Words from My Wife, My Friend, My Rock

Ok, Alan asked me to write about something for his blog so I thought I would give some insight into who he is. I have to apologize ahead of time for I’ve never been good at putting my thoughts & feelings into words but I will give it a try.

HOW WOULD I DESCRIBE ALAN: When I met Alan, I was so impressed at what a gentlemen he was. He has such a love for Christ and is strong in his faith. He has a very loving and caring heart that extends not just to his family but to others that he meets. He is a wonderful father and husband. He has inner strength that can come only from God. He is smart, articulate and has a great sense of humor. Always grateful for everything, never complains. He has an amazing ability to draw but doesn’t enjoy it, loves hockey, hunting with his buddies, and spending time with his family.

People ask me how can he remain so strong since he has been diagnosed with cancer, and the truth is, he depends on Christ to help him through each day to give him the strength to keep facing the challenges that lie before him. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I believe that this has been the most difficult time in my (our) life and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Watching someone you love sick and hurting and there is nothing that you can do to make it go away is the most helpless feeling. All the ups and downs and in-betweens can sometimes make you a little crazy. Having test and waiting on the results is so stressful wondering if this will be the chemo that works. He is in constant pain though those that cross his path would not know that. He always smiles when asked how he is doing and the usual fine, great, or good just rolls off the tip of his tongue. People think because of his cheery outlook that this cancer must not be that bad on him but I beg to differ. He has tumors in both sides of his neck that cause constant pain and that along with previous radiation has limited the mobility of his neck. Most nights he sleeps sitting up. Tumors pressing on his airway and esophagus that makes his voice hoarse and difficult to swallow but has learned not to panic with things don’t go down as they should. Intermittent bone pain in his jaw that can be excruciating that so far the doctors haven’t found medicine that completely takes away the pain and that’s just to name a few. My heart hurts for my husband having to go through this and yet he apologizes to me for putting me through it…bless him!

Going through something like this brings you even closer to God, depending on Him like never before. I know He is present in our lives, I feel Him with us and I put all my faith and trust in Him that no matter what He will always be right there beside us holding our hand telling us to lean on Him. I’ve never thought of myself as being very strong, able to handle situations like this very well. Some days I do well and then there are those days I just have to get on my knees and beg for strength because I don’t know how I will get through the day. It is great knowing that we have such an Awesome God that He is always there for us. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to all creation. Alan told me in the beginning of being diagnosed that he wanted his walk with Christ to reflect through this trial and for God to get the glory. Alan, I feel with all my heart that you are a good and faithful servant. I have watched and listened to you tell others about what God is doing in your life and sharing His word wanting to win lost souls to Christ. You have been there to encourage others that are struggling, some with this dreaded disease, others with trials and adversities of their own. You have definitely let Christ shine through you to reach others by being an example of what a Christian should be.

I am so blessed to have you in my life, my husband and best friend. There is no where I would rather be than to be right here with you.

I love you…bunches…mean it!

You Are Lucky, Son

Scottish-Lion-Rampant-and-Saltire-Flag“You are lucky, son.” For a brief moment I was speechless. I couldn’t believe the words that had just come out of my Dad’s mouth. We had just been discussing my diagnosis and how it was going to impact my life, along with everyone else (kids, Lori, Dad, Sally, everyone). After what seemed to be an eternity Dad continued, “Most people spend their life talking about their faith, but you are going to get to walk your faith.”

Those words dropped like a bomb. And he was right. It was very shortly after that I began to see God move in mighty ways in my life. From the way Lowe’s helped out beyond disability and returning to work, to my church family rallying around me like I had been the lost son, to the Ironmen stepping up with home projects, to special friends who make it clear by their steadfastness that I am loved and prayed for continuously. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love.

Since then I have been able to walk my faith. I have realized that God is in control of that faith. It is the same faith He gave at salvation. He has just molded it and shaped it into exactly what I need right now. Different circumstances would have required different tweaks to my faith. If I had come from a different background to this exact point, God would have had different tweaks to to make to my faith give me exactly what I need to make it through.

God has given all believers this same malleable faith. It is the “free gift” we are given. It is what allows us to believe in Christ and in turn seals our salvation in Him. But no matter what is going on in our lives, that mustard seed of faith is all we need. God can transform that into a mighty weapon to push Satan’s road blocks out of our path or it may be as simple as faith, if that is all you need. Regardless, God is gracious in the fact that from the time we become believers He has provided us with exactly what we need to cope with what lies in front of us.

Many times we reach a crossroads and are concerned if our prayer life, or if our faith is strong enough. I guess I have said all that to say this. Walk your faith. Understand that you have everything you need right now to handle whatever this world throws your way. God has gifted you with this most powerful gift of faith. If I could have walked my faith prior to being diagnosed with cancer, what could I have accomplished for the kingdom of Christ? So in the end Dad was right, I am very lucky to be able to walk my faith but you are just as lucky. If you can live your life with the realization that God has given you everything you need, you can walk your faith without having a life crisis hanging over your head. Get out and walk your faith and let the everyone see how God has prepared you for what ever the world may throw at you.

God bless!

PS. The rampant lion at the top has become an unofficial symbol for me. It means “deathless courage in battle” when used in association with family crests, etc … I have adopted it to remind me that I have a fight on my hands and with God being in control, all I have to do is be brave, be obedient and never stop fighting.

The Days of Diagnosis

As I sat in my general physician’s office parking lot these words came across the radio…

 

You must

You must think I’m strong

To give me what I’m going through
Well, forgive me

Forgive me if I’m wrong

But this looks like more than I can do

On my own

 

I had been to doctor’s office twice already about the ulcer on my tongue. I was sweating bullets. The first time I was there I had prayed, and prayed in the parking lot for this painful sore on my tongue to be nothing. I was elated when he said it was a mucosal ulcer, “don’t worry”. You should have seen me praising His name in the truck. I was elated. The second trip was similar but cautiously muted. But this time was different. After coping with it for a month, doing my own research, looking at pictures on Google, I had that gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be something simple.

I prayed to God that day that no matter what the results, that I was His, he was my salvation and I trusted Him completely. No matter what was to come, even if it was the worst of all possible options, I asked Him to give me the strength to suffer well.

The radio continued …

 

I know I’m not strong enough to be

Everything that I’m supposed to be

I give up

I’m not strong enough

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me

Lord right now I’m asking you to be

Strong enough

Strong enough

For the both of us

 

On that day I left the doctor’s office with just as many questions as I had going in. However, I did have one thing, an impromptu appointment with my ENT and was on my way straight to his office to let him take a look at it. The look on his face told me the whole story when he looked at the side of my tongue and said, “Alan, I’m going to have to get a biopsy of that. Have you got time for me to do it today?”

A few days later, Lori and I sat in the ENT’s office waiting on the doctor to let us know the results from the biopsy. Lori and I had prayed for good news, but when he walked in and said “Alan, I want you to know that I have been praying for you” I knew it wasn’t going our way. Squamous Cell Carcinoma on the base of my tongue. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, the whole nine yards. Lori and I took some time to dry our eyes and all I could think to tell her was that it was going to be OK, that God has always provided, He will continue to be merciful and we will continue to be faithful.

 

Well, maybe

Maybe that’s the point

To reach the point of giving up
Cause when I’m finally

Finally at rock bottom

Well, that’s when I start looking up

And reaching out

 

My mind flashes back to sitting in my truck at the general physician’s office. I had made God a promise that no matter the outcome that I was His, He was my salvation and most importantly, if this went bad I would need His strength to suffer well. That has stuck with me everyday since. To suffer well to me means to work hard to make it obvious to those around me that Christ is in my heart, God is in control and the Holy Spirit walks with me every step of the way.

 

I know I’m not strong enough to be

Everything that I’m supposed to be

I give up

I’m not strong enough

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me

Lord right now I’m asking you to be

Strong enough

Strong enough

Song: Strong Enough

Artist: Matthew West

God Starts To Prepare Me

When I decided to do a blog I knew that I would want to go back and talk about what has happened so far and how God has made his presence known through out this trial. That raised the question, “When did God start moving in my life to prepare me for this?” Well, we could go all the way back to providing me with godly parents, grandparents, a childhood in church, etc … We could go back to God drawing Lori and I together. For there is NO WAY that I could manage any of this without her. What about when he blessed me with two wonderful children? However, I think the most logical place to start is where God really grabbed my heart. In 2008 around Christmas I was given an opportunity to go to Mexico on a mission trip with Hands and Feet Ministries. I was paired up with a great group from Burnt Hickory Baptist Church from Acworth/Kennesaw area. It was an amazing trip and blew me away. It taught me that even in my everyday life that I must rely heavily on prayer and guidance from Christ. On the flight home, a new friend let me listen to his iPod and suggested I listen to Matt Chandler, a young gun reformed Baptist preacher out of Texas, and I was hooked. Chandler spoke to me on many different levels and quickly became a staple on my iPod and I listened to him almost every time I was in the car. While listening to some of his archived sermons, I found a sermon about one of Matt’s parishioners that had been diagnosed with a nasty cancer. The thrust of the sermon talked about how this guy “suffered well” in the face of a devestating diagnosis. With a family to worry about, his health, finances, funeral planning, treatments that were rough, all the bad things … this man always turned his conversations to Christ and how God’s blessing flowed even during this horrible time in his life. This sermon stuck in my head and I thought about it often.

During Thanksgiving a few years later Matt collapsed and after numerous test, was diagnosed with his own “nasty cancer”. A brain cancer that had to be removed, most likely would leave him unable to speak, and one with a heart breaking prognosis. Matt was very open about his health, through video and text blogs, even in his sermons. He talked about his disease and always talked about how God was working in his life and how blessings flowed even during rough time in his life. He gave me a week by week example of what it meant to “suffer well”.

To be honest, Chandler has sort of slid off my radar. I listen to him from time to time and he still sets me on fire every time I listen to his sermons. He truly is a man on fire for God. His sermons and testimony of his life made a huge impact on me. And to think, God is filling me with this several years before I would ever need to tap the strength and confidence that came from this young gun pastor, fiery sermons, and a new friend I met in Mexico in 2008.