Newsletter – Volume 51

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Newsletter – Volume 51

June 24, 2024

This Week

Confessions From the Back of the Pen
Meet Dad...

This past Sunday was Father’s Day, and it got me thinking about my dad. He passed away almost 15 years ago in a boating accident. It is sometimes still hard for me to believe that happened. But remembering him this year reminded me that he too was a kind of Black Sheep messenger. And here is a bit of his story.

My dad was born in Rotterdam (in the Netherlands). He (like most Dutch men) loved the water, and one of his first engineering projects was to build a boat that he and his brother sailed in the harbor. He met my mom while on assignment in Indonesia. He was quite a bit older than my mom, so my mom’s folks were a bit skeptical about his intentions. But he eventually won them over with his penetrating blue eyes, his good sense of humor, and his polite manners. Not long after he and my mom married, they started having kids. And once the first two were born, he was given an opportunity to move to the States.

I remember my dad as a strict, hard-working, thoughtful man who loved his sailboat and helping docs with innovative x-ray technology. His move to the States was prompted by a new venture made available to him in NYC with Phillips Medical Systems. He distinguished himself as a creative engineer. When the company moved their headquarters to Connecticut, they built him his own lab where he was able to develop a number of innovative x-ray technologies that have been used in prestigious hospitals around the world. By the end of his career, he had 14 patents to his name.

One of the things that made him a good engineer was that he was a keen observer of how things worked. He loved taking things apart – especially anything electronic. When he was the director of his innovation lab, he would go into hospitals and watch a particular medical procedure and observe how the docs used their equipment. He was constantly motivated by the idea that things could be done better. And as a good Dutchman he also had enough cynicism and confidence to believe that the best had not yet been created and he was the one to make it better – and he usually did.

As a father, he was old school. The duties in our home were pretty well-defined. He went off to work to support the family and mom attended to domestic matters. My dad wasn’t into competitive sports. We got our love of baseball from my mom. He also hated TV. He loved reading and the outdoors. He especially loved his boats. During his retirement years he had three – a larger sailboat, a small motorboat and a kayak. Most of our family vacations included camping and boating and we all loved it.

Later in life I appreciated his creative thinking all the more. His engineering mind had a way of looking at life that often turned the tables for me. He loved being the contrarian. There are several conversations I had with him that actually changed the trajectory of my life. I still wish I could talk to him about so many things.

So when I think about my own black sheepness, I can’t help but thank my father for the example he set for me – to think outside the box, to question the status quo, to believe that things can be different and better, and have the audacity to try and make it so.

Word of the Week

Hard

Adjective: Done with a great deal of force of strength.

Invite it
Embrace it
Persevere through it

Many of us have an exercise routine in the morning.  We lift weights.  We push ourselves to run faster or further.  We invite hard.  Unless we are a gym-rat, we don’t do this for fun, we do it for a higher purpose.  It builds our muscles and prepares us for the uninvited hard that comes later.  We purposefully choose to do these hard things, to get better at harder things in the future.

What’s true physically has application spiritually.  What hard are you inviting into your life now that will help you with the harder challenges later?
… going first with apologizing 
… praying when you don’t feel like it
… telling the truth when it’s difficult
… saying ‘no’ to the crowd
… picking a healthier option
… not seeking revenge

A Trip Worth Remembering

Mark the Moment

Purpose: In a world that often rushes past the moment, marking the moment helps one recognize and celebrate points of spiritual and emotional significance. Far from being frivolous, it provides an opportunity to express deep gratitude and create a memory noting God’s faithfulness and goodness in a creative and compelling manner.

During one of my sleepless nights at Mayo, I thought, “When I make it through this, I’m going to have mark this ‘survival’ with something special!”

What should I do?

I spent the night brainstorming various options and settled on this: I’m going to get a special car and do a drive through the hill country and spend a night in Fredericksburg. I will see if my fellow car enthusiast and friend Otto (with his wife Sandy) will join Carol and I.

When I asked Carol about it and we started looked at dates, she suggested we do it on her birthday and make it a double celebration!

So that’s what we did!

My brother graciously let me use his ‘vette and off we went. We stopped at the infamous Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls for lunch. We also found a nice park for a quick walk. When we got to town the ladies shopped and we met later at a winery called The Rhinory (featuring a real live rhino). Then it was off to a very nice AirBnB provided by a new friend and fellow cancer warrior. We closed out the day with pizza and a new card game. On the way home we got a chance to meet the good folks at The Texas Silver Rush.

Sometimes your thoughts about a ‘thing’ are much bigger/better than the reality can ever be. But every once in a while, reality ends up beating the vision.

This was that!

Status Report

5 Weeks...

“I’m tired, but I’m alive, and keenly aware that my days are gifts. When I forget, my body reminds me…” ~ Katy Bowser Hutson

Carol asked me again, “How are you doing – really?”

I am not always sure how to answer that question. First, because I get tired of complaining. Who wants to hear the same frustration points over and over? But second, it’s also a complicated question. There are many layers to it – and if you have been in this situation, you know the depths of it. Some things are better, some things are the same, and then other things (mostly emotional) are up/down even within the same day.

Roller coaster baby!

But when pressed, I can at least say this much:

  • I am up less at night, so I’m sleeping a bit better
  • The cloud of darkness in my soul is dissipating
  • I continue to be encouraged by the level of care we receive from friends and family
  • I am really grateful for the things I can do!

The biggest challenge is my weariness and low energy. The docs did say it would take 3-4 months for my body to get used to operating with one kidney. And I def feel that…. I don’t like it. I need to be a more patient patient.

So, bottom line, I am learning (afresh) to rest in His care. I remain optimistic about the future and I know this season will produce some good things in me – that will be useful in whatever I’m called to do next!

I’m also preparing for my return visit to Mayo next Friday. They will run a series of tests and I will get an update on my progress. It will be a good to get a well-grounded assessment on my recovery.

Lord lead on!

And as always, thanks for walking the path with us!

A Point of Clarification

Modern vs. Holistic Approaches

In my experience, there is seemingly a great divide between modern and holistic approaches to cancer treatment. Patients often feel forced to choose one or the other.

I haven’t…

I have no idea why such animosity exists between these two approaches! So sad actually and truly counterproductive. I have been extremely grateful for all the expertise of my teams at Mayo, Mercy One, and Urology Austin. I was really well-served by these professionals AND was grateful for all the tests and scans that helped pin-point the root causes/issues associated with my cancer challenge.

That said, I have also continued to access the various natural resources I was introduced to through the more holistic approaches:

  • CBD for pain relief and sleep help
  • poetry/meditation for emotional support
  • jade/stone heating pad as a healing aid
  • groundings mat/pillow for cellular realignment
  • infra-red sauna for detoxification
  • cold plunge for immune system support
  • hydrogen-infused water to accelerate recovery
  • healing prayer for supernatural intervention

In addition, I continue to follow a nutritional plan that focuses on reduced carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats – with a supplementation regimen that emphasizes and supports a healthy microbiome. My two-cents, don’t fall for the unnecessary dichotomy. Be a good Black Sheep, take advantage of the best of both worlds!

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