Saturday, August 2, 2014

Overcoming Attitude

This past week I had some labwork drawn at the hospital.  I'm part of a study which tests the effects of taking Vitamin D in patients with chronic kidney disease (which I developed after chemotherapy).  I have to have blood drawn several times during the next six weeks.

As I was getting labwork the other day, I sat beside a pleasant gray headed woman who also was getting blood drawn.  She may have even been part of the same study.  Nevertheless, the nurse was having difficulty obtaining her lab.  She described how the dear lady's veins were "rolling", making the venipuncture challenging.  The nurse eventually gave up and said she would have to get another nurse to try to get the blood, calling the other nurse one of the "big guns".  Yet, what impressed me was the patient's attitude.  After she was stuck a couple of times, she seemed to endure the lab attempts with a smile.  When told another nurse would be coming to try to get the blood, she said, "That gives me a chance to meet more people."  I thought, "Wow!! What a great attitude!".  Instead of complaining about the multiple lab sticks, she saw this as an opportunity to meet more folks.

Come to think of it, a hidden benefit of having cancer or major illness is getting to meet more people.  As a result of cancer, I've met several urologists, oncologists, nephrologists and numerous other health care professionals.  I have met Brenda Ladun, a local news anchor who is a breast cancer survivor, at a special dinner where we both spoke of our experiences. There is also those whom I have met through my books.  One lady even called me one night from Palm Springs, California after reading one of my books.  I remember another woman calling me from Idaho or South Dakota (long way from where I live). 

It is said that "no man is an island."  Even though I would not wish my cancer experience upon anyone, I am certainly grateful for the many people I continue to meet because of it. 

By the way, have we met before?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dealing With Mistakes In Life

Kentucky Derby Pie.  It's been a recipe which was handed down to me to my mother.  It's not too difficult to prepare, even for someone like me with limited cooking skills.  Yet, over the years, I've carried Kentucky Derby Pie to numerous social functions. 

Recently, my church was having a covered dish supper before a special evening service.  Not wanting to come empty handed, I brought the old staple, Kentucky Derby Pie.  As a matter of fact, I made two pies the night before.  One for the church and one for me to enjoy at home.  Of course, I had to make a double recipe to accomplish this feat.  I doubled all of the ingredients, placed them in my pre-heated oven at 375 degrees, and removed them per custom after about 50 minutes. 

However, after removing the pies, something just wasn't right.  The top crust of the pies was extremely flaky and not quite as brown as usual.  I stuck a fork in both pies and knew they were done, but there was an inner sense that something peculiar was going on with what I had cooked.  I wrestled in my mind with questions like, "Did I really double all of the ingredients?" or "Did using real butter make the pies come out differently?"  Mind you, the pies still tasted okay...I still took one to church and the majority of it was eaten with no casualties.  Yet, although I couldn't put my finger on it, these pies just didn't look or taste as scrumptious as before.

A couple of days later, I had to heat something up in the microwave.  When I opened the microwave door, I saw a coffee cup with some yellowish liquid which had seeped over the sides.  Then it dawned on me.  This was the butter I had melted in the microwave two days previously to put in the Kentucky Derby Pies.  In other words, the aberrant pie mystery was solved.  Much to my dismay, I had forgotten to add the butter to the rest of the ingredients.  No wonder the pies weren't as moist as usual.  I had ultimately cooked low fat pies (without the butter).

So, I had made a mistake in cooking, gratefully not a fatal one.  I can kind of chuckle about it now.  I made a mental note to always check to make sure all ingredients have been added before baking.  Check the counter tops and especially the microwave.  Perhaps this will prevent baking mishaps in the future.

Hence, what should we do when we make mistakes in life?  Simple things (like cooking errors) should be shrugged off.  I think my aunt even told me at one time that the French Chef Julia Child dropped an egg on the floor during one of her cooking shows.  Her response was "Well, that's why we have a whole bowl (of eggs)". 

How about major mistakes that get us into major trouble?  That may be harder to address in one blog.  Yet, the simple answer is to learn and grow from them.  For example, part of my health issues occurred because I naively didn't recognize one of the seven warning signs of cancer (see my previous blog on April 4, 2013, "Seven Warning Signs of Cancer").  By the time cancer was diagnosed in my body, it was at an advanced stage, requiring major surgery and chemotherapy. 

Yet, I've tried to learn and grow from this.  I've written two books.  I publish a blog.  I try to make people aware of these warning signs and encourage others in sickness.  My errors or losses can be someone else's gain.

Therefore, by learning from mistakes, hopefully, my life will be as delightful as a perfectly cooked Kentucky Derby Pie.


 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fighting Back The Tears


I recently read the book, "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson.  In one chapter, he describes the many inspirations for crying.  Listen to his description of tears on page 210:

"There are the tears shed by the mother of a little boy in ICU who is far too young to fight leukemia, but he fights anyway.  There are the tears shed by the father of the bride as he walks his daughter down the aisle on  her wedding day.  There are tears that stain divorce papers, and tears mixed with sweat that stream down the faces of grown men who have just won a national championship.  Then there are the tears shed in prayer."  

I haven't cried in a long time.  Yet, I remember specific incidences where I literally buckled over  in grief.  In 1997, after my mother had fought pancreatic cancer for eight months, I knew she was close to death.  I remember walking to my car to retrieve a few items and being overwhelmed with sorrow.  I knew her condition had deteriorated.  I even slept by her bedside that night and woke up frequently to check on her.  She died the next morning a little after 7AM. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2004.  My oldest daughter Bethany was about to start college in Auburn and was attending a student orientation camp.  I had a biopsy done of my bladder around that time.  As I drove to visit her and stay a couple of days, my doctor called me to inform me of the seriousness of my cancer and the major surgery I would need.  As I saw Bethany enjoy the excitement of the sights and sounds of college life, I again buckled over in grief, not sure if I would even live to see her graduate from college.  Those were difficult days.  Afterwards when the cancer appeared in my lymph nodes in 2006, the agony of chemotherapy ensued with multiple hospitalizations.  I remember trying to cry as I was being admitted to the hospital for yet another time, but yet the tears wouldn't come.  Only a few people had glimpses of the horror I was going through at that time.

However, the Bible proclaims how our tears do not escape the notice of the Heavenly Father.  Psalms 56:8 says, "You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle.."  He keeps track of them in a unique way.  Why does He keep our tears?   I'm not really sure.  Maybe He looks at our tears a divine measuring rod to show how much we suffer.  As a result, perhaps He pours out enough goodness to compensate for the amount of despair we endure, ultimately turning our mourning into dancing and our pain into praise.  Sorrowful crying has its purpose, but I would much rather be crying tears of joy.  

     

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Opening Doors

I was blessed to have had a book signing today at my home church, NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville, Alabama.  I was promoting my latest book, "Glorified Sickness: Honoring God Through Illness."  I'm always excited when a door opens to share my story. I had ultimately looked forward to this opportunity for quite some time.  After being in contact with a member of our church staff for the past couple of months, I was delighted to see this book signing come to fruition.

It reminds me of a book which I've been reading recently, "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson.  In one chapter, he talks about how God sometimes opens doors for us in rapid fire fashion, similar to the opening segment from the old TV show, "Get Smart".  If you recall, as Max gets out of his car, multiple doors from all different angles open as he approaches them.  Some of these doors are made of steel and they clang shut after he passes through.  Yet, as part of his mission, the doors allow this secret agent to pass without difficulty.

In ministry, sometimes doors open up like this.  I recall how, in September 2013, doors for interviews on multiple TV and radio stations practically fell into my lap.  I had sent out a few benign e-mails to some TV and radio personalities.  Well, one contact led to another and then, voila, I was interviewing right and left with very little effort on my part.  It was a fun ride.

However, some doors take much more effort.  Multiple e-mails or contacts may be necessary to get an interview (or get the door to open).  Of course, praying fervently for the door to open is also a must.  Ultimately, it is God's call.  The Bible states that Jesus puts before us "an open door which no one can shut"... (Revelations 3:7).  So, if He wants the door to open, it will open in His timing. On the other hand, if Jesus closes a door, it is closed tight.  No need to try to force it open...it is just wasted effort on my part.

Consequently, I just have to be ready when the door opens.  It's the smart thing to do.  Or, as Maxwell Smart would say, "Would you believe extremely smart?"



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Finding Your Power Source

Yesterday, my car abruptly wouldn't start.  As a matter of fact, it had a major electrical malfunction.  Although I had driven to work this past week without incident, when I tried to start it after running yesterday, nothing happened.  It was an eery sound of silence.  Everything was out on the car.  No lights would work, the emergency flashers were inoperable, the horn wouldn't sound, even the door locks on my key chain were kaput.  After I finished my run, I walked home (about 1/2 mile from where I parked my car) and informed my wife of this automobile crisis.  Why didn't I call her?  Well, I also had left my cellphone at home, adding insult to injury.  After I took a shower, I contacted my father in law (who thankfully knows how to fix everything).  He picked me up at my house and drove me to my car. 

He opened up the hood and discovered the problem almost immediately.  Even though I had checked the battery cable connections (or at least I thought I had), he recognized that the connections were definitely loose on one side.  He tightened up the loose connection and I was on my way within minutes, rejoicing that I was not facing a major car repair.

This minor incident reiterated to me how power is so important in life.  This is easily illustrated when a major storm hits an area.  As a result, what's the first thing we do when the power goes off?  We call the power company, not imagining a world without power.  We want the power back on and the sooner the better.  Living in darkness is not what we desire.  Although we might can conjure up some power by a home generator or even a little light by candles and flashlights, our strength is definitely limited.  We need power from an outside source, that is, the local power company who helps us meet the needs of our lives.

II Corinthians 12:9 relates how God's power is perfected in weakness.  Our darkest hours may compel us to contact Him and ultimately receive the power that He provides.  A great song which illustrates this is "Break Every Chain".  Listen to the wonderful words of this song below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOyjD5Zw2ew&index=7&list=FL6DZGHWbF8Q1JDjBYsVFT2A





  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Second Interview on "East Alabama Today"

I was thrilled to interview again on the "East Alabama Today" program on WEAC TV24 in Gadsden, Alabama on April 30th, 2014.  In this interview, I talk more about my cancer survival and books, especially my second book, "Glorified Sickness: Honoring God Through Illness".  You can now  access the interview at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0MsLPgkZUo

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tightening My Grip On Ministry

I have never been known for making quick decisions.  I have to mull through an issue for quite some time before I come to a conclusion.  I know such hesitancy has been quite bothersome to my friends and acquaintances.  Yet, the old saying, "Look before you leap", certainly has its virtue.

I remember someone telling me at some point of the importance of involving others in decision making.  This is beneficial for a couple of reasons.  Having others involved lessens the pressure of me venturing out on my own and taking a risk.  On the other hand, if the decision leads down a perilous path, then it also lessens the blame.  Put in more succinct terms, involving others shares the joy when things work out splendidly but also shares the blame when matters fall apart.

I recently made an appeal to some in my church to actively pray for me and my writings.  Essentially I was looking for those who would pray for my writing ministry in all aspects.  You know, someone to pray that my books would minister in a powerful way, that doors would continue to open with radio and TV interviews, and that I would have wisdom in writing my third book.  Of course, I also desire that my blog would touch many hearts.  I'm excited to announce that some dear people answered my appeal for prayers.  I've got a team behind me to propel me forward.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "...a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart".  There is much strength in numbers.  Hence, I'm delighted that I have the beginnings of a team.  Perhaps, in the years to come, I will be able to look back and proclaim that this was the time when my ministry really accelerated, when some prayer warriors got involved.

Will you share in my joy and pray for my writing ministry?  You can contact me at daviscampbell@bellsouth.net or send me a message in this blog if you wish to get involved.  A few more strands in my rope will certainly be appreciated.