Dad

Dad

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Choose Blessing!

I am an optimist.  I'm one of those annoying people who always looks on the bright side.  I know I didn't get that way accidentally; I grew up in a very optimistic environment.  Phrases like, "Cheer up; things could get worse", and laughing a lot helped nurture that general attitude.  We were not allowed to poke at each other with hurtful comments.  If I said, "I was just kidding.", Mom would say, "It's only fun if it's fun for everyone."  We were taught to expect the best from people and not get bogged down in complaining.  Rather, we were always aware of our blessings.  Thanksgiving was just one more day that we were thankful.
Having said all that, I have been faced with chances to complain about the speed of my recovery progress or lack that I still have.  My poor Christina has had to hear it all.  But, once again, God has blessed me with a wonderful and optimistic person to be close to me.  She helps me choose blessing.  I am here.  I can do nearly everything I could before.  I can enjoy my children, grandchildren, and other friends and family.  I can bike, walk, work, make music, pastor, and love.  It is important to remember my sister Ruby's birthday or a memory or enjoy a meal.  It is part of life.  I relish it.
Every day we get up we are faced with choices.  After we decide to get out of the bed, we have the choice of looking for the good or not, believing in the good or not, etc; what we eat, what we wear, how we talk, where we go, what we read, what we watch...everything and every choice affects us and everyone around us.  How do we see ourselves?  How do we see other people?
Today I choose to be happy.  I choose to love myself and others.  I choose to brighten someone's life.  I choose to learn something or meet someone new today.  I choose to live life.  Not just live and be alive.  Life is too precious to be squandered on complaining.  Consider these words:  "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Deuteronomy 30:1-20 NIV.  Actually, the entire 30th chapter is an incredible read!!
God bless you all.  Grace and peace.
Gil


This is what I call REALLY livin'!

Come fly with me!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Long Time Comin’

It has been a long time since I have entered anything on this blog. It might be thought by some that I gave up on it, or maybe that I just gave up. Neither is true. I guess it is just that my life has settled into a less dramatic mode; no surgeries, no blood clots, fewer blood tests.  It has become more about more biking, more fishing, and more feeling like a “regular man,” as Mickey Rooney said in the movie Bill. To him a toupe and hair made him feel good and normal.  I am trying to figure out what regular is. I think I have arrived there but then I get a bit better. And to be honest about it, I’m racking up quite a few years. So, I ask myself, am I slower because of the cancer deal or because I’m getting _ _ _?

Our July trip to Anna’s wedding on the west coast was wonderful and we were able to enjoy both our families, Bourquin’s and Birinyi’s.






August saw Christina go to Florida to visit her friend Sue.  They drove to Savannah to have way too much fun and take in the eclipse. I stayed home and rode my bike a fair amount.  September it was time for Lobsterfest #13, an annual event we do with our other special family members from upstate New York. (We had about 32 people this year!) Bourquin’s and Boyd’s, a great combination. We missed the Groves and Johnny.
Everyone was on edge around that time (late August into September) as Hurricane Harvey made Chris and Bethany flee their home in Houston with their four children and two dogs. They were fine and their home was fine, but so much of the city got flooded. Since then, they have spent many hours helping others who were flooded out.  Though the city was really devastated, it is recovering at a good pace, thanks to people like Chris and Bethany.
The weather, the violence, the fires, etc. make it feel like our world is reeling like a drunken man. To me it is a reminder that we need God! Anything that takes away from that truth is so shortsighted. Whether it is thinking we’re good enough already or we are too bad; we are too smart or not smart enough; too rich or too poor. It doesn’t matter. We all need Him.

I will try to write occasionally and keep in touch. I met someone not long ago who told me they pray for me every day. I said, “Don’t stop!” Thank you all for the love and support you’ve given us these past ten months. God Bless! You all.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Outa My Way, Bully!

I have heard it said that when a member of the family has cancer, the whole family has cancer.  I have to say that I understand the truth in that, having learned it painfully from losing a sister to cancer in 1997, having a daughter diagnosed in 2014 and another sister diagnosed in 2015, and learning I had it myself in December of 2016.  It is still hard for me to even use the word, cancer!  It is an intrusive bully that dominates schedules, thoughts, and general wellbeing of all those who are close to the disease.

During those times when the bully distracts us from the important things in life, there are things that we can fight back with.  Someone gave me a list (I don’t know where she got it) of things cancer can’t do that I’d like to share with you.  It is titled, “What cancer cannot do.”  “Cancer is so limited…It cannot:  cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy confidence, kill friendship, shut out memories, silence courage, reduce eternal life, or quench the Spirit.”  As I thought about it, that could be said about any adversary we face.  It could be health related, domestic trouble, church issues, job situation, etc.  They are all so limited. 

Here’s another great promise to hang on to.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:  ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:35-39

I received some great news from my oncology doctor on Monday.  The blood test showed, for the third time, that there is no detectable cancer in my body.  She said I am “way ahead of the curve” in my recovery, which will take up to two years.  That was a great encouragement, but I wondered, if I have another 19 months to get better, I will be a super-hero!  I feel great, with very little residual pain from the injured ribs as well as the surgery. 

I’m so blessed by all my official family, as well as my unofficial family.  The outpouring of your support, love and prayer is humbling and gratefully received.  I love you all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rib and Company

The power of prayer is really amazing! I have had broken ribs before and I know that the healing process is lengthy and painful. This time, it was very painful but I am nearly pain-free after only 2 1/2 weeks...without any pain meds!  I think that is absolutely amazing, and I give glory to God! We have been out on our bikes and I have to say that I have less discomfort than I have had since the end of February.  It is almost like I needed to do nothing but heal for a couple of weeks. Broken ribs sure slowed me down! Well, sort of.

Early Friday morning, June 2, we went to Baltimore with Bill and George, two men from church. We ate crab cakes, toured the stadium, and saw the Red Sox get beat by the Oriole's. The next morning we hit the road for home to take in a graduation party for C4.  We were tired!!  But what a great two days it was.  Being with our wonderful family and celebrating our awesome grandson's graduation was like icing on the cake!

"I told you I'd be back!"

Because of the blood clot, ribs, and my well-being in general we were hoping (guardedly) to go to Seattle to our niece, Anna's wedding, but trying not to get our hearts too set on it in case we couldn't. But with all the good news and progress, we are going to go! We will fly in and out of Portland, visit family around the fourth of July in Salem, then drive up to the wedding. We will visit Richard and Becky (Anna's parents) before and after the wedding. We'll also get to see Reynold and Doris (my brother and wife) before we head back to Portland and home.

The latest is that yesterday was forecast to be over 90°, the second day of a three day heat wave. Since we had the day free, we got in the car and headed for Cape Cod. We had seen on the weather channel that the temperatures would be lower out there, and that was correct. It was beautiful, and there were nice breezes.  We ended up riding our bikes toward Brewster and we found a seafood shack along the path where we could eat clam chowder on the deck. It was wonderful!  By the time we got back to the car, we had ridden 23.9 miles.  We couldn't believe it! And the amazing thing was, we were still able to walk and move around even after we rode two hours in the car to get home. What a fun day!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down."

 The steps of a good man verse from Psalm 37 is a wonderful promise. It gives us hope that the Lord is our safety net when things get out of hand, when things get out of control.  There is never a hint of a promise that everything will go perfectly, or that we will never make a mistake or slip. The promise is that we are not destroyed or wiped out when trouble does come because we have the Lord to turn to.
 I had been feeling so good after the prostate surgery 13 weeks before! I had gotten back to riding my bike and doing just about everything I did before, just a little slower and a little bit more calculating. So last Thursday I decided to take some tools up to the church and fix a leaky toilet.  As I was carrying my shop-vac down the rain-soaked wooden steps on the back of our house my foot suddenly slipped and I fell down seven steps. The pain was incredible on my entire left side, but especially in the flank area. After a short time Christina asked if I wanted  to go have an x-ray. I gladly agreed!
At the hospital they did not find anything broken but told me I was just bruised and sent me home with some medicine  for pain.  Since they said nothing was broken I figured my left kidney must be bruised, because that is where the pain was. Thankfully I did not hit my head, and I wasn't bleeding.
Since I was still a world of hurt, two days later we went to a walk-in urgent care facility near our house. They did more X-rays, and discovered I had three fractured ribs. Somehow my pain felt more justified, but the treatment was the same; wait six weeks until they heal. I wonder if they could wrap me in bubble wrap until everything is all set?
Anyway, I have been so aware of God's presence. All the calls, prayers, emails, and other expressions of compassion are deeply appreciated. Though my foot slipped, I know my steps are still ordered by the Lord, and He has a purpose in all this. I am not down for the count. I will rise again, because my Lord upholds me with His hand! I will be able to attend our grandson's (C4's) graduation on June 1. I will get better and be pain-free in the next few weeks.
I hope to meet many of you who have read the blog, followed my ordeal and prayed for us. Prayer has gotten us through. But if we should happen to meet sometime, somewhere, I do have a request. Please don't squeeze too hard.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Numbers

Yesterday was a cold, drizzly day in contrast to some very warm days we had last week. Christina and I went to Foxborough to have my blood drawn to check the PSA. I had to take a number. It was 13. I'm not superstious, but when they called 13 it was not the number I wanted to hear!
Later in the day we heard the wonderful number that we did want to hear. We expected it and my surgeon expected it, but it was sweet to hear anyway. 0. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Gone. As Amy had written earlier; it is finished.
Anyone who has been infected by the cancer of sin (that's everybody!) can hear that too. Our sin can be gone by the grace of God, through the blood of Jesus. God, the righteous judge, declares us clean and sin-free if we ask for forgiveness and cleansing.  Gone. 0. Ancient history! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." I John 1:9  Ask God for your number.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

SIX MORE WEEKS

Well, here it is six weeks after that wonderful day in April when we heard those wonderful words, "Well, the PSA is zero." My feeling that day was that, as good as that news was, I really wanted to be past the pain. About three weeks ago it was as though I turned the corner and the pain faded out to nearly nothing. What a relief!
Though it was short rides at first, I have been getting back on the Rockhopper. It is like my old buddy. I call it my aluminum steed. I/we have ridden over 45 miles in May. I know it isn't much, but it represents a lot to me. I ought to be ready for a cross country ride by October. Don't believe me? Ok, how about a 20 mile ride by then?
But I have to do tomorrow first. Tomorrow will be very similar to the April 10 visit. Except this time I am able to get around with no pain and I'll just be looking to know the score. I'll put up the numbers after that visit.