I had a "Giant Cavernous Aneurysm" behind my left eye. I went to Dallas for surgery and it was killed...however post op my eye is unresponsive. It is if I am looking out of a steamy shower door. Some days it is better than others. Please pray that my sight will be restored. God has been putting words on my heart that I feel I must put on paper. The following thoughts are those I feel that the Lord is speaking to me lately. Enjoy.

March 31, 2005

Now You Can Dance

Goodbye Terri. I want to apologize on behalf of those who took your life. You were a victim of something terrible…humanity.

I’m sorry you had to suffer…quietly. You had no voice to cry out. How many days did you silently cry out for food or water? How many thoughts of abandonment did you feel? How lonely was it at night in the dark staring at the wall wondering why?

“What did I do? Did I somehow make someone mad enough to take away my food and water? Won’t someone give me something? Anything?”

We didn’t even offer you vinegar on a sponge like our crucified Lord. Jesus, I pray you intervened on her behalf. You knew her pain. You felt her abandonment. Jesus, hold her tight today…she’s been through much these past two weeks.

Terri, you did not deserve what you got. You received the death sentence, usually reserved for those who have murdered or raped…but not you. You were the victim of moral injustice, political gain and greed. What have we come to in this world?

God, I pray that you bring conviction to those who erred on the side of death. May something...anything good come out of this? God you are the author of life. You know our days before we were born. Would you bring glory to yourself through this incredible injustice? Forgive us for messing this up.

Go home, Terri. You will run again. You will laugh again. Your Father is waiting. Dance, Dance, Dance.

Welcome Home, Terri.

March 30, 2005

Can you find the aneurysm?

The Race of a Lifetime

I wasn’t even half way to the finish line when all of the rest finished.

I was in the sixth grade in Austin, Texas when “bussing” was introduced. For those not familiar with “bussing,” this was an idea to integrate the school system. They took our pearly white middle school and “bussed” in other 6th graders from South Austin. The kids got off the bus the first day. There was probably 90% African American and 10% Hispanic. This brought a healthy mix of race to Lucy Reed Middle School.

This was great for diversity, but was a nightmare on track and field day. I remember going to Mrs. Conner’s class to look at which heat I was to run. There it was, the 100-yard dash. Let’s see…it was me and 5 other black kids running in the same race.

For those of you who know me, sprinting is not really my thing to begin with…but especially under these circumstances. It was time for my heat. Everyone was stretching, getting ready to set the new Lucy Reed Middle School 100-yard dash record. I wasn’t. I stared at my dad on the sidelines. I remember him giving me the “thumbs up” sign. He was doing his best to encourage me as I was about to face certain humiliation. We lined up.

“Runner’s ready.” Bang! The gun goes off. All I remember is staring at the back ends of my 5 classmates. The distance increased between us, until I saw them break the tape. I wasn’t even half way to the finish line when all of the rest finished.

It was at that point that I “pulled up” with a hamstring strain. Oh, please! I couldn’t have been healthier…I was just short, slow and a little plump.

You know what? My father rushed onto the track and helped his son off. He put my arm around his neck and helped me limp off the track…whispering “its o.k. son, don’t worry about it. You did a good job.” It was like a movie when all of the noise of the stadium hushed for me to hear the words of my father.

My hamstring injury didn’t last long. It was miraculously healed. It was healed by the words of my father…my daddy. He spoke life into my world, as I faced a trial.

I listen to my Father’s voice today, as He speaks truth in my life during this trial. Everything is background noise to my Daddy’s voice. I pray that I hear His voice tomorrow louder than I do today.

I love that when we face our trials, our Father is there waiting to put our arm around His shoulder and quietly speak truth into our lives.

March 29, 2005

I Really Don't Like Web Blogs

For the record, I hate Web Blogs. I think it is a self-serving, everyone look at me, take a peek into my life, type of invention. So, here's my blog. I did it at the suggestion of a friend, and it made sense.

God has been blessing me with some thoughts that I wanted to put on paper at this crossroads in my life. From the feedback, it is blessing some folks. This is good way to disseminate my thoughts.

I hope you enjoy it.


What Do You Mean; “Do I Want To Be Healed?”

Perhaps one of the strangest questions asked in Christ’s 33 years. Since 8 years before Jesus was born, this paralytic man laid beside this pool…waiting. As the angel stirs the waters, phrases such as “First one in is a rotten egg” were not heard around the Jerusalem poolside. The first one in was healed. For 38 long years this guy was slow on the draw.

So, Jesus showed up and asked this guy, “Do you want to be made well?” This seems like a loaded question. The man immediately replied, “OF COURSE!” Or, at least you would have thought that. He never said “yes.” Can you believe it, he never said “yes.” Instead he made excuses as to why he hadn’t made it in the pool.

We all lay by the pool of Bethesda at some point in our lives. Some of us lay there so long; we could qualify for residency there. Others are there on the diving board waiting for the first sign of bubbles.

The angel is over there stirring the water and we’re hanging out under the beach umbrellas sipping an iced tea. We lay there on our beach chairs discussing our miserable lives with other miserable humans. What’s wrong with you? Get next to the edge of the pool!

Is it the attention? When we are in need of emotional, spiritual or physical healing, someone tends to pay attention to us. Maybe we are lonely. We fear when we actually get better that no one will listen to us anymore. I’ve received more emails in the past week, than I have in the last month. Please don’t stop writing just because I confess this vulnerability.

Is it the lack of desire to get well? It takes work to receive healing. Do we want to do what it takes to get better? Do we want to do the counseling, the rehab, or the moral inventory? When you are healed, people will come to you and ask about your story. You will actually have to relive the hard times. Maybe this makes sense.

The ultimate question is do you want your circumstance to change? Or, is it easier just to live here by the pool? Healing is done. It was done on the cross 2,000 years ago when the phrase was uttered, “It is finished.”

I desperately want physical healing. My six year old prays for me daily. I believe the Lord hears his mighty prayers. He holds my head in his little hands and says, “God, please heal my daddy’s head. Please fill that hole behind his eye. We love you, God. Amen.” I’ll take it.

For now, I stand next to the pool, looking for the first bubble to surface.

Over Six Billion Served

My house reeks of throw up. It’s the kind of throw up smell that makes you throw up. My 2 year old, Nate woke up from his nap today with 103 degree fever and throwing up. I don’t know how a child that only weighs 30 pounds can physically hurl 15 pounds of liquid, but it’s happening.

It’s one of those times when mom’s become superstars. I don’t know how Suzi didn’t lose it, but I know she must have had the dry heaves. As soon as the action starts, she is there almost in time to save the carpet. She wasn’t, and it’s o.k. because it’s a rent house and the carpet’s pink. Yep, pink carpets, pink wallpaper and embarrassed to say, pink commodes. I’m so humiliated each time I visit there.

I wish this letter was about me, and how I am there for my children no matter what. This would bode well for me. I would be the hero, but my reaction was to run…fast. I couldn’t get out of the house to “run errands” quick enough. I’ve had my moments in the fatherhood hall of fame, but this wasn’t one of them.

However, Suzi never runs. Her support of our children and dog are endless. Yes, even her love of our dog is unwavering. He sleeps in Gabe and Luke’s room. Unbeknownst to me, she was up with him at 3 o’clock in the morning, cleaning Tyson’s mess up. Again, on the pink carpet. There goes the deposit. This time I didn’t run, I just laid there motionless pretending not to hear anything. My understanding now is that his sickness was caused by me feeding him table food. Suzi made me aware of this.

Our God never runs. We can never do anything that scares Him away. Our throw up, diarrhea and sins don’t make him run. Six billion people a day on planet earth bring sacrifices of filth, unworthiness and unattractiveness to the Creator, and He loves us anyway...unconditionally. All six billion of our huddled masses are equally loved by Him. Does it bother you that He loves Saddam as much as He loves you? I personally feel more lovable than a murderous dictator, but fortunately I don’t make the rules.

Does it blow you away to believe this about God? Because of Christ bridging the gap between humanity and Heaven, we are afforded unconditional grace and love. It’s not right. Or, maybe I should say, it’s not humanly possible. Jesus modeled his love by washing the disciples stinky, dirty and calloused feet. He served, and He loved unconditionally.

I am in love with God, and He in love with me. I would personally rather die knowing the depth of God’s love for me, than live and wonder if He really does. That was good.

I passed a Mickey D’s today that said “over 6 billion served.” I’ll view that tagline differently from now on.
I don’t know about you, but tonight I ’m saying my McPrayers and thanking God for his unforgettable McMercy.

March 28, 2005

My New God

I miss my daddy. I miss his unshaven face. I miss his less than Colgate fresh breath. I miss the way you could tell that he hadn’t showered by the way his hair looked. I miss how happy he was to see me, no matter what kind of day he had. I miss most everything about him. Dad got homesick and went to be with Jesus a few years ago. He died doing what he loved to do most…eating.

My perception of God has changed lately. Maybe it’s the longing for my own dad again. I don’t know. But, it seems like this God is better than the one I grew up with.

A simple knock on His screen door ushers me into His presence. This one has a favorite recliner. My new God’s feet have slippers on, not some royal wooden shoes with a royal emblem on them. My new God’s face is a little unshaven. His skin dark with wrinkles. Perhaps the wrinkles come from pacing the porch of Heaven, squinting to see which of His children will come over the horizon next.

I no longer have to sit beside Him, but He calls me to crawl up on His lap. He holds me so close that I can feel His breath on the top of my head. For the first time, I am so close I can feel his heart beat through His flannel shirt. We don’t even always have to talk. Sometimes we just hang out and rock. It feels secure here. As a matter of fact, there is no place I would rather be…in the arms of my Abba who loves me unconditionally. He loves me for who I am, not who I should be.

After dad died, I was overwhelmed by things would come up that would remind me of him. I remember hugging my uncle with his unshaven face, and less than fresh breath. I could have stayed there for a while. It probably would have freaked him out, but it felt very comfortable.

The more I get to know my new God, the more homesick I get. I love Him a lot. I can’t wait to meet Him, but until then, I’ve got three little boys that need to feel their father’s unshaven face, sense his breath on the top of their heads and smell his less than fresh breath.

Take a chance. Get out of your chair and crawl on up. Your new God is waiting.

March 27, 2005

War of the Worlds

I just left a passion play. New Life Church here in the Springs puts on a yearly epic entitled “The Thorn.” It has been seen by over 50,000 people in the past two weeks. I have never seen anything like it; the production was second to none. In some aspects in reminded me of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

When it came to the temptation that Christ faced, “The Thorn” made “The Passion” look like a Disney classic. I mean evil, man. The play opened up with a video on the big screen of Lucifer being cast out of Heaven. At the moment that God kicked him out, down from the rafters came Lucifer, suspended from wires, flailing and screaming, still in his angel costume. It was uncomfortable to watch. It scared me.

Then he was reintroduced a little later in the play. This time no white robe and wings, but the most frightening satanic garb equipped with scales on his back and horns. It was kind of like a cross between Freddie Kruger, a triceratops and a sleestack from “The Land of the Lost.” Whoa, now I’m officially freaked out. This was not a performance suitable for small kids, but appropriate to show our unseen battle.

He showed up from time to time. At the crucifixion, he taunted Jesus believing the fight was over. He had won, he thought. Then to the tomb. He crawled on all fours with an eerie elegance around the Roman soldiers keeping watch over the tomb.

As the choir began singing “Arise My Love,” satan was found crawling on the stone that covered the grave…celebrating. And then in an instant it happened. All at once the stone was rolled away, pyrotechnics exploded, sparklers went crazy from the rafters, satan went flying two stories down from the stone and from inside the tomb came the brightest light you’ve ever seen. Christ walked out. A huge ovation of cheering, clapping and crying ensued. My allergies flared up.

That was the end of the warfare for the passion play, but not for life. Why do we minimize the daily warfare we fight? Do we think that somewhere in history, God took it all away? He disallowed temptation? Did satan get an extreme makeover on ABC? Unless I’ve missed the memo, I don’t see it. The battlefield for our lives and our minds continues daily.

Warfare is subtle. Sometimes it presents itself in the form of, let’s say, an aneurysm. Today, I have a choice to make. I can choose to believe in a God who heals and loves me, even with a blood-filled golf ball in my head. Or, I can choose to lose my faith and refuse to love a God who would let this happen to one of His children. It comes down to warfare, or simply put, a choice. This is the definition of spiritual warfare. I believe that sleestack-looking creature with horns is trying to convince me to denounce my faith and wants nothing more than to see me crumble.

Your warfare may not be a golf ball trespassing in your brain, but let’s say a decision on your taxes. Or, the way we react when someone’s telling you you’re #1 on the highway…if you know what I mean. We have to make the daily choice to follow Him. You’ve won the battle today, but you must fight the war for a lifetime.
As for me and my house we will serve the Lord of the Living, not the ruler of the “land of the lost.”

March 26, 2005

He is Risen, But I’m Laid Out

The year must have been 1978 or so. I had a cousin that had 11 acres outside of Houston. It was a little boys dream. Ponds, tractors, horses and wide open spaces. A place where boys could be boys and boys who wanted to be men could chew tobacco and throw up. Anyway, I remember being there early Easter morning awaiting the egg hunt. We had all peeked and seen the little colored jewels scattered among the ranch. “On your mark, get set, go.” Off we went. I vaguely remember waking up staring up at the sky seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins looking down at me asking me if I was alright. I guess in my excitement to find the most eggs, I had run at breakneck speed into a single piece of barbed wire, roughly neck high…clothes lined! I’m not sure why there was a single piece of barbed wire that stretched only a couple of feet across two trees at approximately 4 feet tall. What if we ran after our risen Savior with the same intensity as a child running to find an egg on Easter morning? Imagine hunting for a jewel more precious than rubies. Would your intensity increase? Imagine an egg hunt on a green lush hillside with brilliant silver and gold eggs scattered about. You stand there speechless with your little basket. The eggs are in plain view…there’s no need to work or hunt, just open and receive. You run to claim your gifts. One is full of grace. One is full of compassion, another mercy. Another, self-worth found in our identity with Christ. One reveals a handwritten note saying “I remember your sins no more, love God.” Tears fall. And finally, you see the most brilliant egg of all. What could be better than what I have already found? You slowly open the golden egg to reveal eternal life. A life without sadness, sickness, trials or death. It’s yours. No one can take it from you now. You didn’t earn it; you couldn’t earn it if you tried. Your Daddy gave it to you as a gift. God’s eggs don’t contain candies that are melted, make you fat or rot your teeth. So, go ahead and put all of God’s eggs in your basket and marvel at the greatness of our Father.

March 25, 2005

Titleist Update 2

The steam stacks were pumping it out today. Thanks. However, it looks like it will be a couple of weeks before everyone’s schedule can get worked out for the arteriogram. I was unaware that in addition to the interventional radiologist, a neurologist has to be there as well. She is the one who has to give me the neurological test while they have the balloon inflated in my carotid artery. April 8th is the earliest that they can get me in. It was a bit unnerving when the neuro nurse told me today that if I feel the worst headache I have ever felt to call 911 and have me Life Flighted to Denver. I’ve always wanted to ride in a helicopter, just not under these circumstances.

I am going to check with another clinic in Dallas to see if they could do it any earlier, but will trust God that the dam won’t break in the next couple of weeks.

I wish I could express the battlefield of my mind with you. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t walk through the door without hearing, “Let’s westle!” Yes, that’s “westle.” At that moment my heart feels like it weighs as much as a freight train. I so desperately want to wrestle hard with my boys…and they with me. The battle begins. I can’t say no. I simply can’t do it. My boys and those times mean too much to me. I change out of my monkey suit and the battle of the gladiators begins…all the while knowing the possible consequences. What a quandary! It matters, but it doesn’t. I can’t explain the battle that rages in my thought life at that moment. The boys don’t know why daddy doesn’t do the bucking bull or the snake anymore. Both games feature me as the bull and the snake, bucking them off my back (usually resulting in somebody crying…I don’t know why we play it.) I simply can’t afford an elbow to the temple right now. I wrestle emotionally with having to pull back from full contact with my kids. Those are “fist-shaking” moments.

Again, this is not about whether I feel that the Lord controls my next breath. He does. But I know enough to know the dangers I face right now. A sneeze. Bang! Don’t believe for a second that Suzi and I don’t hold our breath each time I feel the urge to sneeze. I have perfected the art of the “non aneurysm popping” sneeze. You simply have to minimize the resistance, so it’s loud and obnoxious but non-constraining.

I want to thank you for reading my emails. It is incredibly therapeutic to put my thoughts on paper to those I love. Not only that, but if there is ever a time that someone can do this in a spam sort of way, it is now. When the Lord heals me, I promise I’ll pull back.

Thanks for responding. I love to hear your hearts.

Thanks for praying, keep the incense stacks steaming. It makes my day.

March 24, 2005

Original Update

You know, the Lord is good. That is so trite. I know that’s what we’re supposed to say as Christians…and trust me, I hate that I’m using that stereotypical phraseology, but it’s true. He is good and He is faithful. I am understanding the depth of His love with each passing day. My next breath…ahh, there’s another one…comes from Him. How often have we gone hours, days, weeks or months taking that next breath for granted? Never thinking twice where it came from or if there will be one to follow. I have, but I don’t now. I suppose it takes something this serious to actually make me contemplative and truly grateful. Grateful for the ½ hour I get to spend with my boys in the morning before work, and the 4 hours I get to spend with them when I come home. Grateful for each seemingly insignificant conversation I have with my soul mate. I am so blessed to have a wife with the faith of Suzi. She is unbelievable and amazing. The sunrise has never been so beautiful, and the mountains never so majestic. The favor I feel from the Lord is not from this world.

I was reflecting the other day on some of those crazy conversations we have as kids/ young adults. Some of you receiving this email probably shared in those with me. “What’s the scariest thing you could imagine?” Swimming with Great White sharks, falling off a tall building, cancer? Mine has always been being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. Yes, I know, it’s weird but true. Suzi and I have been on a wild ride the past few years, and I believe that the Lord is allowing me to endure this test to see if I truly believe that He is able to heal me. I am facing my biggest fear, and I can’t express the calm that I feel during the midst of this trial. I do not fear death, nor do I fear any surgery or procedure ahead of me.

I think it’s important, however, to bring the humanness back to this scenario. I, like Jacob, wrestle from time to time with God. “Why? Why me? Why now? Why here in Colorado? Why won’t these headaches, numbness and double vision stop?” He’s big enough to handle it. He always answers with a calm over me that is unexplainable…almost immediate. My wrestling usually occurs at 6:30 am when I first awake. I have just spent the night without having to think about this…and then the alarm goes off. I am faced with another day of struggle…knowing that the headaches are coming, and wondering if they’re going to hit me in the middle of an important meeting or something. I have spent the past 10 days giving myself a pep talk in the shower to deal with what lies ahead.

An update. I just got off the phone with a neuro surgeon in Denver. He read my CT angiogram and called me with the results. Well, the good news we had received from a couple of other Dr.s that thought the golf ball was outside of the brain, appear to be incorrect. According to Dr. Elliott in Denver, a portion of the aneurysm is located within the brain coverings. So, what does this mean? There is an approximate 25% fatality rate if a rupture occurs…especially in “giant aneurysms.” Again, “giant” is anything over 20mm, and mine is ~34mm.

So, the option that we had of “just living with it” is now out…according to Dr. Elliott. He is trying to schedule an arteriogram for Friday of this week. This is similar to the test my father had when he had his stroke. You remember, after the test I asked dad who the people were in the Garden of Eden, and he replied “Alvin and Speedy.” I knew we had problems. Be praying for that please.

This test is going to tell us quite a bit. They will insert a catheter in my femoral artery through my groin up to my carotid artery in my brain. They will then do a trial balloon occlusion, which means that they will pump a balloon in my carotid artery to cease blood flow and let the other 3 arteries take over. They will then let me hang out for about 30 minutes and then perform a neurological evaluation. “What’s your name? What day/ year is it? Who’s the president? etc.” If I am able to pass this neurological test, then they know that my other 3 arteries can handle the workload to the brain. Also, it will show them the anatomy of the aneurysm. In order to coil they need the aneurysm to have a narrow little neck…in order to hold the coil in place.

So, this test will show where we will go from here. I may then go to Dallas or Phoenix, or both. There are only a couple of surgeons who are qualified to operate on this big daddy. If I’m able to go with a less invasive procedure, I will either have it done in Denver or Dallas.

Please continue to pray for us…specifically, that a less invasive procedure could be done vs. opening up my box. Recovery goes from several days to possibly several months if they have to do surgery.

There’s a factory in downtown Colorado Springs. It’s equipped with two large steam stacks that send steam skyward a hundred miles. An eyesore in an otherwise gorgeous environment. However, I have recently begun seeing those steam stacks differently. I can see them from Focus, and I have now begun seeing this as a prayer factory. I have so many people praying for me and my family, that I am certain these steam stacks are actually prayers being carried to Heaven as incense. Keep the steam stacks working overtime, please.

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