Saturday, January 17, 2009

So THIS Is What I Get......



....for disrobing to my waist (from the ground up...), lying on a table for 10 to 20 minutes, and getting irradiated by 6 million volts? For 38 more-or-less consecutive weekdays?

Yup, and it was a really nice thing, too.

In case you can't read it, it's a Congratulatory Certificate for having completed my course of radiation treatments at St. Vincent's Hospital as of this past Wednesday. And it kind of capped off what had been germinating in my mind as a descriptive story about my Radiation Therapist, the Reception Clerk ... I don't know her real title, and the guy in charge of parking the cars.

I'm big into Spiritual Gifts, and subscribe to Ken Hemphill's definition that they're an individualized manifestation of God's grace, in the believer, that enables the believer to do his part in the Kingdom work. And these 3 all did just that.

Let me tell you a bit about these folks. First, there's Norman Wood.


He's the radiation therapist, and when my surgeon said I should talk to an oncologist about the possibility of radiation, our son Brian ... who has a lot of experience in the Birmingham medical community ... said if I went ahead with radiation therapy, I should try and get Norman. By chance (yeh, right), that's the Therapist that my Radiological Oncologist uses, so I didn't even have to try.

Norman was a delight to work with. Has a great sense of humor, a way of putting you at ease .. not easy with a 70 year old guy gettin' somewhat nekkid with others around .. and is extremely respectful in every way I can think. He always called me Mr., even though we've gone to church together for more years than I can count.

Such an upbeat, positive guy, despite the fact that he himself has MS .. thankfully being pretty well controlled right now.

One day, the computers in his control computer outside, and in the machine itself, somehow became unsynchronized, and the machine shut down mid-treatment. No problem, they just made up for the shortfall with the 38th treatment; Norm's comment when he came in the room to tell me was "Well .. we keep the machine plugged in to the same outlet as the coffemaker, and somebody just, you know, unplugged the wrong one." Last Wednesday, my last day there, his remark ... to one of the other attendants ... was "We're getting enough practice, I think we'll start turning this thing on, tomorrow". I tell you, their humor ... I chipped in some, of course ... made the sessions pleasant things to go through.

Then there's Benita. She's the lady at the front desk, where I signed in.




It took 2 days for her to remember me; thereafter, when I'd walk in, she'd punch the computer a bit (which notified Norm I was there), and by the time I signed in and got to the changing booth to slip off the trousers and put on the gown, Norm would usually meet me there. I don't think I waited 45 minutes total, for all 38 treatments. And, Benita was good-humored and jovial and a real pleasure to see. We laughed a lot (look at her expression.....).

Then there was Thomas. Unfortunately, I didn't get his picture, but he's the guy who's in charge of parking the cars in the little cul-de-sac in front of the Cancer Center at St. Vincent's. He, too, remembered us after 3 or 4 days, and also remembered we wouldn't be there very long. It's a free Valet Parking deal, but most of the days, he'd have the car right there in the area so we cold just get in and leave.

So ... how does this tie in Spiritually? Easy ...

A) Gifts are given to build up the body for the work of service. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was a better teacher in Sunday School, and a better witness to God's marvelous grace in general, because those folks (and all the rest at St. V's) were so positive and nice to be around. I'll actually miss the treatments; it's really nice to be around fellow believers and interact with them every day. So their abilities to make me feel better about the treatment contributed to my work in the Kingdom. In a big way. And I'm sure they contribute in lots of other ways, with people I don't even know, too.

B) A forced time of 20 minutes (first 26 sessions) to 10 minutes (last 12) of lying still on a table gives you a lot of time to think, and stuff. The first day, I counted seconds; the second day and every day since, I've pictured myself standing before people and teaching or testifying. And, during that time I formulated some plans for teaching on Spiritual Gifts, now that Ken Hemphill's excellent study course is out of print.

I have to say God has done some remarkable stuff in my mind and soul, plus it's nice when you have to stay put and meditate, and can't get up and go investigate that noise, fix the leak in the shower, or get another cup of coffee.

C) For this one, see the photo which follows.


To be sure they were starting in the same place very day, they had to position me on the table, very carefully. To make sure I started close, they'd made up this "mold" of the back of my legs; it plugged into the table and when I lay down with my knees and calves in the mold, alignment was a lot simpler. When I asked what they were going to do with it when I was done, Norm told me how the thing worked.

If you've ever gotten ground coffee in one of those metal-foil bricks, you probably know that they form the coffee into that shape, in a squarish foil package, and then draw a vacuum on it. That makes it, literally, hard as a brick. Well, same deal with the leg form, but in this case, it's little plastic pellets. I remember lying on a table and having them form that stuff around me, but I figured it was foam, which hardened. It wasn't; it was just the pellets, and I recall the mold being done when I got up off the table. Norm said, when I left, they'd just let air back into the package, change the label, and use it for the next task for which it was needed.

SO ... what's that got to do with anything? Simple ... we can be like hi-expansion foam, and take a certain shape in the Kingdom, and never change. Or, we can be like that plastic bag of pellets ... be formed into a usable shape and be used as long as we're "needed" for a task; then, when the task is done, we can let the Holy Spirit breathe a new form into us, and discover the wonderful universality of God's ability to use us beyond our biggest expectations.

I learned a lot, lying there with nothing else to do.

So here's the folks at the Joseph S. & Theresa Bruno Cancer Center, of St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. All those times you said "God bless you" .. and there were more than I can remember ... He did just that.

Well done.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm Being Interviewed.....

...by Denise Matthews Souder, a blogger from Humble, Texas. We hang around some of the same blogs, and she said she wanted to interview five mentally challenged people wackos bloggers, and I volunteered.

At my age, this is about the only form of exhibitionism that's safe for me.

Ahem.

Anyway, here goes. Bear with me .. there are only five questions.

  1. "Who gave you the best advice you ever had? What was it?" Consistently, my mentor from a spiritual standpoint was Charlie Spicer, a dear friend who died a few years ago. But the best specific advice I recall came from my Dad, on the occasion of my quitting college after 1-1/2 unsuccessful years. In 1958. I told him I wanted to get a job and work; he responded by saying "Be sure you get a job you can turn into a career. So I passed up several better-paying jobs driving a truck, etc, and took one as a mailboy at an insurance company. I ended a nearly-50-year career in that industry last February.
  2. The best place you've traveled so far? First, I'd say the Red Hills community, just outside Kingston, Jamaica. We've been there a dozen times, and we helped ... some of us from our church ... build a Sunday School & Community Outreach Building there, and we have many dear, dear friends there. But I'd also mention a trip to Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica, to a little cabin on the beach about 10 years ago . An absolutely outstanding vacation, and the only one we've ever taken where I didn't do anything for a week. And no TV. Then again, I really ought to include a certain Russia and Latvia trip, a visit to Hong Kong and Red China, and a few others.
  3. "Who would you most like to invite to dinner? What would you talk about? Probably Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'd like talk about what's going on in the Southern Baptist Convention. Either him or Stephen Wright.
  4. "Why did you start blogging? What do you like about it?" I started when Rev. Wade Burleson caused somewhat of a stir at the International Mission Board, on behalf of some principles with which I agree, and blogged about it as part of his duty to keep the people, whom he represented, informed. I got acquainted with him via his blog and, as I like to write (and do write poetry), I thought is seemed like a neat thing. I keep on doing it mostly because I get occasional feedback from folks who say I've said something that was meaningful for them.
  5. "I've never been to the South. What's the food like?"About what you'd expect. Go eat at Cracker Barrel .. that's pretty much it. Except A) There's no good BBQ anywhere except the South; B) BBQ means ribs. Or pork. Smoked. C) Grits aren't any better here than in the North, unless you do stuff to them. Like cheese, tabasco, etc. Then they're good; and D)"Tea" means Iced Tea, sweetened. If you want it hot or unsweetened, you have to say so.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gooodbye, Brother. I'll See You Later

My friend, Dr. A. Scottedward Hodel, died late last night. Scotte fought a valiant and inspiring battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, but ultimately, his earthly suit gave in to the ravages of the disease.

One thing that didn't, though, was his spirit. And his humor. As late as 10 days ago, he sent out his weekly update on his condition. As usual, it was laced with his sense of humor, sometimes self-effacing. An example of that was his remark after recounting being around another person who wanted to dominate all the conversations:

"It's really frustrating to see my faults in other people. In order to avoid responding in kind, I slept most of the day yesterday. Mmmm."

Scotte and I were mostly internet friends; we'd stumbled across each other, commenting on Wade Burleson's (and others') blogs, and eventually got to emailing. He'd been particularly communicative since I contracted prostate cancer about 8 months ago. And he also emailed his "News From Auburn", about once a week.

I did get the chance to meet him, twice, when he was in the local Hope House, a residential facility for out-of-towners taking treatment here in Birmingham. I went one day and just spent a couple hours sitting and talking to Scotte and Viva; then I went back the next day, just to pray over him. I think things like that are worth a special trip, and apparently he thought so, too, judging by a comment he made on another blog shortly thereafter.

Another example, I suppose, of Scotte's "in-your-face" spirit is the fact that he's willed his earthly remains to UAB for their use in medical research.

I'd say his body may have been way out of whack, of late, but his head was most assuredly on straight.

The following is an Acrostic poem I wrote in Scotte's memory. If you'll note, the first letters of each line spell out his name; the poem is, thus, uniquely Scotte's.

ALL THE MORE WHOLE

Scott carved out a niche in our hearts and moved in
Cancer came with him, and though it may win
One battle, the war has already been won
The next voice he heard surely being “Well Done”
The travails of this life have been left far behind
Even though we on this earth may now find
Hearts full of pain .. but yet with a measure
Of knowing, though gone, that he still is our treasure
Days filled with pain could not conquer his soul
Encouraging, depending on Jesus’ control
Loving, yet leaving us, all the more whole.

Scotte: I'll see you later, friend.

Friday, January 09, 2009

How I Saw The Game...

For all my friends in the state where I wanted to move, in 1975, when I mysteriously got side-tracked when I got to Alabama.......



Oh ... I think it was lunch.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I've Been A Bit Busy This Year.......

... so I'm really happy Uncle Jay summarized the news for me. Makes me feel so "in touch" with everything.

I'm not feeling real creative, with all these radiation treatments, Lupron, and all ... and besides, when it comes to creativity, I'd never top this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you.......




Monday, January 05, 2009

Be Prepared To Be Impressed



BUT HOLD ON A MINUTE: Before you go getting TOO impressed, remember, these are the guys who sprinkled me when I was an infant.

PHOOEY! I was hoping maybe these credentials could get me into SWBTS.....

Saturday, January 03, 2009

OK, So Caption THIS.



This is our younger son, Brad, Christmas Morning, 1964. We were in Florida, courtesy of my Mom & Dad, who rented a beach house in Hollywood Beach. We stayed there two weeks.

Peg had made those stockings, the kind you hang by the chimney with care when you have a chimney, for each of our kids, and for the two of us. She started that when Brian was a baby, and it became a tradition that still goes on, to this day.

I don't know if Brad was old enough to "want something" for Christmas ... he was about 18 months old then... but if he was, I'm guessing an orange wasn't it.