Saturday, January 28, 2012

Death, Hospitals, and Disneyland

Another interesting week filled with all kinds of experiences.
  • Sunday: We started off the week off with an encouraging gathering at Church.
  • Monday: Worked at PLBC, really felt privileged to be praying for my "MY5", and had a good council meeting in the evening.
  • Tuesday: Went to a naturopath doctor with Angela, heard my grandfather graduated to Heaven, and worked in the evening.
  • Wednesday: met with the one and only Geoff Stewart, taught some great students at the College, and worked in the evening.
  • Thursday: went with Angela for tests, completed a cancer counselling session, and then worked again.
  • Friday: sat in the hospital all day with Angela for her procedure.
  • Saturday: worked, had a nice family visit with Christina Williams, and then had dinner at the Parson's.

Grandpa Nelson
On Tuesday, I received word that my grandfather graduated to Heaven.  He has joined his wife in receiving his reward in Christ.  I'm really happy for him.  I took the above photo about ten years ago of his old shop and even though he hadn't lived on the farm for some time at that point, one of his old sweater jackets was still hanging up.

Grandpa Nelson was man's man.  He grew up in the prairies, was a farmer, served in the tank corps, became a welder, and raised six kids.  He could build and fix anything (although it never looked pretty). I wish I had a picture of his homemade cider press to demonstrate this.

I grew up on his farm, spending many Saturdays hanging out with him as he puttered around the barns and shop.  When I was younger, I'd sit on his lap or wheel well of the tractor and watch him go about his work. In my teen years, I was the one operating the tractor and he was the one yelling, "whoah, whoah, hey, hey, hey!!"  He would do various hand signals and assume that others knew what they meant.  For the odd job, he'd actually pay me to do tasks. I called them nickel jobs because that's about how much he'd pay me.

He knew how to hunt (usually from his back porch) and skin a deer. He knew how make some pretty tasty and spicy deer sausage too.  Although sometimes a batch of it would get lot in one his freezers and then turn up 15 years later.

One of his fingers was a knob (I think it was from a chainsaw accident).  It always scared me as a little kid and I would steal glances at it. Later in life, I came to respect it... especially when it worked to his advantage in crokinole.

The house I grew up in was about 1km through the woods from his and we always joked that even though he was on the phone, we could hear him with out it. He was an exceptionally loud talker on the phone. His calls were often accompanied by panicked pacing and head scratching.

I observed that he lived life in one of three modes: 1) chuckling; 2) panicking; or 3) crying.  Grandpa's chuckle was usually due to the cute and light side of life (telling a funny story, observing his dog, or watching his grand kids goof around). His panicking was due a lack of patience and a great desire to fix a problem as fast as possible (I wouldn't want him in charge of the 'red button' during a war).  His crying was due to moments of clarity where he saw his failures and weaknesses in light of Jesus and the many blessings bestowed upon him by God.

Some of my favorite memories include drinking water with him from an ice cream bucket, watching hockey games on Saturday nights, getting candy from his lazy boy compartment, watching him shower his food with "No-Salt", and hearing him start up his brake-less motorbike, hear it backfire along the road, then pull up unannounced to our house (he would use a stick to help stop the bike).

My least favorite memories include the time he volunteered to cut my hair with his rusty electric razor. I was hesitant, but my mom reassured me it would be okay.  It started out painful and then I knew it was bad when, through my tears, I saw a clump of hair attached to skin along with some blood.  I was young, but I seem to remember my mom stepping in and offering to finish it at home.  I still laugh and cringe thinking about that.  Then there was the time he caught me starting a "controlled" fire in his garage.  He wasn't very happy about that.  I can't blame him either.  He helped stop a number of our childhood fires.

I could probably write a book about my memories of him.  However, the most significant impact he and my grandma had on me and my family was their sincere love for Jesus and their service to the Kingdom.  He will be missed, but His legacy lives on!

Naturopath Visit
On Tuesday we went to see a naturopath doctor that specializes in cancer.  It was worth going to ease the mind of all options, but didn't offer too much different news.  His recommendation was to eat very healthy (i.e. whole grains and vegetables) and to go to Germany for chemo.  In Germany the have a clinic that dispenses chemo simultaneously with heating up the body.  In short, the heating process helps the chemo be more effective towards cancer.  He offered a few other options as well, but nothing that significantly increased her timeline or comfort.

Other Hospital Visits
Thursday, we saw the oncologist again and she didn't offer any different news.  Friday, we were at the hospital again as Angela had portacath installed.  The device is installed under her skin and connects to a vein much closer to the heart. It will help future chemo rounds have less side effects on the blood vessels in her arms.  The side effects of chemo on her vessels were already realized before the procedure as it took the nurses five tries to get an IV connected.  Angela was a good sport in spite of a hard day.  I think we need to buy shares in impark to get something back from the hours we've spent on hospital parking lots.

On a more fun note, we've also been planning a trip in February to Disneyland.  We had some friends of Angela's family give us our flights and hotel.  We feel so blessed and loved.  We are very grateful.  Ruby is excited.  Charlie doesn't know what is going to hit him.  Angela can't wait to share this experience with them.

That's been our week in a nutshell.  Thank you for your prayers and love.

Monday, January 23, 2012

According To Your Ability

You can definitely see a more visible openness to God's Word and His Spirit in our Church family.  As we follow Jesus, taking Him at His Word and stepping out, God is gracing us with renewed desires and opportunities to be used by Him.  It started in our weekly gathering and has begun creeping into our daily lives.  The latter part is what I'm most excited about!  I so desperately desire to see our Church living in the Word and Spirit in our Monday-Saturday life.

Chad (and team) and Dave did a good job yesterday in serving us through their leadership.  I love Sundays where I am ministered to by other trainers and equippers.  Thank you to all who serve as well behind the scenes.  Rob & Vince rocked the A/V.  Diane and team did a great job in loving and leading our kids.  Greg and team serve so faithfully each week in greeting and serving the mechanics of our gathering.  Then the William's and Donna helped out after our service with all the kitchen stuff.  Finally, the Ewert's served as our Elders for the service ministering to our Church family through prayer.  Their service glorifies a God who loves us so much.

We were back in Acts yesterday and the passage was perfect for this exact Sunday.  We read in Acts 11:29 (NIV) "The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea."  I love that God takes us where we're at and simply expects us to be faithful with what He's given us.  We aren't to create our expectations based on what we've seen or heard from others, we are to simply ask God and then follow.  God is gracious in that His requirements for us are achievable.  We are not expected to be Billy Graham clones, we are expected to respond to His Spirit's leading in our life and what He does with that is up to Him.

This has huge implications and applications for our MY5 journey.  In our prayer and witness to our loved ones that don't yet know Christ, we can respond according to the ability and resources He has entrusted to us.  Dave illustrated this so well on Sunday with his story of the of the stranded girl in the snowstorm (listen here...

As we pray this week for those in our life that don't yet know the life and love of Jesus, may we not be focused on what we think we should do about it, but may our hearts be tuned to the Spirit's voice.

In closing this post, I'd like to thank Karin for her courage to share on Sunday both a Scripture and Word from God for our Church.  The Scripture she shared is posted below and the Word can be heard in Dave's sermon (about 33 minutes in).

Jeremiah 1:6-19 (NIV) "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." 7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. 9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." 11 The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "I see the branch of an almond tree," I replied. 12 The LORD said to me, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled." 13 The word of the LORD came to me again: "What do you see?" "I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north," I answered. 14 The LORD said to me, "From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. 15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms," declares the LORD. "Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. 16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made. 17 "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD."

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Clear Road in a Blizzard

Angela and I have been praying since beginning of her diagnosis for wisdom in navigating treatment options.  Between traditional medicine, natural remedies, medical centers in other countries, weirdos (those who became an expert in their basement), and conspiracy theorists on the Internet, there are many choices.  Then, of course, there is the choice to do nothing.

We've received lots of suggestions, links, and articles from strangers, friends, and family.  On top of that we've been researching on our own.  There is so much to wade through that one could spend 40 hours a day (I know there aren't that many hours in a day), every day for a year, and still not read through all the information that is available... isn't the Internet a beautiful thing!?

Needless to say, the amount of information and options has been overwhelming.  It feels like being in the middle of a blizzard. There's a temptation to give in to the weight and simply quit, but there is also a persistent desire to push through and seek God's wisdom.

That brings us to Wednesday and to explain Wednesday I need to explain Tuesday night.  On Tuesday night, Angela and I were experiencing one of those moments where we were feeling the weight of information overload.  Some of the information was good, while much was either conflicting, incorrect, or upon reading the entire article we discovered that it only applied to very specific and unrelated situations.

On Wednesday, Angela spent much of the day reflecting on the wisdom part of James 1 and seeking God's direction.  That night, when Angela was tucking Ruby in, they began their devotions in her kid's bible (which I love because of the pictures).  The story was David and Goliath, and as Angela and Ruby talked about the story together, a moment of wisdom/clarity was given to Angela.  Later that night, Angela told me about it and it 'clicked' for me too.

The wisdom and application from the story came from the exchange between David and King Saul over whether or not to wear the King's armor.  In the end, David didn't feel comfortable wearing the armor and chose to use the weapon and the way God had given him to succeed in the past (his sling and a few rocks).  God spoke to Angela through this in a very simple way... Angela's approach to facing this giant in her life needs to be done in a way that is personal and familiar to her.  Other methods/weapons may work for or fit some, but if they do not fit her then she isn't to use them.  Her decisions moving forward need to be in the rhythm and familiarity of her personal walk with God.

We both believe this to be God's will for our lives in responding to the multitude of choices.  Others may shake their head in dismay if we make a choice that is different from the one they would make (similarly to how King Saul must have shaken his head about David's decision to go into battle with just a sling), but we believe that this is God's will for our lives.

Until this point, when we've faced options that made us feel uncomfortable, there has been a nagging doubt and/or an irrational hope.  The nagging doubt has come from us second guessing our wisdom... wondering if we're being stubborn, closed-minded, or weak in faith.  The irrational hope has come from that place in your heart experienced when you're about to scratch a lotto ticket and you have that feeling like it's going to be a winner... it's that desire to believe in something so much that you ignore wisdom and/or facts.  It's the stuff that manifests in gold rushes, snake-oil purchases, and housing bubbles.

Every medical choice up until this point has felt like being in a blizzard, but this moment of clarity, provided in God's wisdom, it feels like turning on to a road that is well salted, sanded, and marked. 

I hope that came out the way God revealed it in our hearts.  


Monday, January 16, 2012


I have to apologize for having such little faith in the Parkside faithful!  I thought only 50 of us would brave the snow, but 170 of our family came out.  Everyone added to a great gathering where Karin lead us in a clear and intimate time of worship and I communicated a new challenge for 2012 called, "MY5".

In case you missed yesterday's gathering this page explains a bit more of our MY5 initiative:  If you were there yesterday than I hope you have or plan to complete "Day 2".

On the home front, Angela is feeling a lot better today.  She has a few symptoms, but at least her energy is back much more than it has been.  We are snowed in and its blizzarding as I type.  We're supposed to get close to another foot this evening and through the night.  I'm really regretting not buying a snow blower :)

I hope you enjoy the snow and that you stay safe.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Distant Prayers

The first two years of our marriage, Angela and I lived on the third floor of a condo building that overlooked St. Joseph's Catholic Church.  Every once and I while I would pause and pray for their Church. My prayers were the type similar to when an ambulance rushes by... I stop to pray to pray for the paramedics, the patient, and the patient's family, but then never think that the patient would ever be connected to me personally.  That's kind of how I prayed for St. Joseph's.  They were meaningful, but distant.

Tonight, a man stopped by with an overflowing gift basket from St. Joseph's.  In it were beautiful gifts for Angela and our kids.  Our eyes then turned to a tin filled with little cards. We opened one after the other (about 200 in total).  Each card was filled with personal notes of encouragement and prayer from members of St. Joseph's.  People that we've never met and probably never will, yet moved with compassion towards our family.

Thank you to St. Joseph's Catholic Church.  You have touched our hearts in a very personal and unexpected way.  We will continue to pray for you and thank God for you, but now you will be much closer to our hearts!

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Good & Pleasant It Is

Our understanding and experience of how good and pleasant it is when the Church dwells together in unity was expanded yesterday.  Many of Mission's local Churches sent representatives to join the Parkside family for our Sunday gathering.  At the end of our service a number of local Pastors raced over (some reordered their service to be there) to pray for Angela.  [If anyone took a picture of this gathering, please send it to me at]

I can't even fully express what this meant to us personally.  Angela and I were both deeply touched and our hearts were (and are) overflowing with appreciation, inspiration, and faith as a result.

It was a great experience for our Parkside family too.  Our Church family was buzzing after and even today on facebook with a sense of gratitude, awe, and excitement at the power of Jesus to unite and love one another.

I also believe that this was a great step forward for all of the local Church bodies in Mission.  To my knowledge, the Mission Ministerial has never planned something like this before.  I believe this action will serve to move us (the Church of Mission) towards greater unity and partnership in extending the life and love Jesus in our City.

Thank you to all the Churches, representatives, and pastors for their support, sacrifice, and prayers.  May God bless you richly for this gift of love and faith.

Next Sunday is our annual "Vision Sunday" at Parkside and yesterday served, in a way that I didn't anticipate, as a perfect preface to this coming Sunday.

To update you on Angela, she goes in this afternoon for her second round of chemo.  Please pray, in addition to complete healing, that the side effects of chemo would be minimal-to-none.  Ang's mom is with us the first few days to help us care for Angela and our kids.

Following, Sunday's gathering we headed over to Hotel Hersey to get family portraits taken with all of Angela's family.  The fabulous Katy~* of captured our smiling faces.

This week the College is back in full swing, most things are back-up and running with our Church, and tonight is the BCS Championship... roll tide!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There Is No Other

"For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other.  I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right." Isaiah 45:18-19 (NIV)

I am reminded again this morning through reading of Isaiah 45-46 that He is God and there is no other.  We may be tempted to make our own truth (because it's convenient or we don't fancy the alternative); to turn to science (because we can see it and touch it); to reason (because our minds can understand it); or to experience (because we can feel it), but there's no getting around the reality of the God of the Bible.  It doesn't fully come as a surprise to me that all He simply requires is faith to receive His redemption.  Faith is the only issue when it comes to the big questions of life.  How we respond to God alters everything else.

I'm glad that God does not hide Himself, use us as an experiment, or create us with a dead-end purpose.  'God has made it plain to [us].  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that [we] are without excuse.  For although [many of us] knew God, [we] neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but [our] thinking became futile and [our] foolish hearts were darkened." (1)

I am obligated ... to [tell you], both to the wise and the foolish. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ... For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith. (2)

I hope that as you read this and that as I write this, we turn our hearts and minds more fully to God.  That we recognize His greatness as our Creator and His goodness as our Savior.  Life is not just best lived, but only lived in this reality.  Everything else is simply a counterfeit life hiding in the shadows of the deceitfulness of our sin, the foolishness of our limited wisdom, and the darkness of evil.

(1) Romans 1:19b-22 (NIV); (2) Romans 1:14, 16-17a (NIV) 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Parkside Prayer & Fasting

As mention at Sunday's gathering we are inviting our Church family to set aside time for prayer and fasting this week.  This Sunday, we'll then gather to worship, pray, and share what God has been speaking and teaching us.

Pray for Healing

•    Angela N. - Stage 4 GI cancer
•    Christy W. – Her mom has cancer
•    Diane K. – Her mom is recovering from a bad fall

Pray for a Spiritual Awakening

•    Seek God in your own life.
•    Pray for your loved ones.