Guatemala Day 3 and 4 – October 9-10, 2008

Well, things have gotten a bit hetic here in Guatemala. For those of you who know me, know that I have a blood disorder. It makes my blood clot easily, well. I had to go to the hospital here in Guatemala because I THOUGHT I had a clot had moved into the deep veins, which is a bad thing. Dr. ‘Peppi’ as he wanted me to call him, gave me his card and told me to call any time night or day if I had any trouble.

The group left without me, heading to Panabaj. Carol (one of our interpreters) stay with me because she is a hospital professional. She ran the hospital up until two months ago. She was able to get me right in and see a very well trained vascular surgeon. He took blood, and checked me out with a dopler ultra sound. Fortunately, the clot I currently have is in a superficial vein and everything was good.

Carol and I were driven two or three hours to meet the team just after they had finished lunch. We then got on a boat to travel the rest of the way to Panabaj, which is on the banks Lake Atitlan. Beautiful is an understatement.

After the boat ride, we checked into our hotel rooms. Carol and I ate our lunch (very late) then headed to the Good Shepherd Church where Pastor Diego is the pastor.

For those of you who are regulars to this blog you know back in November I had a ’bout’ with something that the doctors weren’t able to identify. While standing in church in Panabaj I had a MAJOR bout again. Heart pumping, lightheaded, dizzy, feeling like I was going to pass out.

I got out of the church because I didn’t want to create a scene in a church who didn’t know me and decided to go sit down in the nearest room. That would be the room with kids making crafts. I just sat there. Fortunately, someone in our group went and got Lori Koorndyk, who’s a physicians assistant. She suggested we call Dr. Peppi. He told me to stop taking the medication and get back to Guatemala City in the morning so I could see him.

I left the group again, and traveled with Lori, Amy Seale (Orphan Outreach) and Carol back to Guatemala, leaving the group again. I just finished meeting with the Dr. and he doesn’t think it’s anything serious (good news), but wants to to rest today before doing any more traveling. So, I am following his advice. I’m sitting in my hotel room relaxing — writing on this blog.

I don’t feel real great right now, so I would like you all to pray for me.

In the mean time, enjoy this video I put together before I started feeling bad. That will give you a good idea where were are and how we got where we were.

The team is on its way back to Guatemala City, while I rest in my room.

A Day of Fasting — but for a different reason

I have published stories about my health in months past and I’m going to be open about my health today as a way ease my fears and perhaps help someone who’s going through a similar experience.

In November I was experiencing unknown dizziness, light headedness, and other symptoms. I went through at battery of tests. The result? The doctors couldn’t find anything (don’t laugh) (Click here to see my journal about that).

Well, tomorrow starts another chapter on my journey through ‘life’ that a good friend calls ‘A journey to The City.’  Don’t get upset — everybody’s on that journey, some are just closer to The City than others. Others have a better idea of how close they are to The City because of the suffering they experience here on earth whether it’s through cancer, heart issues, or persecution.

Ever since April I’ve been having ‘issues.’  It kind of embarasing, actually.  I’ll just say it — I’ve had a pain in my butt and issues passing ‘stuff’ that should be passed. Being the typical man, I just thought it was another ‘phase’ of getting old and that it would pass (no pun intended).

About 6 weeks ago I had a physical and the doctor asked if there were any ‘issues’ and I described them. Thinking he would just say, “That’s a part of getting older,” he didn’t. He said instead, “Hmmm, that’s not good, let’s get you scheduled for a colonoscopy.” So, that’s what I doing tomorrow.

What are the things going through my mind?  A couple of things:

1. I’m concerned that they’re going to find something — cancer. I have a dear friend going through colin cancer right now and he’s struggling. I hate the thought of dying that way.

2. I’m concerned their going to find nothing — which will probably mean more probing and more questions about what’s going on inside my body.

However, spiritually I’m thinking other things.

1. Is this a season God is going to use to lead me to another level in our relationship?
2. Is this a moment of judgment on my life. His way of dealing with sin in my life.
3. Is God using this in my life to help draw my kids to Him. I have a few that aren’t following Christ at all. Maybe this would be His instrument?

I don’t have answers to ANY of these questions, but they are legitimate concerns.

I am sacred, concerned, and anticipating what God has for me.

I’ll let you know.

Mornings on the radio/my life

It has been a fun couple of days. As many of you know, I am no longer involved in live radio. What does that mean? For, non-broadcasters, that simply means most of the programming we produce at Mission Network News is recorded. While it makes for good radio, you don’t have the same feel that you have when you’re doing something live. You also don’t have the same response from your listeners.

This week I was able to do live radio again. Thanks to my friend Jack Haveman at WGNB, Moody Radio. I’m filling in for Jack’s co-host Scott Curtis. It’s fun. It’s always a great time to try and put a good radio show together. Although, this week we haven’t been doing any interaction with telephone calls. I do enjoy that interaction. But, that’s just made it more challenging to make the show compelling.

This week has been a challenge for me, physically, however. I am dealing with pains and things that aren’t normal. I will be going to the doctor Friday to see if we can figure out what’s going on. It’s actually quite scary. I’ve had several friends that are dealing with cancer and I fear that.

Now please, don’t go out telling everyone, ‘Greg’s got cancer’ because it’s probably nothing. I’m 42 years old and I’m sure I’m feeling more pains because of that. But, it also makes me start thinking about my life and how I’ve lived my life.

I figure I’ve lived half my life already. The question is, how have I lived it? Have I lived it totally serving Christ? Have I loved and lived for serving others during my life? Has the sin in my life kept me from serving Him as effectively as I could have? What if God decides to plague me with something that will shake me to the core of my being? How will I react?

I don’t have good answers to all those questions. I haven’t ‘totally’ served Christ. I’ve been selfish many times. I haven’t shown love when I should have — especially to my wife and family. I fear being sick. I fear the pain that goes along with it. I fear my family being alone. But, at the same time I know going through something like that would take me to a new level in my spiritual walk with Christ.

When I experienced the problems I did in November with dizziness and numbness, I feared I was sick then. I still have those moments, but I just view it as God’s way of keeping me close to Him.

So, how am I praying? For the first time in my life (well, maybe not the first time) I’m not sure how to pray. Any suggestions?

Weekend number 31

I was so looking forward to this weekend. This was the first weekend in a long time that I didn’t have to be somewhere or do something. That is, until I got home Friday night. That’s when I was reminded that I am an assistant coach for my daughter’s soccer team.

For those of you who know me, that statement is quite funny. I am NOT a soccer fan. However, my daughter is. She loves the game. Since she does — I do — now. She’s moving up to the U-10 division of AYSO Soccer this fall. Since I was an assistant last year in U-8, I decided I could help again this year.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, Saturday was the day for coaches orientation. A full morning of getting ‘certified’ to be a coach. Actually, that’s certifiable.  🙂 We actually had to participate in some of the drills — or as they called them — exercises. I spent five hours in the sun kicking a soccer ball around. Yes, I got sun burned. Head is as red as a beat. It hurts.

After that I came home and mowed the lawn, which I enjoy, actually.

Following that — a shower and a trip to Moca and Music to listen to a friend, Matt Elmore sing. It was a great day, actually. Except, I’m experiencing strange pains that can’t be explained. I’ve been to the doctor and he has no explanation. I’ve had a physical, blood work, have been to a specialist — still no answers. I’m having a procedure done September 15 to find out if my ‘plumbing’ is okay, but I have no symptoms of any issues there.

Pray for me. Perhaps it’s all related to the problems I had back in November, which really didn’t get figured out.

Summer has been a challenge

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, so I thought I would jot a few things down — randomly.

There has been much sickness surrounding me lately. At least it feels that way. I have a dear friend fighting for his life with cancer. Another couple of friends who are also battling cancer and winning. For the first time in my life I’m not feeling very healthy. I had those ‘shock’ things in November. I believe they were stress related. I’ve developed blood clots in my right leg three times this winter. Fortunately, they were nothing serious. And, following a physical, the doctor told me to get another procedure done that shocked me. What does it all mean? I suppose it means I’m getting older. And, I suppose God is trying to remind me who’s in control and who’s working out the plans. NOTHING IS IN MY HANDS.

Our family cottage in Oscoda, MI

Our family cottage in Oscoda, MI

A few weeks ago we spent family vacation at our family cottage in Oscoda, MI — right on Lake Huron. It was great fun. Except, it was eye opening, too. All of our kids were there, except Sarah. Even the grand kids (yes, I have two). But, when you see your kids as adults you begin to wonder things. Right now I’m wondering why they didn’t follow in my footsteps to honor and love God. It’s a very difficult thing for me to think about. Then I remember, I’M NOT IN CONTROL. Also, I don’t always honor God. Many times I let Him down. Despite knowing that, I’m saddened that none of them show much love for Christ anymore.

We got a new puppy!  Yes, I caved to the pressure. We have a

Our new puppy 'Blu' sleeping in my lap at the cottage.

Our new puppy 'Blu' sleeping in my lap at the cottage.

collie and his name is Blu. He’s a blue merle (type of collie).  He’s quite the character. He’s a faker. He’s a pleaser. He loves to chew on sticks. He enjoys chasing leaves. And, it a great tempered little dog.

Last weekend we traveled to Chicago to visit some dear friends. Sergey, Tonya, and Geni Rakhuba. Tonya is having a baby (surprise!!) at 45 years old. Geni (I think) is 20. So, there will be quite the gap between kids. We went to Chicago for Tonya’s baby shower (I didn’t go — Ann did). Sergey and I just ‘hung out’. He let me ride his motorcycle. Now I have the bug. I would really love to get one. I figure I would save about $246 a month is I drove a motorcycle to work every day. That’s quite the savings.

I miss my church family. We’ve been traveling so much this summer that we haven’t been around to attend church. We have a great church body. I don’t know what we’d do without them. I’m looking forward to hearing God’s Word this weekend in my own church.

That’s it for now. I’ll try not have so much time inbetween posts.

Closer to Christmas

I love Christmas. I have since I was a little boy. When I was between 3 and 10 I believed in Santa Claus. My goal was to see him delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. My two sisters and I would devise a plan each year to try to either take a nap during the day see we could stay up to see him, or have one of us stand watch. If either of us saw him, we’d come running.

Unfortunately, none of us could: a. Stay awake that long. b. stay up (mom an dad ALWAYS made us go to bed). And, c. None of us deep down REALLY wanted to see Santa Claus — it was spoil the surprise.

But, I would go to bed with very few Christmas presents under the tree. Then, I would wake up at 2am or 3am and sneak out to the living room where there would be MANY more gifts under the tree. It always AMAZED me how many more gifts would just magically appear under the tree in just a few hours.

One year, I had a flashlight in my room and I would sneak out and play with the toys before everyone got up. I got a Lionel Train set one year. Another year I got an airplane that would REALLY go. It was electric…it could take-off, fly around and circles and land. It was cool. Another year I got a Virtibird helecopter toy. It was really cool.

I know many Christian families won’t let their kids believe in Santa Claus, our family does. It’s not the only thing we tell our daughter about. We STRESS the reason for Christmas is the birth of God’s Son, Jesus. We also tell her that without Jesus’ birth, we’d never have salvation. It’s the best gift of all.

Well, I’ve been enjoying listening to my favorite Christmas music: Perry Como – Home for the Holidays (1959), Maranatha Long Play Christmas, Steve Green – Joy to the World, Steven Amerson – Is There A Place, Damaris Carbaugh (especially the song, May God Give His Gift This Christmas). I’ve also been dreaming of a white Christmas. The weather’s predicting 8 inches tomorrow. We’ll see.

Merry Christmas!


Giving Thanks

I doubt I’ll be posting anything tomorrow because we’ll be heading to church for our Thanksgiving service, but I wanted to take a moment to tell the world what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

First, I’m thankful for God’s grace in my life. It’s incredibly humbling knowing that God is allowing me not only to be a part of his family, but being able to serve him. His grace has been even more evident through my illness, or whatever it is I’ve been dealing with lately. I realize that even though I was dealing with ‘shocks’ in my head and a little light headedness, there are so many other people dealing with things so much worse. I’m also thankful for His work in my life during this time. God’s brought to mind sin, selfishness and other issues that were preventing me from having a better relationship with Him. Pray for me that I’ll be able to win that constant battle against those things.

I’m also thankful for my family, my wife especially. I’m pretty fortunate the God has given her to to me. She’s stood beside me even though I’m not the most pleasant person to be around. Many times my work, selfishness and other things have upstaged her. While she’s been hurt, she’s stood by me.  I’m also thankful for my kids. Each of them have taught me more about myself. While all of them are FAR from perfect, they are committed to the family and that’s a good thing. However, I regret that none of them have much of a relationship with Christ. I’m making a concerted effort to pray for God’s work in their hearts. Anastsia is young. I’m praying God will move in her heart early. With her personality, I believe God has got some great plans for her.

I’m also fortunate to have a Mom and Dad who have always believed in me. I have never been a very confident person. I don’t know why, but I’ve always doubted myself. I’m sure they were wondering what would become of me, since I wasn’t very motivated in school. I really have to thank them for their prayers and unending support for my success. I surely didn’t earn it on my own.

I’m also thankful for my job. I love it. I love being able to literally tell the word what God is doing through His people. I’m a very fortunate person. I’ve also got a wonderful team. Everyone of them are committed to the cause of Christ and the cause of calling more Christians to get off the butts to do something. Too few believers are doing anything for the Gospel.

My church family has also been an incredible blessing. I’ve learned so much from so many people and I can’t imagine going into spiritual battle with any other group of people. We’re truly unified and it’s thrilling.

So, Thank you Lord for your incredible blessing in my life.

I’ve learned a few things

It’s 4:45 PM on Saturday and I’ve had a pretty good day today. Last night I had another ‘shock’ experience, but it was short lived. It came one, I dealt with it and then it went away. Since I know there’s nothing there physically causing it, I’m no longer concerned about it. It’s still irritating, and shocking (no pun intended),  but it’s easier to deal with.

One thing I’ve learned is that I value good health much more than I ever have. It’s hard not feeling well. It even more difficult not knowing what’s causing the problem. I’ve also learned that it doesn’t matter how you’re feeling, God is still good. He’s still in control. He’s not out of control just because you’re not feeling well. In fact, I really believe He brought this into my life to draw me closer to Him. Why?

I have been under a lot of stress the last eight months. The Better Than Life Project took a lot of energy. I thought the more work I put into it, the more successful it would be.  Iquickly found out that it didn’t matter how much effort I put into it, if God wasn’t behind it, it would be successful. It took me until the final week before the tour to realize that.

I think the Lord wanted to put a period to it by hitting me with this (whatever it is) in the middle of the tour. I think He wanted to get my attention and make sure that I really understood He has a plan for EVERYTHING ‘under the sun.’  Not just my life, but EVERYTHING.

So, while I’m experiencing a little ‘shocks’ in my head and a little dizziness, there’s a reason for it. I don’t know what it is, but it’s all good.

Tests reveal nothing – God is good

Woke up at 1:30am this morning to my little girl having an asthma attack. We quickly got that under control. A 10 minute breathing treatment always seems to work. I’m glad she’s okay.

I had a pretty good day yesterday, even though I didn’t do anything. I basically sat on my butt all day. Valium also kept me down. 🙂 I had no episodes of ‘flashes’ in my head yesterday. I haven’t had any today yet, either. I even went outside to grill hamburgers.

I just got back from another doctor appointment (a follow up on the hospital visit). It appears they’re going to refer me to a neurologist. They will also be doing an MRI and MRA — but I don’t know when yet.

I am feeling better, though. The CT-scans have all come back normal and yes, they did see a brain — so, nobody can ever again say I’m brainless.

God has been good. I’m learning that I can praise Him in the storms of life and I should encourage my family to do the same. It’s been hard — but exciting.

I’ll keep you posted.

Back to the Hospital

After having a life of NEVER riding in an ambulance, I’ve now done it twice in less than a week. Yes, I had to go back to the hospital last night. I was sitting on my couch at around 9:30 when all of a sudden I started feeling those shocks in my head again.  This time it wasn’t just one shock — there were four or five right in a row — quickly accompanied by tingling in my left arm. My wife called our good friend who’s a nurse and  she told us to go to call 911.

So, I went back to the hospital. They did ANOTHER ct scan because the other one I had done was sent away to be read by another doctor. The second scan was done WITHOUT the contras, so they weren’t able to look the the blood vessels in the brain. But, the scan didn’t show any masses. But, it did show that I have a neck with arthritis in c-5 and c-6 that could be causing some of the pain.

There’s still nothing there to show WHY my head keeps doing what it’s doing.

It’s nearly 11am and I just got up. I’m getting a bit depressed about why this is happening. But, I am relieved that there doesn’t appear to be a tumor or anything serious like that. I would, however, like this to end.

I feel badly that my wife has to deal with this and to see the fear in my daughters eye last night was heartbreaking. I can only imagine what’s going through her mind these days.

I’m viewing this as a trial. God must be preparing me for something. Im still planning to read Romans today in The Message.