Newsletter – Volume 49


Newsletter – Volume 49

June 10, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
A Dark Night...

For much of my experience at Mayo, I felt bolstered in spirit by the prayers and encouragement of friends and family. I was also grateful for the fact that I was in one of the best hospitals in the country, being attended to by the head of their urology department. But when there were complications with my first surgery and a second complicated procedure was required, I was ushered back to my room in a lot of pain, and I endured one of the longer nights I can remember. It was a dark night – not just physically – but spiritually as well.

Did God show up?

When you walk through a really tough season as a believer you go into it with the hope that God will show up and make himself known. You even believe that perhaps something dramatic will take place – maybe even a miracle. That is our hope, because that is what we believe. We believe in a God who shows up.

But did he – for me?

I went to many prayer meetings before going to Mayo. In each instance there were prayers prayed for divine healing. We even imagined that when they opened me up the docs would be amazed at the fact that the cancer had disappeared. That didn’t happen.

Surgery was required, organs removed were filled with cancer, complications occurred, second surgeries were required, and a rough recovery now begins.

So, did God show up?

I wish I could say that in the darkest moments I felt his presence and heard his reassuring voice that all would be well. I didn’t experience that either. Instead, I felt alone and scared.

What should I make of that?

I am still sorting, but I can’t really say that he didn’t show up at all. It just wasn’t like I expected. And that’s it – isn’t it? Our assessment about God’s provision and intervention is ultimately shaped by our hopes and expectations. And when our actual experience doesn’t line up with what we thought would happen we have to ask ourselves what that means for our faith and understanding of God.

What does it mean?

I’m not sure yet, but I find myself in a similar position as the apostle Peter. Jesus started saying some really hard things to the crowds and many left. As they were leaving, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “Are you leaving too?” Peter responded, “Lord, where would we go, you have the words of life!” I get that.

However disappointing this experience was in terms of what I expected to experience with God, I know that what I have with him is way better than what I would have trying to live through this hardship without him. I have the sense that with time, I will be given greater revelation on how he was with me in and through it all. But for now, I’m just going to try and put myself in a trusting space, knowing I survived the ordeal, the prospects for the future are bright, and I was deeply cared for by my friends and family through it all.

Word of the Week


Noun: A merry heart does good like medicine… (Proverbs 17:22)

It’s what keeps us young and often makes life worth living!  It’s a small… big thing! And it feels great!

And yet, sometimes it can seem frivolous and even disrespectful – in light of all the suffering around us – how dare we!?

But, then again, maybe that is exactly why we should!  In light of all that’s hard and unfair, we ought to take every opportunity to:

A Book That Helped Me Keep Perspective

Stand Strong

Overview: This book is a publication of Our Daily Bread Publishing. It is a devotional that combines stories, scriptures and reflections that help connect Biblical truth to the challenges of daily life. A book for men, written by men.

When I was packing for my trip to Mayo, I threw this book in my backpack last minute. I am so glad that I did, because it turned out to be something I turned to almost every morning during my stay at the hospital. Carol read it to me.

On the day after my first surgery, the devotion centered around the passage from Psalm 145:18, and was entitled “Always listening” The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. That is exactly what I needed to hear. Isn’t it great when God provides these little affirmations that he knows what is going on with us – even before we know what to ask for?

Status Report

Three Weeks Later

This pic was taken three weeks ago, as I was getting ready to check out from Mayo and return home to Texas. A happy day indeed!

Now that I am three weeks out, I am glad to report that I’m doing quite well. My wounds are healing nicely, I am able to walk without much pain, and my body seems to be adjusting to the new normal.

My biggest challenge is low energy and bladder control. I heard from the doc it would take some time for the body to adjust to one kidney, and frequent trips to bathroom (at night) doesn’t allow for much deep sleep, so I continue taking a couple naps/day to try and stay caught up.

Sometimes I can get discouraged by the slow progress, but a friend gave me some good advice and said don’t measure the progress day-to-day (that doesn’t change much). Instead measure week-to-week, and when I do that I feel like progress is definitely noticeable. I have one more week of limited activity, but by next weekend I can start adding some simple exercises to my daily routine to try and rebuild some of my strength. Look forward to that day.

It is also good for me to pause at this point to reaffirm my trust in the Lord. In the midst of the hardship, he has found ways to encourage and strengthen me.
I am grateful.
I am hopeful.
I am putting one foot in front of the other…

Finding a Sacred Place

St. Mary's Chapel

Mayo Clinic has an interesting legacy, with lots of contributors, but at the heart of their story one will discover the serendipitous collaboration of ambitious doctors, an order of Catholic sisters, and the advent of hospital-based aseptic surgery. The center piece of the clinic there is a beautiful chapel (at St. Mary’s Hospital) where services are still being held. We decided to attend the services there. On the first Sunday there we were reminded that it was Pentecost Sunday – commemorating the day God provided for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for ministry. Some suggest this is the day the modern church was born!

I found it quite serendipitous that we were there on that weekend, celebrating Pentecost Sunday at a hospital that was launched by nuns who cared deeply about wholistic care and compassion – marrying the best of modern medicine and faith-based healing. I was also struck by the fact that I’m part of this tapestry now… my story and whatever ministry comes out of it.

Subscribe to comments
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Newsletter – Volume 50

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Carol… Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, created quite a stir by

Newsletter – Volume 48

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Dawn… It struck me so odd – even unnecessary – I was doing so well

Newsletter – Volume 47

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Aaron… I’m an avid Yankee fan, and I came by it honestly. My mom raised

Newsletter – Volume 46

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Joel… Joel Salabarria and I have done several ministry projects together. He is an extremely

Newsletter – Volume 45

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Mike… Mike Orenstein has been one of my closer friends here in Austin. He is

Newsletter – Volume 44

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Kelly… My wife Carol will tell you that I often have difficulty listening to speakers,

Newsletter – Volume 43

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Kim… Kim Zanting is part of the congregation I served in Pella, IA. She is

Newsletter – Volume 42

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Kristalyn… Kristi Barnes is kinda a local superstar, but she would vehemently argue that point.

Newsletter – Volume 41

This Week Confessions From the Back of the Pen Meet Tashi… Tashi Franzen is the brother of my daughter’s (Mallory) husband (Josh). He is young