Thursday, May 31, 2012

Running With Horses

Running With Horses
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? (Jeremiah 12:5)
May 31 2012 by sherry

Amazingly enough, this has long been one of my favorite scriptures through-out my life.  I say 'amazingly'- because when one reads this context, the prophet Jeremiah is pretty much whining to God about how tough life is and this is God's reply to him "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?".

Some people read this and become discouraged, thinking "Oh no, life is going to get tougher??" But I've always interpreted this (for me)  that the Lord has much more in store for me- and though it may not be for the weak at heart- He is my continued source of strength.

Life was extremely difficult for Jeremiah despite his love for and obedience to God. When Jeremiah cried out to God for relief, God's reply to Jeremiah was, "If you have raced with the foot soldiers and have become weary, how are you going to compete with horses?" God's reply in effect was,  "If you get tired while running with the foot soldiers, what are you going to do when you have to run with stallions?" The ultimate question to Jeremiah was, "What are you going to do in severe trials that are sure to come?".

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."(Matthew 11:28).

I've seen wild horses run.  When we lived in Wyoming there was a wild herd of Mustangs that ran just outside of town. They always amazed me. They moved in unity with power and grace. It was a beautiful sight to behold.  And to think that the Lord can enable me to run 'my race' with that same sense of freedom, power and grace? Amazing!

It is simply amazing how many of us buckle under trials and/or tests. Even though life can be hard for us at certain intervals of our lives, the Lord's grace unfolds rhythmically in an unforced manner and 'when we are weak, He is strong'.

 Maybe it's time we begin to learn of Him; learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Are you keeping up with the foot soldiers? Are you getting weary? Can you run with horses?

Running with the horses can be an exciting time of personal transformation.


P.S. I don't know how many times I used the word 'amazing' but is there another, 
more descriptive word than 'amazing'? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two are better than one

"Two are better than one"  bound us together at our wedding ceremony.
May 30, 2012
by sherry
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor If either of them falls down,  one can help the other up. 

But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm, But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)"

This scripture was the main focus of our wedding ceremony.  We invited Jesus Christ into our marriage making it a three fold cord- we truly believe it's not easily broken. There's a lot I can say about this scripture and how we have centered our marriage around it but I mainly want to share one portion of it; "if two lie down together, they will keep warm, But how can one keep warm alone?".

Yesterday was a strange day for Terence. I'm not even sure what all he did, but I'm sure it wasn't much because I am sure I would know it.  I think his body was fighting inside as it usually is but yesterday seemed to be different.  

By the time I started to get him ready for bed, (evening meds/nightly dressing changes/flushing his  tubes, helping him shower), he became chilled.  I couldn't get him dressed and covered quick enough before he went into some sort of shock.  He started to shake and his teeth chattered, unable to regulate his own body temperature.

I threw everything that was in my hands to the floor and quickly moved him to his recliner (where he  sleeps... he can no longer sleep in our bed and he is not ready for a hospital bed to move into our living room), I threw piles of blankets on him then ran and turned the heater on but he was still unable to get his body temperature under control.  He kept stuttering "I can't.....get.....warm......".  I carefully worked my arms and upper portion of my body under the blankets (not wanting to tug on any tubes) and held my body close to his. This wasn't very easy; I had to lean way over the arm of his chair  and remained in a squat for about 40 minutes (talk about burning thighs).  He finally began to warm up and eventually fell asleep. 

One never realizes that the words and promises they make may be called upon. When I said these words to Terence so many years ago I did not envision this.  Terence has always been there to help me up when I have fallen.  Together we have faced many adversities but never warmth for survival.

Two are better than one.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Always the hunter

Reclined, but on the phone making plans for next year!

May 22, 2012
by Sherry

Terence never fails to teach me lessons- by just being who he is.

We had to cancel our 2 day getaway yesterday because of pain- plus his fever was ranging from 103 to 104 all night last night.  Lisa A. his hospice nurse was here this morning with doctors orders for new antibiotics and prescriptions for more pain relief and orders for lymphatic massage 2x soon as  the hospice nurse left Terence was on the phone with Game and Fish securing his preference points for the big horn sheep hunt September 2013.

When he got off the phone he asked me , "have the kids talked to you about a father's day present?- I mean, I'm not getting an electric razor or anything am I? I'd rather have a new range finder. I could use that on the hunt".

Always the hunter. You go T!!!!

Our garage is filled with his triumphs.

Monday, May 21, 2012

One of those days.

Meloncholy day
by sherry

Today, I'll admit I need strength. It's one of those days.

Terence & Bella on their prayer rock last summer
We had planned a 3 day getaway to Discovery Bay- but had to  cancel it today; I'd packed our bags as Terence struggled to help me load the was obvious this trip was not a good idea.

So, I've unpacked and we're using his energy to overcome pain in his recliner. We'll spend time together here at home.

I've been reflecting this time last year. I'm glad we took the trips that we did- we spent a week at the cabin at Mt. Ranier with the three grand kids.  Terence and Bella took their annual hike up to their prayer rock at the waterfalls (they've visited rock every year since she was three); the five of us ran through mountain meadows and sledded down the snowy hills on inner tubes, we climbed over the 'down-fall' over the creek, roasted marshmallows,  played games...all of this took strength and energy that Terence no longer has.

This is enough to break my heart when I really think about it, so I  usually keep my mind pre-occupied, except this is the time of year we usually get cabin fever and plan some kind of brief getaway.  It saddens my heart so much to think that we can't do this.  So much has changed. 

Sometime in the wee hours this morning I rolled over in bed looking for Terence, only to remember that he can no longer sleep with me.  For a mili-second I got really angry. I got up and checked on Terence out in the living room. I ended up getting my blanket and pillow and slept on the couch so I could at least be in the same room. At about 8 am, I took my blanket and slept kneeling on the side of his recliner so I could have my head near his chest. Pathetic I know, but what can I say.

I don't like where the days seem to be heading,  but someone wise once wrote that there is a way that "seems",  but in the end it leads to death. So I don't want to think about what seems to be unfolding and I will continue to hope against hope.

I suppose I am grieving a loss. Of vacations with the kids, the loss of our vigor and the loss of creative energy Terence has always had.  Being a recreation director for almost 20 years, Terence was a 'licensed professional' in the field of recreation (funny, huh?)-------this is the loss I am grieving today.  I am just sad.

So....I know this is a depressing post today.  But don't cry, I don't want to make any one sad today. God is gracious and will strengthen me, probably even before I finish posting this. I am finding that we need the strength of the Lord and wisdom of the Father just to get through our days - thankfully the Lord is faithful and helps us through because of the many prayers and support of our friends and family.

A thoughtful picture taken by my friend Rona.
 Our hospice nurse just contacted us- evidently we'll be using that "Comfort Kit" she dropped off last week- liquid morphine.

So, "Living Above Cancer" means to overcome the debilitating thief today.  Maybe a quiet candle lit dinner for Just T and I.......on the TV trays.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Terence's "Comfort Kit" arrived yesterday.

Terence & Cead w/our grand daughter Bella
by sherry
We had a really busy week these past 7 days- Hospice orientation, meeting the (large) team: medical director, Nurse practitioner, RN, Social worker, chaplain, nurse aids, home aides.......and we've been receiving packages of supplies every day- our house is overflowing with medical supplies and equipment.  Terence's nurse delivered his "Comfort Kit" (I didn't know this existed)- this is a box medications above and beyond his current prescriptions. When the nurse handed the kit to me, I asked "what are these for"?- evidently, I'm  supposed to keep them on hand......

Anyways,  it did help to meet with his nurse, she was able to give me some tips to keep Terence ahead of the pain.  So. far it's worked for the last few days. He was able to enjoy a visit from my sister Charla and her husband today we spent the day outside so he got some sun and fresh air...

 He's been fighting a fever ranging from 99.9 to 103 for the last few days. He started aniti-biotics and has been getting a lot of rest.  So it meant a lot for him to be outside and feeling well enough to hang out with us.

Tomorrow, we are ministering with our team at the Mienh Church in Seattle.  We are both excited that he'll be in the pulpit again, after a short break.

Meanwhile, we have our own version of a "comfort kit":
Psalm 46:1-3 - God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear.... 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Terence and our new grand puppy, 'Rocky'
Busy Day
by sherry

We've so busy today-  massage therapy, social workers, nurses, supplies...dressing changes...prescription changes...and we never left our house, woo hoo!

True to their name (Hospice)- they are certainly hospitable.

Terence has been in significant pain, we've spent the past few days trying to get a handle on it-there have been many times in the last 48 hours where he has been 'spent'; his body slumped over but his head bowed.  When I ask him "whatcha doing?" he answers, "I'm asking the Lord to help you through this".


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We had our first hospice meeting this afternoon

Initial hospice meeting today, May 14, 2012

Hospice care is for people who can no longer benefit from regular medical treatment (and are likely in their final months of life). The goal of hospice is to keep pain and suffering to a minimum, not to cure the underlying illness. For both the patient and their family this requires a shift in mindset from searching for a treatment that will restore health to accepting that comfort, dignity, pain relief, and privacy are prime concerns.  We had our first hospice meeting this afternoon, paperwork and tough "discussions' were on the agenda.  My sister Charla, son Eric, his wife Callie and daughter Nadine were all present- it was presumed to be a tough meeting.

It was a necessary meeting. Our oncologist has turned over medical care and pain management to hospice which means Terence now has a private nurse who'll manage pain, give check ups, flush his PICC line, assess any/all needs in our home as often as we need it, so that's a benefit.  No more  weekly gasoline and parking expenses at UW Med. Center in Seattle (although I will miss our weekly lunches in China town).

 During today's initial orientation, the hospice manager met with us, to assess the plan of care and began the evaluation as to whether  we need to be equipped with any special gear, such as an elevating hospital bed, a wheel chair (arriving tomorrow) or ramps for a wheelchair, etc. We  briefly discussed the need for the hospital bed (Terence can no longer sleep in our bed)- but it just seems too soon to park one of those in our living room! 

I don't know how to explain how we feel. On one hand we are grateful for hospice, it will make life easier regarding travel, etc and give us tighter control with pain management
 on the other, well, it's obvious. It's 'hospice'-  a huge change of direction for care. And  when we got down to the nitty gritty of it all- when filling out the (mandatory) Pysicians Orders for Life sustaining Treament (POLST) it is clear we are not ready. The POLST is a relatively new document that states a person’s end-of-life wishes. It is different from an Advanced Directive in that Advance Directive does little to protect a person from unwanted emergency medical care. The POLST is designed to instruct emergency personnel on what actions to take while you're at home  (on hospice, all your medical care, even emergency treatment is directed from home, not the hospital or doctors' office). The document covers 4 specific directions: CPR, Medical interventions (to what degree, i.e.comfort measures only, of full blown intervention including hopspitalization and ICU care), Antibitotics (allows patients to determine when and if antibiotics should be used to treat infections), and Artificially Administered Nutrition.

At some point in our lives, we all have lightly or even jokingly discussed what we would want if we were ever in a situation like this.  This moment for Terence was very surreal, and definitely not light. Suddenly, the instinct to survive kicks in and you could never imagine denying yourself treatment! After much thought  and prayer (several years, actually), he decided what a shame that would be to die from dehydration because he denied IV fluids (considered 'medical intervention').  I know decisions like this all sound like a  'no brainer'- but it's truly not for so many different reasons.

By the end of the day, we decided that since 'Hospice' comes from the Latin hospitium, which means hospitality  (beginning in Europe in the 12th century, hospices provided lodging and care for weary pilgrims and the dying), well, we're definitely weary so we accept this hospitality of care in our home and will rest awhile.

Thank you for your prayers,


Friday, May 4, 2012

A person may plan his own journey

"A person may plan his own journey, but the LORD directs his steps".
 Proverbs 16:9

I met Sherry when I was 25 years old.  From that day on I planned to grow old with her. I planned to see our children grow up and I planned to see our grandchildren get married. I planned for our retirement. 

 I did not plan for cancer.

In the next few days, Sherry and I have some serious decisions and plans to make
for the times ahead ....what it may hold....

so much to think about and plan for.

It's good to know that the Lord is directing our steps.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Liver metastasis.

First oncology appointment, 2009

I will begin today's blog entry with the words from Richard Moore, a friend and fellow cancer fighter who posts this prayer on facebook faithfully every day; "Thank you Lord for seeing me through yesterday and being here for me today, you are my strength and shield, in you I trust and rely...Amen"

Today's oncology appointment wasn't so great.  Scans showed lots of new growth and an invasion of cancer to Terence's liver.  Terence's hands-on oncology provider Susan, who has wonderfully provided compassionate, direct and inmmediate care over the last 34 months- delivered the news with tears.  Dr M is scheduling an extended appointment with Terence and I to discuss end of life care and hospice.

"Thank you Lord for being with us today."

The picture in this post was taken on Terence's first real oncology appointment.  Even though there was a smile on our faces we were processing uncertainty, fear and shock.   Looking back at that picture......even then we weren't given any hope. The first diagnoses gave him about 9-18 months to live.  We've been living from that day forward  on a day to day basis and it's been...34....long...intense...months...

"Thank you Lord for seeing us through the last 34 months".

I'll write more later or perhaps Terence will.  We are still processing and praying for direction.

And finally....."you are my strength and shield, in you I trust and rely. Amen".

Blessings to you all- we fervently believe in God's goodness.

facebook posts really do have an impact. Thanks Richard for your faithful day and night posts.