SO much fluid into me, I ALSO have to go to the bathroom a lot! So, you wait for the schedule BP check. As soon as it’s done, you unhook the cuff from the machine, leaving it on your arm. You unglug the “Christmas Tree” that holds the IV bags from the wall. You un-recliner your recliner, get up, push the “Christmas Tree down the hall (chemo drugs still pumping into you) to the bathroom. Once you…you know…you push it back, get back to your room, hook the cuff back up to the BP monitor, plug the “Christmas Tree” back into the wall, get back in the chair and recline- all before the next scheduled BP check! (It KIND of feels like a prison break- except you get out…but come BACK! Not really a very successful “break”, is it?!)
I am starting to feel the effects of all of this a bit more. I was more tired and colder yesterday than usual. In fact, I wear shorts and a light weight shirt to the infusion center because I get too warm. But yesterday, I was cold enough to need a lap shawl and a blanket. I also slept more of this infusion than I have before. BUT- by the time we left, I was feeling pretty good. I drove home…as always!
The next step is…wait. In two weeks, I have a CT scan, with and without contrast, to see where we are. This one will be a bit more involved than the last couple- it will include the abdomen and pelvis along with the neck and chest. They want to see if anything is going on a bit farther “south”. And then, I follow up with the oncologist the next week- about ¾ of the way through September- to talk about the scans and see what’s next. So, unless something untoward comes up, no chemo for at least almost a month. And so, we wait!
We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The Results Are In!

survey-results

Well, the polls have closed, the numbers are in and the chemo is on! I went to the local hospital about 6:45 yesterday morning and had the blood draw. (It seems obvious that folks taking blood OUT, right on the inside of the elbow, can still find a pretty decent vein. They have been pretty consistent. It is apparently when folks are putting in a needle in the middle of the inside of the forearm to put things IN that finding a decent vein is a problem!) 

Then, right after lunch, I called the doctor’s office and threw myself on the mercy of the court- or, in this case, a nurse’s voicemail! “I wondered if we could verify, over the phone- TODAY- whether or not my blood work was sufficient to get the treatment? It would save us a 90-minute round trip, packing for a 6-hour treatment that doesn’t happen AND someone to come and feed our needy dogs at lunchtime!” 

I then took my nap! (They are NOT just for Kindergartners, you know!) Then, about 3PM, the nurse called, said the doctor was fine with that approach, that my blood work was good and the treatment was a go. “See you tomorrow!” So, as you read this, I am (probably, depending on WHEN you read it) in the recliner, IV in my arm, reading on my iPad and/or talking with my wife.  

Perhaps the most surreal thing about the past 24 hours is the fact that, when they called to say that the chemo was a go…my wife and I BOTH took that as good news. And after that sunk (sank? Have sunken? Sinked?) in, I said, “Isn’t it more than a bit ironic that we are CELEBRATING the fact that we get to drive 90 minutes and sit in a small room for 6 hours while poison is methodically pumped into my body?!” I mean, seriously, under what other circumstance would those facts lead you to celebrate?  

But the truth is that, while the chemo and its side effects are nasty, it’s the only show in town right now. And so, we pay the admission price, buy a ticket and sit down for the feature presentation. It’s amazing what you will…and can…do when you have to. There was a time, not long ago AT ALL, that I thought having chemo and radiation was the worst thing I could imagine. (I had those very thoughts A. in 2013, when we were discussing how to treat the brain tumor and B. again in early June when all of this came up. And now…we are celebrating. “Yeah, chemo!” 

In the end, you do what you have to do. You do what you need to do. You make the best, most educated decision you can, given all the facts before you, and then you commit. And once you commit, you give it 100%. If you CAN’T give it 100%…then it probably wasn’t the best decision in the first place. So, we push ahead, shoulder to the plow, pushing as hard as we can against this insidious disease. In 2013, my wife (Who is WAY smarter than I am!) said, “You may have the tumor, but it doesn’t have you.” More recently, she said that same pearl of wisdom about the cancer…cancers. And she is RIGHT!  

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The Blood Draw

Hypodermic-Needle-

This morning, I had a blood draw. It’s interesting how quickly you become accustomed to things like people sticking needles in you and either taking blood OUT or putting something else IN. When I was little, I HATED needles. Terrified of them. I mean, “3 nurses to hold me down while a fourth one stuck a needle in me” kind of terrified! (And if you think I’m kidding…!)  

When I was 21 years old, I ruptured a disk in my back. (L5/S1, for those of you who “know” the spine!) Surgery was required, to remove the part of that disk that was bulging. So, a decent number of needles then. It wasn’t that big of a deal. One year later, I ruptured that SAME disk even further. Again, surgery- this time to remove the rest of the disk and fuse those two vertebrae together. Again, needles. Again, not too bad. 

Then, I went 30 YEARS as healthy as a horse. Hardly EVER sick. No major problems. Basically, as far a “medical intervention” was concerned, nothing. I literally went years between even SEEING a doctor.  

And then, 2013 came. The brain tumor. I quickly became re-accustomed to needles and doctors. Having a blood draw became like breathing. In fact, I would engage the nurse doing the draw in conversation (Or perhaps, SHE would engage ME- I see that as an obvious “trick” they are taught to take the patient’s mind off the circumstance!) and barely even notice the needle stick.  

So, when this whole “cancer” thing came up, almost exactly 4 years after I first heard about the brain tumor (My Fifties have been a…challenging decade, haven’t they?!) it was almost too easy to step back into that “people are going to be poking and prodding me a LOT now” mentality! 

Back to the blood draw. I was up early. Got the coffee made (Even though I have just given up on coffee completely. I know- shocking! But true! But my wife still drinks it and our younger son takes a cup with him as he heads out the door to school, so…!), the dogs fed and out and my bowl of oatmeal eaten. Then it was quick jaunt over to the local hospital (just a few blocks away) to have this latest blood draw. 

The purpose of this one is to see if I can have chemo tomorrow or not. If you remember, last week, my white blood cell count was too low and my creatine level was too high. Both numbers were outside the standard protocol for me to be able to have chemo. So, we waited a week. And today, blood was taken to see if those counts rose enough for me to “get in the chair” tomorrow.  

It’s really a very weird deal. You find yourself HOPING that your blood work is sufficient for the medical folks to stick you with a needle and pump…poison…into you. Poison that will make you sick. Make your hair fall out. Sap your energy. Make you lose your ability to taste. Make you feel like crud. But poison that will also attack the cancer that is running rampant through your body. Very odd, indeed! 

So, we pray that my number are good today so that I can get what I have dubbed “major chemo #2” tomorrow. Either way, we will face the next step with heads high and resolve strong. We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Why Not?: Why Not Change the World?

Why Not Change the World

     I’m a “Fine Arts” guy. (Although, if you know me very well at all, you may have serious doubts about the “Fine” part!) I have been involved in “The Arts” at some level pretty much my entire life. I acted for the first time on stage when I was in First Grade. I was Snoopy, full costume including papier-mâché head. (By the way, did you know that “papier-mâché” is French for “chewed paper”? Doesn’t sound NEARLY as “fancy” when you make it a bit less “Francey”, does it?!) It was in front of about 300 people…and I was hooked. I started playing drums when I was 10. I continuing acting and playing music through High School. I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Acting, adding Magician and Juggler to my performance resume along the way. (But I played the drums so much in my Freshman year of college that everybody thought I was a music major!) I graduated and set out to change the world through acting and music. Just like that little ol’ ant who thought he could move that rubber tree plant, I had, just HIGH hopes!

     But the world had other plans. Did you know that it’s HARD to make a living as an actor? That MIGHT be why, at any given moment, something like 93% of all actors are…out of work! So, I began to drift through a series of jobs. I was fully capable of them- I got promoted several times in different settings. But I hated them. Something was missing. Nothing I was doing was fulfilling and it certainly wasn’t changing the world! But as I have shared before, God had other plans. And along the way, I FINALLY began to see them. God still wanted me to help change the world…just not like I thought. Not even REMOTELY like I thought! And THAT’S how we ended up HERE!

     So many people, when faced with a challenge or question, automatically ask, “Why?” But God challenges us to instead ask, “Why NOT?” Today, we wrap up our 4-week sermon series, “Why Not?” Three weeks ago, we started at the most basic human level- why not face your fears? Two weeks ago, we moved one step out as we asked, “Why not deepen your faith?” Last week, we took another step and asked, “Why not make a greater commitment?” Today, we finish the journey as we ask the big question, “Why not…change the world?”

     The setting for today’s primary Scripture is in the Temple Court in Jerusalem. Jesus has been teaching and preaching. It was the custom that, at certain times, people would come and make their offerings to the Temple Treasury. That’s where today’s rather brief story picks up.

     Luke 21:1-4 Luke 21:1-4 As Jesus looked up, He saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

     This story is often referred to as “The Widow’s Mite”. The word “mite” refers to a Greek coin- a lepton. Two lepta were worth one quadrans, which was the smallest, least valuable coin Roman coin in circulation in Judea. Two lepta were worth about six minutes of an average daily wage in first-century Palestine. Translate that to the current minimum wage in the state of Illinois and the widow’s mite is worth about 83 cents.

     So, the rich people are giving their “gifts”- translation: “lavish donations”- into the Temple Treasury. And in the midst of the opulence, up toddles this little old lady: white hair, glasses, sweet smile- The Widow. And what does she give? Her measly little 83 cents. One quadrans. Two lepta. Her mite. Compared to what the rich folks were giving, it was easy to see that and think, “why bother, old woman? That ‘gift’ won’t do diddly. It won’t even do 10% of diddly!” I could picture the “Upper Class” laughing at her. “Oh, how terribly DROLL! More brie, Reginald?”

     But Jesus sees things differently. He sees the intent BEHIND her gift- WHY she gives as opposed to HOW MUCH she gives. And He openly states that- she gives more- MORE- than all the rich people standing there. They gave out of their abundance- it didn’t mean anything to them. On the other hand, she gave out of her scarcity- it meant everything to her. Imagine the “buzz” THAT created among the “upper crust” who were standing around, feeling so good about what they had done. “SHE gave more than US? I. Don’t. THINK. So!” They were trying to look good. She was trying…to change the world.

     It’s SO easy to hear that term- “change the world”- and instantly tune it out. Scoff. Sneer. Chuckle. Pat me on the head and say, “OK, Pastor, that’s…nice! Change the world! Yep- great thought!” And then, walk away, shaking your head and wondering what I drank for breakfast!

     But we CAN change the world. We can make an even bigger difference than we already are. And, I would argue, we’re making a big difference in Mercer County, and beyond, right now. If you’ve looked at the Ministry and Mission Opportunities sheet that we’ve been including in the bulletin the past few weeks, you see a LONG list of ways that we are reaching out in the name of Jesus. There are over 30 different ministries and missions listed there. And frankly, I GUARANTEE we missed some…which is why there is the catch-all “other” listed!

     And if you look at that long list, you will notice 2 things: 1. There are LOTS of ways to serve God and 2. There is a huge VARIETY of ways, using a wide variety of skills, gifts and graces, to serve God! Maybe your gifts fall into the financial/numbers area. Great! We have a Finance Team (I’m not a fan of the word “Committee”!) that puts together the yearly budget and manages the month-to-month income and outgo. They work to create a yearly Stewardship Campaign. They are the chief stewards of the church’s finances. We also have an Audit Team. They meet once a year- ONCE a year- to go over the church’s financial records and make sure everything is in order.

     Maybe your gifts are more in the administrative area. We have The Pastor-Parish Relations Team. They are the “human resources department” of the local church, responsible for the paid staff of the local church. They support the staff, manage hiring, set salaries and more. We also have the Endowment/Memorial Team. They oversee our Endowment and Memorial funds, deciding how those monies are used to connect people to Jesus Christ.

     Maybe you’re more comfortable in the kitchen. We have a WORLD of opportunities there- Wednesday Night Fellowship meals, Caring Hearts meals, Youth ministry dinners, Vacation Bible School meals, CIA luncheons, funeral luncheons, special dinners, The Fellowship Café, the Bakery Delivery Team- the list goes on.

     Maybe you’re more into planning and creating. No problem. We have the Journey, the Safety Team, the Follow the Star Holiday Bazaar, the Adult Library AND the Children’s Library, Trunk or Treat, The Blood Mobile, Homecoming Parade, Christmas Parade, Children’s Pageant, Live Nativity…DON’T get me started!

     Maybe you like working with kids? Have we got a DEAL for you! Senior High Youth. Junior High Youth. FUEL Children’s Ministry- which REALLY needs your help. Sunday School teacher. Vacation Bible School. The nursery. Maybe you want to work with young adults and families. Ashley would LOVE to have your help. Maybe you like to teach adults. There are always opportunities for more adult Bible studies.

     Maybe you have a heart for prayer. There is not one, not two but three weekly prayer groups you can participate in. Maybe you like to build relationships. The Missions Team, Outreach Team and the Visitation Team would all LOVE to talk with you! Music? Choir. Bell choir. Not one but TWO Praise Bands. Special music. Technology? The sound booth. Help with tech issues around the building. Worship? Scripture reader. Usher. Greeter.

     You get the idea. And I am SURE I only scratched the surface. There is not ONE person in this congregation who couldn’t find a way to use their gifts and graces to serve God by serving others. And guess what? Serving God by serving others…changes the world. How? One person at a time!

     So, for the last time in this sermon series, I’ll ask- why not? Why not face your fears? Why not deepen your faith? Why not make a greater commitment? Why not change the world? I mentioned last week that there are 168 hours in a week. We spend 1 of those hours here on Sunday. (And before you start, some of you are leaning over to the person next to you and saying, “He clearly doesn’t pay very good attention! I’m here FOUR hours on Sunday!” I know- work with me! I’m trying to paint a picture here!) Individually, we are really not capable of much. But together, with God, we can do anything.

     The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” We are a cord of three strands. I’m all in. I’m fighting for my life with Stage 4 Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer…and a second type of cancer thrown in for good measure…but I’m all in. How about you? Will you step further out of your comfort zone and see what God is capable of…through us? What do you have to lose…but your old way of life? What do you have to gain? A whole new world! Why not? Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Navigating the Maze

maze

I have mentioned before that there are several insights I have gleaned from the past almost three months of this “cancer journey”. I have shared some. More will come out along the way. Here’s another! 

Health insurance is an interesting beast. We all have our opinions about it- if you are like me, your opinion falls into the “rather crummy but necessarily evil” category! (And I will apologize preemptively to anyone who reads this blog, works in the health insurance industry and was offended. Not my goal…but I have to speak the truth…as I see it!) 

I currently am in the middle of trying to sort out some health insurance issues. There are some doctors who want to see me- their choice, their idea. They feel there might be some things they can do for me. But they are not “in network”, which is why I didn’t go to the in the first place. They said they had talked with my health insurance provider and they I WAS covered.  

Well, the next thing to deal with is- do I WANT to do this? I have developed great trust in the doctors I am currently working with. SEVERAL highly-qualified professionals have looked at my data and come to the same conclusion. There has not been ONE doctor who has said, “You know, I think we could do THIS and it would be better!” They all agree on the diagnosis AND the treatment.  

To see these “new” doctors would be a pretty major commitment of time- and that might be an understatement. And I am not willing to simply make that commitment without them having already seen everything there is to see and being able to tell me, in plain terms, a plan they have that would be any better. And I have made that clear- if you are willing to look through all of my data, able to find something that you think everybody else missed AND provide a solid alternative, then I’ll commit to scheduling appointments and pursuing it. Until then, we wait. 

So, a few days ago, I began the process of having copies of…well…everything…sent to them. And that process “shook the tree” enough that I found out more about the whole “in network”, “out of network” dynamic- these “new doctors” are NOT covered under my insurance…unless my current doctors can provide written documentation that this “tertiary care” (the insurance company’s term) is necessary.  

Now, the whole “chicken or the egg” argument is underway. “I need some assurance that this is even worth the time…and money. The “new doctors” want to see me before they commit. The current doctors are unsure as to why this is even happening. The insurance company wants its paperwork, in triplicate, before it will sign off on anything. And I am unwilling to commit at all until I have complete assurance from ALL parties that my insurance will cover this. 

As I often do in this space, let me say that I DON’T bring this up because I’m looking for advice or pity. I DO bring it up to say, once again, that you HAVE to be your own advocate. I have shared that sentiment regarding the myriad of doctors, tests and drugs that enter into so many health treatments. They are all specialists and while I truly believe they have my best interests at heart, they are only managing their portion of the whole. Someone has to be able to focus on the big picture, and that someone has to be you or someone close to you who is willing and able to fill those shoes.  

The same is true of the health insurance portion of this whole equation. Never (Did I mention NEVER?!) assume that anything is “in network”. Medical professionals do the best they can to make sure things are approved before doing them. But in the end, they are more concerned with your treatment than they are with your bill. And rightfully so. But you WILL be concerned about your bill when it comes and you find out that whatever it is for wasn’t covered or was considered “out of network”.  

Do NOT hesitate to ask questions and challenge assumptions. Do it with tact and diplomacy. Don’t assume that everyone along the way is trying to take advantage of you…the odds are GREAT that they aren’t. But ask questions. And politely but firmly insist on answers. You deserve them. You need them. Be your own advocate. Take control.  

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The FAFSA Awareness

fafsa

It’s interesting how a “Stage 4 cancer with no cure” diagnosis changes things. And I don’t mean to be A. flippant or B. overtly obvious with that statement. I mean, of COURSE it changes things. How could it NOT? You are suddenly faced with things you didn’t have to think about or deal with before. We all say things like, “Well, we’re all going to die.” But when you get a diagnosis like this one, that statement suddenly takes on a different intensity. 

No, I mean more than the obvious here. It causes you to start looking ahead in a MUCH different way. Here’s an example. We went to Senior Jump Start Night at our High School last night. It’s for High School Seniors (Ergo the word “Senior” in the title! NOTHING slips past me!!) and is intended to help them and their parents get a “Jump Start” (Ergo the OTHER words in the title! Again, I am SHARP!) on applying for college. They covered things like the applications themselves, financial aid, FAFSA, scholarships, etc. It was very helpful for us, as we begin to sift through this process 12 YEARS since we did it the last time! 

One of the things they talk about- again- is FAFSA. In case you don’t know that acronym, it stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a “must” for students who plan on pursuing college. When my wife and I were preparing for college, not only was FAFSA not a thing- the internet was not a thing! Computers were mysterious behemoths that took up entire rooms and applying for college was like trying to navigate the Minotaur’s Labyrinth blindfolded AND in the dark! (And we did that uphill…BOTH ways…in the SNOW…with CARDBOARD for shoes!!)  

So, you go online and fill out the FAFSA form. They then calculate how much aid you are eligible for. And that number is a VERY important one as you try to figure out if you can afford a particular college or university. FAFSA’s “bottom line” for you is calculated based on your current financial situation. So far, so good.  

Later in the presentation, the counselor who was providing the information circled back to FAFSA, pointing out that you can go back on the FAFSA website and update your information…should your situation change. I had been waiting to hear that…because I had been sitting there thinking about that. I unconsciously nodded- I had received the additional information I needed and understood it. And I noticed, out of the corner of my eye…my wife was nodding, too. 

The truth is that we will fill that FAFSA form out in about a month. And when we will it out, we will put the most current, accurate information we have- of course. And they will calculate our need for financial aid accordingly. But the truth ALSO is that, by late 2nd semester, our situation could be different. In fact, it could be radically different. Then again, it could be exactly the same.  

It is THAT dynamic that seems to cause people with an uncertain future to fall into one of two camps. They might refuse to “live”, wondering why it matters anyway. Or they might choose to more intentionally live in the moment…but keep an eye on the future. I think you know that we have chosen to VERY intentionally fall into Camp #2. 

Since this diagnosis, we have worked hard to live for today- not wasting time, not dwelling on looking too far ahead. It has served us well. But since we are “Hopeful Pragmatists”, we have also been very intentional to do things “behind the scenes” to make sure that things are in order…just in case. We have adopted what I often refer to as “The Belt and Suspenders” method.  

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Catch-Up Day

Catch-Up-Day-IMAGE1

Yesterday was “catch-up” day at the church- at least in Rev. Mark’s office! Since I took a vacation day on Monday to spend some time with my wife that wasn’t medically-related (And of course, when I say that, I mean “not much”. With a diagnosis like I have, EVERY day includes SOMETHING medically-related…at least conversation!) and Tuesday was devoted to the “swing and a miss Chemo Treatment That Wasn’t”, it means that there is a lot to catch up on. (My saying is, “When you are off work in the church, nobody is there to make the fries for you. So, when you come back in, you have to make the fries for THAT day PLUS for the days you missed!”) 

I worked from about 7:45AM until a few minutes after noon- solid. I cranked out a LOT of work…if I do say so myself! My ADHD has me tackle those situations in an odd way. There is a point, partway through that process, where I am literally working on 4-5 things at a time. All of them are started. None of them is finished. It appears to be a sputtering mess that will NEVER get done. And then, over the span of the last 30 minutes or so, it somehow all comes together and gets done!  

I then went home for lunch and a nap. (The nap, I must confess, has become pretty essential to my day. Without it, I don’t know that I could continue doing my job. With it? In like Flint, Baby!) After the nap, it was time to run to the local radio station and record my 5 1-minute Thought For the Day spots that will run next week. They run each weekday and the pastors of our community rotate whose week it is. Years of doing things like that tell me that, based on my speech pattern, 190 words is a minute’s worth of recorded dialogue. So, I go back into the “archives” of this blog (There are, after all, 8 YEARS of daily blogs- that’s just under 3,000 blog entries- to work with!) and pick 5 that I think will work. I then take the roughly 500 words that any given blog contains and edit those down to the 190 I need for the radio. That can be a challenge! Recording them is something I enjoy. I try to see if I can do them all in one take each with not edits required on the part of the audio tech who works with me. (Yesterday, I achieved what I call 1-Take Charlie!) 

I then went home, had dinner and sat down at the laptop. Today is “Newsletter Articles Due Day” in the church office/ And if I am going to expect my staff to abide by the deadline every month, then I have to also get MY articles in on time! So, I spent the evening wrapping up sermon planning for the next several weeks so that I could then write all of my newsletter articles, including information about the sermons for September. I finished up the night by writing…THIS! 

I am glad that I am still able to work. My job is such a part of who I am. Being able to continue it is not simply an economic issue- I could go on disability, I have been told. But if I had to sit at home and NOT do my job, it would give me WAY too much time and energy to simply dwell on my current situation. I was born to pastor a church. It took me a LONG time to figure that out- I’m a bit dense!- but I am SO glad God persisted and hung in there with me. I am SO glad that the church I serve wants me to continue as their pastor. And I’m so glad that I have, for me, the greatest job in the world! We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Numbers Don’t Lie

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If you have been reading along daily, you know that yesterday was scheduled to be Chemo Infusion #2 of this round. The day was scheduled to be: 9AM- meet with oncologist to check in, go over blood work, see how I was doing and then, B. 9:30AM- hop in the recliner, get the IV in and spend the next 5½ hours receiving the infusion. That was the schedule. Turns out, that was NOT the reality. 

We arrived at the doctor’s office. My vitals were taken (Still rocking that consistently good PB!) and then met with the oncologist. My regular oncologist was not available so we met with her partner, whom we hadn’t met yet. We liked him immediately. He sat down, turned the computer monitor so that we could see it and began to go over the results of the blood work I had done on Monday.  

He quickly got to the “meat” of the discussion- my white blood cell count was too low and my creatine level was too high. There are protocols that dictate where those numbers need to be before chemo can be given, and those two numbers where outside the protocol. So…no chemo. We talked a bit about that fact and few other things and then we scheduled to come back next Tuesday, after a new round of blood work next Monday, and try again.  

This is not an uncommon occurrence for chemo patients. The chemo attacks…everything. It makes NO differentiation between cancer and “good stuff” so it diminishes your immune system. And the last thing the doctors want is for your immune system to be so compromised that it can’t fight back. Ergo- protocols. Makes perfect sense- intellectually. But there is another dynamic in play that I initially learned a few years ago, when I was injecting myself with Interferon several times a week to try and shrink the tumor that was in my head.  

When you KNOW you are about to receive some kind of medical treatment that is going to A. hopefully help but B. assuredly have negative consequences, it takes a bit of “psyching up”. You find yourself preparing- emotionally, mentally, spiritually- for whatever you are about to do. You get your mind wrapped around the fact that you are about to either give yourself or let someone else give you drugs that are going to do unpleasant things to you. But you remind yourself that there is a greater good at play and these drugs, unpleasant though they might be, are intended to, in the long run, help you. And so, you steel your resolve, you take a big, deep breath, you put your “brave” face on and you step into the lion’s den. And when you step in and find the lion not home…it has a strange impact. There IS the relief of, “Whew! No lion!” But there is also the emotional, sometimes physical impact of having spent so much energy preparing for it, getting ready, and then not having it happen. It is a double-edged sword, to be sure. 

As I often say, I share this NOT seeking pity. Was it a hard day? Yep. Did it dredge up other emotions along with it? Yep? Did I have some pretty decent “down” time yesterday? Yep. But this journey is, by its very nature, a roller coaster. So, “down” times are natural. I wallowed in it a bit. We worked through it. And now we walk forward, ready to take the next step. 

No, I share this story because if you are going through this sort of thing yourself, know that you aren’t alone. Others are, too. Your feelings are valid, genuine, real. Own them. Claim them. Don’t ignore them. They are yours and they are reasonable. Likewise, if you know someone who is going through something like this, let them have their feelings. Don’t downplay them. Don’t overplay them. Don’t try to fix them, rationalize them or minimize them. Just let them have them. And…pray for them.  

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

A Good Day!

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Yesterday was a good day! My wife and I realized that we had done nothing…NOTHING…together over the last 2½ months that didn’t involve my health. (Did I mention nothing?!) So, I took a vacation day on Solar Eclipse Day and we…hung out!  

The day started with me running to the local hospital at about 7:15AM, in the blinding rain, to have blood drawn. (I know- I said “didn’t involve my health”, but this was A. quick and B. necessary!) I was back home by a bit after 7:30AM (The “beauty part” of being able to get my blood drawn at our local hospital!) and sipping coffee!  

By about 8:30AM, we were in the car (“Do you two spend ALL of your time in the car?” No- it just SEEMS like it!) and heading toward Moline, IL- the closest “city” to where we live. The first stop? Denny’s…for breakfast! (Since I am not eating sugar or carbs, I had the Stuffed Veggie Egg White Omelet with a dish of fresh fruit in place of the hash browns and a gluten-free English Muffin in place of the toast. And before you feel TOO sorry for me, remember…I can’t taste anything!) 

From there, it was a quick jaunt across the parking lot to…the mall! And if you ask my family, you KNOW how I feel about…the mall! My standard line is that I would rather be locked in a dark closet for 3 hours than spend them in…the mall! But, two things were true yesterday: 1. EVERY other place we looked at going (museums, etc.) were closed on Monday and 2. I was with my wife, so I could care less if it’s the mall or not! In fact- I suggested it! 

We hadn’t been in…the mall for quite some time (because I’m such a big BABY about it!), but were a bit surprised at how many vacant storefronts there were. But we walked around for a while, went into several stores and just had a good time being with each other without the stress and pressure of having to deal with health issues. We left in time to get home a bit after noon. 

Once the dogs were fed (They HAVE to have their lunch…just ASK them!), we got our Solar Eclipse Glasses out. (And yes, they ARE certified by NASA…we triple-checked!) and went out on the deck to “check it out”. It was just starting to show at that point. (The “peak” where we live, which was supposedly about a 93% eclipse, was around 1:14PM.) We spent the next hour coming our every little bit to look again, staying outside the last 10 minutes or so, to watch it reach that peak. We tend to “geek out” over science and space “stuff”. So, we had a great time ooo-ing and aaah-ing! 

The rest of the day was pretty quiet and relaxing. Although I was unable to avoid 3 health-related phone calls, but none of them took long and none of them caused us to drive somewhere and do something so…winner, winner, chicken dinner! (By the way, dinner was our leftover mu shu pork from the night before!) 

Today is Chemo Infusion #2 of this second. Much stronger go-around. That means a check-in with the oncologist to go over yesterday’s blood draw and then, assuming everything looks good, into “the chair”, IV hooked up and Infusion going in! The whole thing takes about 6 hours. Then, it’s “home again, home again, jiggedy-jig”.  

If this round is like the one 3 weeks ago, the worst days will be Friday and Saturday. But A. we’ll see and B. I am SURE not hoping for that! (My overall approach to life is to plan for the worst but hope for/expect the best!) In the end, whatever comes will come and we will face it head-on. But I KNOW we had a great day yesterday and, since we are taking things a one day at a time…we count that as a big WIN! We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Stepping Up

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I was raised that, when there is work to be done…you do it. And if anybody is working, then everybody is working. We were not allowed to simply ignore the fact that someone else needed help. Hard work and commitment to “finishing” were extremely important when I was growing up. And they have become benchmarks for me in ministry. 

Likewise, I have always had it drilled in me that showing up, on time and prepared, puts you ahead of 98% of the rest of the world- automatically. And I have a very specific definition of “on time”- here it is. “If you’re ‘on time’…you’re late. And if you’re ‘early’…you’re on time.” So “early” and “prepared” are important. 

I say all of this to help you understand how blessed my wife and I feel to serve a church where things like “stepping up”, being “on time” and being “prepared” are such a part of their collective DNA. And why does that make us feel so blessed? There are lots of churches out there that, frankly, don’t seem to place a ton of value on those things. There are a lot of churches that seem to “do business” from a “we don’t DO ministry- we HIRE it done” mentality.  

But the church we serve operates out of a different model. In 2014, when I had to be out for 6 weeks after having the golf ball-sized tumor removed from my skull, they could have EASILY said, “We want an interim pastor and you need to be out on disability.” And frankly, no one would have questioned that decision one little bit. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they looked at the plan I had laid out for those 6 weeks and said, “We’ve GOT this.” And the church ran like a well-oiled clock, with NO pastor, during those 6 weeks.  

And now, with my current situation, they have again stepped into the breech. I am still actively working. I am still preaching and leading 3 worship services every Sunday. But I have also needed to move some things off my plate, to accommodate the fact that A. I have treatments and doctor’s appointments often and B. I need to be mindful of how much “gas I have in the tank” on a daily basis. But rather than having to simply push ministries off the side of the ship, I have been able to hand them off to other people.  

I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see people step up, willingly take the reins and run with something like that! People taking over leading/teaching Bible Studies. People leading ministries and meetings. People working more on music-related ministries. The list goes on.       Healthy churches have a mission. And they build around that mission. And, it seems to me, that the basic mission of ANY Christian church, not matter what words you choose to use, should center around connecting people to Jesus Christ. My wife and I are eternally grateful to serve a church that takes that seriously! We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Why Not?: Why Not Make a Greater Commitment?

Why Not Greater Commitment

I have pastor friends who have awesome “called to the ministry” stories. They’re inspiring, moving stories…and NOTHING like mine! 

As you have probably heard me say, I was raised a Godless heathen. Church was not on our radar. We weren’t terrible people- out robbing banks and kicking puppies. But we had no real faith and tended to make fun of those who did. I didn’t have either the time OR the inclination to bother.  

Years passed, life moved on. I started going to church as a young adult ONLY because my then fiancé wanted me to get to know her minister before he performed our wedding. I stayed there- again, SOLELY because of her- and we got more and more involved. More time passed. We had a kid. We got more involved. And I started to feel this tug toward…something. At first, I didn’t know what. (I’m a bit dense, after all!) But it began to seep in- God was calling me into the ministry. And I couldn’t THINK of a worse idea! And so…I ignored it. I fought it. I resisted it. But God wouldn’t let up. Finally, in a last-ditch effort to make Him stop hounding me…I gave in. I did NOT “answer a call”- I gave in. And that move toward making a greater commitment was one of the best decisions I ever made.  

So many people, when faced with a challenge or question, automatically ask, “Why?” But God challenges us to instead ask, “Why NOT?” We are in Week 3 of this 4-week sermon series, “Why Not?” Two weeks ago, we started at the most basic human level- why not face your fears? Last week, we moved one concentric circle as we asked, “Why not deepen your faith?” Today, we take last week’s question a step further and ask, “Why not make a greater commitment?” 

The setting for today’s primary Scripture is the village of Bethany. Jesus has been teaching and healing along the banks of the Jordan River when he finds out his friend Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, is gravely ill. He waits a full TWO days and then heads out, claiming that A. Lazarus is dead, B. he will be awakened and C. God will be glorified.  

     John 11:38-44 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” 

Jesus shows up, four days late. Martha says, “Too late. He’s dead.” Jesus is greatly touched- not just by the death of Lazarus but by the depth of Martha’s grief. He tells them to take Him to the place where Lazarus is buried- a chamber cut into the limestone rock and sealed by a stone rolled over the entrance. Sound familiar? And it is there that Jesus challenges Martha’s faith.  

To be honest, Martha’s complaint is easy to appreciate. Lazarus has been dead for FOUR days. I believe it’s the King James Version that has Martha saying, “Me thinketh..he stinketh.” Maybe not! But either way, Martha had to fully put her faith in Jesus. She hadn’t taken the next step. She had to make a greater commitment. The interesting thing here is that, for Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead was the easy part. The HARD part was taking away Martha’s uncertainty and hesitancy so that God’s glory might be more fully revealed…to her AND those around her. 

And so, Jesus thanks God, in advance, for what hasn’t even happened yet. He then speaks directly…to a dead guy- a singular and powerful demonstration of His authority. And what He says isn’t a suggestion or one choice among many. It’s a command. “Come out!” The response is immediate and startling. Lazarus, FOUR DAYS DEAD, appears in the mouth of the tomb, graveclothes still wound around him. A dead man heard the voice of his Shepherd and came to life, all because someone was willing to make a greater commitment.  

“So, how does one make a greater commitment? It sounds great…in theory. But what does it actually look like in practice? Is this just all a veiled attempt to get folks to give more money to the church? What’s the REAL deal?” The “real deal” can be found in the United Methodist membership vows. There are some basic questions that every new member is asked. And the last of those questions asks if you will support the local church. And it gives 5 ways that support is given. Let’s take a moment and unpack that list. 

  1. Prayers- I’ve heard people say, “Well, I don’t pray to the church…I pray to God.” Good choice! The membership vows don’t encourage you to pray TO the church but FOR the church. Big difference. Do you do that? Do you pray for your church…regularly? Do you pray for the leadership of your church? ALL of the leadership of the church? There are a LOT of folks who make up that list. Pray for your church, earnestly and sincerely, every day. Pray that we will continue to set aside petty differences and nit-picky personal preferences, that we will not get so wrapped up in how we think a particular room should be used or a ministry should happen that we miss the big picture- connecting people to Jesus Christ. Because your individual preference…or mine…and $1 will buy any size drink at McDonalds. We are here to serve God, not our own agendas.
  2. Presence- NOT “PRESENTS” but “PRESENCE”. It simply means “being there”: showing up- physically, emotionally, spiritually. It means being more than a “1 hour/week on Sunday” Christian. I’m not trying to get you to commit to being at EVERY thing we do here. I don’t even do that…and I’m the pastor! Instead, it means supporting the ministries of the church by actively participating in them. Do you come to Wednesday night dinners? If not…why not? Do you attend Sunday School? A Bible Study? If not…why not? What are you doing each of the other 167 hours every week that AREN’T the hour here on Sunday morning that is SO important that it keeps you from participating in other ministry opportunities here?
  3. & 4. Gifts and Service- For our purposes today, I’m going to put these two together- they go hand in glove. Is this one just a fancy way of saying “money”? In part, yes…but ONLY part. “Gifts” here DOES refer to monetary donations, yes. And those are important. The every-growing list of ministries that happen here cost money. And like most churches during the summer, we’re behind in giving. It happens every summer- you could set your watch by it. Donations slow down in the summer because people tend to be more “absent”. But the budget DOESN’T slow down. It is divided into 12 parts every year and those commitments are due…period. So, is “gifts” in this context “money”? Yes. But “gifts” also means the unique God-given talents you have. They were given to be shared…used to further His Kingdom. And that leads directly to “service”. You have a paper in your bulletin right this very minute that gives you a MARVELOUS opportunity to share those gifts. How will you respond? Will it be, “Oh, this thing again? Pass!” Will it be, “I already usher…one WHOLE 4-week period each and every year. Done!” Will it be, “Someone else will do that.” Whatever your excuse for not being willing to take a leap of faith and volunteer for more than you are doing now, I have one question. Do you LIKE the fact that your church is growing, stretching, reaching out in more and more diverse ways? If not…why not? That’s our mission. If you DO, then you realize reaching more people TAKES more people. Don’t leave it to “someone else”- BE “someone else”.
  4. Witness- This one might be the hardest one. “Witness” doesn’t necessarily mean preaching on street corners and stopping every total stranger you meet to ask them if they know Jesus Christ. It means openly living your life in such a way that you self-identify as an ambassador for Christ. What’s your daily life like? If your attitude, behavior and language Monday – Saturday are different than what you portray on Sunday mornings, the obvious question is, “Why?” If you clean up your language when you walk in this building…but nowhere else, why? If you complain about or show bigotry toward a particular group of people all week long and then walk in here talking about “love God, love neighbor” on Sunday, that’s more than a little disingenuous. If your go-to response to things during the week is anger and bitterness, that doesn’t balance with what you’re hearing on Sundays…does it? Does the way you live your life throughout the week make people want to find out more about God…or does it simply reinforce society’s notion that all Christians are self-righteous and judgmental?

If your question is, “Why should I make a greater commitment to my faith?”, God’s answer is, “Why not?” As we said last week- better person? Peace? Comfort? I don’t see a down side. What could you possibly be doing with those other 167 hours each week that is SO important that you can’t give a little more of it BACK to God…as a way of saying, “Thank you” and a way to help reach out and connect MORE people to Jesus Christ? If connecting 272 people/week (our current average weekly worship attendance for the year) to Him is good, then simple math would tell you that connecting 544/week must be TWICE as good! Why NOT make a greater commitment? Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work. 

The Power of Prayer

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My wife is the best. (Sorry, guys- while I’m sure your wife is great…my wife is the best!) She has always been an awesome person, but she has more intentionally been doing something that deeply touches me. Before I leave the house to go to work and as we go to bed…she prays for me.  

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, pastor’s family- that seems like a logical thing to do.” And you’re right. But this is different. We pray at meals. We pray at other times. (My wife prays for our younger son before he goes to school every day.) Prayer is a regular part of who we are, to be certain. But again, this is different. 

She prays specifically for me, for us. She thanks God for healing that He is doing in me. At night, she prays that I have good, restorative sleep. (Not always a given.) She prays for no bad dreams. (Also, not always a given.) She prays for us, as a couple. And she thanks God for the joy. She thanks Him for a good day where we, as a family, were able to enjoy each other and enjoy life. And she thanks Him in advance for a good day the next day. 

I have come to look forward to those moments. They are special…powerful moments. Prayer is a powerful thing. And the sincere, heartfelt prayers of the righteous “availeth much”! Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes, it changes your circumstance. Sometimes…it changes YOU. ALWAYS it brings about SOME kind of change. And it is NOT the least you can do- it is the most. We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Salad Dressing? Why Bother?

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I have shared in this space, more than once, that I have (temporarily) lost my ability to taste. It was a NOT unexpected (Don’t you LOVE the double negative, all my English teacher friends? No? Huh!) side effect of the chemo. It was also a possibility with the radiation, due to the fact that it was concentrated on my neck. So, I guess, when you put both of those factors together, it would be more surprised if it DIDN’T happen! I have also been clear to say that you shouldn’t feel TOO sorry for me- in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that bad. But it HAS created some interesting dynamics. 

One dynamic is that I cook a lot. And if YOU cook a lot, you know how important taste can be. I mean, there are things that you can cook and never taste, because you’ve cooked them so many times. There’s really no “trial and error” involved in those dishes. You just make them. But there are other dishes that require a bit more finesse. You put a bit of this and a dash of that…and then you taste it to see what it still needs. For example, I made my now-famous Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup recently. It is my younger son’s favorite soup. And when I was nearly done…I called him in to taste it and tell me what was missing…because I couldn’t tell! (Turned out? Not enough pepper!) 

The other dynamic falls more into the realm of habit. We have all eaten SO much food over the course of our lifetimes that there are things we simply do out of habits. Those things never hit me BEFORE I lost the ability to taste, but I see them NOW! For example, I had a salad recently. (It was from McDonald’s, where it dawned on me that, when you can’t taste anything anyway, why not eat a salad instead of a greasy cheeseburger!) I got the Southwest Salad with grilled chicken. (I’m staying away from sugar and carbs because they tend to “feed” cancer.) I insisted on getting the Southwest dressing they offer with it, because it’s the best dressing for that salad. But it dawned on me- not only does is NOT matter which dressing you use when you can’t taste it…why use dressing AT ALL if you can’t taste it?! 

The last thing I’ve noticed falls firmly into that same “habit” category. I had some fresh mushrooms in the fridge the other night. I needed to do something with them before they went bad, but wanted to try something other than the typical “sauté in the skillet with some onions and butter”. So, I found a recipe that sounded great. Slice the mushrooms, mix up olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, thyme, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Toss the mushrooms in that mixture and then onto a cookie sheet and into a 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally. Then it was on the plate and into my mouth. And the first words out of that mouth once the mushrooms went into were, “Oh, wow!” My wife got excited. “You can TASTE it?” I stopped, thought and replied, “Actually…no.” Habit. Habit. Habit. 

The truth about losing your ability to taste is that a lot of people basically stop eating because nothing tastes good. But it dawned on us early on that eating, and each well…eating healthy…was really important to this whole process. So, we have been very intentional to maintain a good, and healthy diet. We simply refuse to let the lack of taste be an issue. And so far…so good! We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

A Good Appointment!

Thumbs_up_guy.jpg~c200     Yesterday’s blog focused on the trip to the Radiation Oncologist. It was, as a reminder, a follow-up, to see how I am doing and where we “go” next. I shared that I had some concerns that he was going to suggest we re-start the radiation treatments in conjunction with the chemo treatments I am currently in the midst of. I also shared that I was not looking forward to that conversation and wasn’t sure what my answer would be if that WAS the plan! 

The doctor came in- he’s a VERY nice young man with a young family. He had told us that his parents were coming from overseas to visit- primarily to see their grandson! So, he was pleased when we started the conversation by asking how his parents’ visit went! (It went well, by the way!) We then talked about the obvious things- how I was doing, how I was feeling, etc. Eventually, we got around to what was, for me, the 400-pound gorilla in the room…more radiation or NOT? 

In the end, this rather innocuous follow-up visit revealed three things we didn’t know going in. And my wife and I believe that knowledge is power, so it is always good to find out things about your health that you didn’t know!   

  1. The nurse, as she was “doing her thing” prior to the doctor coming in, asked, “How long have you had the hiatal hernia?” My response? “The WHAT?” “Your floating hiatal hernia.” “Well, I can’t answer that question because, right up until this moment…I didn’t know I HAD one!” Apparently, the endoscopy I had revealed a “floating hiatal hernia”. But obviously, since it ALSO revealed a second type of cancer…the hernia was bumped to the back page! We talked about that on the way home and both agreed, in the current grand scheme of things, being concerned about a hiatal hernia is like worrying about that little scratch on your right front fender while the prods and pistons are blowing out of the engine! No big whoop! 
  1. We knew that the chemo/radiation combo had shrunk the cancer, across the board- more in the area directly around the thyroid and less as you move farther out. But we already knew that even the spots in the lungs had shrunk some. What we found out was that one of the lymph nodes in the neck- the ones MOST affected- shrunk from a size measured by multiple centimeters to a size measure by millimeters. In case the Metric System isn’t your gig…that’s a SUBSTANTIAL difference, an exponential change. And it better explains why I feel so good…all things considered. 
  1. The third thing we found out, however, was the BEST thing we found out. The Radiation Oncologist agreed that more radiation was NOT indicated right now. He, along with the oncologist who is overseeing my chemo treatments, both feel that the chemo is the most important thing right now. So- NO radiation, at least for a while. In fact, the doctor said that, unless my situation changes and issues start to come up, he doesn’t even need to see me for 4 months. Good stuff! I wanted to jump up and hug him…but I didn’t! 

So, to recap- no radiation for at least 4 months, unless the cancer starts roaring back and causing eating/breathing issues. The next chemo treatment is scheduled for next Tuesday, the day AFTER Total Eclipse Day! Sometime after that, I don’t know how long yet (Maybe 3 weeks), there will be CT scans to see how this first round of “full” chemo did and how I’m doing. At that time, decisions will be made about how we move forward. (I will NOT be surprised if “more chemo” is the plan…but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.) 

So, we now have 5 days to bask in the glow of NO appointments AND no radiation on the horizon at the moment. My wife and I agreed that, even though it doesn’t negate the reality of my diagnosis, it sure is nice to have a little “breather”! We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Making Decisions

decisions_   After several days of NO doctors, NO tests, NO hospitals, NO treatments- we have an appointment today. It is with the Radiation Oncologist- the doctor who oversaw my radiation treatments. To refresh- I had my last radiation treatment on July 10. That would be a little over 5 weeks ago. The aftermath of the radiation- a mild form, mind you- was pretty substantial. My throat was so bad from the treatment that I had several days where I didn’t even want to swallow water. The throat was constricted and sore. My voice was greatly affected and I lost it completely for a few days. I am still seeing the effects of the radiation burns on my neck. (Although they MUCH better!) While the treatments themselves are a piece of cake, the after effects of radiation treatments are not easy. 

So, today I go back to the Radiation Oncologist to see how things are going. I would say, based on what I am experiencing, “well” is the answer to that question. Things are going well. The treatments obviously had the desired effect and shrunk the cancer. Even though the side effects were no fun, once I got beyond them, I am clearly better than I was before they did them. And so, since they were deemed “palliative care”, intended to improve the quality of life and NOT cure, they were a success. 

But here’s the interesting thing about all of this- I know that it is possible today’s visit will include a recommendation to have more radiation treatments. Since A. Clinical Trials are off the table and B. the first, “light” round had its desired effect, they may well want me to start a second, more aggressive round, like I have with the chemo. And intellectually, I understand that.  

But these kinds of decisions aren’t simply based on intellect. Emotion and experience play a role in the decision-making, as well. What you know to be true and how you feel about it enter into the equation. And so, I have been wrestling with what my answer will be if the Radiation Oncologist pulls up his little wheeled stool (You know- the one that is in EVERY doctor’s exam room in the nation!) and says he wants to re-start radiation. 

On the one hand, the side effects of the treatment the first time (again, a “light” dose) were pretty substantial. They not only made it hard to do my job, they made LIFE hard for a bit. On the other hand…they did their job pretty well.  

I don’t share this because I am seeking advice on what to do. A. They haven’t even said anything yet so I could be “whistling in the graveyard” and B. My wife and I will make the decision we feel is the best for us if we are presented with a choice to make. I share it to help you understand what an individual decision this is…for anybody and everybody who goes through it. I joke about being a “special snowflake”. But the truth is- we ALL are. And things like this impact each of us differently.  

Maybe you ARE somebody who is having to make these kinds of decisions. If so, my advice is to ask all the questions you need to ask. Think through everything you need to consider. Seek advice from anybody you trust and want in the process. And then…YOU make the decision that is best for you. Don’t make it for anybody else. I don’t mean don’t consider them or care about them. But this is YOUR health, YOUR decision, YOUR life. 

Maybe you are someone who has to watch someone else go through this. And maybe they have made a treatment-related decision that you don’t agree with. Maybe they’re decision seems like giving up to you. OR maybe it seems too extreme the OTHER direction, given what you know. Please remember- you DON’T know how they feel. It’s NOT your life, and therefore- it’s simply not your decision to make.  

In the end, I’m a fighter. I was raised to be tough. To square my jaw and face things head-on. I have a high pain tolerance and a stubborn streak a mile wide. I don’t like to lose and like giving up even less. So, I will continue to fight this…crud as long as I possibly can. I don’t know how to live any other way. We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

The Squirm Factor

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Not long ago, I wrote in this spot that there are some insights that my cancer diagnosis has provided that I didn’t see coming. I shared one of them that day and said I would, over the days and weeks ahead, share others. Here’s one of those insights. 

When I first started in the ministry, my sermons tended less toward “challenging homily” and more toward “scholarly lecture”. They were (I think/hope!) interesting enough. I referenced a lot of interesting historical information. I referred to the Greek and/or Hebrew often. But there was often no real “call to action” at the end. 

As time went on, and I began to find “my style” (Every preacher needs to do that, somewhere along the way), I began to lean more toward “funny and creative”. Those words ARE more my style. But the sermons still really didn’t force the listener to do anything. They were, at the end of the day, more entertaining and informative than they were transformative.  

In more recent years, I finally (I tend to be a “slow on the uptake”!) began to find my stride. I could write a sermon that was “in my wheelhouse” but also called for a response from the listener. (In my mind, that’s the ultimate goal of a sermon- be true to the preacher, educate, inform AND call for action.)  

The one piece that was still falling short, if I’m honest in assessing my own work, was being willing to go even farther in challenging the listener. I would challenge…but stop short of pushing TOO hard. I call that “the squirm factor”. There’s a fine line between challenging them and offending them! And most pastors struggle with how close to that line they can get! 

I have found, over the past 2+ months, that I am MUCH more comfortable than ever before to not only get close to that line but to step RIGHT on it, smear it with my foot and then start sliding past it! (I guess there is some freedom in a “incurable Stage 4” diagnosis!) I have not only been much more willing to be “in your face” with my sermons, but I have even openly acknowledged that fact- telling the listener that A. they were likely to squirm and B. if they did…they probably needed to! 

If you’re reading this and you are a parishioner- the receiver of sermons- I have two suggestions for you. 1. be willing to hear a sermon that doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself but sincerely challenges you to step out and DO something…without getting mad or offended about it. 2. Gently but firmly encourage your pastor to push that envelope. The truth is that we ALL need that push to step further out in faith. 

If you’re reading this and you are a preacher, I have one suggestion for you. Honestly assess your preaching. If you’re NOT challenging the listener to the point that they squirm…why not? You’re smart. You’re experienced. You’re tactful. You can push the envelope without making them get the tar and feathers out. And if we are truly going to live up to our mission of connecting people to Jesus Christ, we have to, as United Methodist founder John Wesley said, “Preach with your bags packed!” We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Master of None

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I had an interesting conversation yesterday that I wanted to share. As I have shared, we had several family members in over the past week+ and it has been great. Over the course of that time, we got to see all of my siblings, all of their spouses plus a nephew, his wife and their 2 kids. Good stuff! 

Most of them were able to join us for Sunday worship, one week or the other. And yesterday, one of my family members started talking about a revelation they had, based on watching me lead a worship service. I will preface what was said with the information/reminder that, prior to entering the ministry, I had a very…diverse resume’. (I actually used the word “horrible” to describe my resume’ as we talked, but that’s a different story!) Seriously, I had a WIDE variety of jobs prior to the ministry. And I was pretty darn good at all of them…but was never really happy with any of them.  

With that as a background, what was said by the family member was, “I never realized that all the odd and diverse things you did as jobs leading up to the ministry have come together to make you who you are. You use all those skills in the ministry. I never really saw that before today.” We laughed about it, talked it and then moved on to other topics of conversation.  

But it DOES remind me of how God has worked in my life- how God works in OUR lives. In the middle of all of those unsatisfying jobs, I had NO idea that A. He was actually preparing me for something else and B. it would EVER be THIS! But I look at the acting (I talk for a living and produce weekly Announcement Videos where I play a variety of characters), the music (I play the drums and produce an original music video EVERY week), the business management (I am the CEO of a small business with a paid staff of 12 and an annual budget of about $300,000), the retail photography management (I work with the public EVERY day) and all the other things I did prior to the ministry and I can so clearly see God at work.
I can clearly see it NOW…but had NO clue in the middle of it all. It was uneven at best and painful at worst. It challenged my self-esteem. It challenged my relationships. It challenged my marriage. At yet, God hung in there with my (as did my awesome wife!) and helped me find the silver lining in the dark cloud- the blessing in the curse.  

But here’s the key- did God somehow MAKE me go through those things just so I could be where I am today? No- at least according to my theology. I don’t have gear for a God Who would intentionally cause me pain so that I can learn a lesson later on. But I DO have a gear for a God Who would look at my earlier job situation- most of which I cause all by my little self with absolutely no one else’s help- and find a way to make it work for good. 

As I have shared before, that same mentality helps inform my current health situation. Looking back, I am absolutely convinced that God used my earlier “health scare” to help prepare me for now- just such a time as this. The brain tumor I had in 2013 was a bad thing. It was so rare that I was only the 19th recorded case in medical history with that type of tumor in that location acting that way. I struggled to even FIND a doctor who would touch my case. I was, for them, what Star Trek calls the Kobiashi Maru- the no-win scenario. I struggled for almost a year with experiential treatments- some of which make me feel like crud on a cracker. I lost much of my hearing. I lost a decent amount of muscle control on the right side of my face. (Most people don’t realize just how much- I have learned to “fake it” by using other muscles to try and compensate!) But finally, the tumor came out, I recovered and basically got on with life. So, when this Stage 4, no-cure cancer diagnosis came up, my family and I were able to approach it differently because we had this previous experience to help guide us.  

If you find yourself in a difficult time of life, take heart. I DON’T mean “Buck up, shut up and get over it!” Instead- take heart. Be confident that God knows your troubles. He see where you are and He doesn’t want you to hurt or struggle. Sometimes in life, however, it’s unavoidable…for a myriad of reasons. But He KNOWS. And He cares. And He is already working on how that might be used for good. It might be directly for your good. It might be for the good of your family. Or, frankly, it might be the good of someone else altogether- maybe even someone you will never meet. But there WILL be something positive that comes from the struggle. And if you believe what the Gospels tell us, this life is fleeting and transitory…but helps prepare us for a glorious eternity with the One Who made us! So even in the midst of struggle, I have a promise of something far greater than I could ever imagine. We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Why Not?: Why Not Deepen Your Faith?

Why Not Deepen Your Faith

     Churches tend to have their own gravitational pull. The common theme in a LOT of churches, when “new folks” walk in the door is- FRESH MEAT! On the surface, they welcome you and tell you they’re glad you’re here. And they ARE- genuinely. It’s the MOTIVES for that gladness that come into question. Often, they’re glad you’re here…because they need more people for the Finance Committee or they have been desperately looking for a Sunday School Superintendent or a Youth Group leader! And if they’re not careful, churches tend to do one of two things to “new people”- 1. scare them off before they even get a chance to see if they belong or not or 2. get them SO involved SO quickly that they burn out, tune out and drop out!

     Our home church struggled with that when we first started there- low those many years ago! We were an energetic, personable young couple with some education and a handful of “marketable skills” and they saw a gold mine of possibilities. Before we knew it, we were, literally, leading the Senior High Youth Group, Co-Superintendendents of the Sunday School program AND leading Children’s Church!

     The problem for ME, personally, was that, while I was very actively involved in the “work” of the church, my faith was about 6” wide…and a ¼” deep! I had NO real spiritual foundation on which to build. I wasn’t attending Bible Study. Frankly, we got the point where we weren’t really even attending worship- we would show up for those “responsibilities” and then…slip out. We came close to unplugging altogether. All because I was so busy doing the “work” of the church that I failed to do…anything…to actually deepen and strengthen my faith.

   So many people, when faced with a challenge or question, will automatically ask, “Why?” But God challenges us to instead ask, “Why NOT?” This sermon series focuses squarely on that question- Why Not? Over 4 weeks, we’re asking 4 “why not” questions. Last week, we started at the most basic human level- why not face your fears?- and we are intentionally growing outward in concentric circles toward a new, more positive, worldview. Today, we move from those most basic human emotions- like fear- and we step into the next circle as we ask the question, “Why not deepen your faith?” It will be a two-step process- this week specifically deepening your faith, leading to next week and the next, logical step- making a greater commitment.

     The setting for today’s primary Scripture is both VERY familiar and rather painful- the cross. Holy Week has happened. Jesus has been arrested, tried and convicted and is being led out to a place called Golgotha- The Skull- to die.

     Luke 23:32-43 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

     Admittedly a difficult story to hear- Jesus on the cross. This is NOT one of those “feel good” Scriptures…no “warm fuzzies” here…at least, not on the surface. But if you dig a bit deeper into the subtext, there IS a very positive, “feel good” aspect to it.

     Jesus has been tried and convicted in a backroom Kangaroo Court, led down the Via Dolorosa- the Way of Sorrow- to the hill called Golgotha- The Skull. He is nailed to a cross and hung between two others who have met the same fate. There He is, a common criminal among common criminals. Meanwhile, the people are, as a teacher I once had would say, “Actin’ the fool”. Gambling for His robe. Yelling at Him. Taunting Him.

     And then, even the guy hanging next to Him decides to get in the act. Think that through for a moment- this guy is dying a horrible, agonizing death. Nails through his wrists and ankles. Slowly suffocating. But he decides, “it’s not THAT bad” and joins in. “If You’re the Messiah, save Yourself! Or, at least, save US!” Spitting venom to the very end.

     But notice what the OTHER guy does. “Dude, are you NUTS?! We deserve what we get- we earned it. But Him? He’s done nothing. This is wrong.” And then, he turns his head to Jesus and says 8 words- 8 words that change the entire tone of the story…and his trajectory going forward. “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Remember me when You come into Your kingdom. The word “save” doesn’t enter into it. He simply asks to be…remembered. Re-membered. Put back together. Made whole.

     We hear stories of deathbed confessions- criminal “accepting Jesus” right before being put to death- and we tend to get righteously indignant about it. “I tried to be a good person all my life. This guy says one sentence, right there in the wind-up, and he gets a ‘go to Heaven free’ card? I don’t THINK so!”

     This story is NOT a deathbed confession- a last-ditch effort to simply “get in good” with God, exploit the loophole and skate into Heaven. Instead, this is a story about a guy who has a true experience with Jesus and wants more. Although there is no real evidence either way, I am convinced this guy was NOT a believer coming into the story. Not baptized. Not saved. Not sanctified. A guy…and not a very good one, at that.

     And yet, even in the WORST situation in which he could find himself, he has this experience that Methodist founder John Wesley would describe as having his heart strangely warmed. A guy, NAILED to the Ancient Near Eastern version of the guillotine, dying, has his heart strangely warmed? Instead of focusing on the earthly, he asks Jesus to remember him, bless him. If he can have that experience on dying on the cross, then…

     So, why AREN’T we more willing to deepen our faith? Maybe we’re embarrassed- what will people think…and say? Maybe we’re more interested in just going with the flow, following the path of least resistance. Maybe we too greatly feel the pull of the world. Or…maybe we’re afraid of what God will call us to do if we actually respond.

     What are the things that keep YOU from deepening YOUR faith? Did I hit one of them? Or is it yet something else altogether? Here’s the way I look at it- can I prove to you, definitively, scientifically, quantitatively that God exists? Nope. Do I KNOW God exists? Yep…because I have had very real, tangibles experiences of His power and presence. But can I PROVE it? No. 

     But what if you look at it this way? “What if I follow God my whole life and, in the end…I’m wrong?” Well, the worst that happened was that it made me a better person and I found peace and comfort in the midst of a chaotic world. Better person. Peace. Comfort. Don’t see a down side. On the other side of the coin, what if I follow God my whole life…and I was RIGHT? I see NO down side.

     What are the things that you turn to instead of God? What takes your time? Your attention? Your focus? Are they worth it? REALLY? Are they changing the world? Are they changing YOU…for the better? Really? Are they REALLY more satisfying to your soul? Stepping out and deepening your faith not only offers you a place to belong, it offers you Someone to belong TO. And BOY is that a great feeling!

Life Finds a Way

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Yesterday was a fun day. If you remember, my sister and her husband were here to visit LAST weekend- and that was great! This weekend, the fun just continues. My brother and his wife got here from the St. Louis area Wednesday afternoon. We had a great time that day, Then, late Thursday afternoon my other sister and her husband came in from the Gulf Coast of Florida. Again, we all had a great kind. But it wasn’t done yet. Yesterday, late afternoon, our nephew (son of the sister who was already in town), his wife and their two kids came in from Central Florida. And we had a great time. 

The kids are 4 and 2. And, although we have seen pictures of them all along, this was our first time to actually meet them. They are awesome! (It doesn’t hurt that we love kids!) My wife (the brain of this operation!) had a GREAT idea. If you read this space much as all, you know that we live RIGHT next door to the church. So, for dinner last night, we picked up some carry-out pizzas, made a big salad and re-convened at the church. We gathered in the dining room, so that we had enough seating for everybody. And the bonus to that is that, attached to the dining room is a big, wide-open room where the kids could run and play! So, we could sit at the table, eat and talk while the kids ran around like knuckleheads right there next to where we were! 

I am always amazed at the energy that kids have. (I have a standard line that I throw out- “If I had HALF that energy…I’d be dangerous!”) It was such a joy to watch the raw, unbridled life that they exude as they run and play. It was a powerful reminder of what life is all about.  

To quote that great theologian Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “Life will find a way.” My wife and I have been reminded of that truth every day over the past 2+ months. We could easily just be overwhelmed by our circumstances, oblivious to everything else. We all see it, all the time. And it’s understandable. It’s hard to fault people who find themselves in difficult or dire situations and get mired in them. But God continues to show us that there IS life in the midst of the difficulty, there IS blessing in the middle of the curse. And watching our 17-year old son play with his 2- and 4-year old cousins- kids he had NEVER met before yesterday, was an awesome reminder that fact.  

If you find yourself in a situation that threatens to drag you down to the pit, stop and look at the life going on around you. Look at the trees, the flowers, the birds. Look at the night sky. Look at the children. Life is beautiful, precious, a gift. And it’s ALL around you- waiting for you to recognize it, embrace it. Take the leap- grab life. We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! 

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!