In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Category Archives: Miracles
While I was in California two weeks ago, a friend of mine here in Colorado was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is particularly virulent, AND, (I didn’t know this three weeks ago) refractory when it comes to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The only real treatment and hope for a cure is surgery. Huge surgery.
Over the years, Scott has adopted a dietary lifestyle which nearly eliminated all fats. He is very active and very healthy. His wife (and my friend) Joanne had gotten the bug to do some cooking with hamburger. She’d made meatloaf, meatloaf sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, etc. And, being the dutiful and loving husband that he is, Scott ate and ate of the burger based delicacies (even though he doesn’t like hamburger…now that’s love!). And he started to not feel so good.
After a few days of increasing abdominal pain/pressure and other gut related issues, he went to the doctor. And there you have it. Pancreatic cancer. The tumor was blocking the bile and pancreatic ducts. The digestive juices and liver enzymes were unable to pass into the digestive tract and all the fat in the digestive system was just swimming around and that doesn’t feel so great. Within a few more days he had become jaundiced as well and was on the fast track for definitive treatment.
Today was the definitive treatment. It’s called a Whipple procedure. Read about it. I won’t go into the specifics, but they take lots of stuff out in order to get all the places that cancer could possibly get to. It’s the only hope for a cure. And the surgeon said that Scott’s scenario was just about as good as it could get. It was caught pretty early and Scott is extremely healthy. Like all of us would do in the same situation, Joanne and Scott did their internet homework on pancreatic cancer and the Whipple. I didn’t realize until after I saw relief pour over them that they didn’t realize that pancreatic cancer IS curable. Cancer survivability statistics usually give a percentage of people who survive to five years without recurrance. Five years without recurrance is considered cured. They didn’t realize that. And they didn’t realize that when the percentages of people who don’t survive up to five years is presented, that they include “all comers” with pancreatic cancer. They don’t reflect just people whose cancer was caught early and who enjoy excellent health. They thought pancreatic cancer was pretty much a death sentence. You wouldn’t have known it by how they were remained filled with joy and hope. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this kind of raw courage. On many occasions Joanne talked of how excited she was to be able to be on this journey with Scott, and what a privilege it is to be able to see God do what He will do. They embraced this diagnosis with complete surrender to God’s will. (Nope, not denial…surrender.)
From the moment that Scott got sick to the time he came out of surgery we saw God weaving the fabric of His control in the situation. Because Scott had some time ago adopted a nearly fat free diet, had he not eaten all that hamburger, it might have been much longer until the diagnosis was made. All that fat which made Scott so sick brought his cancer to light (thank God for hamburger). The doctor he went in to see first thought it was just a simple stomach upset and ordered medicine for it, but also ordered a battery of blood tests. Based on those blood tests Scott was almost immediately in to see a gastroenterologist who immediately arranged for him to see a buddy of his. A buddy who just happened to be a pre-eminent cancer surgeon up in Denver. He was in to see this doctor within days. This doctor, amazingly, had performed the Whipple procedure over a hundred times! During the course of that appointment the doctor informed him that he could do the surgery the next Monday, as they had just had a cancellation. Wow. They ran some pre-op blood tests and a couple of days later it was determined that Scott needed to have stents placed in order to unblock those ducts to bring down his bilirubin level. This past Thursday Scott urgently underwent that procedure, which ended up being very complicated, but ultimately successful. One of the nurses just happened to be a friend of theirs and was able to keep them well informed of what was happening. Calls for prayer went out for the struggling doctors, and it seemed like within moments, the struggling stopped and the stents were in. Lots and lots more prayer later and repeat labs on Sunday showed that he could have the surgery as his bilirubin level had come down into a safer level for surgery. It seemed as though God was in the business of giving them little miracle after little miracle.
I think that every Christian that everyone in the family knows and every Christian that everyone connected to the family knows, has been praying.
We congregated in the surgery waiting room this morning and hunkered down for the long wait. Well, Joanne didn’t hunker down. Joanne was off meeting everyone else in the waiting room, encouraging them, hugging them, praying with them, and raising spirits. She was calm and she was peaceful. I don’t know how I would have been if it was my husband in there, but I don’t think I would have been working the room like that. I wouldn’t have had that sort of reachoutiveness. There was an incredible peace in our little corner of the room. And even smiles and laughter.
Late in the afternoon the doctor came into the waiting room and gave the news. The surgery went great. They got all the tumor, and they did so completely sparing Scott’s stomach. The final pathology reports won’t be in for five days, but the doctor believed that all the margins were clear of tumor when he was done. Scott was in recovery and was extubated and didn’t need a nasogastric tube to his stomach, and wouldn’t even need to spend the night in the ICU, but instead would be going to a step down unit. Couldn’t have gone better. Another miracle, this one a big one.
The Whipple is a horribly invasive and very aggresive surgery. But it has to be since it’s the only hope for a cure. Because of the nature of the surgery, the risk for complications (from very mild to very severe) is very high.
Your prayers for Scott’s continued good recovery are deeply coveted. And your prayers for continuing miracles in this family’s life are deeply coveted. Joanne and Scott, married for decades, are crazy in love with each other. They’d like to grow old together. Love like theirs is hard to find.
I’ve found myself at nearly a complete loss at how to pray. I’ve just been begging God to let them grow old together.
You don’t have to call it a miracle if you don’t want to, but I’m going to call it one.
Each Teen Missions (TMI) team is on the field for 4-5 weeks. At the end of that time, teams go to a week long “debrief” before returning home. A number of teams attend each debrief. My team’s debrief was at the TMI base in Ndola, Zambia. We attended debrief with the two other Zambia teams. I’m telling you this story about Abner because he has started his “100 days” until he comes home countdown.
As part of the debrief program, each of the teams puts on an hour or so long presentation which shares, in part, about the team’s history. Leaders are generally involved as well, even if in a very brief way. Our presentation started with some Boot Camp stories. One of these stories was about our first “team S.B.” (An S.B. is a kind of punishment. You “serve” your S.B. by losing free time and working instead. If a leader is the one to get the S.B. the entire team has to serve it.) Our first team S.B. was given to us well into Boot Camp on leaders’ day on the obstacle course. We were given the S.B. because a leader was dropped attempting to scale the 12 foot wall. That leader? Abner. Abner, our head leader. Abner, one of the obstacle course judges! Soooo, one of our presentation skits was recreating that “hands up eyes up” moment of failure. It was all too realistic in that it appeared that Abner was dropped again. Only this time, instead of landing in soft sand, he landed on concrete. And hit his head. His head bounced back and sent a loud popping sound throughout the room.
As everyone sucked in their collective breath, Abner grabbed his head, but then he laughed and shook it off and got up. He came over and stood next to me. I felt the back of his head and could already feel a lump forming there. He assured me that he felt fine and I continued to watch the presentation (which was awesome, by the way). About 15 minutes later, a very disoriented and frightened looking Abner came up behind where I was sitting and said “Mama Lou, I can’t remember anything!” At first I thought he was yanking my chain. Afterall, he knew who *I* was, right? Well, he wasn’t a good enough actor to pull off the frightened look in his eyes so I knew something truly was wrong. I took him outside and began to try to sort out what was going on.
“We’re at debrief?” he asked incredulously. “We’re in Ethiopia already?” (his last team debriefed in Ethiopia. WE were in Zambia.) I attempted to reorient him. It didn’t go well. He kept talking about being freaked out that he was already in Ethiopia. He had absolutely no memory of anything from the past week. I did a quick neurological exam on him which yielded nothing disconcerting. I wasn’t overly worried about things at this point. I figured he’d get his memory back and that we’d probably just have to monitor him until he did or until his condition worsened. I didn’t have any idea how long it might take for his memory to return. After 10 or 15 minutes of making no progress with him, I was up for my part of the presentation. I decided to stop our presentation and to let everyone know what was going on at that time. We sat a very upset and confused Abner in a chair in the middle of the room. We laid hands on him and prayed. The kids were all very scared to see Abner looking so frightened and talking like a bit like a crazy person.
I took him back outside to try the reorientation process again. Almost immediately he began to get his memory back! Within 20 minutes he began to laugh and to look like himself. He lost the frightened look. We worked our way back from his approaching me and telling me he couldn’t remember anything through the whole week. He remembered everything. Except the actual hitting the head event. (I don’t know if he ever remembered that! I need to ask him.)
Anyhow, twenty minutes after praying for him, he said he felt fine, and he looked fine. I had him go back in to see the kids so that they could see he was 1) okay and 2) see that their prayers had been answered almost instantaneously. Abner was still a bit foggy for a day, but within 24 hours he truly was fine. Except he was worried that he’d “suffer problems with (his) brain.” He asked me if I thought he’d have permanent problems with his brain probably a hundred times. Poor Abner.
Abner is mostly fine. He’s in Mozambique. Suffering post-concussion headaches. But otherwise his usual insane self.
He’ll be back stateside in February. Which is probably none too soon for his mother who is probably still worried sick about her baby Abner losing his mind…
(P.S. I am sorry if I used references that mean absolutely nothing to you! There’s so much background information that could be given. But the point of this story is not that you understand all about debrief and boot camp and S.B.s, but that you get an idea of the miraculous nature of Abner’s recovery.)
Hurry home, and be safe, Abner!
This photo was stolen from Abner’s MySpace and uploaded to Flickr!