The Results are in … Sort of

Hello friends,

Thanks so much for your continued prayers for Jen and our family as we’ve been on this medical journey for the past few months.

Jen is mostly recovered from the lung biopsy that she had on July 3rd. The soreness has mostly subsided, making it easier to sleep at night and providing a lot less discomfort through the day. We are thankful for that.

Last week, we met with a bunch of different specialists who are involved in Jen’s health treatment. We found out from Jen’s rheumatologist that she had received results from Jen’s biopsy. These results were from a sample that was analyzed by the local hospital. There is another sample that was sent out by the surgeon to either the Mayo Clinic or Stanford. We have not heard back about those results.

Jen’s rheumatologist felt she had enough information from the local biopsy results to move forward with an initial diagnosis and treatment. We expect the other biopsy to only confirm what we already know but if something changes, we’ll be sure to update you.

The biopsy results were not a surprise, as they indicated extreme inflammation in the lungs. The doctor has diagnosed Jen with something called P-Anca Vasculitis which is not too common but can be treated. Basically, it’s an inflammation of the blood vessels that can attack and present itself in different organs or systems. In Jen’s case, it presented itself in the lungs. Essentially, it’s an auto-immune issue where the immune system doesn’t shut off properly.

Jen is now on a steroid medicine that is designed to reduce the inflammation. She already is starting to feel better. The down-side to steroids is that it raises your blood sugars, and that is not good for someone like Jen who is diabetic. So please pray that Jen will be able to manage her blood sugars while she is on this medication and that she will not have to be on this steroid medication for too long.

My understanding is that the steroid is really only to help with the symptoms Jen has been experiencing since April. To treat the vasculitis, Jen will more than likely have to go on some kind of chemo-therapy medication to turn off the immune system and reset it.

Please continue to pray with us and for us as Jen has many doctor’s appointments this week. We are hoping that she is finally at the beginning stages of a road to recovery. We are grateful that Jen doesn’t have cancer or any of a number of other very serious diseases, but we also know that what she has is not a simple bacterial infection that can be treated with a few days of anti-biotics.

We are very grateful for your continued prayers and your notes of encouragement. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more!

God Bless!
Dave & Jen

Walking Through the Fog of Uncertainty

We sat in the doctor’s office as Jen yet again explained her medical history and recent symptoms to another specialist.

Jen waits patiently in the hospital as she undergoes numerous tests to determine the source of her lung issues.
Jen waits patiently in the hospital as she undergoes numerous tests to determine the source of her lung issues.

After 9 weeks of being sick, two trips to the hospital, numerous doctor visits, blood tests, chest x-rays, two chest cat scans and even a bronchoscopy, we were in the office of a Rheumatologist who was recommended to us by Jen’s Pulmonologist. Before April, when Jen started experiencing chest pain and general lung issues, I’m not sure I had ever even heard of some of the doctors we have seen recently.

Jen explained to the doctor that she had cancer when she was very young – 3 or 4 years old. She had a Wilm’s tumor, which is a cancerous tumor on the kidney. By the time they realized something was wrong, the cancer had spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs. Jen explained that in addition to having her left kidney removed, she underwent aggressive radiation treatment and chemo-therapy but she could not say how long those treatments were. After all, it was 40 years ago.

“That could explain some of the abnormalities we’re seeing in your lungs on your chest scan”, the doctor said. “It could be scarring of your lungs.”

The doctor continued to analyze results of the extensive blood work that has been done over the past few weeks. Just about everything that could be tested for that would cause Jen’s symptoms have all come back negative, making a diagnosis and corresponding treatment somewhat difficult.

In fact, Jen’s pulmonologist now believes Jen’s symptoms (low grade fever, chest tightness, dull aches in her upper back, dry cough, lack of energy) are the result of some kind of auto-immune issue, which is why we now found ourselves in the office of this doctor of Rheumatology.

The doctor continued to analyze Jen’s chart and lab results. “I see you’re diabetic.”

Jen explained that she has been diabetic since she was about 9 years old. We believe that her pancreas may have been damaged by her radiation treatments a few years prior, causing her to become an insulin dependent diabetic.

After perusing the data that filled her screen and taking numerous notes, the doctor finally turned to address us with her assessment.

“Your medical history is quite tricky. We know that there’s something going on because some of your numbers are quite high. They tell us something is happening with your lungs but they are not specific regarding the problem.”

The doctor then shared that she suspects Jen’s issue is most likely rheumatological.

“Before I determine a specific treatment, I recommend that you get a lung biopsy so we can further pinpoint what exactly we’re dealing with.”

And with that, we were referred to yet another specialist, a Thoracic surgeon. After several more doctors visits, more lab work and a meeting with a pre-op nurse, Jen has a lung biopsy scheduled for this Thursday at 10:30 a.m. PST. The procedure is not complicated but will require her to be in the hospital for several days of recovery. Our hope is that this will lead to a diagnosis and a corresponding treatment plan.

Jen poses with one of our former UC Davis students at a recent good-bye party for another one of our former students who is following God’s call overseas.
Jen poses with one of our former UC Davis students at a recent good-bye party for another one of our former students who is following God’s call overseas.

We’ve found ourselves traveling a road that is a bit murky and unknown. Our plans are loose, yet we’re trying to maintain as much normalcy to our lives as possible.

We honestly don’t know what’s next or what these tests might reveal but our hope and trust is in the Lord, who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. He is good. He is powerful. He is able to do the miraculous.

Would you please pray with us and for us? Please pray for the Lord to work mightily in Jen’s body to bring about healing, whether that is through conventional medical treatment or through God’s miraculous intervention.

We are incredibly grateful for  you and your prayers for us at this time. Your prayers and notes of encouragement mean more to us than you can imagine.

Click here to download the pdf version of The Lowedown.

The Year in Review

A Year of Transitions and Graduations

It’s been said that the one thing that is constant in life is change. 2013 proved to be a year of transitions for us. Some were expected and others were quite unexpected.

One of the expected transitions we experienced this year was Jacob and Joshua graduating from elementary school to bona fide junior highers. It’s amazing to think about the growth and development of our twin boys, who are truly a gift from the Lord. We are so proud of the young men they are becoming. They excelled academically in grade school and have transitioned well to junior high. Even though the amount of home work has increased dramatically, they’ve persevered and continued to excel in all of their coursework.

BoysAtFive

FirstDayBoys12Left: Joshua (left) and Jacob at 5 years old. Middle: Joshua (left) and Jacob entering the school yard for the very first time. Right: Joshua (left) and Jacob at 12 years old.

 

Jacob and Joshua continue to develop spiritually as well. A highlight for us was when the boys decided in October that they wanted to get baptized. See my November 13th post on lowedown.com to read more.

An unplanned transition for us occurred over the summer when we officially “graduated” from the mini-van stage as a family. After 12 years of faithful service, we decided it was time to retire our mini-van. An interesting factoid is that we sold our mini-van to Michael Jordan. No, not THE Michael Jordan, but a guy like the one in this funny SportsCenter video:

 

Left: our old ride we sold to Michael Jordan! Right: Our new ride!

MazdaMPV

Highlander-Low

 

 

 

 

Our hope was to raise enough money to purchase a new vehicle outright. While we fell short of that goal, the Lord did provide for a down payment on a reliable used vehicle that we hope will serve our family for many years to come. Thanks to those of you whose contributions helped to provide a newer vehicle for us. We are grateful for how the Lord constantly takes care of our needs.

Finally, we experienced an unexpected transition when, after 25 years of working with the Campus Ministry of Cru, we transitioned to a new ministry and new endeavor with Cru City. We’ll be working to establish a ministry among Millennials, those who are 18-30 years old in our culture and who have been described as the least churched group within our society. I guess you could say that we’ve finally graduated from working with college students to ministering to those in the post-college age group. I guess we’re all growing up! You can read more about our transition to Cru City by visiting our website and reading our October newsletter.

Thank you for praying for us and partnering with us through all of the transitions life brings. We are excited to see what 2014 brings!

Click here to read the pdf version of the Lowedown.

 

The Thanksgiving Tree

A picture of our Thanksgiving tree on our Kitchen counter
A picture of our Thanksgiving tree on our Kitchen counter

This November, Jen initiated a new tradition in our house. We call it the thanksgiving
tree. It’s a pretty simple idea. A handful of long, slim branches placed in a vase with dozens of cutout paper leaves attached with ribbons. Every night at dinner, one of us would pull a paper leaf off the tree and read a Bible verse that was printed on it related to giving thanks. We would then go around the table and share something we were thankful for.

Since we agreed not to repeat thoughts from previous days, it was a great opportunity to
expand our hearts and think about blessings beyond the biggies like my home, my family
and the food on the table.

Last week, Jen and I attended our staff conference to say goodbye to the friends and colleagues we have worked with for the past 25 years. It was a bittersweet moment to share our vision with them concerning our new direction and also brought a moment of finality to our 25 years of ministering to college students. We were truly thankful.

In the midst of saying goodbye, we received an enormous amount of encouragement and words of thanks and gratitude for our years of service and the impact we’ve been blessed to make in the lives of students and staff in our region.

Below are a few notes that encouraged us, and hopefully will encourage you as well.
As we read through all the notes that were given to us, we were particularly encouraged to hear about the indirect impact we have made in the lives of people we have never met.

Like us, you may not directly know all of the people whose lives have been impacted
through your partnership, but your impact is real nonetheless.

As November ends and the Thanksgiving season is officially
behind us, we are incredibly thankful for you, our ministry partners.
Because of your prayers and generous giving, we are able to
influence many lives for the sake of Christ!

Chris Warren is a graduate of UC Davis where he was involved with Cru for 4 years. Chris now serves as the director of Cru at the University of Arizona.

“Dear Dave & Jen,

I want to thank you two so much as you’ve both significantly influenced me. Your faithfulness has led us to where we are today. So thank you!”

– Chris Warren is a graduate of UC Davis where he was involved with Cru for 4 years. Chris now serves as the director of Cru at the University of Arizona.

“Dear Dave & Jen – You guys rock! It’s a privilege to labor alongside such faithful people and to see you continue following Jesus wherever He takes you. As someone who found Jesus and grew up in faith at Davis when you were leading there, I can never repay you for the change in my life (Jesus can, though, so stay tuned for that). You make such a difference in our world!”

– Beth Sekishiro is a UC Davis graduate and now serves on staff with Cru at Cal Poly, Pomona.

Lucas Mathews“Dave & Jen – I’ve never met you but I am a UC Davis grad. I understand that you started the movement at Davis. I wanted to thank you because through that movement I came to know Jesus and now I am interning with Cru at UC Davis. None of that would have happened without your vision and passion to reach my campus. God Bless!”

– Lucas Mathews came to know Christ at UC Davis through Cru and is now serving as an intern with Cru.

Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown.

 

We want to be Baptized!

Jacob and Joshua - October 20, 2013
Jacob and Joshua – October 20, 2013

Recently, I came across a picture from 2006. Jacob and Joshua were holding up a Good News booklet after they both had made a decision to trust in Jesus.

Jacob and Joshua proudly hold up their Good News booklet after having received Christ.
Jacob and Joshua proudly hold up their Good News booklet after having received Christ.

Over the years, we’ve had a number of conversations about their decision and whenever our church had planned a baptism time at the beach, we talked to them about it. But they were always a bit hesitant to take that step to publicly identify themselves as followers of Jesus via baptism.

A few weeks ago, unexpectedly, they both came home from their Wednesday night youth group meeting and announced that they wanted to get baptized.

So that Sunday, after the service, they both took the plunge, literally, to identify to everyone their desire to follow Christ.

It was an exciting moment for us as parents to see our boys growing spiritually and desiring to live for Christ.

We wanted to share that moment with you and say thanks for your prayers for us and our family. It has meant a lot to us to have dear friends and partners in the gospel praying for our family and our boys and their spiritual development.

Please keep praying for us and our family. And don’t hesitate to share any prayer needs you might have with us!

Love,
Dave & Jen

Jacob baptism
Jacob being baptized!
Jacob baptized!
Jacob baptized!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua being baptized
Joshua preparing to go under!

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua baptized!
Joshua is baptized!