R U OK?

IMG_1281Today is ‘Keep a low profile’ day. Well, I expect it will be for many. It’s actually R U OK day – a day to remind us all that it’s important to look out for one another. The trouble is that many will cringe if the only time people care for them is on a designated day. Every day is a good day to ask R U OK. So let’s slow down sufficiently to keep an eye out for each other.

I know a good number of my friends aren’t OK. Life sucks sometimes, and sometimes often. I get this. Sometimes life feels like the walls are closing in on me and I need help to see the big picture.

So if you’re not OK, please reach out.

Beyond Blue  1300 224 636

Lifeline  13 11 14

(Original artwork by Liam)

Journey with cancer 31 Oct 2012 – no change

Dear family and friends

Good news. Scans yesterday revealed no change to the cancer. The primary tumour remains only 12mm across and there’s been no spread. It’s been this way now for four to five months. So things are stable, the chemo seems to be working, and God is giving me more days. Thank you God! And thank you to all of you for your prayers and well wishes.

Fiona rang me yesterday with the results and I immediately felt lighter and brighter. In fact, some of the pain I’d been experiencing in my chest began to dissipate. I need to remember that there seems to be chemo-induced pain at the same time each cycle, and that I tend to get anxious. I’ve been challenged to complain less, remember the patterns, trust God with my experiences, and not get over-alarmed or alarm others. I need to remember the words of Scripture…

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:6-7)

The pain and discomfort I’d been feeling in my feet and hands has also subsided. I’ve been taking daily cymbalta (antidepressant) tablets for the past 6 weeks and no longer experience any of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. This is another answer to the prayers of many, and I’m very thankful because it means that I’m able to get about, go for long walks, and exercise. Thank you God!

Looking ahead this means that my 3 weekly life rhythm will likely continue for the next two to three months or more. We will juggle things over Christmas, aim to get some time away with family, and gear up for the year ahead. We’re hoping to be able to make some decisions about work and ministry options for 2013 and this is a massive answer to prayer. Ten months ago, the prospects for 2013 weren’t even being considered! Thank you God! And once again, thank you for your love and support. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. Thank you for sharing our journeying, and please keep hanging in there with us.

With love,

Dave (and Fiona)

Looking ahead… without fear

I’m starting to look ahead. What does 2013 hold? What work can I do? What ministries can I be involved in? I’m keen to be serving God, but I’m not keen to repeat much of the hyper-busyness of the past. The past couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of activity. I’ve been up and about, connected with a few friends, and taken on various tasks. I’ve caught up with a number of people for some serious discussions about personal and pastoral matters. I’ve enjoyed a Bible study with some blokes at the local pub and a time of honest discussion and prayer around a fire in our backyard.

Last weekend I spent a few hours teaching at a local theological college on the topics of church planting, preaching and sharing what we believe. It was so encouraging to be able to talk about these important things with a group of ministers and students in training. I followed this with an abbreviated program for our ministry trainees at church. On Friday I joined in a training workshop on strategic planning and team leadership and I attended a prayer meeting for teenagers with some other parents. Today I’ve been at a men’s convention looking at the nature of our identity as Christian men. During the week I attended our church staff meeting and began to discuss potential plans for getting more involved again with the team. I followed this by talking through possibilities with our lead pastor. We worked on some strategies for ministry, pastoral care, and future planning. It’s been invigorating! The cancer’s taken a back seat and it’s felt like I’ve been getting on with life again!

But… the past few days I’ve had increased pain in my chest. I find the pain difficult to interpret. Is it evidence of the chemo doing it’s job? Is it the cancer becoming more active? Or is it something else, such as bruising around the surgery sites, or an infection in the lungs, or something entirely in my head and I don’t need to worry about it? The one thing I do know is that it’s a timely reminder that all is not well. As I’ve begun thinking and planning for the future, I need to remember that important little phrase… deo volente or God willing.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.  (Proverbs 16:9)

Experiencing the symptoms of the cancer raises my levels of anxiety. I know that this won’t help and it could make things worse and it’s something I need to deal with. But I don’t deal with it alone. My loving and competent wife helps me to stay grounded and focused with her wise words and practical help…

“Let’s take your temperature. I’ll check your blood pressure. How about you let me listen to your chest. I suggest you relax a while and take a couple of panadols. You’ve got a scan next week and then we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.”

Even more importantly God helps me in my weakness. As I walked home from the conference today, holding my chest, concerned about the pain, God spoke to me. Words from the Bible. Words that I’ve previously sung many times. Words that seemed apt for me this day. They were first spoken through the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel, reminding them that God had acted to rescue them. How much more true are they for those who’ve been saved by Jesus Christ. I need not fear, for whatever happens to me, God has already redeemed me, and I’m secure in his protective custody.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
IMG_2782I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour  (Isaiah 43:1-3)