I have been hesitant to post another communication here as there is not too much new to report… that is actually good news isn’t it?! After so many months of dramas and anticipation of upcoming treatments, then surgery, this new period of steady but seemingly slow recovery is different. Your dysfunctional (previously) “leader”, and/or friend, has been treated to even more months of quiet and reflection and study and “time-out”…… And it is something very new.
The first week of April we were joined at the beach homes by Eric and Abbie, and David and Ampi Ruelas and their kids, and Heather and Ashley-Kate. A “full house”. They were “replaced” this week by Dave and Jules and their sweet daughters for another amazing family week on the sand and in the pool. I have enclosed a few photos so you can better visualize us as we are apart from all of you and you ask so much about us and my condition.
I know it looks kind of like I am “on vacation” but we are sparing you all the “details” of my daily routine of eating and walking and other “therapy”. To be fair, we are quite privileged and aware of it daily. We brought our personal masseuse, Anna, with us….. so massages are available every day (a definite “medical necessity” for me to help heal my body after the surgery). ;-). With chef Kevin and Rebecca here too, serving as they do so superbly, we have indeed realized how differently we live and function than would have been possible without our financial blessings from the business. This is not how most people can operate and the environment for healing is beyond a blessing.
I needed to postpone my feeding tube removal one week, but it should be fine by then and still finished at the front end of the time they desire. we will fly back to Houston for that. Thanks for the continuing prayers as my calorie intake is still slightly below what I need to function independently. Amazing how difficult it is to get the necessary calories from such small portions, but now that I am off the “narcotic” pain meds and such, the body and appetite are improving steadily, and my new stomach etc is re-learning how to digest the food. Lots of “experimenting” necessary. Nancy is “encouraging” me daily to walk and exercise as it is critical to healing.
On another topic, I was deeply saddened by the news last week that one of our precious EDC leaders in Malaysia, Zul, died unexpectedly following heart surgery. He was only 60, and has three small children (2,7 and 12, I think). His wife is holding up with the support and prayers of our N21 family. Please keep them in your heart and prayers. He was so loved and admired throughout Asia and we will miss his smile greatly. What a reminder of how fragile life is and how much we must live each day and tell our friends and family we love them. No time for “smallness” or anger, or jealousy, or greed, or selfishness etc. Just celebrating life and loving the people God places around us.
We have been informed about many of our friends and business partners and their families during this time who face illness and surgeries and financial pressures, and life disappointments…and we are reminded of how much we all need to know that our loving father in Heaven cares, and is always with us during these times. our prayers are “answered” by our wise and sovereign Lord and creator in various mysterious ways. Sometimes we get what we ask for quickly, sometimes after a necessary and useful delay, and sometimes we find He has an answer that we don’t understand or like from our limited perspectives. This is how we learn to trust Him and that is what faith is. We so often only seek Him in times of trouble, but the better we know Him, the easier it is to trust. He is love. He is sovereign. We can “rest” and have “peace that surpasses understanding” even in the times when we are made to endure loss or pain. I am learning that through my own journey as well as through observing the faith of my friends. He is faithful. We are valued and in His hand at all times.
One of the strangest parts of this stage of my healing and recovery is that with the news that the surgery was as “successful” as the doctors could imagine, and that they felt they were able to get all the disease they could see or detect from scans… I was still left with some unexpected emotions. I am “cancer free”, (and now will be monitored for 5 years to see if any cells had “escaped” etc.) but I found myself less “joyful” than I wanted to be. What was that?! I find that often after reaching a big goal in business, or after the “relief” of reaching the end of a season/ordeal like this last 4 months of treatment, there is too often a danger and vulnerability that catches us by surprise.
I was certainly impacted by the medications, and the surgical trauma, and the pain, and the new “realities” of how I now must eat and sleep differently etc…but I was successfully treated for an extremely serious, life-threatening” illness…. and should have been instantly relieved and excited. Instead, there have been many days (especially mornings when I first awaken and remember what I must do for the day), when I found myself sad, or frustrated, or impatient, with this long process and road back to a “normal” life. How ungrateful is that?!
Well, I do quickly recover, and remember to pray and thank my Lord for what He has allowed in my healing. I pretty quickly know that this self-focused awareness and weariness of the still many month process of recovery is counter-productive, and I regain my peace and my joy and my gratefulness and my optimism… but these are the moment by moment realities and challenges. Remember… it is the Battlefield of the Mind!! We can write about faith and strength and positive expectations… but the mind is tricky and the enemy is clever. We must always stand guard. I am as vulnerable as anyone.
I am no different than each of you. We have some days that are better and some that are worse. We “know” what we should feel, but we don’t always feel it when we should. So, we must be conscious and stay close to the Lord in prayer and in reading His word. The promises are there. His nature doesn’t change. He loves us and forgives us and is patient with us and is always ready to help when we ask. Isn’t that great?!
This time for me has been terrific as an opportunity to read from His word, study from books by those who have traveled these roads before with God (and without) , and reflect on how blessed I am to have the life and the world of friends and opportunities that I have. I am excited about how I can now regain my place with you as a leader and life-partner, and hopefully bring to you an even deeper and more useful set of lessons and thoughts… from the “real trenches” of my life. That is where everything of value seems to be learned… in the valleys and deserts; so that we can “survive prosperity” safely… and with God remaining at the center of our lives, not the periphery. we can truly “have it all”… But we must first know what “all” is. It is more than material prosperity, and even more than health! It is intimacy with and obedience to our maker as well.
I am quite aware of our amazing prosperity and privileged life… and yet I am most grateful and on- guard of the dangers of that prosperity. It should never be a life goal in itself… as history and scripture teach us that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (not money itself, which can and does bless many, but “loving” it, or obsessing over it, or seeking security with it alone). If we seek God and His righteousness… all the other things we desire can safely be provided.
Oswald Chambers said, “Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity.” I want all of us to Prosper and be in health!!! But I also want each of you to see from our lives or lessons learned… that we must work daily on our foundations such that we “survive prosperity” as well as the valleys that we will ultimately face. Together, with God, we can and will.
Humorously, during these last 4 months, I have completed a new book project with John Maxwell. It was difficult indeed to write while undergoing these treatments and surgery… but what a blessing to have something to focus on other than “myself”. It will be released in September globally, and I hope will be a help, especially to the newer people that we bring into our world whom I have never met. John has been a special friend, and he wanted to do another project with me that we initiated right before I was diagnosed. It was designed to be useful for multiple cultures and languages as we have so many people entering our world monthly that have never been exposed to this world of values we all enjoy. You might add that to your prayers that we are able to touch more people with the right thinking and priorities as they build businesses and lives with us.
Ok… for having little news to report, I have now managed to make this pretty long. I look forward to hearing more from you as you feel moved. I hope you feel as blessed as I do.
All my love again!