Friday, August 29, 2008

7/12, 58.3% Complete

Man, am I tired! This last round really took it out of me. I am just exhausted. I've had to work (from home) yesterday and today, but I am just beat! That's okay, though. We're on the downhill side.

I had lots of aches and pains this time while wearing the pump. That part seems to be picking up. The numbness is now pretty constant in my fingers, feet and tongue. That's a pretty strange feeling. It never really went away from round six, so I'm expecting to be living with it for the next few months. The doctor said not to worry about the numbness unless it starts hurting, too. That's when I'd need to be looking for some medicine.

Still dealing with the blood issue - we just can't get it to settle on a level. The doctor talked about going back on Lovonox, but I really want to avoid that. My stomach can't take it anymore, though I have plenty left under the sink.

But, despite the exhaution, I'm feeling okay. I expect to be pretty out of it today and tomorrow, then coming back on Sunday - at least that has been the pattern thus far. I appreciate all your thoughts and prayers. Only five treatments to go!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Emma and Ryne!

Happy Birthday, Emma and Ryne! I am so happy to be your dad! I can't believe it's been six years already.

Here are some vital things you need to know about Emma and Ryne.

Emma is the cautious one. She likes to wait and see.

Ryne will try anything. He loves to climb and jump and play.

Emma is the fashion queen. She dresses herself. . . sometimes three or four times a day.

Ryne would much rather just hang out in his pajamas (underwear optional).

Emma laughs loud and hard.

Ryne does everything loud.

Emma likes to stay at home, like Dad.

Ryne likes to be out and active, like Mom.

I love them more than I can express. They are incredible. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMMA AND RYNE!

Friday, August 15, 2008

6/12 = 1/2, 50% Complete!

Halfway done! Yeah!!!!

I just got back from getting the pump removed and we are officially halfway done with the chemo. I am thrilled. Except for the fact that each treatment is more exhausting than the one before, I can now say that I'm on the homestretch, the back nine, the third quarter or whatever sports metaphor you want to use. That makes me really happy.

This was an interesting round. For the first time, the doctor decided to give me the red blood cell shot that is supposed to increase red blood cell production in the bone marrow. I was excited based on the apparently false assumption that more red blood cells equals more energy. So, as with any new medication, they have me sign the form saying I'm agreeing to get the shot and listing all the potential side-effects. The most common side-effect? You guessed it - fatigue. And they weren't lying. I've been exhausted for the past few days. I got the white blood cell booster today again, which means body aches for the next couple of days, but oh, well.

I've also had some heart palpitations this week, so it looks like I'm going to go into the cardiologist in the next few days to see what that's all about. Nothing terribly painful, but last Saturday, my heart just started beating really fast. It happened in the hospital after the blood clots, too, but they attributed it to the clots. It's happened twice now since leaving the hospital and so we just want to make sure we're not missing something. Blood clots should not be a big concern right now because of the Coumaden - I think I spell that differently every time - but it should be keeping my blood relatively thin, so who knows. I'll keep you up to date.

One very strange side-effect popped up this week. I've had numbness in my fingers, toes and mouth with each treatment. This time, the mouth numbness really effected my tongue. On Wednesday night, I was reading Happy Potter and the Goblet of Fire to the kids and all of a sudden, I developed a lisp. It was like I couldn't get my tongue to go where it was supposed to go. It was very strange. The kids thought it was hilarious. They laughed and laughed. I think my tongue was just tired because it went away after I stopped reading and got some rest. I just hope it doesn't happen at work on an important conference call or something. Oh, well. What can you do!?

Anyway, I'm feeling tired and will spend the next few days resting up. But, now that we're on the second half, we can start planning the done with chemo party for November! You're all invited! I can't wait - I can actually have ice-cold drinks for Thanksgiving! Should be fun. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I really couldn't make it with out them and you need to know that I feel that strength in my life. Prayer really does work. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 Years in the Books!

It's hard to believe, but 10 years ago today, Leah and I were married in the Oakland Temple, or, according to Leah, the True Temple. It's remarkable to me how much we've grown in that time. Leah has taught me so much and has constantly been there for me. I don't know that I can truly express how very much I love her. She is my best friend - the one I look forward to seeing most, whether at the end of my work day, after two weeks away in Utah or just after an errand. She is the greatest and here are just a few of the reasons why.

1) I love that Leah has a great love for music. And, I'm talking about more than just her crush on JT, the only man for whom I fear she would leave me - if only just to travel with him as a roadie for a year.

She knows so much about music - especially from about 1970 to 1998. She grew up with music as a big part of her home life due to her father's love for music. She likes to tease me about how much more she knows about music by playing the "Name the Artist" game when listening to the radio. The only way I ever have a chance is to start playing before she knows we are playing so I at least get the first point. For our anniversary, we went to see The Steve Miller Band. (Yes, it was AWESOME even though we had to leave before they played The Joker!) It was so fun to see how excited Leah was. We'll be going to concerts more often simply because I saw how happy that makes her. But that's not all, I'm assuming our bishop doesn't read this blog, so I've got to tell you that Leah is a very good pianist. I bought her a hymn book for Mother's Day and I love to listen to her play. She's really very good, but she doesn't like to play with people singing along. Leah always makes sure music has a place in our home.

2) Leah is a financial genius. She has been in charge, for the last few years, of our checkbook and bill paying. In that time, we are completely out of consumer debt - with a few lingering medical bills from our exciting 2008, our student loans and the van as the only real debt we have right now. I can't express how grateful I am to her for her willingness to take on those responsibilities. About once a month, she'll give me a couple of bills that I am in charge of "calling on" to make sure the balance is correct. Let me tell you, that's a small price to pay for her being willing to do so much for our finances. She told me her next project is our retirement accounts. I can't wait! At this rate, I should be able to retire in another ten years, right?!

3) I love Leah's loyalty. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves and/or respects. He strongest loyalties lie with our family. She would do anything for them, and often does. She's never looking for recognition, she just loves them so much, be it our own kids, which are obviously number one, or her side of the family or even my side of the family. She cares so much about each of you and it is reflected in her thoughts, prayers and actions.

4) Leah loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and has a very strong testimony. I'll never forget when we were dating, she really called me on the carpet about R-rated movies, movies that I was willing to see because of rationalizations like better story lines and more A-list actors and directors. She simply said, "The prophet has said don't see them. That's good enough for me." Shortly after we were married, I got rid of all of my old R-rated movies on VHS and I can honestly say I haven't seen one in probably 8 years. She is dedicated to doing exactly what the Brethren say and her testimony of modern prophets is a great example to me. She chooses to choose the right every day. I love that about her.

5) Leah loves the 4th of July. Her favorite holidays include the 4th and Halloween in front of some of the biggies. How awesome is that! Leah is always looking for 4th of July parades and fireworks shows for us to take the kids to. She is so fun. This is a picture of her with the kids at the Salazar's 4th of July party in 2007. She was happy as could be, surrounded by friends and family. It was a really fun night and Leah is a big part of why.

6) Leah is an amazing friend. I've already said that she is easily my best friend, but she is such a good friend to others. It is important to her to have good friends that she can talk to and laugh with. That was a big concern when we left the Ottawa Ward - leaving behind those valued friendships. She reads the blogs of those friends and has found friends from college and high school as well. She is sincerely interested in the happiness of others. She calls it blog-stalking, but I think a big part of it is knowing that her friends are happy. I can't tell you how much she's wanted to be back in Kansas to hold all those new babies coming to that ward. She's making friends here in Henderson and that's fun for me to see. She is a great friend to have.

7) I don't want to brag, but Leah is drop-dead gorgeous. I'm just saying. . . I know looks aren't everything in a person, but she's got me wrapped around her little finger - unless I'm already in bed and she wants a pop. Leah is not a vain woman, but she has spent the last 11 years that I've known her searching for the perfect short haircut. I love her current one. . . she's not convinced. She's still beautiful.

8) And speaking of pop, Leah loves the stuff. She loves it! She would drink it for every meal, if possible. If she could have a food storage room full of pop, she'd do it. I'm always impressed at Costco that she doesn't buy the flats of pop, even though I know she'd like to. Maybe when we have a bigger house. . .

9) Leah accepts and supports me no matter what. This last year has not been easy. . . with the move and the surgery and now the chemotherapy. I've put her through a lot of stress, but she stands by me and I couldn't have done any of these things without her. It breaks my heart when she cries and I know my health problems have caused plenty of tears these past few months. I'm so grateful that things are getting better now, but I'm even more grateful for our temple relationship that tells me we will be together forever. What a blessing it is to know that my best friend and the person I love the most will be by me forever. Talk about motivation to stay on the straight and narrow! I don't know what I'd do without her.

10) Last, but certainly not least, I love the fact that Leah loves being a mother. She is an amazing mother. The love that she has for our three kids is truly inspiring. She is protective and concerned - starting a new school has been torture for Leah, more than anyone. She wants so much for them to be happy and responsible and good. And they are. That's the thing to me that speaks so highly of her abilities and dedication as Mom. Our kids love her right back. They reach out to her with full faith that she will be there to catch them. They are well behaved. . . because of Leah. They love to read. . . because of Leah. They try and choose the right. . . because of Leah. She is the best. She is inspiring.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Ward Family

For some reason, I've thought a lot about this post, but haven't quite been able to figure out how to say what I've been thinking, which is kind of frustrating! In fact, even as I write this, I'm not sure if I can make my thoughts flow the way I want them to. I think my thoughts have multiple parts, each new thought stemming from the one before, if that makes sense. So, I'll start at the beginning.

Last week, a powerful man passed away. When I think of Howard Rytting, the word that comes to mind is steadfast. He was a constant symbol of faith and good works. He was, at different times, my home teacher, part of my bishopric, part of my stake presidency, and always a great friend to our family. My dad and Brother Rytting always kind of go together in my head. Because of their service in the Church, they were often together. Brother Rytting was the one Dad would call to help give a blessing when one of us was sick. The Rytting home was a place we knew we could go and be safe, even when throwing toilet paper in their trees and stabbing forks into their lawn. My point is that Brother Rytting was always there, doing what the Lord had asked him to do, with a smile and a handshake and some kind words. He was there at Christmas time singing in the Ward Choir. He was there at Priesthood Meeting with his sons. He was there at Stake Conference, usually sitting on the stand with Dad. He was constant and immovable and steadfast.

As I thought this past week about the Rytting family, the second thought in this train occured to me. I was really blessed as a child to grow up in the same ward and with the same people. The Lawrence Ward, and then the Lawrence 2nd Ward was a place where I could always feel comfortable. There are so many in that ward that have been there for so long and they are an essential part of who I am. Some moved away, some passed away, but many remained for many years - even now, when I visit my parents, I feel so welcome and comfortable in that ward. There was Sister Lindsey, who let us park in her driveway as long as we promised to come in and have a cookie after school. I'll never forget seeing her house from the Centennial school playground and feeling like I had a friend close by. There were the McClure's, who always sat on that same side pew in the chapel. There was Susan Peterson, who I had to remember to call Miss Peterson at school. There was the 4th of July picnic at Benny Stewart's house, Klissa at Allen Field House and home teaching Art Sloan and the Faucher's. There were the Remke's and Thanksgiving dessert, the Kaleikini's and "Aloha!", the Haslam's and the vegetables from their amazing garden. There are so many that I think of when I think of the Lawrence Wards.

So that takes me to the third piece of this puzzle. On Sunday, our ward was split into two wards. Now, we haven't been here long enough to have any truly enduring friendships, so for us, the split was really just another day at church. We wanted to make sure that each of our kids had at least one friend with whom they were comfortable. And they do, so that's good. But, the thoughts about Brother Rytting and about my own "home" ward made me miss the constancy and friendships of those Lawrence Wards. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for the growth of the Church. It's amazing how strong it is here in the Henderson area. But with that growth comes a constant shifting of the boundaries and that means that you lose out on some of those long-lasting relationships. I want my kids to look back on their youth and love the wards in which we lived. I want them to remember their leaders and their friends. I want them to be inspired by the examples of people like Brother Rytting.

Monday, August 04, 2008


This is a talk I wrote a few weeks ago after being asked to speak in sacrament meeting. This is the best way for me to express how I'm feeling about the trial we are now experiencing.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak this morning. As Leah said, we are fairly new to the ward and our introduction to many of you was not exactly what we had hoped. But, if there is one thing we’ve learned over the last few months, it’s that the Lord has a timeline that is all His own. He wanted us here in the Las Vegas area to experience these particular trials. The timing of it really can only lead us to that conclusion. The spiritual experiences we have had throughout this process have borne testimony to me that the Lord is with us and is guiding us. The test is not in the geography nor in the prognosis or even in the outcome. The test for us, as is the case for all tests in this life, is how we handle the adversity and whether or not we truly choose to endure to the end.

For a long time, I considered the hymn Come, Come Ye Saints strictly a pioneer song – dedicated to and for those faithful saints that crossed the plains so long ago. Growing up in the Midwest, we would visit the landmarks in Far West and Liberty, Nauvoo and Winter Quarters. And I’d sing that hymn and consider myself blessed to be associated with those people and frankly even more blessed to not have had to experience that particular trial myself! But recently, my thoughts about that hymn have changed. It’s true, it is initially about the journey from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley. But it’s also about my own journey.

Come, come ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear,
But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.

The trials are in front of each of us and they are different for each of us. For me, right now, the trial is dealing with cancer treatment and a new job in a new place. For someone else, it may be dealing with shyness or loneliness or loss. But the trials come to all. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin related the following story. “A few weeks before President Heber J. Grant passed away, one of the Brethren went to visit him in his home. Before the man left, President Grant prayed, ‘O God, bless me that I shall not lose my testimony and keep faithful to the end!’ Can you imagine President Grant, one of the great prophets of the Restoration, the President of the Church for nearly 27 years, praying that he would keep faithful to the end?”

One of the “trials” I am experiencing right now, seems so silly when I say it out loud. One of the side-effects of my chemotherapy is that, during the treatment and for a few days afterward, I can’t have anything cold to eat or drink. Extreme cold can literally burn the inside of my mouth and throat. Now, as Leah can tell you, one of my favorite things – especially when it’s hot like it is now – is a glass of cold, ice-water. I prefer ice-water to pop. I love to fill a cup with ice and poor water over it and keep re-filling it as the ice melts. It is truly delicious to me. But, while going through the chemotherapy, I can’t do this. It seems so small, yet it really is difficult for me. So, I drink my room-temperature water and hope for the day when the effect wears off and I can drink my ice-water again.

No matter what our trial, when in the midst of it, it feels so powerful and so oppressive. There is a reason for this. It is what Satan, the author of all lies, would have us feel. He feeds us with a steady appetite of discouragement, doubt and despair. His greatest joy is if we choose to give up, to throw our hands up and declare that it’s all too much. We see that all around us – friends and loved ones who have crumbled under the burden instead of casting it on the Lord.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “[Discouragement] can become almost a habit, a way of living and thinking, and there the greatest damage is done. Then it takes an increasingly severe toll on our spirit, for it erodes the deepest religious commitments we can make – those of faith, hope and charity. We turn inward and look downward, and those greatest of Christ-like virtues are damaged or at least impaired. We become unhappy and soon make others unhappy, and before long Lucifer laughs.” What an awful image – the laughing Lucifer. And yet, so often we are willing to allow this seed of discouragement into our lives.

The challenges we are required to endure can come from many sources, both inward and outward. We know that some of these trails we bring on ourselves. The consequences of sin and transgression can be difficult to bear. The counsel is clear when we slip along the path – get up, repent and come back. Though repentance may seem, and in fact may be a difficult process, the resulting freedom and relief through the atonement of Christ make it the greatest of God’s gifts. Returning again to Elder Holland’s teachings, “Repentance is not a foreboding word. It is, after faith, the most encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary. Repentance is simply the scriptural invitation for growth and improvement and progress and renewal. You can change! You can be anything you want to be in righteousness.”

Each of us has our weaknesses and the Plan of Salvation is built on the foundation that only one would live a perfect life. However, the only way to make the Plan work in our lives is to use it. Though it may seem painful and even scary, as we humble ourselves to the Lord, subject ourselves to His justice and mercy and then endure to the end, we will be blessed. Just like the people of King Benjamin after their repentance, we will be “filled with joy, having received a remission of [our] sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith [we have] in Jesus Christ.” (Mosiah 4:3.) The challenge of sin is to become like the Father of King Lamoni, who vowed to “give away all [his] sins” to know the true God. Are we willing to do the same?

Now, at other times, our trials aren’t of our own choosing or doing. These kinds of trials come to all of us. This life is a test and overcoming those things that come in the normal course of life is part of passing the test. Elder Holland wrote, “Some disappointments come regardless of our effort and preparation, for God wishes us to be strong as well as good.” These kinds of trials are all around us even today – the loss of a job that makes us feel unable to contribute, the inability to bear children that brings feelings of loneliness and despair, an untimely illness that saps us of our strength and threatens depression. No matter what the trial, the challenge is for us to endure. And, no matter how serious or painful or daunting the trial, the promise is that we CAN endure and come out on the other side.

So, how do we do it? How do we overcome and push forward? The hymn declares, “gird up your loins, fresh courage take.” What does it mean to gird up your loins? To me, it means get up and be active. There were times after my surgery, and really still are as I deal with the chemotherapy, that I just want to lie in bed. In fact, I remember thinking shortly after leaving the hospital that it would be easier to be back in the hospital because, besides a couple of trips up and down the hall each day, all that was really expected of me was to sleep and get my blood pressure taken every hour. But it is impossible to passively endure. Endurance requires activity. There are moments when I need to get up and do – whether figuratively by putting in a full days work when working from home, or literally by getting outside, playing with my kids, going out with my wife. We need to be able to spiritually stand with the Lord so that we can lean on Him for support.

And how about that fresh courage? It takes courage to endure, but our courage can be magnified through the Lord. David taught his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 28:20). Faced with battle for the first time, Helaman’s strippling warriors were “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted” (Alma 53:20). The prophet Joseph Smith wrote to the Saints in 1842, “Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad” (D&C 128:22). It takes courage to endure, but the victory awaits.

Elder Wirthlin described the attributes of those who endure when he said, “Enduring to the end means that we have planted our lives firmly on gospel soil, staying in the mainstream of the Church, humbly serving our fellow men, living Christlike lives, and keeping our covenants. Those who endure are balanced, consistent, humble, constantly improving, and without guile. Their testimony is not based on worldly reasons—it is based on truth, knowledge, experience, and the Spirit.” So, how do we develop these attributes in the middle of the storm? Hopefully, by preparing ourselves before the storm begins. Have we planted our lives firmly on gospel soil? Are we staying in the mainstream of the Church? Are we humbly serving our fellowmen, living Christlike lives and keeping our covenants? Are we balanced, consistent, humble, constantly improving and without guile? Is our testimony based on worldly reasons or is it based on truth, knowledge, experience and the Spirit? This is the litmus test of our ability to endure. Because we know the trials will come.

Elder Holland taught five things to remember when the storm rages: “First, Pray earnestly and fast with purpose and devotion. Second, Immerse yourself in the scriptures. Third, Serve others. Fourth, Be patient. And, fifth, Have faith.” No matter where we are in the midst of our trials, these attributes can bring us the peace and strength that we need to endure.

Fasting and prayer go together. They are vital to us. Elder Wirthlin said, “Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation.” Our fasting and prayer should have a purpose. Be direct in your prayers. In reverence, speak to the Lord as you speak to a loving father or friend. Share with him your fears and also your desires. Ask for the blessings you seek, having faith that you will receive them. And always trusting that His will be done, for that is always best.

Scripture study can build our faith in times of trial. In the scriptures, we find specific stories and examples preserved for our time. We can find those experiencing the trials that we feel and declaring to the Lord the same things we are thinking and desiring. The scriptures truly are for our profit and learning. The lessons in the scriptures provide for us a roadmap to accomplish the tasks set before us. President Hinckley promised that as we read the scriptures our minds would be opened to them. While speaking to the Young Women shortly after his call as prophet, he said, “I promise you that as you read, your minds will be enlightened and your spirits will be lifted. At first it may seem tedious, but that will change into a wondrous experience with thoughts and words of things divine.” When enduring the challenges of life, what can be more rewarding than an enlightened mind and a lifted spirit?

Next, we must continue to serve in whatever capacity we are able. Service is the perfect remedy for self-pity. Charitable service forces us to take the focus off of ourselves and our own suffering. Instead, we seek after others and find ways to ease their burdens. In so doing, we find that our own burdens become light. I love the story of President Hinckley shortly after arriving in England for his mission. Feeling discouraged and unable to accomplish the task, he wrote home to his father, wondering if he ought to come home. The simple reply is something I’ve tried to remember in my life when I’m ready to give up – “Gordon, I have your letter. . . . I have only one suggestion: Forget yourself and go to work.” We, too, in the midst of the trial must forget ourselves and go to work. President Hunter taught that through charity, we can experience “the highest pinnacle the human soul can reach and the deepest expression of the human heart.”

Next, we must be patient. Patience is not easy to learn. I think I’ve spent much of my life trying to learn patience. I’m still trying. Patience requires that I allow myself to live on the Lord’s clock, instead of my own. Patience requires that I listen for the Lord’s answer instead of demanding the one I want to hear. Patience requires that I stop being obsessed with myself and turn my thoughts and actions where the Lord would have me go. President Monson said of patience in times of trial, “Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required. . . . If the only perfect man who ever lived—even Jesus of Nazareth—was called upon to endure great suffering, how can we, who are less than perfect, expect to be free of such challenges?” Part of patience is knowing, and I mean really believing, that the trial will some day come to an end. Elder Holland said, “Some tasks take time. Accept that. But as the scripture says, ‘They come to pass.’ They do end. We will cross over Jordan eventually. Others have done it – and so can we.” It takes patience to endure the trial and faith to wait for the end.

Faith is the final step in overcoming the challenge and enduring to the end. Faith allows us to trust in a God who is real, a Father in Heaven who loves us and is willing to stand by us, an elder Brother, even Jesus Christ, who has walked the path before us and made it possible for us to be with Him again. Without faith, none of these things seem real to us. We get lost in our own weaknesses – knowing that we cannot do it ourselves, but not seeing a way to survive the darkness. Faith prompts us to believe in Jesus Christ and Christ is the Light that allows us to see our way through. As Alma taught, faith is the seed that when we nourish and grow, will lead us to Eternal Life. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Some of us, sometime, will face some earthly power as mighty as Goliath. When that happens, we should emulate the courage of David, who was mighty because he had faith and he went forth in a righteous cause in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” Each of us can face our challenges with faith in God and Christ.

Now, as I close, I’d like to include one final thought from Elder Holland. This one has a special place in my heart. It came in a conference session about a year after Leah and I were married. We were facing at that time, a different set of challenges – living far away from family, struggling in a job that wasn’t paying enough to make ends meet. I was doubting my abilities as a husband and a provider and trying to determine how to survive and what to do. Sitting in a chapel in West Texas, we listened to the following account:

Thirty years ago last month, a little family set out to cross the United States to attend graduate school--no money, an old car, every earthly possession they owned packed into less than half the space of the smallest U-Haul trailer available. Bidding their apprehensive parents farewell, they drove exactly 34 miles up the highway, at which point their beleaguered car erupted.

Pulling off the freeway onto a frontage road, the young father surveyed the steam, matched it with his own, then left his trusting wife and two innocent children--the youngest just three months old--to wait in the car while he walked the three miles or so to the southern Utah metropolis of Kanarraville, population then, I suppose, 65. Some water was secured at the edge of town, and a very kind citizen offered a drive back to the stranded family. The car was attended to and slowly--very slowly--driven back to St. George for inspection--U-Haul trailer and all.

After more than two hours of checking and rechecking, no immediate problem could be detected, so once again the journey was begun. In exactly the same amount of elapsed time at exactly the same location on that highway with exactly the same pyrotechnics from under the hood, the car exploded again. It could not have been 15 feet from the earlier collapse, probably not 5 feet from it! Obviously the most precise laws of automotive physics were at work.

Now feeling more foolish than angry, the chagrined young father once more left his trusting loved ones and started the long walk for help once again. This time the man providing the water said, "Either you or that fellow who looks just like you ought to get a new radiator for that car." For the second time a kind neighbor offered a lift back to the same automobile and its anxious little occupants. He didn't know whether to laugh or to cry at the plight of this young family.

"How far have you come?" he said. "Thirty-four miles," I answered. "How much farther do you have to go?" "Twenty-six hundred miles," I said. "Well, you might make that trip, and your wife and those two little kiddies might make that trip, but none of you are going to make it in that car." He proved to be prophetic on all counts.

Just two weeks ago this weekend, I drove by that exact spot where the freeway turnoff leads to a frontage road, just three miles or so west of Kanarraville, Utah. That same beautiful and loyal wife, my dearest friend and greatest supporter for all these years, was curled up asleep in the seat beside me. The two children in the story, and the little brother who later joined them, have long since grown up and served missions, married perfectly, and are now raising children of their own. The automobile we were driving this time was modest but very pleasant and very safe. In fact, except for me and my lovely Pat situated so peacefully at my side, nothing of that moment two weeks ago was even remotely like the distressing circumstances of three decades earlier.
Yet in my mind's eye, for just an instant, I thought perhaps I saw on that side road an old car with a devoted young wife and two little children making the best of a bad situation there. Just ahead of them I imagined that I saw a young fellow walking toward Kanarraville, with plenty of distance still ahead of him. His shoulders seemed to be slumping a little, the weight of a young father's fear evident in his pace. In the scriptural phrase his hands did seem to "hang down." In that imaginary instant, I couldn't help calling out to him: "Don't give up, boy. Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead--a lot of it--30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come."

Then, Elder Holland closed with the following words, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.” I add my testimony to his. As we face our challenges, as we work through them and as we endure to the end, the blessings will come. And at that time, we’ll be able to stand with the saints and

Make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King.
Above the rest these words we’ll tell –
All is well! All is well!

Of this I bear testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, August 01, 2008

5/12, 41.7% Complete

Just one more treatment to the half-way mark! Yeah! Here's what I've really felt during this fifth treatment - zzzzzzzzzzzz! I could sleep at the drop of a hat. I am absolutely exhausted. I had a touch of the flu last week and I'm wondering if that's why I'm so worn out this time around - my red blood cell count never got all the way back to where it needed to be. But, I've been able to rest this afternoon and I don't have any big plans for Saturday - no, I won't be building bunk beds again this weekend.

I saw the doctor before the treatment started on Wednesday, this week. I don't see him every week - sometimes I see the physician's assistant. But, we wanted to check in with the main doc this time and he feels like things are going very well. I've been able to keep my weight up and the biggest side-effects have been nausea, exhaustion and cold sensitivity - all normal things. My blood work (besides the issues with the clotting) has been good. Getting the clotting issues fixed has been a bit of a nightmare. I'm on medicine for it, but the chemo makes the medicine go a bit crazy, so they take me off the medicine during the chemo, then back on when the chemo is done. Hopefully we can find a happy medium and I won't have to worry about going in so often to get my blood checked. But, everything else is going as smoothly as can be expected.

I'm still at that point where I'm totally exhausted this week. Usually by Sunday morning, I'm back in good shape. Saturday is the day I look forward to least. I'm usually pretty sick on Saturdays. But, all in all, my body seems to be handling the chemo well. Just seven more to go!