In Houston – Preparing for Lift Off!!

Just a short update to all my special friends and prayer-warriors as I head into the Operating Room, and my next chapter of the “Journey”. Nancy and I have read enough about “esophagectomies” (I don’t recommend that to you) that we are probably “over-educated”….but ready none the less. It is, in many “human” ways, a daunting procedure to face, and, yet, I am especially lifted up knowing just how many of you have been praying….and now, how many have committed to “fasting”, as well as praying tomorrow….and I am completely without words!

What a family I have been given, and what a thing to know the God who created us all, and loves us all, would listen and respond to our petitions …according to His written Word and promises… as those filled with faith in Him, call upon Him. You have all been more than friends… you have filled our hearts with gratitude and joy, and shown us just what awaits us all as we serve God and His children faithfully with love and obedience. Thank you for your steadfast and heart- warming outreach and encouragement. I will never be the same….I already am not!

I have received so many surprise blessings, and learned so much, and been “shown” so much just through this journey so far. My Bible has come alive in new ways; I have discovered books that have amazed me with their comfort and wisdom and depth; and I have found humor and laughter, and joy in so many “small” things that went previously unnoticed and under-appreciated. Wow. I don’t ever “wish” this invader on anyone…but adversity has so many hidden blessings, and so much power to teach and equip us for His ultimate work and plan for each of us. I am grateful… although I sure wouldn’t have “chosen” any of this.

I have received unexpected calls of help and intervention from people like Bill Nicholson, who some of you will remember. He knows “everyone”!! And he cares. I have received more than one personal call from Doug DeVos which were always warm and encouraging and empowering. I have spoken twice to Rich DeVos as well…what a man that is! Like my “father”. So much of who I am is directly from Rich’s heart and mind and spirit and teaching that hit me like a thunderbolt when I was a 23 year old engineer looking for what to do or believe in. Rich’s experience with his heart transplant, and what his family endured and grew through, and the faith in Jesus displayed clearly by Doug and Rich throughout their lives, has given us “too much” in common and lots to share. It is always a treasure to speak with Rich or Doug. Others at the company have been attentive and wonderful and too many to name. You can only imagine that they have gone way beyond “business” in their outreach and heart-felt personal interest in me and my family.

Once again, I must tell you all what a strange and wonderful experience it is for me to read your comments and know how many of you bring back such great memories of past experiences we shared…and others have offered deep and comforting scriptures and prayers, and others who I have not met except “from stage” or perhaps CD….you still make us glad we had a part in starting this amazing Network 21 “thing” within the greater Amway world. Hundreds of thousands of you! Maybe more.  All finding a common set of values and goals and a love for all who are “in the battle” together around the world. Some far more “successful” in the world’s eyes….but ALL precious to me (and our Lord). I expect to be back after I wake up and can move around….to write again soon and see what you have to say back.

Today, as you read this, is Nancy’s birthday…. and, unfortunately, I have “treated” her to a day of doctor appointments and tests on me prior to surgery tomorrow….I “owe” her big time for this one! She deserves far more than this yukky hospital/recovery room junk on a birthday….as this has already been three months of sacrifice and emotional dramas! So, I suspect we will need some “serious” beach time somewhere soon. Nancy is already looking at options, and the pilots are on alert to stay current and keep the jet polished and fueled up.

We have enjoyed (I did say enjoy) our time this week at our beach home just walking on that beautiful white sand beach in the sunshine, and sitting on the deck listening to the surf, and reading (and eating…well, me at least).  Bob and Terry Andrews popped over for the day and we had a terrific time. We caught up some on business stuff that I “missed” and we reminded each other and laughed for hours about past memories together of more than 30 years of friendship and partnership. What a treat that was! We have done this many times, but never has it “tasted” so great!  Kevin. Pepared a stunning set of appetizers for the afternoon and then a dinner to rival the Ritz….with grilled fish and pasta and all the special touches. Who is this blessed? A couple of days before that, we saw Skip and Susan Ross ( they also live nearby, as do the Andrews family in Florida) for a great dinner at Tommy Bahama’s restaurant and again laughed and shared about the recent diamond trip we missed, as well as heard about their recent speaking visit to Australia. Nancy and I love hearing first hand about all the adventures and celebrations happening in the giant N21 world. and I get daily emails and some phone calls from many of you all as you continue your “ministry” to me!

So….my past few days leading up to my surgery were wonderful!!… and I finally feel better (almost 100%) inspite of the radiation and chemo and last few months of stress and drama. God is indeed good !…and I am grateful….did I say that already? Ironic that I now must “submit” my body to this next attack to make progress in my healing. But….I am ready…. and the Lord has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

The kids are all arriving today as well so we will be together in Houston. What a privilege! It will be a strange week, but I believe one filled with faith and lots to be thankful for as we look for and see God’s hand in many daily things. Regardless of tubes and nurses and pain pills, I will be applying for the award of “most prayed-up”, “most loved/supported”, “most determined to recover fast”, and maybe “most unforgettable” patient they have had at MD Anderson. Certainly, once “Nurse Nancy” gets in the area, and all my “supporting cast of characters”, and they hear the praying and the joyful spirits in the midst of the flames…we hope to let them all see the “practical” side of “saving faith” and the love of Christ in the room at all times.

They may be able to “forget” me….but they will never forget the family I drag around with me. They are my best secret weapon and warriors for the Lord. With you guys all there as well in spirit, we should have some nice positive impact on this establishment and the dear souls who work there. Pray for them please…. and for my surgeon…that he have wisdom and divine guidance and skills ( and lots of rest the night before)!!

Above all, please know you have made a difference to me! Know God loves each of you and has given His only son, Jesus Christ, that we may all not only have eternal life (as a gift, through faith), but have that life in more “abundance”. That is a promise worth investigating huh? I look forward to sharing my stories with you personally soon. I love you all!

Jim(a work in progress)

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