“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!