Tip#1 For LIving Your Best LIfe through the Darkest Times

Tip #1

How do we live in a world where there is so much good to be done, and so few good people to change the evil?  I have thought about this a lot since becoming sick, but this week has become even worse with a little bit of hope.boys face and the world

You see, a little bit of hope means the responsibility to do something good.  The responsibility to do good is always on us, but it becomes heavier when we realize that the responsisbility is there,  Responsibilities feel the most accute when the body/soul first feels their burden.

Christiainity can feel overwhelming until you relize that Jesus has taken the load for us and that our job is to worship and love.  Here is how it works.  We find something that we love (ie wirting) and we pour ourselves into it as an act of worship.  That act of worship changes the world, but for the worshiper and the observer.

You want to know how to thrive in a world where hope is uncertain and pain is real?  First remember that hope, even if it is only in the life to come is real!  Second, while we can’t stop pain we can greatly mitigate it.  We can make this world more like the Kingdom of Heaven and less like hell.

If we find what we really love and pour into it, we will find we have a great gift to give the world.  We can leverage that gift into fixinig things for people who couln’d help themeseves.  Whether it’s is running water for an elderly woman in Cuero, or the oblideration of Malaria in an African country.  If we each do our part and leverage our gifts, the tides will turn, even if we only have 3 months to live.

So what is it that you really love?  My tip is that you figure that question out.  Maybe it is that you love people.  That is the gretaest gift you could give!  Whatever it is, don’t feel overwhelmed, just start doing it and let’s see how much of the KOG (KINGDOM OF GOD) we can usher in before I die!  This isn’t a challenge from me, but a challenge issued by Jesus to his first disciples.  Don’t be overwhelmed by size of the task, remember who you partner with and simply start with what you love.  There is great peace there.  That is where I find my peace; three months, three years, thirty years. let’s see how much good I can do before the shot clock expires and smile as I walk through the game with my God!

-Andrew

Health Update

Most of my post have been spiritual in nature so I thought I might let you know how I am doing just on a physical basis.

I spent all last week in the hospital.  I didn’t expect to have to do that, but when I went for my weekly check up, my resting heart rate was 135 and I was having a hard time breathing so my doctor sent me to the ER.  They admitted me to the hospital and began to run test.

They thought that I might have a blot clot in my lung.  I couldn’t take a shower without feeling like I was going to pass out and my blood, oxygen level was 85 (99 would be normal).  They ruled out the blood clot with test and I don’t have active tumor in my lungs, so they thought I might have pnemonia, but they ruled that out as well.

Turns out that my left lung is scared down from radiation so that it isn’t really working anymore.  We aren’t sure why I have the sympotms I do.  I have to wear oxygen all the time now.  I tried to go to the movies and took the portable tank with me.  It ran out and I didn’t realize it and then I threw up all my lunch and had to leave the movie 45 minutes in.  I slept the rest of Sunday with my oxygen on.

I am still having a lot of bone pain from the spread of my cancer.  My liver is doing well even with four tumors.  I have small tumors popping up all over my body so I need to get to the trial drug, but it maybe as long as 2-3 months.  I found out that I have to be at a certain health level to take part in the trial.  Mainly I am concerned about my breathing and ability to walk.  Please pray that it will get better so that I won’t be rejected for the trial.

My right eye, which hasn’t worked in months, finally started working!  It is a great blessing because it means I can read and write again without feeling like I am going to throw up or die.  I can’t tell you how thankful I am for your prayers for my eye and the fact that I can use it.  I can do so much more before I die with my eye working!  It seems like a small thing, but I tell you it is huge!

Overall, I have to tell you I am tired.  I was never good at the long runs in track and this is a long run.  I hope this week I will feel a little better and gain some momentum.  I am not giving up and I won’t, but my body isn’t cooperating like I wish it would.  I am thankful for my time even if it is just sitting in this chair writting and drawing for you and Ellie.  Your support helps pull me forward and I can’t say thank you enough!  My book is being shipped out on the 28th of this month and I hope to say a big thank you then.  I hope to see you in person at my house when we have the signing party!  I will get that date to you ASAP.

Today, take care of yourself!  Your body gets you through his life and when it is taken, you will miss it more than you think.  May God bless you and keep you!

-Andrew

Exclusion and Embrace

When I was working on my doctorate, we read Miroslav Volf’s, “Exclusion and Embrace.”  I also read it as a third year masters student so I was familiar with the text.  Familiarity didn’t  breed fondness.  In fact, I was so frustrated with the book that my review brought a rebuke from Dr. Olson where he told me that I couldn’t talk about a renowned theologian in the tones I used.  I don’t know if he was right,  but I was ranting and childish.

I was frustrated because I felt Volf, like so many others, was ignoring the holes in his Christian response to pain and suffering.  Volf has experienced so much and I didn’t see how he could stand in the middle of that pain and ignore the holes in the Christians meta-narrative’s answer to pain.

Between my natural starting point and all the radiation to my brain, I am not that smart so I can only tell you what I experience.  I don’t know if this is what Volf meant in his book,  but I have come to an important conclusion.  Christianity is about embrace!

In the midst of my pain, God has embraced me!  In a thousand ways he has embraced me, and yet the only way he needed to embrace me was in the cross and he already did that.  He has used a thousand small crosses to point me back toward the embrace I felt in the cross.  Every hug, every meal bought, every check sent, and every facebook post points me to the gift of Jesus.

I can’t question as God hugs me!  My doubts melt as the heat of his hug reaches my heart.  My fear stands no chance as the power of his spirit rips through me.  It is so powerful!  It is his embrace that lets me embrace others.  It lets me embrace life even when the gift of life is uncertain.  I can’t exclude because He HAS EMBRACED ME!

I know some of you doubt.  It’s okay, I did too, and he still embraced me.  I just want  you to know that I love you and that God is real and he loves you too.  Why should you believe?  I don’t have all those answers, but maybe this is part of the answer. I’m just a normal guy on his hospital bed where they tell him there are no more answers for his sickness.  They are going to make him comfortable and help him get to one last trial drug to try and save his life, but the odds aren’t good.

As I sit here, with all kinds of tubes, I can tell you that I have experienced God.  This isn’t an emotional, “I have to have heaven because I’m so scared”.  This is just me telling you, I got a hug and God wants to give you one too.  I hope you feel it!  It changed my life and I have a feeling it changed my death too!  I love you all!

-Andrew

 

A Perspective For Life

My daughter just came into my room and hugged me before she left for her first birthday party.  She was so excited to get to go give Addison a present and go to the bounce houses.  When she left, I cried like a baby.

I am not strong enough to go with her today.  I can’t even walk to the bathroom without having an asthma attack.  I don’t know what is wrong with my lungs but they have decided to be real uncooperative (I want to use another word, but I think some families read this together).  I can actually feel the pain from the tumors in my liver which is scary.  I am so close to getting to take part in an awesome trial drug and yet I am as sick as I have ever been.

Want to know what is weird?  I am not mad or scared.  I am not trying to be heroic or lie to you.  I tell you when I cry so I don’t really have any shame about the whole macho man thing.  I think it is real important that I share with you the feeling I have.  I don’t know why it is so important other than it is something outside myself that has come over me and it is real!  God wants you to know that it is real!  I hesitate to tell you that God is telling me to tell you this, but that is what it feels like.  I guess you have to discover/decide if that is legitimate.

What I feel, is that life is not about me and yet on the smallest level it is very much about me.  I have learned that while I can hardly walk up the stairs, the power my life is not found in my activity or accomplishments.  This is hard for me because I have always wanted to accomplish.

While my accomplishments are nice, they don’t save the world.  I don’t save the world!  The world has already been saved.  So what do I do, if it’s not about me, Jesus has done it, and I can’t walk up a flight of stairs?

I love my daughter with all the tears I have!  I love all those God puts in my path.  I scream through whatever means I can to let the world know that it is loved and then I rest in that love.  I let it wrap around me and guide me to whatever actions I can take.  I say thank you for what I have and the time I have.  I let that thankfulness and the release of pressure from feeling like my accomplishments define me envelope my day.

When I do this, when I have this perspective, I find myself removed from the center of everything.  I see that people die all the time.  I am no different.  This is where the anger and fear fade away and I am just thankful that Jesus made it possible for this to not be the end.

I don’t know how much time you or I have, but I hope you find and keep this perspective.  Know today that you are loved, that life doesn’t end here, and that you are free to love those around you.  If you do, you will find that you feel more complete, more you, than you ever have!

-Andrew

Being Sick

I have been sick.  Not just a little sick, but real sick.  I ended up in the hospital for five days and didn’t eat the whole time.  The doctors’ did every test they could think of but couldn’t figure out why I was running a 102.5 fever or why I didn’t want to eat.  Not knowing is the worst thing in the world.

Sometimes knowing isn’t great.  I just found out I have another tumor in my skull and had to go into intimidate daily radiation.  I also found out that I have four tumors in my liver and one in my colon, but the man mass in my chests is dead?  So while I know stuff I still really know nothing

Not knowing if you will die?  Not knowing if God is real?  Not knowing if your kids will love you the way you adore them?   Not knowing if your spouse will love you with your new spare tire?  Nothing is guaranteed in life and we have to live with that, but how?

This has been at the forefront of my mind lately.  I am at a very terminal place with my disease, but there is still some hope and the doctors aren’t God.  There is a trial that just came out and has been very successful and it is for my cell type!  My doc hopes I can get on it and while it did kill one guy, it cured a bunch of other with stage four disease!

So how do you live when each day you don’t know if you are about to die or be cured.  Well, first it sucks!  No easier or better way to say it.  I have trouble with the emotion of it.  I cry a lot because I can’t really plan for Bay and Ellie or at least that is how I feel.  They are both stinkers, but I love them and I want to help make their life wonderful.  I don’t want someone else, or Jesus, I want to help make their life great.  I want Jesus and others to come along, but I want to help.  See how selfish I am?

I think that is how you live your life when you don’t know; in selfish- submission.  I am submitted to Jesus and I will go where he asks even to the grave (or in my case the crematorium because caskets are a rip-off.)  I will also go after every good think with any strength I have, which isn’t a lot, but even a pillow can knock you out if you let the fetters settle enough.

I hope that is what you do!  Go after every good thing put in front of you and invent other to go after.  We are all terminally ill, just depends on how long yours last.  So let’s live in selfish-submission.  May we always selfishly desire the greater good and be submitted to whatever road brings about the greater good in the KOG!

Pray for my energy, I have a lot to do no matter how long I live and I have been having to sleep too much!  I love you all and thanks for all you have done for me and my family.  You are God’s children and it is beautiful to watch!

Good News and Pupose

Good News is like oxygen, you just need it. It is hard to stay positive when you continually here bad news and even more so when you feel like nothing is in your power. Before my most recent check up, that was what I was struggling with the most.

I felt like a victim! When I asked my doctor, “What can I do to help my prognosis?” the answer always came back as, “Nothing.” Not being able to do anything leaves one as the victim and that by itself is a Very DANGEROUS thing!

I decided that I will not be the victim of my cancer. I will find things to do that will help me. The things I can do may not be scientifically reliable ways to cure cancer, but they are positive things that I believe can beat cancer. I decided what I can do is Prayer, focus on my Purpose, eat right, and get in as good a shape as a cancer patient can be in. These are the things that I chose to implement in my life before we came to Houston on Tuesday.

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Many people ask what they are suppose to do with their life and I have asked this question, but I really hate this question. I think that we should ask, “What do I choose to do with my like?” We should claim responsibility and say, “This is what I choose.”

“This is what I choose, I choose to inspire people to live more like Jesus!” This is my purpose and as long as The Lord gives me, I will preach and write to this end. I will focus in on this and I will not be a victim. So if your church needs a speaker, as long as I am physically able, let me know and I would love to come share.

I feel empowered by claiming that truth for my life and while it doesn’t cure my cancer, it gives me a great reason to fight. A reason to fight is very important and even more so when you get a lot of bad news. Bad news has been a regular thing, but no LONGER is it the only news. I had twelve brain tumors and as of my scans yesterday, I only have one tumor in my brain. The gamma knife surgery was a great success!

The one tumor that is left was my biggest tumor and it maybe dead and just has to be reabsorbed by my body. The doctor said that the rate at which it is shrinking is much faster than other patients so I am very positive about it being dead! The doctor didn’t know why my eyesight in my right eye is so bad. She thought that there might be a very small tumor irritating my optic nerve. At fist I was upset about this, but then she said that it wasn’t a big deal because as soon as they found it she would go in and blast it.

Bay and I went out to celebrate the results. Before we finished dinner, my doctor called and said that she went down to radiology and had help examining my scan and that they were sure that there was no tumor and that my nerve may just be irritated and my sight may go back to normal on its own!

This is great news! Instead of maybe having months to live, I now could have years to fight! I still have a hard situation with my cancer spreading in my torso, but my brain being clear gives me such a better chance of fighting. I can inspire more people! I can live on purpose longer.

I tell you this because I am so thankful for your prayers and support. As you pray, please pray that I can beat this so that I can live out my purpose. That is my prayer and it is not a bargain. If God only gives me six months, then I will inspire for that time, but if he gives my sixty years then even better.

Thank you for joining me on this roller coaster. It has tested my faith to have one day where a doctor tells you that you aren’t going to live to another doctor telling you that there is great hope. God is using you to help me through the ups and downs and I have seen him in ways that I never have before. This is the power of the Church and the Church is so much more than the people who attend a building on Sunday. I have found God’s people throughout different communities of all denominations and it gives me great hope.

If you are struggling with finding your purpose, I suggest you look where you passion meets the Kingdom of God. If you don’t know what the Kingdom of God is, or looks like, spend some time reading through the Gospels until you can feel it and recognize it. There is nothing better than walking into the space where your passion meets God’s presence and that is my prayer for you!

May God Bless You!
Andrew

Eye Failure and Saddness

Well, this is how I look tonight.  I am fat and swollen from steroids and my right eye has stopped working.

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I have a cancer baby.  Cancer babies really suck because you have many of the problems of pregnancy, but no joy at the end, at least not like a real baby.  I put my real baby in her bad with her mom tonight and I cried.  I love her so much and it so weird to think of life without her, or her life without me.

I realized tonight that my girls will live the majority of their lives without me.  If Bay lives until 90 then she will live two more of my lifetimes without me.  I sure hope she does!  I have realized that the length of your life here on earth isn’t as important as the quality of that life. I may only live 30 years, but what have I done with that time?  You know what, I feel okay about my years.  Maybe I could have been a better man, but I have tried really hard.  I will have time to become better, but I won’t have time to influence you directly.  I hope in my time you have heard God more than you have heard me.

The great thing about dying, is that you get to really question your faith.  If I really believe that this isn’t the end, then I can walk through this different   If you haven’t figured tout, the fact that my eye failed is not a good sign.   I do  n’t know for sure, but it more than likely it means that my brain tumors didn’t respond to surgery and I don’t have long.

I don’t know this for sure, but I had a moment today where I felt like God spoke to me as well.  This was before I knew what was going on with my eye.  I had terrible headaches all day today and really I have had them the last three days.  Late this afternoon, I felt God, and I felt him tell me that heaven was going to be great and that I shouldn’t worry.  I didn’t know why he was telling me this, but maybe now I do.

The question is what do I believe and how will I enter these days? Here is my testimony, “God is real and my future doesn’t stop with my death!  I will walk these days with tears for the time I lost, but with faith that my time has not stopped.  I will tell you about the things I hear and the truth I know.  If I lose my sight, I will tell you what my soul sees.  I will fight for my life until my last breath, “But” I will never assume that I know what is best and I will face my cross as my Savior did.  may the prayers of the saints keep my fraom stumbling as I walk that rocky path”

I have to write this with my eyes closed so please ignor the typos.  Thank you all for your kindness and know that I could never walk this path without you.  Your prayers and kindness hold me up when I can’t stand anymore.  thank you!

I love you all,

Andrew