The Power of a New Year’s Resolution

Photo by Crazy nana on Unsplash

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who make New Year’s resolutions and those who don’t.

It’s not hard to figure out why some people hate New Year’s resolutions. Many people hate the idea of New Year’s resolutions because they’ve made them over and over again, only to fail miserably over and over again. Nobody likes the feeling of failure.

We resolve to lose weight and we actually gain weight. We resolve to get a handle on our finances and yet we go deeper into debt. We resolve to read more and watch TV less  and yet we find ourselves binge watching the latest Netflix series during our free time (when we should probably be exercising)!

Photo by Jamie Matociños on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why so many New Year’s resolutions fail? It’s because for most of us, we try to change our outward behavior without changing the inner person. We fail to address the core issues that cause us to do the things that we say we don’t want to do but we end up doing anyway.

Photo from Pexels.com

In The Godfather III, there is a scene where Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino), feeling remorseful for his sinful life, is at the Vatican City talking to a priest. The priest picks up a stone from the fountain next to him and says, “do you see this stone? It has been surrounded by water from this fountain for many years. But the water has never penetrated the inside.” He then smacks the stone onto the pavement and it breaks in two. “You see? The inside is completely dry. This is like Christianity. People have been surrounded by Christianity for thousands of years and yet it does not penetrate their hearts.”

Forty-five years ago, my parents made a New Year’s resolution that greatly impacted me. Though they had both grown up going to church, we were not a church-going family. My parents, after much reflection, resolved to recommit themselves to the Lord and begin taking their family to church on Sundays.

As an eight-year old boy, I suddenly found myself in church on Sundays instead of sleeping in or messing around the neighborhood. It was not my preference, but as the weeks and months went by, I learned about my sinfulness and my need for forgiveness. I also learned about the payment Jesus made on the cross for my sin. I learned that I could receive forgiveness and enter into a relationship with God simply by putting my faith in Jesus and His death for me. My life was changed because of a New Year’s resolution.

If only I could get someone to take me on a walk!

What are the things you are hoping to change as you enter this New Year? What are your resolutions? They are probably similar to mine. I’d like to exercise more and read more. I should probably walk my dog more. I’d like to be more kind and compassionate and less impatient with others.

More than anything, my hope for this year is that Christ would penetrate my heart more deeply and that I would experience greater internal transformation as a result. I don’t want to just try to act better but my hope is that by Christ’s strength and power, I might be better – that I might become one who more accurately reflects Christ’s character to the world around me.

We are so grateful for you, our friends and ministry partners, whose encouragement motivates us to continue to pursue Jesus and the spiritual transformation that only he can offer.

Let us know what your resolutions are for this year and how we can pray for you to experience transformation in 2019!

Happy New Year!

A “Healthy” Look at Thanksgiving

Last Thursday, Jen battled the Southern California traffic to make the day-long trip to see her Rheumatologist at UCLA. In the nearly three years she’s been seeing specialists in Westwood, this was the first time that I didn’t make the trip with her.

My absence was primarily because of a volunteer commitment that could not be changed.

Jen poses with Jacob and Joshua after the OC Champs Cross Country Race in mid October

Earlier in the fall, Jen and I committed to be volunteer coaches for a group of high school students in Santa Ana. Our group meets every Thursday and it just so happened that Jen’s Rheumatology appointment was scheduled for the same day as our coaching group. Changing the appointment to a different day without delay would almost take an act of Congress so it seemed prudent for Jen to keep the appointment and make the trip without me.

To be honest, when we first started making the trips to West Los Angeles, there was a sense of urgency and unknown because of Jen’s health condition at the time. I went to be a moral support and to gather as much information as possible about the condition we were dealing with.

A side benefit of the trip was being able to use the carpool lane, which could cut our travel time down by as much as an hour each way!

So how is Jen’s health? I get this question frequently and I realized that it’s been a while since we’ve updated you through our newsletters. As we reflected on Thanksgiving this year, one of the things we are extremely grateful for is our health. The boys are both healthy and not in the midst of any runner’s injuries and my health has been pretty good for the most part.

Jen shares with a group of Cru Leaders during a Leadership Development Conference in October 2017

For Jen, the good news is that her health is stable. For about two and half years now, she’s been taking an immunosuppressant  that has kept her immune system at bay, eliminating the flares that put her in the hospital 5 times in a 9 month period. As a result, she was able to get off Prednisone along with all the nasty side effects that it brings.

Jen has returned to a somewhat normal routine, including being a mom to our twins and working full-time with me in reaching and ministering to Young Professionals in Orange County. In addition, Jen has been able to resume her part-time role with Cru in helping to develop and shape leaders through the Senior Leadership Initiative Program, which is influencing and preparing some of the best emerging leaders within our organization.

Life isn’t perfect, however, and though the health outlook for Jen is much better than 3 years ago, there are still challenges. For one, the medicine Jen takes has some undesirable side effects, including a continued loss of appetite and general upset stomach.

Jen (2nd from right) poses with her Process Group – a group of leaders who meet regularly to process and discuss the things they’re learning and implementing

Additionally, Jen has been dealing with an issue of Frozen shoulder that requires multiple visits to physical therapy a week at times. And of course there’s the ongoing diabetes management that requires constant attention.

Maintaining good health requires attention and discipline for anyone but for a diabetic with a long-term auto-immune disorder, it adds to the complexity of life. All things considered though, we are extremely grateful for the Lord’s goodness and provision. We have much for which to be grateful!

We’re especially thankful for you, our friends and partners who have encouraged us and shared with us in our burdens and struggles! Thank you for continuing to journey with us as we navigate the challenges of ministry, parenthood and life. We would greatly appreciate your continued prayers for us and our family!

Dealing With Disappointment

Life isn’t fair.

Things don’t always go the way you want.

You can’t control everything.

In the grand scheme of life, this is just a momentary setback.

We’ve all heard statements like these. But try helping a disappointed 16 year old to understand and embrace these truths.

Life can be a cruel teacher at times.

In the last 3 months, we’ve experienced a number of unexpected life events.

In July, while our family was in Colorado, I received a call to tell me that my grandmother had passed away. She was 96 so it was not completely surprising. Still, you’re never quite prepared for the news that your last living grandparent has passed away.

In August, I received the news that my aunt, the last living sibling of my grandfather, had passed away.

And just two weeks ago, I received the news that my uncle, who was in his early 70’s had died unexpectedly.

Jacob (left) and Joshua (middle) running with their team in Mammoth. Joshua’s injury occurred some time during this training run to Rainbow Falls. Check out the video of this trail below, or at: https://youtu.be/T1czVLdEyKA

The hardest issue though that we’ve been dealing with these last two months centers around our son Joshua, who has been dealing with a foot injury.

As a parent, it’s so hard to see your kids struggle and deal with setbacks and disappointment. Our tendency is to want to fix things and make things better and to shield them from hurt. But that’s not always possible and it’s not always advisable either.

In early August, Jacob and Joshua headed up to Mammoth with the rest of the varsity Cross Country team for a week of training at altitude. I (Dave) tagged along as a parent volunteer.

It was a great week of bonding and conditioning. Their team is really strong this year and is highly ranked, both in the county and even in the state. Expectations are high and the anticipation for this season has been palpable.

Towards the end of the week, Joshua started experiencing pain on the top his right foot. He was immediately shut down from running until we could get it checked out.

An MRI revealed a stress reaction in the 2nd long bone of his right foot.

A stress reaction is basically a pre-cursor to a stress fracture, and though it sounds less severe, the recovery time is the same.

For the last 7 weeks Joshua has been doing nothing but pool workouts, by himself, isolated from the rest of the team.

Twice, he’s tried to start running again, only to experience a setback with new pain in his foot.

There have been lots of tears and the frustration has come out in a variety of ways. Every night we pray. Joshua’s constant request has been, “Pray that my foot heals quickly.”

After spending many conversations trying to dispense my sage advice (see statements above), with varying degrees of receptivity, I decided that maybe I needed another approach.

After much reflection, I’ve learned that I need to be slower to react and give advice and I need to listen more.

Joshua’s (far right) season so far has been relegated to trying to be a good team-mate and cheer his team-mates when they race.

I realize that I need to be more patient and not get so easily worked up when the response and heart attitude isn’t what I want.

I need to let Joshua process his own disappointment and loss while communicating that I’m for him and that we grieve with him.

Lastly, I want to help Joshua process his circumstances and learn what he can from this situation.

I’ve found that some of the coaching training we’ve been going through has been helpful to just ask questions. Questions such as:

What is the Lord teaching you? What are you learning about your identity and yourself through this? How can this situation help shape you as a person and leader? What can you learn about being a good team-mate through this?

Sixteen year olds are not always ready to learn these life lessons. But then again, us old guys aren’t always ready either!

Thanks for your ministry in our lives as we navigate the ups and downs of life and seek to learn our own life lessons.

Please pray for wisdom for us as we parent our twins and seek to guide them toward Jesus!

If you think about it, please pray for Joshua and his injury. Pray that his foot would heal and that he wouldn’t have any recurrence of the foot issue. Lastly, pray that he would consider the lessons the Lord is wanting to teach him through the situation he’s been in.

Cru17 Highlights

Almost everything was different about our summer conference at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

For starters, we skipped the usual two day drive with the family that would take us through the deserts of California and Nevada, the amazing rock formations of Utah and the majestic Rocky Mountains. We opted to fly instead.

It’s been four years since Jen and I attended this conference so of course we noticed how much the town of Fort Collins and the campus have changed with recent construction. Some of our favorite places to eat have closed and new eateries have opened up.

When we entered Moby arena for the first session, I could tell this conference was going to be different.

The stage was set right in the middle of the arena, instead of at one end, as has been typical in the past. Somehow, it gave the sense of drawing people in.

The worship was inspiring and of course, the speakers were diverse and challenging. It’s hard to encapsulate all that happened in a short newsletter so we’ll share a few of our favorite moments.

HONORING THE NATIVE COMMUNITY

Cru President Steve Douglass presents a local Native elder with a traditional gift blanket.

During one of the opening sessions of our partnership weekend, Donnie and Renee Begay, the diretors of our Native ministry (Nations) led us through a time of honoring local Native elders. There was an exchange of gifts between leaders and one of the elders who addressed our conference mentioned that this was the first time anyone had approached them and included them in this way before. It was incredibly moving and redemptive.

 

PARTNERING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Aruna Project seeks to help woman in India who are in bondage as sex slaves

For the first time, Cru partnered with the Aruna Project to host a 5K run on campus to raise funds and awareness for women in India who are enslaved in the sex trafficking industry. Jacob and Joshua ran the race and did quite well, but that’s not the highlight.

What was different about this race is that every runner ran with the name of a woman taped to their body who is still enslaved. As the runners started the race, they were encouraged to shout the name of the woman taped to their body.

The hope is that each woman represented will soon be able to experience true freedom.

Additionally, each participant received an Aruna drawstring bag that was made by women who were once enslaved but are now free and employed with jobs making usable clothing and gear. For more information on the Aruna Project, go to arunaproject.com. To see more photos from the race, see my Flickr album at: http://bit.ly/2vVBlVf.

 

FAST FOOD DISCIPLESHIP?

Jennie Allen shared her story of growing as a believer in the context of Cru when she was a new believer in college. She mentioned how the staff person who was following up with her initial contact invited her to Sonic in order to connect with her personally. She remarked, “Don’t underestimate the power of a Sonic run.”

It was a funny comment but it reminded me that what we do is valuable. We often meet people in various places all over Orange County and we have no idea the impact we are having. Jennie’s story was a great example of why it’s important to meet with and connect with Young adults.

 

FUN IN BOULDER

Joshua, left, and Jacob take a photo with Jerry, the founder and president of Newton Running Shoes!

We had a half day off during the conference and we decided to spend that time in Boulder, which is about an hour away. Jen had arranged for us to visit the small office of Newton Running Shoes.

Earlier in the year, the Cross Country coach had recommended Newtons for Jacob and Joshua as a way to help correct their heal-striking tendencies, which we think was contributing to some of the knee and shin issues Jacob had been experiencing off and on for the past year.

Newton is a small company that has appealed to a lot of triathletes. They make good shoes but they’re not easy to find. Basically, you have to order directly online.

It was fun going to their office because everyone was super friendly and asked a lot of questions. They showed us samples of the new models that haven’t even come out yet and the founder and president took several minutes out of his time to personally greet us and ask questions about Jacob and Joshua’s running.

They even hooked us up with some free stuff, which was a nice bonus!

 

THE NATURE OF PARTNERSHIP

Andy Crouch speaks on the topic of true partnership.

Andy Crouch, author, speaker and former executive editor of Christianity Today, spoke on partnering. I’ve always found Andy to be very thoughtful and insightful as it relates to how Christianity intersects with current culture. Andy challenged our thinking on partnership. In particular, he said that, “Partnership is not a trade. You can’t walk away after getting what you want.”

He stressed the importance of relationships and engaging with one another in our struggles and our suffering.

Andy’s talk reminded me of you, our PARTNERS. We missed the Cru conference two years ago because of Jen’s health. During that trying time in our lives, you truly demonstrated the kind of partnership that Andy talked about. You encouraged us, prayed for us and suffered with us through our struggles. Your generosity and compassion sustained us and we are truly grateful! Thank you for your prayers and partnership!

Stripped

Last month we learned that our insurance company had been victims of a massive data breach and that the personal information of everyone in our family has been compromised. Of course our worst fear is that someone might use that information to commit identity theft.

In this age of technology and social media our identity is more important than ever. We go to great lengths to ensure we’re protected financially from those who would steal our vital information for their own personal gain. We also want to protect our reputation. I have a doctor friend who has a very low profile on Facebook simply because he doesn’t want anyone else creating a false identity of him online that might negatively affect his reputation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. I’m not talking about the ethnic and age demographic information that seemingly everyone wants to know these days. I’m talking about where we get our value – where we get our identity and sense of worth from.

For most men, value, worth, identity often come from our jobs or our achievements. It might be a diploma from a prestigious school that is proudly displayed so that everyone can see it. Or it might be a car that represents a certain financial and social status. Or maybe it’s a house in a certain neighborhood that projects a certain status to others. Regardless of what it is, many people gain their sense of worth and value from external things such as our family or our job or some other material things.

I think this last year has been a refining period where the Lord has been slowly stripping me of the things that have tended to give me value and self-worth. I don’t have a fancy car or house and that chiseled physique seems to continually elude me, but for the last 25 years I’ve had a ministry that has enabled me to feel productive and fruitful and therefore valued. There was never a shortage of stories of someone who had trusted in Christ or who had experienced some radical life transformation.

This last year, with the challenges we’ve faced in our family and struggling to get a new ministry off the ground, I’ve found those stories harder to come by. It’s forced me to reflect more deeply than ever and ask myself where my identity lies.

I’ve been reading through the New Testament and in Mark chapter 1, Jesus goes out to the desert to be baptized by John. When He comes up out of the water, the Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove and the Lord speaks, “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”

I find it comforting to realize that the Father spoke these words before Jesus had performed any miracles, or healed any sick people. Jesus hadn’t cast out any demons yet, taught to any large crowds or paid for the sins of the world. Jesus had done NOTHING. And yet, the Father affirms His identity (You are my Son), affirms security through unconditional love (whom I love) and also affirms value (with You I am well pleased).

As it turns out, the best story of transformation we have to offer these days are examples from our own lives.

Thank you for the part you have played and are playing in our own transformation. Please pray that as the Lord continues to strip and refine and prune our character, that it would result in lives that are more fruitful and glorifying to Him!

Jen’s Health Update

Jen is tapering down on her dosage of Prednisone and so far it appears that this new immunosuppressant she has been taking is working. Please pray that there would be no complications and that many of the negative side effects of Prednisone (blurred vision, bursitis, muscular atrophy, water retention, etc.) would begin to subside.

We have appointments the next two weeks with doctors at UCLA. Pray for wisdom and clarity and that the treatment plan would help stabilize Jen’s condition and help her get back to feeling normal again.

Other Family News

It’s hard to believe that Jacob and Joshua are in the midst of registering for high school. They are filling out their schedules now and requesting their classes and electives. Wow! It’s gone by too fast and is almost surreal.

Jacob and Joshua after receiving their certificates for California Junior Scholastic Foundation (CJSF) for 8th grade.
Jacob and Joshua tie for first place in the Los Alisos 2 mile run.
Jacob and Joshua tie for first place in the Los Alisos 2 mile run.

Jacob and Joshua are doing quite well in school and are involved in various activities. They are involve in a running club at school where they tied for first in a 2 mile race that took place yesterday. They are also enjoying their last season of flag football.

Please pray for wisdom as they choose their classes, apply for sports teams and prepare themselves for life as high schoolers!

The Butterfly Effect

“A butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, we get a hurricane off the coast of Florida.”

Perhaps you’ve heard this quote or something similar. The idea is that something as small and insignificant as a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world could change certain conditions that have an enormous effect in another part of the world, such as a hurricane.

The “butterfly effect” as it has come to be known can actually be traced back to a man named Edward Lorenz, who, while working as an assistant professor in MIT’s department of Meteorology in 1961, developed an early computer program to simulate weather patterns. One day, Lorenz allegedly changed one of a dozen numbers representing atmospheric conditions from 0.506127 to 0.506. That very small, seemingly insignificant change utterly changed his long-term forecast. Lorenz wrote about this effect in 1972 in a paper entitled “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?”

In popular culture today the “butterfly effect” refers to seeing the interconnectedness of two events that at first may seem unrelated. For us, we’re experiencing our own “butterfly effect” as it relates to Jen’s health situation. Let me explain.

Jen meets with the nurse at UCLA before seeing the Rheumatologist.

February was a busy month of doctor visits for Jen. Most notably, we had two different trips to UCLA to see Pulmonary and Rheumatology experts. As part of her next steps in treatment, Jen’s doctors are trying to determine whether they should subject her to another round of chemo-therapy. And if so, should they prescribe Rituxan, which is the drug Jen received last fall and was interpreted to be only partially effective, or should they prescribe a different drug known as Cytoxan?

The problem is that Cytoxan apparently has a lifetime limit. Doctors have discovered that administering this drug in dosages beyond this limit could put the patient at greater risk for blood diseases like leukemia.

As you may know, Jen had cancer when she was 3 years old and was subjected to about 18 months of radiation and chemo-therapy. We weren’t sure if Cytoxan was one of the chemo drugs that Jen had as a child so we’ve been working to get access to her records so we can determine if Cytoxan is even an option for current treatment. As you can imagine, gaining access to medical records from 40 years ago has proven to be a challenge.

But Jen had a brilliant idea! For the past 40 years, she’s been a part of a long term study conducted by the National Wilms Tumor Study (NWTS). This is the kind of tumor Jen had as a child and Jen thought that this research group might have information about her treatment 40 years ago. She was right! The person Jen contacted at the NWTS was able to pull up her medical profile right away give her a bunch of information about her surgery and treatment. Jen talked for about an hour with the person about her treatment and we now know that Cytoxan was NOT one of the drugs that she had as a child.

The person Jen talked to also said that what Jen is experiencing is not uncommon with people who have had her type of tumor and treatment. Apparently, others who have been a part of this ongoing research study have had issues similar to what Jen is now experiencing. We have long wondered whether the issues Jen is experiencing are related to her cancer and treatments as a child. It now seems as if there might be a connection though we’re not sure exactly how the two things may correspond. The “Butterfly effect”.

We want you to know that we are extremely grateful for you. Your investment in our lives through your prayers, notes and financial gifts, may seem small and insignificant but it has had a HUGE impact in our lives, especially during this current season in our lives. I guess that’s another example of the butterfly effect in action!

Please continue to pray for the doctors to have wisdom as they determine the best course of treatment and pray for us too as we navigate the next steps in Jen’s treatment.

A Temporary Setback

(NOTE: this is a follow up to my earlier posts on 10/13 and 10/22)…

Click here to read the pdf version of the Lowedown

Recently, I was watching an episode of Dancing with the Stars. Jen and I enjoy watching the transformation that takes place in the lives of people who have no dancing experience and yet are able to learn to perform sophisticated dance routines at a high level.

The theme of this particular week was “your most challenging year”. One contestant mentioned the year that he went to jail. Another contestant mentioned the year that her dad passed away. Still another contestant mentioned being bullied as a teenager.

I think I can confidently say that if I were on that show and had to respond to the theme of that week, that this year would definitely be listed as our most challenging year.

It’s been a six month journey in getting sick, trying to diagnose the problem, getting a diagnosis and then beginning treatment. Last month, Jen had just finished 4 weeks of chemo-therapy infusions that were designed to suppress her immune system and put her vasculitis into remission.

Everything seemed to be going well. Jen was responding well to the treatment and the blood work indicated that her kidney functioning, which had been declining over the summer, was beginning to stabilize.

But about 2 weeks after her last infusion, Jen started to experience some symptoms of shortness of breath, accompanied by some low grade fevers. When we met with her rheumatologist, her initial words were, “this is not good.” She was concerned that Jen might have an infection and with a compromised immune system, that could be extremely dangerous.

hospital1
Jen spent 10 days in the hospital getting tests and being treated for a vasculitis recurrence.

Jen was admitted to the hospital and remained there for 10 days. Tests indicated that there was no infection, which means that what Jen was experiencing was a recurrence of her vasculitis. After all the treatments that she had received, this was a bit of a bummer.

To combat this vasculitis flare, Jen had to be given very high doses of Prednisone intravenously for several days. Once the doctors were confident that the vasculitis flare was under control, it took them several days to taper Jen down to a Prednisone dosage that was low enough to take at home.

Jen has now been home for a week. The good news is that her kidney function, blood work and chest x-ray all look good and for now the vasculitis symptoms seem to be under control. The hard part is that Jen is on a higher dose of Prednisone than when she first started treatment in July, so in some ways, it feels a bit like treatment is starting completely over at the beginning.

Jen’s rheumatologist tells us that the treatment phase for this disease will likely last a year. After that, if there are no other setbacks, we can move into a maintenance phase. Maintenance would require Jen to take low doses of an immunosuppressant drug in order to keep the vasculitis from recurring.

During this challenging time, we’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support from family, friends and co-workers. Thank you for praying for us and for serving us in so many ways, whether through cards, notes of encouragement, timely meals for our family or an additional financial gift. We are so grateful for you.

We would greatly covet your continued prayers for us as we continue to navigate this journey the Lord has us on.

Specifically, pray for Jen to remain healthy as her immune system will be compromised until well after the first of the year. Pray also that there would be no recurrence of the vasculitis as Jen continues to be tapered off of Prednisone, which has many undesirable side effects.

Pray too for us as we try to balance our desire to build on our new ministry while continuing to deal with Jen’s ongoing disease and recovery.

Thank you so much for standing with us. We are eternally grateful!

Dave&Jen2

The Fall Forecast

20140806_124441
Dave, with Joshua and Jacob on the USC campus early in August on Dave’s birthday!

Each day, sometime after I (Dave) wake up, I grab my phone and the first thing I do is __________ ? Many of you probably would think that I check my e-mail but that is not correct. One of the first things I do when I grab my smartphone is check my weather app. I want to see what the forecast is for the day. How hot is it going to be? Will I need to run the air conditioner? And will it be so hot that I need to think about extra water for the grass and plants? And most importantly, is there any chance of rain in the forecast?

For much of California, we have been in extreme drought conditions for the past 2 years. Our snowfall in the Sierras in 2013 was about 25% less than average and 2014 was much worse at only about 30% of our average snowfall. (see this link for satellite images on the California drought: http://goo.gl/U56uFH)

Earlier in the year, forecasters had been predicting El Nino conditions for this winter which would bring the promise of above average rain and snow in the west. However, those forecasts may have been premature and the possibility of another dry winter still looms. (This article from the IndyStar explains: http://goo.gl/HNSyf6)

Water is essential for life and the lack of water can complicate normal daily activities and routines. The forecast for this fall calls for more dry weather but we’re praying for rain and snow to help bring relief and normalcy back to this region.

In our personal lives and ministry, we’re also forecasting what life and ministry will look like for the fall.

Typically, the fall is a busy season. The kids head back to school and with it comes lots of homework and other activities.

Jen is usually busy with travel for her Leadership development role and of course, we have our local ministry with Millennials that we are developing.

However, the forecast for our fall looks different than normal. Recently, Jen has been getting infusions of a chemotherapy grade drug that is designed to put her vasculitis disease into remission. As I write this, she has received 3 of the 4 infusions, with her last infusion next week. Over the next couple of months, her immune system will be broken down and rebuilt. This is normal and expected but the result will be a compromised immune system for several months.

Jen’s third Rituxan infusion bag. Though it looks like simple water, we’re trusting that the Lord will use this to reset Jen’s immune system and restore her health.
Jen’s third Rituxan infusion bag. Though it looks like simple water, we’re trusting that the Lord will use this to reset Jen’s immune system and restore her health.

After consulting Jen’s rheumatologist and learning how the process works, we realized that traveling this fall would not be wise with a compromised immune system.

As a drought impairs normal activity for those who are affected, our lives and ministry have been affected by Jen’s condition. Ironically, the drug that Jen is taking looks as clear as water and we’re praying that the infusions have the desired effect on Jen’s immune system.

So while the short term forecast means we’ll be grounded and working more locally and virtually, we’re hoping and trusting the Lord to bring some healing and restoration to Jen so that the long term forecast might bring a return of normal activity to our lives.

Whatever the circumstances we’re in, our prayer is that we would glorify Him with our lives and that He would bear fruit through us as we serve Him in whatever capacity we’re able to serve.

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. Please pray with us, that the Lord would “bring the rain” in our personal lives as well as this region in which we live.

We are so grateful for you and we thank the Lord for you and we pray for the Lord’s blessings in your life as well. And we invite you to share your needs and requests with us so that we can pray for you as well!

Click here to read the pdf version of “The Lowedown”

One Down, Three to Go

Dear Friends,

2014-Aug-BarnardsLast Thursday (Aug 21), Jen had her first infusion of Rituxan. Thank you for praying. The infusion went well in that there was no adverse reaction and no noticeable side effects. Though this is a chemo-therapy grade drug, the good thing about Rituxan is that most people adjust well to the treatment and don’t experience any adverse sickness or reaction.

Jen was able to come home and pretty much resume normal activities.

Today (Wednesday, August 27th), as I write this, Jen is receiving her second infusion. After today, she’ll have two more infusions and then we will be able to see if the medicine is working.

Please continue to pray with us that the Rituxan would put this disease in remission and that her vital organs, lungs and kidney, would not be adversely affected.

Thanks for your continued prayers and concern.

God Bless!

Dave & Jen

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