Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From A Horrible Day To A Holiday

I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Day today with my family.  First of all, my wife and I had lunch with her mom and her husband.  It was a magnificent dinner with ham, Lima beans, potato salad, cheesy tomatoes (a special recipe from my mother in law) and corn.  We even had lemon pie for dessert, but I had to decline (a rarity) since I was so full from the main courses.

Later in the day my wife and I visited my father, brother, sister and their extended families.  We mainly ate sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and taco chips with dip.  Not being overly full from this meal, I ventured out and had some caramel cake and some fudge for dessert. Afterwards we opened up a few gifts from the mob that was in attendance (by my count, eighteen people in all).

So, December 25th, 2013, was a routine Christmas Day for me. There was good food, good company and some obligatory gifts.

However, December 25th, 2004, was a different story.  Having had major surgery for bladder cancer in August 2004, I struggled with frequent urinary tract infections afterwards, many which  took me to the emergency room for special treatment.  I remember on December 23rd, 2004, having a high fever and heading once again to the emergency room.  The medical team who treated me felt that I should be admitted into the hospital for intravenous antibiotics, meaning I would be hospitalized on Christmas Day.  I remember watching Christmas television specials from my hospital bed.  Later in the day, my family visited me for a few precious moments in my hospital room.  Consequently, it was sad not seeing my daughters open their Christmas presents that day.  In addition, my Christmas meal consisted of basic hospital food, usually not quite as elaborate as my mother in law's meals.  Nevertheless, cancer (or at least the treatment for it) had once again thrown a wrench in my plans.  What should have been a holiday instead was a horrible day.

That was then.  This is now.  Although I still have to work some holidays as a nurse practitioner, since I am cancer free, the horribleness of December 25th, 2004, is now a distant memory.  It seems like it has been several years since I have had a bad urinary tract infection, at least not bad enough to take me to the hospital.

It truly is a merry Christmas for me.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Save Me From This Hour??

We read an interesting passage in Sunday School the other day which captivated me.  As Jesus was getting closer to the crucifixion, He stated, "..My soul has become troubled; and what should I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Thy name."  (John 12:27-28).  In other words, He recognized the Father's will for Him to be crucified.  He didn't need prayers to deliver Him from this moment, or "this hour" as He stated.  It was God 's sovereign will for Him to die.  As a result, His prayer was not for deliverance, but that God would be glorified in His upcoming affliction.

This reminded me of God's sovereignty when going through major illness or cancer.  Sometimes it is not God's will for someone to be healed.  It's as simple as that.  Perhaps cancer or illness is part of a divine plan for a person, a providential trial to accomplish a higher purpose.  His power can be displayed magnificently through a vessel that is hindered by illness.

Consider the life of Fanny Crosby, one of the most prolific hymn writers in history.  Born in 1820 she became blind in childhood due to malpractice from a health care provider.  About eleven years after her conversion to Christ, she began writing hymns.  Not being proficient in Braille, she relied upon her memory to edit poems and songs.  Eventually, she wrote around nine thousand hymns, sixty of which are still in active use today, including, "Blessed Assurance," "Rescue the Perishing", "Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross," and "To God Be The Glory."  She never wanted sympathy for her blindness.  She stated, "If I had been given a choice at birth, I would have asked to be blind...for when I get to heaven, the first face I will see will be the One who died for me."

Fanny Crosby did not ask to be delivered from blindness, or what you could possibly call, "her hour".  She recognized God's higher purpose in her infirmity. Hence, her life prayer was not necessarily, "Save me from this hour" but rather, "Glorify Thy name."  Consequently, her life was a living example of what she describes in one of her magnificent hymns, "To God be the glory, great things He hath done."


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Out Of The Ashes

We sang a great song in church today which contained the lyric "out of the ashes we rise".  There is something intriguing about fire.  As the weather is turning colder, I imagine many will turn to the warmth of a fireplace or a campfire for comfort. Yet, when something burns, it leaves very little remnant of its former self.  A log placed on the fire, when consumed completely, is no longer recognizable.  All that remains is some charred dust, or ashes if you may.  The fire causes total and absolute destruction.  It is no wonder that ashes are a symbol of repentance and humility...there is nothing illustrious about ashes.

I guess that is what captured my attention when we sang a song about rising from the ashes.  There are times in our lives that we are totally devastated.  Sickness, financial ruin, shattered relationships, to name a few, cause us to hit rock bottom.  Just like the ashes from a fire, the remnants from these horrific situations are ugly, dirty and filthy, nothing with which to be proud.

Yet, a remarkable thing sometimes happens on occasion.  Just like the mythological bird, the phoenix, somehow something arises from the ashes.  A new entity, a vibrant creature of some sort evolves.  The ugly ashes become a glorious creation.

I am so grateful God caused me to rise from the ashes of cancer.  Although there are still challenges ahead, the ugliness of the fire pit in some ways has been transformed into some true beauty.  As a matter of fact, some of the joy I feel today is because of the devastation of my previous self.  I can't help but remember how things used to be, e.g. multiple hospitalizations, chemotherapy, blood transfusions and desperation.  That was then.  This is now.

So, out of the ashes we rise.  We most certainly do, if we allow God to devastate us and bring forth a new creation.

You can read more about my devastation and ultimate victory in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer", which is available on Amazon and Kindle at the following link:


Friday, November 8, 2013

Tasting Success

"You scream.  I scream.  We all scream for ice cream". 

I don't know where I first heard that statement but I still remember it many years later.   Maybe it is because I love sweets so much, especially chocolate.  As a matter of fact, I could eat chocolate practically every day.  I saw a T-shirt that said, "Save the earth.  It's the only planet that has chocolate!"  I heartily agree.  Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, peanut M & M's, etc. have always been a regular part of my diet.  Of course, having an occasional doughnut with chocolate frosting (what else?) is also a special treat.

Based on my dietary habits, you must imagine that I am extremely overweight.  Not so.  I try to run several times a week, not particularly to lose weight but to keep from gaining too many pounds.  Also, I weigh myself periodically at work wearing the same type of clothes to keep track of my tonnage.  So, for the most part, I stay around the same weight.  Sometimes I'm up a few pounds around the holidays or when I'm prevented from exercising (like when I am sick or extremely busy at work). Sometimes I am down a few pounds (which is a great joy).

Nevertheless, I occasionally indulge in some ice cream, especially convenient since an ice cream eatery is not too far from my house.  Also, the stores which I frequent have multitudes of ice cream flavors from a variety of manufacturers.

The other day I discovered some interesting facts about Ben Cohen, one of the founder's of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.  First of all, I found out that Mr. Cohen and I share the same birthday, although he was born several years before me. I also discovered that he suffers from a condition called "anosmia" or loss of smell.  He also has diminished taste sensations.  After he worked odd jobs in his lifetime such as driving a cab or working at McDonald's, he ventured into the ice cream business.  Due to his loss of smell and inadequate taste sensations, it propelled him and his partner Jerry Greenfield to make extraordinary ice cream with exquisite tastes and large pieces of fruit, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, etc., perhaps to compensate for his sensory deficits.

As a result, I went out and bought some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream the other night to find out if this was true.  Sure enough, the taste was wonderful (although the price was somewhat high for just a pint).  Yet, amazingly, the great taste was developed in part from Ben Cohen's handicap.

So, Ben Cohen's story is yet another wonderful example of how adversity can lead to success.  If he hadn't lost his sense of smell, perhaps Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream would not be quite as popular or flavorful as it is today.

Cancer or major illness can also open up hidden talents.  As you may be aware, it propelled me to be a writer, something perhaps which will stay with me the rest of my life, even when I am old and feeble.  When I am unable to work physically, Lord willing, I will still be able to write.  Many more books and blogs may be forthcoming in the future, all because I went through cancer treatment and felt compelled to write about my journey.

What talents are waiting to be discovered in you because you have had cancer or are going through cancer?  Just like Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, the sweet taste of success may be imminent as you use your undiscovered talents. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My TV 24 Interview

I interviewed on the "East Alabama Today" program on WEAC TV 24 in Gadsden, Alabama on October 9, 2013.  This interview can be accessed on You Tube at:

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Bigger Picture

Mark chapter 2 gives an incredible incident of healing of a paralytic.  Mark 2:1-11 reads:

"When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home.  And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof  above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, 'My son, your sins are forgiven.' But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.'"

I am amazed of the ingenuity and the compassion of the men who brought the paralytic to the Jesus.  Not perceiving the large crowd as a discouragement, they composed a scheme to place the paralytic within healing distance of the Savior, going so far as to tear through the roof.  Although the Bible doesn't mention how long it took to dig through the ceiling,  I imagine the scores of onlookers watched with amazement as the drama unfolded.

However, when the paralytic was being lowered down, what were the first words out of Jesus' mouth?  Jesus proclaims in verse 5, "My son, your sins are forgiven."  He didn't say "You're healed" or "Rise up and walk" (at least, not at the first).  Jesus demonstrated that the most important need in one's life is to be forgiven of his sins.  Being healed of an illness is nice, yet it is not the most urgent problem in a person's life.  Sicknesses come and go.  Yet, ultimately the sin issue must be addressed.

Unfortunately, the paralytic died years later, although the Bible doesn't say when.  However, having his sins forgiven, he experienced eternal healing.  Walking on the streets of Capernaum, I'm sure, was a great joy after his lameness was removed.  Even more so, having been delivered from his sins, he is now walking on the streets of glory.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Support Can Be Beautiful

I have been blessed with several radio and TV interviews recently to talk about my cancer survival and book. One day I dropped by a local TV station in Birmingham to leave a book for one of the hosts on the station.  As I stopped by the station, I couldn't help but notice the massive TV tower outside of the building.  I later discovered that this tower is 978 feet high, quite an impressive structure.  To keep it from toppling over it is secured by multiple cables, some extending for several hundred yards.  One of the cables even stretches across the main road in that area (where other TV stations are located).  You could say that the massive structure is kept in place by ample support.

Isn't that similar to our journey in life?  Most of us (including myself) would like to accomplish great things.  However, we cannot get there alone.  There is an old saying that you "have to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps."  Obviously this is impossible.  You can't raise yourself off of the need help.

So, as I travel onward, I'm forever indebted to the many support structures in my life as I try to soar higher and higher.  The family members, the co-workers, and especially my church family have been the cables to try to keep me from falling as I venture upward.  I guess you could say these people keep me grounded, to prevent me from toppling over.

Hence, it is imperative to obtain a great support system.  Once a support team is assembled, who knows how high a person can soar? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Come Before Winter

I noticed something had changed in the atmosphere as I was leaving my house for work the other day.  Maybe it was just my imagination, but the sun appeared to be at a slightly different angle on my driveway.  Of course, I know the sun doesn't move but the days are getting a little shorter.  The leaves are starting to fall.  Autumn is quickly approaching, officially arriving in just a few days.  Long range weather forecasts are showing a gradual cooling of temperatures.  It's just a regular change in seasons, one may argue, so what's the big deal? As a matter of fact, some people even relish the time when there will be a "nip in the air".  However, for me, there is a sense of sadness. 
Think of everything that changes when fall and then later winter arrives.  For example, the days of short pants, short sleeve shirts and exercising in light clothing are put on hold.  Venturing outside may require a light jacket, then maybe later a heavy overcoat to deal with northerly winds and falling temperatures.  Thermostats will be adjusted in the home.  Electric blankets (one of my favorite comforts) will be summoned into use.  Of course, there is the limited sunlight with the shortened days, forcing commuters to drive home from work in utter darkness.  It is rather depressing. 

Reminds me of the cynical prediction about the weather by Bill Murray in the movie, "Groundhog Day" about winter.  He said, "I've got a prediction for you.  It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, and it's gonna last you the rest of your life."   Not very encouraging.

Paul, in II Timothy chapter 4 (maybe his final writings before his death) told Timothy to "make every effort to come before winter" (verse 21).  Maybe Paul was wanting his cloak he had left at Troas (verse 13) to provide needed warmth as the weather was soon to change.  Perhaps Paul longed to see his beloved disciple before he died or just needed encouragement in his present situation.  Whatever the case, he urged Timothy to come before winter.

The Bible says, "In the day of prosperity be happy" (Ecclesiastes 7:14).  Great advice.  When life is going well, when the sun is shining, when health is good, when all of the bills are paid, when you are surrounded by friends, be content.  Unfortunately, as we all know too well, winter is coming,  a time when we'll long to see an old friend or have the warmth of a garment to protect us from the elements.

You can read about the winter I endured in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer".  Gratefully God brought me through this time and the snow is now melting.  My book  can be accessed at:


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Just Say The Word

I was reading Matthew Chapter 8 the other night and noticed the wide variety of healings accomplished by the Savior.  I guess you could categorize the sicknesses in this fashion:

1.  Casual sickness. In verses 14-15, we discover that Peter's mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever.  Maybe she had a cold or a virus  of some sort.  Apparently she didn't feel well and went to bed to recover.  It is hard to say, but I'm thinking that maybe this was just a minor illness.  After Jesus healed her, she got up and waited on Him.  Many times in life we get hit by minor illnesses which are more or less a nuisance.  We're not deathly sick, mind you.  It's just that an illness interferes with our work or family plans.  Maybe it goes away in a week or two, but it is still very annoying. 

2.  Chronic sickness.  Verses 2-4 describe a man with leprosy, a chronic debilitating condition. Left untreated, leprosy caused permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.  There was also considerable social stigma associated with leprosy as lepers were considered unclean and had to dwell apart from the general population.  It was a horrible way of life.

3.  Calamitous sickness.  Verses 5-13 list the centurion's servant, lying in bed, paralyzed and experiencing tremendous pain.  Not really sure what was going on with this person, but it appeared to be a painful illness.  He was immobile and suffering.  It was a desperate situation.

4.  Chaotic sickness.  Verses 28-34 tell of two men who were demon-possessed.  They lived in the  tombs and were so violent that no one could pass by the road.  The local residents went to great lengths to avoid any interaction, fearing their own personal safety.  Sometimes illnesses today are so complex that families and neighbors are perplexed to understand how to intervene.  There appears to be no simple cure.  

However, no matter the depth of sickness, from Peter's mother-in-law to the demoniacs, Jesus healed them all.  The centurion, knowing Jesus' power, was well aware of the secret for removing all of these ailments.  In verse 8, he proclaimed to Jesus, "...just say the word and my servant will be healed."  That's all it takes.  Just a word from Jesus.  Just say it and everything will be made well.   

Furthermore, in today's world, we may also experience the different types of illness.  Being treated by healthcare professionals (of which I am one) can help, but the ultimate cure comes from the lips of the Savior.  We must entreat His favor with the attitude, "...speak, for Thy servant is listening". (I Samuel 3:10).  Once He speaks the true healing begins, whether instantaneous or in time.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Beware The Sabeans

I've recently read a book about Job while doing research for my second book.  If you aren't familiar with Job, let me refresh your memory of his demise which occurs in the first chapters of the book of Job.  Within moments he loses his livestock, servants and children.  Later in chapter two, his health begins to deteriorate.

Nevertheless, the first action which occurred in this process is mentioned in Job chapter 1.  "...The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them.  They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword..." (Job 1:14-15).  You could say the first domino to fall came about at the hand of a mysterious people called the Sabeans.   Who were the Sabeans?  Apparently they were some terrorizing robbers who were descendants of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:1-3).  After they attacked Job's servants and livestock, they are hardly mentioned any further in the Bible, except a brief reference in Job 6:19.  Hence, the Sabeans came and left after inflicting their harm and then seemed to disappear off the face of the planet.  Isn't that how life is sometime?  An evil person or an evil circumstance appears for a brief moment, does its damage, then vacates.  I cannot forget the ways cancer attacked me in 2004 and 2006.  After major surgery and chemotherapy, I am now more or less relatively healthy, although cancer forever damaged my body.  You could say the Sabeans came and went, still leaving me to bear with the consequences.

On the other hand, sometimes good people or good circumstances appear for a short time, leaving a lasting joyous effect.  I know that when I went through chemotherapy, a lady provided T-shirts for the staff to give to patients which stated "God heals cancer" and listed "I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord" (Psalms 118:17) written on the back.  I never met the lady, don't know what kind of cancer she had, and was certainly unfamiliar with Psalms 118:17, although I had read my Bible numerous times.  Yet, that verse ultimately became a life verse for me.  As a matter of fact, I now wear a bracelet on my wrist at all times which lists this verse.  How did this all happen?  Basically, because a godly lady appeared on the scene for a season, ministered to me, then vanished.  Yet, I am so grateful for her ministry.

Thankfully, even though Sabeans attack us at times, there are checks and balances in God's plan in which godly men and women minister to us, albeit just for a brief time to repair the damage of terrorizing robbers.

You can read more about the vicious attacks I endured while battling cancer but yet the victories I achieved by reading my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer."  It can be accessed at:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Is Thy Sting?

I recently cut my father's grass while he was recovering from an injury.  I had trouble getting his lawn mowers started so I gratefully found a neighbor who was willing to loan me her lawn mower for the project.   Due to my work schedule and the increasing growth of the grass, I felt an urgency to cut the grass on that particular day.  So, with a self-propelled lawn mower in hand, I commenced to cutting.

The project began rather smoothly.  The lawn mower was cutting at a good clip.  I felt a sense of pride, seeing the grass getting mowed down at a good pace.

Then it happened.  I felt a sharp stinging sensation in my calf.  As I looked down, I could see the culprit...yellow jackets.  I had cut over a yellow jacket nest and they were swarming in the vicinity.  I quickly vacated the premises, but not before I had received two stings on my left calf, one on my right calf, and one sting on my right hand.  I rested for a short time, then resumed my project, carefully watching for additional yellow jacket nests.  Thankfully, my father-in-law came over and helped me cut the rest of the grass.  The yard was mowed but I left the project wounded from those pesky yellow jackets.

When I went to bed that night, the stings were very painful, just a constant ache.  I wondered if I would even be able to sleep due to the pain.  This concerned me because I needed to rest to be able to work the following day.  Finally, I took some Tylenol and got some rest. The stings itched for several days and I coated the areas with antihistamine gel.  Finally, after about 2-3 days, the stings caused no discomfort whatsoever.   

Nevertheless, the stings reminded me of 1 Corinthians 15.  As a matter of fact, death is described as having a sting.  It bites with a vengeance, sometimes gradually as seen with progressive illness, but sometimes rather quickly as loved ones are removed from this earth in a moment. However, the pain of death is overcome by the eternal victory of those who belong to Christ.  Our lives on this earth, just as the fleeting stings and lives of yellow jackets, are only temporary.  Death ultimately leads believers into the eternal glory of heaven.  Thus, it is no wonder the scripture taunts death, saying, "..O, death, where is thy sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55).  In other words, death, is that the best you can do?

The yellow jackets may have felt they had gotten the best of me.  Yet, in the big picture, as a believer in Christ, I truly am the victor.

Hence, "...thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:57).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bearing More Fruit

Many years ago I lived in the house of my great aunt and great uncle after they passed away.  It was an old house but rather unique.  It was located on a large amount of property, meaning there was a big yard which required much effort to keep the grass cut on a regular basis.  The property also contained several fig trees which were somewhat unproductive.  I admired the large leaves of these biblical trees but didn't see much fruit of which to speak.   

However, after I moved out, my parents moved into this house, a nice move for them but even better fortune for the fig trees.  My father, in his wisdom, recognized the problem with the fig trees in that they contained multiple dead limbs.  Therefore he commenced to pruning the trees or "cutting them way down" as he put it.  That was several years ago.

Now you wouldn't believe the number of figs that we harvest every year.  The trees have grown to gigantic proportions with extensive foliage.  Hence, as the summer progresses, the challenge is to pick the figs as soon as possible (before the birds get them) and distribute them to whoever desires their sweetness.  Needless to say, my father's pruning has been very productive.   

Jesus says that the Heavenly Father is also in the pruning business.  John 15:2 says, "...every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit."  What does the pruning entail?  I would imagine it could be any type of hardship or difficulty.  For me, I underwent a major pruning when I went through cancer.  Yet it could be financial difficulties, relationship issues, work problems, whatever.  Some very painful processes.  On the other hand, the abundant harvest (just like my father's fig trees in due time) proclaim the value of the pruning. Consequently, just like my father gives away figs, the pruning in my life may provide nourishment for many others.  That is my prayer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Playing Through Pain

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2 NASB)

I get many inspirations through running.  Although, jogging can be hot, tiring, and painful, it gives me a great opportunity to clear my mind and think about life decisions.  It's also a great chance to pray because it limits the number of distractions in my life.  Perhaps the only distractions during the jog would be the occasional dog who may bark at me in the neighborhood or a car travelling on my street.  Yet I focus on finishing the run.

Last week I went running and began to develop a migraine headache.  I've had them for years on occasion.  I have what would be called "classic migraines" in that I have an "aura" or warning that a headache is coming.  For me, this aura involves having blurred vision in my left visual field.  This usually occurs several minutes before the headache comes.  The first time this occurred to me years ago I thought I was having a stroke.  Now I don't panic when the blurred vision occurs but simply take some Tylenol as soon as possible.  In most instances the blurred vision goes away after a few minutes and the headache never develops.

However, during this instance while running, I was not sure what to do.  The blurred vision started shortly after my run and I had no access to Tylenol.  In addition, the run was on a straight street.  Thus the farther I ran in one direction, the farther I would have to run to get back to my car.  So, I had a couple of options.  For example, I could stop running and walk back to the car.  On the other hand, maybe I could shorten the length of my run and get back to the car as soon as possible.   That's exactly what I decided to do.  Try to run at least a minor distance and then treat the blurred vision and impending headache as soon as possible.  So, I ended up running only a little over a mile. 

Yet, to my surprise, as I got closer and closer to my car, the blurred vision began to dissipate. It was practically gone when I got to the car.  I imagine I took some Tylenol at that point but it impressed me in that I had worked through my discomfort while running.  In other words, I had done as some athletes would proclaim, I had "played through the pain".

Playing through pain, that's how we sometimes have to live our lives.  Keep going, keep moving, in spite of the discomfort.  Don't let the affliction afflict you. Sometimes life hurts and illness or circumstances try to bog us down.  Yet, when we reach the finish line in accomplishing a task (in spite of the difficulties), there is much joy.  I'm sure I would have felt good about myself if the run had not been eventful.  However, after completing the run under adverse circumstances, I felt fantastic, not only for finishing the jog but for learning something new about life as well.

To learn more about my victory over adverse circumstances, check out my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer' on Amazon and Kindle.  It can be accessed at:



Friday, June 14, 2013

No Escape (Trussville Tribune Article)

I had an article published in The Trussville Tribune regarding a comical experience while visiting a music store.  Check it out at:

The article doesn't really deal with cancer but hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Doing The Right Thing

I heard about a man who customarily went to church every Sunday.  His wife usually went with him.  However, one Sunday, he just didn't want to attend.  After he turned off his alarm clock, he mentioned to his wife several reasons why he didn't want to go on this particular Sunday.  For example, he was tired and needed extra sleep.  Also he mentioned some of the unfavorable conditions in the church, stating,  "The people aren't very friendly and no one ever talks to me".  In addition, the music and the preaching were uninspiring.  To make matters worse, there was also a light rain falling outside.  Finally, after he mentioned all of his reservations about attending his wife replied, "Honey, I understand why you don't want to go today.  However, you have to're the pastor!"

Sometimes we have to do the right thing in spite of our circumstances.  Being an off day from work today, I went jogging in my community.  Even though I was tired from a long week of work, I commenced to running.  At first, I hated it.  I had to run up a rather large hill and sensed that this run would be a rather unenjoyable workout.  Eventually I made it to the top of the hill in spite of my physical and mental anguish.  As I continued to run, I picked up a certain rhythm and the run wasn't quite as difficult.  However, the running was still tough.  The weather was hot and humid.  My feet hurt.  I was thirsty.  Nevertheless, I ultimately completed my run (roughly three miles in distance).  Even though I dreaded the run at first, at the end, I was glad I had put forth the effort.  I felt better about myself.  I felt more healthy.  I also felt less guilty when I engorged myself at a fast food restaurant afterwards with a sandwich and tater tots.  So, my running, as Wilford Brimley used to say in the Quaker Oats commercial was "the right thing to do".

Jesus also did the right thing in spite of circumstances.  Hebrews 12:2 states how "...Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God".  This wasn't easy, the Scripture attesting to how He wanted to turn back from the cross.  Luke 22:42 mentions how He prayed, "...Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done."  But Jesus persevered, was crucified and rose again.  I am so glad He ultimately did the right thing for me.  My sins are washed away by His atoning sacrifice, and I have a home in heaven prepared for me.

When I was going through chemotherapy, it was extremely painful, both physically and emotionally.  I was tired.  I was nauseated,  I was even hospitalized on several occasions.  There were times when I felt I could not endure any more agony.  But looking back, now that I'm cancer free, it was the right thing to do.

If you wish to know more about my cancer story and survival, check out my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer" on Amazon and Kindle.  It can be accessed at: 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Absence of Conflict (My Trussville Tribune article)

I had an article published online by The Trussville Tribune today entitled, "Absence of Conflict", based on a recent Boston trip.  You can view it online at: 

Friday, May 24, 2013

First Responders

The Moore, Oklahoma tornado on May 20th, 2013 was a horrific tragedy.  I watched in horror as the television coverage provided continuous updates of the viciousness of this storm.  As news reports unfolded during the evening, it became apparent that this was a major killer storm, having slammed into two schools, a hospital and additional structures in the area.  I grieve for the many who were affected by this cyclone.

In the aftermath of the death and destruction, many people rushed to the afflicted areas to help remove debris and look for survivors.  However as the magnitude of the devastation was being revealed, it was broadcast by local authorities that only "first responders" should come to the area, that is , those people specifically trained to deal with emergencies such as medical crews and law enforcement officers.  In other words, trained professionals would be best equipped to deal with the residual effects of the storm.  First responders were welcome whereas the general public was gently chided to keep its distance. 

First responders.  Great people to have in the community when disaster strikes.  Yet, on a larger scale, who are the "first responders" in my life?  Put another way, whom would I contact if disaster struck in my life?

First of all, I would imagine I could certainly trust in the assistance of my family and extended family to assist when an unthinkable tragedy occurs.  My father, wife, siblings, children and in-laws would be a great resource to possess in time of my greatest need.  However, their assistance may be somewhat limited due to lack of resources.  For example, if my house ever caught fire, I imagine my family would do their utmost to try to extinguish the fire and salvage my property.  Yet, ultimately only a trained firefighter could adequately do the job. Another limiting factor might be my family's location.  My brother lives in another county whereas my sister lives in another state.  My children and stepson are a considerable distance away.  So, ultimately, my family would mean well, but there would be limits to what they could do.  My house would probably have burnt to the ground by the time some of my family arrived.

The second type of first responders would be the members of my church.  This may be one of my greatest resources.  I'm honored to be a part of a body of believers with many talents and gifts.  Although I am certainly unworthy of their generosity, I would probably contact them without hesitation in my hour of need.  Whether financial difficulties, family problems, spiritual concerns, whatever, they probably would be a well equipped responder in times of crisis.  Of course, another beneficial aspect of being a member of a local church is the proximity of the members.  My fellow church members are just a phone call, e-mail, or text message away.  Some church members even live in my neighborhood.  Consequently, I would venture to mention that if a person doesn't have a local church, it would be like trying to put out a massive fire with a small garden hose.  It might would help some, but it wouldn't be anything compared to the massive equipment and skills of a professional firefighting team.

Finally, I am delighted to describe the greatest first responder of all, the Lord God Almighty.  In Isaiah 43:2, He proclaims, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you."  What a great relief to know that God is close by when horrendous disaster is upon us.

You can learn more about the unthinkable tragedy that occurred in my life and the first responders who came to my aid in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer'.  It can be accessed at:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Character Hill

I went running on an off day over the weekend and ran about two miles on a fairly busy road close to where I live.  It's a straight road with one big disadvantage:  the farther you run, the farther you have to run back.  Hence, if you run too far, you have to run an equal distance back to the starting point, sometimes in the hot sun.  I usually park at a local gas station and from there commence my journey. 

Yet, running two miles like I did was not overly difficult but it was relatively insignificant compared to the distances I used to run.  As a matter of fact, on this road, I used to run four miles on occasion: two miles to the bridge over the Cahaba River from my starting point and two miles back.  Mind you, this type of run was always very challenging, especially on the way back to the gas station.  The reason?  There is a huge hill I would have to climb as I was coming back.  It's a tough hill to run, especially after running a couple of miles.  But, due to its impressive size, I gave the hill a name, "Character Hill", because of the challenge it presented in conquering it. To run up this hill and then make my way back to the gas station was quite a feat.  Running up this hill demonstrated that I was a serious runner, not just one out for a lazy stroll. 

Come to think of it, we all have "character hills", so to speak.  These are formidable challenges which approach us every day and come in a variety of venues.  It could be cancer or major illness as occurred in my life.  Maybe going to school.  Perhaps difficult work or family situations to endure.  Whatever the case, we have to decide whether to run up these character hills.  It may be taxing, it may be difficult, or maybe even exhausting, but somewhere along the way, we'll be rewarded for our efforts.

On your mark.  Get set.  Go!


Friday, April 26, 2013

What's Your Next Shot?

Enjoyed playing golf today with my father, although my round had its usual ups and downs.  As I believe I've mentioned previously, since I have no natural golfing ability, more or less, golf is a game I have to work at just to be mediocre.  Hence the challenge of it all.  As a result, I am frequently looking for someone or something to help me improve my game.  I recently heard some good advice from a friend of mine at church, a man whose golfing abilities far outweigh my own.  He described some solid mental advice while playing a round, that is, think about what your next shot will be.  I thought about this some while I was hitting the ball today.  The next shot...that's what I should focus on.

It makes perfect sense.  I don't want to get bogged down in thinking about the bad shots I may have just made.  Keep pressing forward.  Don't let the bad holes get me too far down.

On the other hand, after hitting a good shot or having a good hole, my work is not done.  I can't rest on my laurels.  A round of golf, unfortunately, contains eighteen holes so I can't really relax until I've completed them all.

This also translates to life.  I can't get too bogged down when I make a mistake.  I should try to make amends or correct it and move on.

In addition, if I have some good things happen to me in life or receive accolades, I may enjoy them for a season, but then I have to move on.  If I hold on too tightly to my past, my present life will get stale.

Hence, my life, just like my golf game, is a game of endurance.  There is no resting until I reach the finish line.  Currently I am involved in several activities, for example, writing my second book, "Glorified Sickness", seeking multiple ways to minister to others who are dealing with cancer, and, of course, sharing revelations on my blog.  But after these things fade away, then what?  How am I going to hit my next shot in life?

So, whether I'm in a water hazard or a fairway in life, or maybe even if I have just missed an easy putt, I have to think, "Where do I go from here?"


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Staying Positive In The Midst of Difficulties

I've been in contact with Ken Medema's ministry in order to get some information for my second book.  If you aren't aware, Ken has been essentially blind from birth, only able to discern the silhouettes of objects.  Nevertheless, he has become a prolific Christian singer, pianist and composer in his lifetime in spite of his visual deficit.  He has recorded numerous albums and has ministered to many.

I sent Ken's publicist a copy of the chapter I'm writing which mentions how Ken demonstrates God's power in spite of his illness.  I subsequently was gently rebuked and came to understand that Ken doesn't see his blindness as an illness, but as a "character trait".  What a great attitude!  No wonder God has used him in a marvelous way.

You can learn more about his ministry at:

The Apostle Paul also had a great attitude towards hardships in life.  He describes his experiences as follows:

"Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." (II Corinthians 11:24-27 NASB)

How did he characterize these experiences overall? II Corinthians 4:17 gives us a clue in which he says, "For momentary, light affliction (italics mine) is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." 

Did you catch that?  His sufferings for the sake of the Gospel were "light afflictions".  Is he kidding me?  The above list doesn't look "light" at all but extremely burdensome.  Yet, he kept his eye on the prize, the "eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison".  I guess some things in life really aren't that bad when you recognize the eternal purposes of God.  Our sufferings are, as Paul put it, "momentary".  Glad they won't last forever.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Run, Hide, Fight

Saw a sad billboard going to work the other day, a billboard which reflects the unfortunate events which now seem to occur routinely in our society. As you recall, there were  horrendous shootings in Aurora, Colorado in a movie theater last year and later in a school in Newtown, Connecticut.  Perhaps in responding to these tragedies, some organization felt led to give some advice regarding what to do if  confronted by a shooter in the workplace or other community setting.  Although I don't remember everything from the billboard, the main information which it conveyed when confronted by a shooter is simply, "Run...Hide...Fight!".  In contemplating these guidelines, I thought these terms not only apply to how to handle a person with a gun, but to life in general.  Let's explore these in a little more detail, shall we.

First of all, run when in danger, when the nemesis is more powerful.  Several years ago when cutting the grass in my backyard, I ran over a yellow jackets' nest with my lawn mower.  I didn't see it until I was being stung by several yellow jackets and immediately realized what had happened.  What did I do?  I ran to my house as fast as I could, rolling on the ground along the way to try to rid myself of the stinging varmints.  It was very frightening, but, yet, the best course of action considering the circumstances.  I think I ended up with about five or six stings, although it could have been much worse if I hadn't vacated the premises.

Second, if running is not an option, then it's best to try to hide from the danger.  Where I live we occasionally are visited by the threat of tornadoes.  As a result, when a "Tornado Warning" is issued, local meteorologists provide continuous recommendations of how to avoid being injured from these cataclysmic events, for example, going to the lowest area of the house towards the innermost part of the structure, especially staying away from windows.  In following their advice, you could say we "hide" from the danger.

Finally, sometimes the most appropriate thing to do is fight, especially if there is no place to run or hide.  When confronting cancer, there is no other option.  Running away from it won't make it go away.  It continues to grow within the body, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.  Whatever the case, it is relentless in seeking to destroy its host. 

Can't hide from it either.  Avoiding doctors or avoiding medical scans won't affect it one way or the other.  It still will be there.

Hence, the only option is to "fight the good fight of faith" (I Timothy 6:12) or what I would describe as "using maximum physical and mental effort."  Giving only minimal effort will not be sufficient to remove takes heavy hitters such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.  In addition, a healthy overcoming attitude may also be invaluable in the struggle.  Furthermore, by punching at cancer with all we've got, it's possible that many may be victorious in spite of overwhelming odds.

Are you ready to fight???


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Into Thy Hands

Perhaps it's a prayer you heard as a child, one which was recited at bedtime.  Imagine a child in his pajamas, kneeling beside his bed, eyes closed, head bowed and enunciating the prayer with a precious childlike voice.  There are several versions of it listed on the Internet, but a simple version reads:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen"

Such innocence and beauty is revealed as the little one says his bedtime prayer and rests peacefully in the arms of the Heavenly Father.  Afterwards, the glow of the moon penetrates the bedroom window as a divine nightlight.  The child is safe and secure in his bed.  No worries.  No concerns.  Simply warmth and happiness in God's presence.

I heard a pastor say that Jesus also uttered a bedtime prayer in the most unusual of places...the cross.  After the unspeakable horrors and agony of being crucified, Luke 23:46 records, "And, Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.'  And having said this, He breathed His last."

Where did Jesus learn the phrase, "Into Thy hands I commit my spirit"?  Psalms 31:5.  Apparently, the Jews said this phrase before they went to sleep at night.  It was their version of "now I lay me down to sleep."  Again, no worries, no concerns.  They slept peacefully in the arms of the Almighty.

How fitting for Jesus to use this phrase on the cross.  The crucifixion was complete.  His sacrifice for mankind had been accomplished.  There would be no more mental or physical agony for Him.  It was finished!!  Hence, He could commit His spirit to the Father in this divine act.  As the little child who sleeps upon his bed, Jesus could now rest in the Father's hand.

We, too, can rest in the Father's hand at the end of the day, or even at the end of life.  Resting in Him, trusting in Him, that whatever happens, He is watching over us.  Such peace.  Such joy.

Perhaps, our bedtime prayer should be:

"Father, thank you for bringing me through another day. Even though there may have been trials and difficulties, I can rest completely in You.   In your presence is fullness of joy.  So, as I go to sleep, into Thy hands, I commit my spirit.  Amen."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Under Construction

It just never seems to end....the construction at the hospital where I work.  There is a certain work site I pass ever day walking from the parking lot to my floor.  As a matter of fact, it seems like the construction workers have been laboring on that site for years.  I would estimate this project has been in effect for at least three to four years.  Amazing!  It seems like part of the building is constructed, then it is torn down.  The street was excavated at one time, then it was filled in.  Of course, being an outsider to construction, I really have no clue to what the workers are doing.  I have no sense of the time to completion, a fairly limited understanding of the finished product.  To me, the construction looks chaotic (as do most construction sites).  There must by some rhyme or reason to what the work crew is doing, although I'm having a hard time seeing it.  Yet, it is easy to wonder if the builders really know what they are doing.

Sometimes it is tempting to wonder if God knows what He is doing.  Obviously, there are some problems we bring upon ourselves due to poor choices.  On the other hand, some things appear for no apparent reason.  You know, things like sickness, financial difficulties, marital or familial discord, etc. We are brought to our knees as we wonder, "Why?"  "Why did this happen?"  "Why at this time?"  "Why in my life, of all people?"

Yet, a powerful scripture comes to mind from Isaiah 45:9.  It states succinctly:

"Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?"

God also spoke to Job with some rather strong words in Job 38:4-7.  God said:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Hence, in the broad spectrum of the universe, I may have difficulty seeing the "big picture" of life.  But I must continually submit myself to the Master Potter to accomplish His purposes.  Ultimately, in time, the finished product of my life, although chaotic at times, will be glorious. 

I talk more at length about the Master Potter's work in dealing with my life while I was fighting bladder cancer in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer".  It is available on Amazon and Kindle and can be accessed at:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Value of Trials

Although I'm not very good at it, I enjoy playing golf from time to time.  My father and I play at a local public course.  Although it's not a very fancy course, it is plenty challenging for me due to one reason.....the creek.  This blasted creek is a continuous hazard on the course as it meanders in play on several holes.  It slithers in and out of holes like a snake and it is noticeable throughout the course.  By my count, this creek comes into play in nine out of the eighteen holes if we played the regular or white tees.  As a result, it is rare (and I mean rare) that I finish a round without having to retrieve at least one golf ball out of the creek.  Just like the tree would snatch up Charlie Brown's kite in the "Peanuts" comic strip, this aqueous monster gobbles up my golf balls on a regular basis and wreaks havoc on my score.

As a matter of fact, if the creek were nonexistent, I would probably shoot a fairly good score on the course.  There would be no worries about errant shots landing in the drink.  Yet, come to think of it, playing would not be quite as much fun or rewarding.  You see, when I do have a good round and somehow avoid this watery grave, I am ecstatic as I come to realize how I have beaten the challenge.  The watery menace has been reduced to a trickle.  It did its best to humble me, to destroy me, but yet my limited golfing ability and my simple Spalding clubs overcame it.  Take that, you aqueous monster!

Of course, life is like that also.  If we didn't have tribulations or trials, life would be relatively easy...and perhaps a little boring.  Yet, when we overcome tribulations, there is a great sense of accomplishment, an ecstasy that we did it, we overcame, we were victorious. 

The Bible in several places talks of the value of trials and tribulations.  Romans 5:3-5 says that "...tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint...".  James 1:4 says that trials make us "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  So, the struggles, the tears, the disappointments, ultimately have the benefit of developing our character and conforming us to the image of Christ.  No wonder the Bible says earlier in James 1:2, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."

I may still end up in the creek a time or two the next time I play golf.  But, the times I do get over it unscathed, just like overcoming tribulations in life, will make me extremely happy.   

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting Your Bearings

I went out jogging in my neighborhood the other night.  I probably should have run earlier in the day, but I got busy doing other activities.  Nevertheless, I felt compelled to exercise, even though it was close to ten o'clock at night.  As I was jogging, I was amazed at the wonder of the stars.  Even though I don't know too much about the heavenly bodies, I was able to discern the Little Dipper on the left side of my street, whereas the Big Dipper could be seen easily on the right side.  I remember hearing as a child how you can find the North Star just by drawing a straight line from one side of the Big Dipper and following this imaginary line in the sky.  Sure enough, the North Star was not too far behind (or should I say in front).

Seeing the Big Dipper reminded me of a song or poem I heard was composed during the Civil War.  Apparently, the Big Dipper was known as "the drinking gourd' to the slaves.  As runaway slaves travelled north to escape oppression in the south, the drinking gourd and the North Star showed them the way to freedom.  The song, "Follow The Drinking Gourd"  expresses the way to freedom in this manner:

When the sun goes back and the first quail calls
Follow the drinking gourd
The old man is a-waitin' for to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd, follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is a-waitin' to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinking gourd

The river bed makes a mighty fine road,
Dead trees to show you the way
And it's left foot, peg foot, traveling on
Follow the drinking gourd


The river ends between two hills
Follow the drinking gourd
There's another river on the other side
Follow the drinking gourd


I thought I heard the angels say
Follow the drinking gourd
The stars in the heavens gonna show you the way
Follow the drinking gourd


You can hear this song on You Tube at:

It's a great song with a great message.  Furthermore, it doesn't only apply to slavery.  As we are going through life, when going through trials, perhaps the best way to overcome them is to keep looking north.  Consequently, our ultimate deliverance doesn't come from the North Star but the "bright morning star" (Revelations 22:16).  As the late Jack Horkheimer (also known as "The Star Hustler") used to say on his astronomy show on PBS, "keep looking up".          


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thinking Outside The Box

It is said that politics make strange bedfellows.  In other words, political groups that may be opposed to each other may actually band together in order to get a specific bill passed.  They set aside their differences for a common good.   Hence, alliances formed in desperation may consequently be profitable to both groups.

There is an interesting story in II Kings 5 about a desperate man whose name was Naaman.  He was a great military leader, the captain of the army of the king of Syria.  He was a highly respected warrior.  But, he also suffered from leprosy.  The Bible doesn't list the extent of his leprosy but you know it certainly was a hardship for him.  Also, you can imagine how he searched for anyone or anything that would deliver him from his sickness.  Sadly, nothing helped. 

Then, he reached for a cure from an unusual source, his enemy.  The Bible says that "...the Syrians had gone out in bands, and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman's wife" (II Kings 5:2 NASB).  Perhaps being a little naive of the relationship between Syria and Israel but yet being full of faith, the girl thought her new master would benefit from the healing ministry of the prophet Elisha in Israel.  She subsequently convinced him to seek out Elisha, even though Syria and Israel were not on the best of terms.  Elisha told Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan River and his leprosy would be removed.  After some prodding by his servants, this mighty soldier immersed himself in the Jordan and was cured.  Had Naaman stayed in Syria, he would have remained a leper.  Yet, looking outside of his country (or thinking outside of the box, using a more modern term) would ultimately lead to his healing.

When dealing with cancer, sometimes traditional methods of treatment may not be producing the intended result.  Consequently, some cancer patients may seek cures from additional sources such as nationwide cancer centers.  Nothing wrong with visiting such places if financial resources are available.  As a matter of fact, traveling to another land  (as occurred with Naaman) may lead to a wonderful cure.  Furthermore, of all people, bear in mind that Naaman's cure started with the advice of a little girl.  Perhaps God puts the most insignificant people in our lives to point us to a pathway of recovery.

You can learn more about my personal cancer victory and insights I gained from the battle by reading my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer". It can be accessed at:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pressing On

Well, it finally happened recently....I got a cold.  Why is this so unusual?  Well, I rarely get sick.  As a matter of fact, I think I last had a cold several years ago.  That's just the way it is for me.  I just don't get sick very often and rarely miss work.  Come to think of it, I've never had the flu.  Maybe it's related to the fact that I drink orange juice practically every day.  I also take a multi-vitamin.  Of course, I don't smoke either.  In regards to exercise, I usually try to jog or walk on my treadmill several times a week.  Besides my bout with cancer several years ago, I've always been the picture of health.

But, this cold hit me big time.  It started with a cough and congestion.  Later I developed a fever and went on antibiotics.  I subsequently developed nasal stuffiness and hoarseness.  Finally, it attacked my ears, with my right ear being completely stopped up. Even as I write today, I still can't hear fully  out of my right ear.  I have a lingering cough, although it is dissipating.  Nevertheless, this cold has been relentless and has been attacking me for the past two weeks.  I've been amazed at how it simply won't let me go.

Yet, even in the midst of illness, I've still pressed on.  I haven't missed a day of work, even though it meant taking cold capsules, throat lozenges and cough medicine to work. It was tough, it was tiring, yet, I was still able to get my work done.  Not a bad accomplishment, considering how bad I felt.

I may have mentioned this previously, but Winston Churchill said, "When you're going through hell, keep going".  Not a bad motto for life, especially when going through major illness.  As you keep moving, eventually the symptoms dissipate and life becomes joyful again.  Furthermore, I refuse to let sickness, whether it be a respiratory infection or cancer, hinder me from being what God wants me to be.  What wonderful treasures await me in life as I keep moving forward in spite of adversity.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Melting The Snow

We got about three inches of snow in my community a couple of days ago.  Although it may not sound like much to most people who live in the United States,  to those of us who live just north of Birmingham, Alabama, it's a big deal.  In our area, we maybe get a significant snow about two times a year (sometimes never).  But, when it does snow, schools close, people scurry to the stores to buy milk and bread (don't know why because we rarely lose our power due to winter weather) and motor vehicle accidents abound as drivers attempt to navigate on slippery roads.  Local TV stations provide wall-to-wall coverage as the snow engulfs our area, giving continuous updates until the last snowflake has fallen.

That was two days ago.  Today the high was in the low 50's.  As a result, I decided to go jogging in my neighborhood, a frequent occurrence when weather conditions are favorable.  As I was running, I noticed a few rooftops were still covered with significant snow.  The entire roofs were not blanketed with snow, mind you, just the areas that the sun had not been able to penetrate.  I recognized that, in order for the snow to melt, it would take one or two phenomena to occur.  First, the sun would have to reach the snowy areas to begin the melting process.  Second, if the sun couldn't shine on these areas, just an overall increase in the temperature would do the trick.

Come to think of it, we all have cold areas in our lives or snow that needs to be melted away.  The snow could be something like bitterness, unforgiveness, worldliness, anger, hate, etc.  Basically, the snow could be whatever area of our lives that does not resonate the warmth of God's love.  So, how does the Heavenly Father get to these areas?  He turns up the heat in the form of trials or tribulations.  This heat could be financial difficulties, job struggles, or, as I strongly believe, physical  sickness.  Although the heat is painful, it ultimately points us to God in perhaps ways we have never seen Him before.  David mentions this in Psalms 119:71, proclaiming, "It was good that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes."

Ultimately, it's painful having snow melt in our lives.  Yet, God in His wisdom, sometimes uses our deepest hurts (such as cancer) to penetrate down to the inner recesses of our souls.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mourning To Dancing

Just finished reading Bill O'Reilly's book, "Killing Lincoln:The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever".  The book focuses on the life of Abraham Lincoln in the two weeks prior to his death and ends with the capture of John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators.  Although I was somewhat familiar with some of the details of Lincoln's death, there were numerous facts which Mr. O'Reilly and his co-author Martin Dugard brought to my attention.  For example, I never knew that Ford's Theater was originally a Baptist church.  That's right.  From 1833-1859, it was the First Baptist Church of Washington.  In 1859, The First Baptist Church congregation merged with The Fourth Baptist Church and moved out of the facility.  The property was purchased by theater manager John T. Ford from Baltimore and opened as a state of the art performance facility in 1863.

So, at one time, it was a church, a place which brings many glorious thoughts to mind.  You see, for me, going to church is a peaceful place.  Since I was born again in 1975, I have attended church regularly since that time except for when I was "providentially hindered", e.g. couldn't make it to church due to work or sickness.  However, the joy of worshipping my Savior, fellowshipping with other believers and hearing God's Word proclaimed is something I relish on a weekly basis.  In that place, I feel love, I feel comfort,  and I feel happiness.  It is a wonderful place of refuge from the harshness of life.

Even though Ford's Theater was no longer a church, in a sense, it was still a happy place.  Audiences came, laughed, cheered, cried and sang as skilled performers entertained them on a nightly basis.  It was a respite from the world.  Even our sixteenth president saw it as a welcome relief to escape from the anguish of the recent Civil War.

 Hence, it saddens me to think of the tragedy that occurred in Ford's Theater on the night of April 14th, 1865 when John Wilkes Booth shot the President. In one night, the whole theater changed. It would no longer be known for its actors but for its assassin.  As a result, after the shooting, Congress felt it was no longer appropriate to use the theater to entertain others so it was purchased from Mr. Ford and converted to a federal office building.  Not until 1968 was it reopened as a theater again, well over one hundred years after the tragedy that had occurred in its midst.

It is said that time heals all wounds, whether it be a diagnosis of cancer or another tragedy in life.  It took well over a century for Ford's Theater to be restored to its former glory.  Although it may take many years to recover, we must continually trust the Heavenly Father to one day turn our mourning into dancing.  Furthermore, the Bible encourages us to "not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:8 NASB)

You can learn more about my cancer victory and insights I gained from the battle by reading my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer".  It can be accessed at: