Category Archives: Cancer

God With Us – Merry Christmas Everyone

I want to start out making a theological disclaimer. I am not discounting the virgin birth, on the contrary it’s significance in the Incarnation is amazing, but it does not hold daily, hourly, fascination for me. It is one of those miracles that I read about and think, cool, the intricacies of God are amazing. But in my daily world, I just don’t give a lot of thought to the virgin birth. I do give thought to Luke 1:37. This verse embedded into the middle of this profound story holds the key for me to many things. It is this pivot point where I get one of the significances of the virgin birth. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

This Christmas season there is a word in this verse that has jumped out to me. More about that later.

As I said, it is hard for me to be amazed at the virgin birth. It just does not resonant in my daily life. My wife is not pregnant. My children are grown. And while many of my kids friends are getting married and starting families, I am still at least 40 weeks away from being a grandparent. (This in NOT an announcement!!!) The closest I get to thinking about birth is the work I am doing in Malawi, building a couple of birthing centers, but even there, we are in construction mode, not “push ’em out” mode.

The word that jumps out at me in Luke 1:37 is ‘with’. I grew up hearing sermons about being the hand and feet of God, but did not really pay attention. Wisdom is wasted on youth. Anyway, the word ‘with’ has more meaning to me now as an slightly wiser, if still not very mature, adult. As a nation and the world we spend a lot of energy and time on ‘with’. As a rule, we are ‘with’ creatures. Creatures who long for community, acceptance and a place of belonging. In our personal lives we are ‘with’ the Diabetic Online Community, our church both locally and internationally, our circles at work, our Starbucks Barrista’s, our families, we are just one big interconnected circle of ‘with’!

As I view our need for connectedness and the desire to be ‘with’, it occurs to me this is another area that has been perverted from our original design. There are so many of us whose first thought is not of others but of ourselves. The opposite of ‘with’.

We have been privileged to be ‘with’ the dear people of Malawi this year! It has been a wonderful and fulfilling time and we are trusting that it will continue in 2013 and beyond, but I am reminded today, Christmas Eve, that WITH is wherever we are. Who is my neighbor? Yep, the folks in the DOC, the Barrista’s, the servers in the restaurant, the flight attendants I see weekly, the church, our family and literally our neighbors and our friends in Malawi.

This past year we have experienced WITH first hand; through the nurses and doctors, meals and words of encouragement. We have seen people who make less than $20 a month share all they have to show the meaning of WITH to their neighbors.

God is reaching out to each one of us to celebrate the fun times and to comfort us in the hard times. How? WITH! He has chosen to us to literally be His hands and feet. Remember that campaign several years ago that passed out those little red buttons that said “you are loved”? As a teen I thought, “how corny”; as an adult, I begin to get the significance. We connect to God when we listen to His prompting a to Love others. WE are the tangible way God shows His love to others! WE ARE THE WITH!

It humbles me to be chosen to be WITH you. It is an awesome provoking thought to me that God would place anyone on my mind and heart and in doing so reach you in the moments of your need! It is the image of a kindly Father reaching out his arms to give you a hug of comfort and say, “there, there child I am WITH you”.

God reached out to us and sent His Son to be WITH us, so nothing would be impossible WITH Him!

Spend some time this Season WITH others, you’ll be amazed at the impossible that happens!

Merry Christmas!

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What a difference a year makes!

What a difference a year makes.

A year ago…..

I didn’t know if:
Barb would survive cancer
She would remain in her wheelchair
Our dream of working overseas would become reality
We could continue to pay for college
Military engagements would continue to keep parents worried

I didn’t know:
Glenn Alexander
bensonwedd
Malawi
Peter
Priscilla
Kyle
Jeremy

This year I know:
Barb is cancer free and RUNNING RACES: take that wheelchair!
The warm heart of Africa, Malawi
The joy of returned income to pay for school
A daughter NOT deployed AND transferred to a Post much closer to home
Many, many new people who are positively effecting my life daily

What will I know next year that I do not know today? When I reflect next year, whose lives will I have effected and will they be better because of the interaction? What and where will I be doing? Coke is running an ad campaign in Africa that really caught my attention. Their tag line is, “while the rest of the world is worrying about the future a billion Africans are enjoying a Coke”. I would like that to be my theme this coming year. I want to live in the moment, enjoying the people around me, valuing them for who and what they are.

What doors will be opened to us and what doors will be closed, and will we be smart enough to know which is which? One of my favorite cartoons is the picture of the kid trying to get into the gifted school, pushing on the door that is clearly marked pull. I really hope I do not spend too much time next year pushing instead of pulling!

Blessings on each and everyone of you!

Peace, Love, Faith and Hope!

Jon

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NEXT!!!

The last time I wrote we had just thrown our Wiggin Out Party where we had folks shave their heads and Barb had her head shaved before all her hair fell out from Chemo.

That was a year ago! Most of you know our story but let me recap:.

  • 8 rounds of Chemo
  • Double Mastectomy
  • Emergency Surgery
  • SimonPalooza!!
  • Radiation
  • Mother-in-Law’s Double Mastectomy
  • Mother-In-Law’s Emergency Surgery (Like Daughter Like Mother! Or Monkey See Monkey Do)
  • Back to work part-time
  • Back to work full-time!!!

What a year!

Barb is doing well. She still is in recovery mode and gets a little frustrated at times that it is not faster, but really is doing well. She is a Warrior and I am very proud of her. She has not only weathered this storm but has sailed through these hard waters with Joy and Compassion for others. She is remarkably strong and quick to credit the true source of her resolve and strength, her faith in God.

Just a few short months ago I was also presented with an opportunity that I felt drawn too as the correct course of action for us. I applied for a vacancy on our City Council. After several months of interviews and vetting I was appointed to our Council. A week before I was to be sworn into office, several things occurred that clearly indicated to me that this was NOT something I should pursue, Barb’s continued health recovery and additional work responsibilities were just a few of those factors.

Now to the real reason to begin writing again: In July I will be heading to Malawi to help support One5 Foundation and Global Health Innovations build a Birthing Center in Salima, Malawi.

Global Health Innovations is a non-profit organization that exists to design, implement and manage medical programs focused on providing solutions to save lives…one village at a time.  GHI is passionate about providing health care for vulnerable children in poverty-stricken areas that often do not have a voice.  Sometimes the simplest solution can save a life. Sometimes it’s more complex. In any case we are tackling three large issues: malaria, HIV/AIDS with our HITSystem, and orphaned and vulnerable children in need of basic health care.”

Below are the building plans developed with our dear friends at bensonwedd.

Building A has already been completed and the next efforts will focus on Building ‘B’ with construction starting in August 2012, building ‘C’ will start in 2013.

Building B contains 2 OR’s and clinical space to support those OR’s.

I am thrilled to be a part of this journey and proud of our company for pursuing this dream.

Stay tuned!

Peace and Hope

Jon