Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cancer: A Lesson to Learn?

My friend, Ray, has cancer. Multiple myeloma, which is a bone cancer, or more specifically a plasma cancer. He got pneumonia early in the year, and in the process of getting treatment for that, they found that his white blood count was very low, and that his blood proteins were very high.

So, now he has gone through 4 stages of low-dose chemotherapy, and one stage of high-dose chemotherapy. His dark hair has fallen out, leaving only the white stuff. It’s wispy and thin, and makes him look really old (and he’s my age, so that means he’s really not that old at all). He goes in for his 6th dose, a mega-dose, this next Thursday.

I am so glad that medicine has advanced as far as it has. But this really stinks. I know that good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people, and blah, blah, blah. I get it. I just don’t like that he got cancer. And it’s not even a “but for the grace of God, go I” kind of thing. It just bums me out.

We have had a few chances to visit since I heard about it, and we have had some great discussions. One of the things that has amazed Ray is that many people have said, “What does God want you to learn from this?” and “Why did this happen to you?” (with the underlying insinuation that it is a punishment)

Now first of all, if you know me at all, you should know that I believe in a “personal God,” one that cares and is involved in blessing not only my life, but the life of all of his children. But like Ray, I draw the line at this. I don’t believe God has the time or inclination to continually smack his children with challenge after challenge, or worse, to figure out ways to hurt us. I wouldn’t do that to my kids, so why should I assume that God would, either.

But just because we are mortal, there are challenges. And some of them really stink! Will we learn from them? Certainly. Can we be kinder, gentler, friendlier because of them? Of course. But we could also be miserable, angry, and bitter.

I have made my choice. And that choice is to love, to be grateful, and to try to make the best of the circumstances that I face. I have found that God has, and will, step in on occasion, and take away the pain, hardship, and challenge. My job is to do the best with it that I can, not judge, and move forward in faith and trust.

But, let’s keep trying to get rid of the rotten things that can happen. Let’s work for peace, for security, and for an end to terrible diseases.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A lot of water under the bridge

A year and a half since my last post. I quit writing, because I didn't think anyone cared. And I got busy. I have a new position at CA Technologies, which has been re-named (from Computer Associates to CA to CA Technologies). I am now a Solution Architect, which means that I get to dream up really cool ways to help our teams sell more stuff.

Brett & Tosha had their third child, Andrew, and he is so cute. He and his big brother, Dakota, and his sister, Mya came over and played while their parents celebrated their 8th anniversary! Yay!

I installed a sprinkler system that completely changed our lives. And the plants love it, too!

Mariah is a senior, and Davis is a freshman. Wow!

What I am most amazed at, though, is that the pebbles in our streams continue to change and shape our lives. More pebbles soon. I promise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why don't we just re-route the whole stream?

As we think about changing who we are or what we do, why don't we just make big changes?

Big changes are hard, but I think the thought of big changes is harder. We fear that we won't be able to really do it, or that it won't turn out quite like we planned.

It is all about harnessing our fear.

But it is amazing that when we try something long enough, we lose all fear, though we retain our respect for the challenge.

For example, people say that speaking in front of groups is one of the biggest fears there is. I've done it well over a thousand times now, and so it no longer holds any fear. But I know what it takes, and I know that I must prepare well or the results may be disastrous!

The Swiss couple that is biking throughout North and Central America helped me realize that if I have a goal (or even a wish), I need to act on it, and not put it away, fearing that I will not be up to the challenge.

Maybe it won't be exactly as I planned or dreamed, but it will never be at all unless I do. Always waiting for the right time will never make it so. Time to plan, prepare, and do, without fear, but with respect.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I had the strangest dream last night

I won't go into all of the details, because dreams are normally quite strange...

But I walked into an office of a business prospect with others from my company, in the normal course of business. Nothing different than a normal sales call.

But then I was introduced to the man to whom we were going to present our solutions. I recognized him, as someone who had hurt me and my family deeply. As I shook his hand, I pulled him close and whispered in his ear, "I remember you, and I remember what you did."

He pulled me close and whispered in my ear, "I remember you too."

Then, I woke up. But I really wondered. Had I really forgiven him, or did I just put it out of my mind? Did I harbor bitterness towards him because of the pain he had caused, or had I really cleansed my mind and heart, and allowed myself to be healed?

Bitterness and unforgiving is such a fruitless activity. It is such a disruption to your soul. It creates long-term ripples that hurt yourself much more than anyone else, though it can definitely affect others, too. I need to examine my soul, to examine my heart, and root out all bitterness, anger, and resentment.

Every day is a good day to forgive.

New Friends From Switzerland

I am a member of a group called There, you can sign up to host people who are on cycling tours, where you offer up a warm shower, and dinner, a warm bed, and some conversation, if you are so inclined.

Raphael and Julia are from Switzerland on an epic tour. They started last summer in Calgary and cycled to Panama. Then they rode back to San Jose, Costa Rica, flew to Las Vegas, and are now headed to Alaska.

We are pleased to host them for an extra day due to bad weather, and it has been wonderful to visit with them, see their pictures, and to enjoy their stories. I have done a little touring (VERY little by comparison), and it has always been very scheduled, had to arrive at this place by this time, and so on. That is in major contrast to Raphael and Julia. They have goals to go to specific places and general times to arrive, and then they play it by ear. They don't like to ride in bad weather, so they don't. In a year and a half, only a couple of times have they ridden in the rain. They just wait out the storm, and then go.

I need to learn to do that more. It is not necessary to plan every minute. It is OK to change what you have planned, so you can enjoy.

One of the other things they did was to stay in Honduras for an extra week so they could learn how to scuba dive. Wow! How cool is that?

I need to learn to be more spontaneous. I need to learn to be more accepting of what happens, and then just make the best of it, instead of having to control things...


What a great pebble in my stream.

Racism Always Troubles the Waters

The other day, I had an opportunity to go see West Side Story, produced by our local high school drama class. I am always amazed at young talent, and there were some outstanding performances by some of the kids.

But what strikes me today is the sadness of racism. What a complete waste of energy! What a missed opportunity!

In the play, there is a line that refers to the fact that we are all immigrants or children of immigrants. Unfortunately, that comment falls on deaf ears to the kids who are bent on driving others out, or forcefully taking what is "rightfully theirs."

I had an opportunity to be in the slums of Chicago one day many years ago, and I learned a valuable lesson: People are the same, and they want the same things--to be safe, to be loved, to have enough for themselves and their families, and to give their children the best life they can give.

It's time to get over it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Foreign Rocks in Our River

We've had lots of rocks thrown in our stream over the years. One of the most interesting, and one of the most life-changing is the addition of exchange students. We have had 7 students stay in our home, and for the most part, it has been a wonderful experience.

Yang Lou--Columbia
Marina--Brazil (Jorge's sister)

It has enriched our life greatly, and changed it significantly.

Tomorrow, Miriam will join us for a few weeks from Germany, with her classmates staying at other homes of our daughter's friends. Should be fun!

If you want an opportunity to host an exchange student, there are two organizations (that I know of) which facilitate that: ERDT and the Rotary Club.

If you just want to dip your toes in, try or You can have travelers visit your home, and that pebble will definitely change your stream for the better.