“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Translate Jim’s Journey
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
My apologies to those readers who are not an active part of our “business family”… but our year begins in September and ends in August. So, it is indeed a new year once again. I continue to be grateful for my on-going progress and healing, and I am beginning to plan some “life activities” once again. After finishing my 56th radiation treatment, my surgery, and my 11th week of Chemo….I was ready to return to whatever God might have for me next. I must wait for 6 weeks until they “test” again to see whether their treatments were “successful”. Your prayers are welcome and deeply appreciated as always.
In this regard, I must share with my special friends here an amazing and encouraging experience we had a couple of weeks ago. We were just back from Houston, and preparing to see if I could indeed make a “debut” at our big annual business conference in Washington DC…my first re-entry after a year of absence. I was at home in our sitting room and Nancy was a considerable distance away in our bath area preparing to go out and meet someone. She did something that is quite unusual during the daytime…she turned on the little TV in her bath area, and found the “700 Club” which for those who do not know is a Christian program that has been on for many years and features a variety of news and interesting features to inform and inspire.
Nancy asked me if I could hear it and I said; “No, it is too low”. So she turned up the volume even though she wasn’t really listening yet either. Just as she turned up the sound they were offering prayers for people and the person praying said; “Someone listening has esophageal cancer….God has healed you”….. Excuse me? Did I just hear that? I did indeed! That is actually all they said, and then moved on to another prayer word. That was all…but it was a lot. We both looked at each other and realized that this was not something that we had expected, and immediately “claimed” this word from the Lord for us. I am sure many of you will find this unusual and puzzling (but pretty cool still, huh?)… but we know for sure that God heals!!, and that He “speaks” to His people in a variety of ways to offer encouragement, confirmation, and to reveal His will. Even through the TV. So, this was quite a blessing and we feel and know God continues to provide us both with the peace that he is at work, and that His will and plans are operating in our lives through this journey. I hope you will join us in this celebration of His word and promises.
With this in our minds and hearts, we headed off to our National event and I did great. I know I should have been limited in my energy, but I was so happy to be among the people again that I was compelled to stay at all the meetings and I feel it was a great experience for us as well as an encouragement to our friends who might have been “surprised” to see me appearing so “normal” (I don’t even glow in the dark). I am back in Atlanta now and headed for Florida soon, but each day I feel better, and I continue to claim and praise God for my healing progress, and look to seeing a great report when I return to Houston in early October. With God’s favor and the medical marvels I have been allowed…I am a fortunate and blessed critter.
This whole adventure and journey continues to challenge me to really reflect and pray about how I will use this experience to allow me to be used in deeper and better ways… and how I can be more effective in bringing the right examples and values and message to those we influence and work with. Even more than becoming more “successful”, I want to be used more in ways that bring God’s love and forgiveness and power to those who are in need.; some financially, some emotionally, some spiritually etc. What a privilege and joy to be able to mix the passions of our heart with our occupational lives. I am in the process of being placed “under construction” so that I may be more useful and available, and so that my priorities are fully aligned with those of my Lord. This is a pretty important thing you know? I have been so immensely blessed with my life and experiences…and now I think I can do so much more as I seek to serve and encourage others who have such great gifts just ready to be released.
I read something recently that speaks powerfully about the “benefits” of this construction even though we rarely “like” it or would choose it. When God is at work in our lives, it is ALWAYS GOOD.
“The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together…” (Isa 40:4-5 NKJV)
“I don’t know about you, but I hate road construction. I live in a growing city and it seems like there has been ongoing road construction for years. Everything is a mess, you can never plan your trips because of delays, and sometimes you get caught off guard when traffic signs are placed in unusual places and the natural flow of traffic takes you off the main road onto bumpy surfaces.
Recently one of our main local roads discovered a sink hole in the middle of the road. The road was closed for more than a year. We had to take alternative routes that were inconvenient and it took longer to get places.
Sometimes God takes us through our own life re-construction project. Our lives get disrupted, we can no longer depend on the things we did before, and we don’t have control over our circumstances or timetable. God is doing major construction.
However, even in the midst of the re-construction the glory of the Lord is revealed in that place. For some, it is the first time they’ve ever seen the hand of the Lord in their life to the degree that this process allows them to experience Him. It is a process they would never choose to go through voluntarily, but it is an experience they value for the rest of their lives because the glory of the Lord was revealed in the process.
Once the process is complete, things begin to flow better. Just as the new roads allow you to drive on a smooth, more spacious area, so too God paves a way for you to move into an expanded place with Him. Isaiah tells us: “He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows” (Isa 30:23-24).
Be patient with God’s re-construction project. You will like the finished project.”
So….I am definitely under construction and I am looking forward to the smoother roads… but most of all I am learning to be content in the knowledge that I am in His hands through it all and for His purpose and glory.
Last time I shared with you that our family and close friends had decided to engage in some scripture memory. I have been amazed by the number of messages I have received from many who wanted to join in. It is interesting how I apparently wasn’t the “only one” who has read a lot for many years but never really committed to hide the Word in my heart as God instructs so that it may be called forth as needed in my daily life.
Why Memorize Scripture? Consider this with me…
Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Seminary once made the statement that if it were his decision, every student graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary would be required to learn one thousand verses word perfect before they graduated.
Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California wrote, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization”.
Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified”
One of the reasons Martin Luther came to his great discovery in the Bible of justification by faith alone was that in his early years in the Augustinian monastery he was influenced to love Scripture by Johann Staupitz. Luther devoured the Bible in a day when people earned doctorates in theology without even reading the Bible. Luther said that his fellow professor, Andreas Karlstadt, did not even own a Bible when he earned his doctor of theology degree, nor did he until many years later. Luther knew so much of the Bible from memory that when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of justification in Romans 1:17 he said, “Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory…” in order to confirm what he had found.
So here are a few reasons why so many have viewed Scripture memorization as so essential to the Christian life.
2 Timothy 3:16 (TNIV)
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
So, if any of you are game, here is what we have done so far. You may also refer to the verses in a new section we have added called Bible Memory Verses so that if there is no “new posting”, the verse can be found on this page. We are committing to a year or 52 verses. (with a little extra effort, you can easily “catch up” to us).
I think you will find this easier than you might expect. Just one a week… and in a year we will have hidden 52 of God’s promises and principles in our hearts along with their chapter and verse to add credibility and confidence to our message. Many say that they are including their children, so I have tried to keep them more short and simple. As this will not be something all want to do, please check the new page in the future to find the newest verse.
So I am praying for a happy new year indeed… and one where I can rediscover my purposes and rejoice in God’s willingness to place me (and you) “under construction” when needed. I hope to see you soon somewhere in the world.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
“But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
I am happy to report that Nancy and I are now back in Atlanta after completing this last round of treatments. I must praise God for how He has carried me through this process with far fewer “side effects” than many others experience. My blood levels remained pretty normal throughout, and my energy has been remarkable considering the assault on my body from drugs and radiation. (I even popped to Atlanta and spoke at a BBS two weeks ago…to see if I could still “connect”). My skin is quite raw where the radiation was pointed, but that is no worse than a bad sunburn I guess…. kind of like after a week at Peter Island, or Hawaii, without enough sunblock!. My throat is a bit sore as well, but I can sure deal with that for a week or two more, and we are focused on the next scans in about 6 weeks to assess the “results”. You are so kind to keep praying for us all as we rest in God’s mercy and grace. He is the healer and we are in His hands as always.
I have been asked to include a photo of what it looks like under the Proton machine and its famous “mask”. Part of me is quite hesitant to be that “transparent” as I don’t want to scare anyone with “too much information”…. But it might help bring a little more clarity and connection to what those 28 sessions (two different times) were like. The technicians were wonderful and although being bolted under this contraption is a weird feeling (I will not be wishing the experience on others), it is a blessing that it is available to me! I am soooo… grateful for the “small” things such as Proton radiation, and its accuracy, that have allowed me less trauma than others have had to experience.
I see daily so much courage in others; from the very young children all around who deal with this and keep smiling….to the very old who creep in and out…..sometimes on a stretcher from an ambulance/transport, and sometimes in a wheelchair and oxygen tanks etc. I sit with my i-Pad (well aware of how few can even afford one), and simply pray for their health, and for strength to those who care for them….and I remain inspired by their example. One old guy was speaking to his wife nearby and it was obvious that they had recently received the “news” of his diagnosis. She said in a very weak voice filled with apprehension…”What are we going to do?”. He simply smiled at her and said back; “Honey, we are just going to live our life one day at a time….and we will be fine”. Being here at this hospital is “good for me”. Every time we arrive back at this place I am reminded of how many people are impacted by the invader. He must be defeated!
I was reading recently that babies only see in black and white for their first 6 months of
life, and then color begins to appear. I think having a health challenge (or any serious challenges in our life) allows us to finally start “seeing in color”! As we allow God to work in us to bring more
clarity to what matters (Him, His promises, His character, and His will), then life can be viewed in “living color”. He stands at the door and knocks, and all we need do is invite Him in. Sometimes He needs to first get our full attention.
As I reflect a bit on these many months of being sidelined I have gained a very strong awareness of how beautiful such desert experiences and imperfect situations can be in bringing us to a better place…a place where we can be used more effectively and aware of His work all around us. Illness is a great “equalizer” of people. All are important to their creator, and all are imperfect and in need of a savior. All should be loved. Money and “success” have great benefits and blessings and I am sure thankful that we have the “options” and the friends that we have. However, it sure can’t buy the truly valuable things of life.
I found this:
It can buy you a house, but not a home
It can buy you a bed, but not peaceful sleep
It can buy you a clock, but not time
It can buy you a book, but not knowledge or wisdom
It can buy you a position, but not respect
It can buy you pleasure, but not love
It can buy you medicine, but not health
How fortunate indeed are those of us who understand we can have all of the above! I also
remind myself that poverty doesn’t buy these other things either. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added to us. To God be the glory, huh?
I was reading something recently that reminded me of how Gods methods and timing are so different from our own. The more we know Him and His ways, the better we can handle adversity or delays…. or even prosperity. Our enemy will try to use anything he can to keep us from enjoying or following Gods perfect will and plan….to discourage or distract us. But God is always there and at work in our lives.
Have you ever noticed that God is not in a hurry? It took 40 years for Moses to receive his commission to lead the people out of Egypt (and another 40 years in the desert before the promised land was available to the people). It took 17 years of preparation before Joseph was delivered from slavery and imprisonment before he was miraculously elevated to the highest position in Egypt. It took 20 years before Jacob was released from Laban’s control. Abraham and Sarah were in their old age when they finally received the son of promise, Isaac. Jesus lived nearly 30 years before revealing his ministry and identity to the world. Paul waited three years after his dramatic conversion on the way to Damascus before he was “ready” to do his work. So why isn’t God in a hurry?
God called each of these servants to accomplish a certain task in His Kingdom, yet He was in no hurry to bring their mission into fulfillment. First, He accomplished what He wanted in them. We are often more focused on outcome than the process that He is accomplishing in our lives each day. When we experience His presence daily, one day we wake up and realize that God has done something special in and through our lives. However, the accomplishment is no longer what excites us. Instead, what excites us is knowing Him. Through those times, we become more acquainted with His love, grace, and power in our lives. When this happens, we are no longer focused on the outcome because the outcome is a result of our walk with Him. It is not the goal of our walk, but the by-product. So, when Joseph came to power in Egypt, he probably couldn’t have cared less about that….. he had come to a place of complete surrender so that he was not anxious about tomorrow or his circumstances.
This is the lesson for us. We must wait for God’s timing and embrace wherever we are in the process. When we find contentment in that place, we begin to experience God in ways we never thought possible. Pretty cool!
So, the Dornans are getting some great lessons in faith and He is giving us time to reflect
and write and study. I have now decided to memorize more scripture than I ever have. Like many of you, I “know” a lot, read a lot, and “recognize” a lot of the Bible…but we are further instructed to “hide God’s Word in our hearts” so that we can gain instant strength and power and peace as we recall His promises and instructions from memory. Even the verses I “know” are often without the accompanying chapter and verse, and I cannot look them up as easily as I want.
Therefore we decided as a family to challenge each other to memorize at least one new verse each week for a year…and see how we are impacted. As a few others heard of this…they wanted to be “included” in the challenge, so I thought it might be fun to include this challenge here as well…in case a few of you want to join in. I am keeping them simple because even the kids are joining in (and they do a great job of this as well as pressure me each week for the new verse).
Here are the 4 we have done to date: (using NIV translation)
Proverbs 3: 5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance
about what we do not see”.
John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
I wish you success in this, and someday we can look back together and see it as one more surprise blessing from this crazy chapter of life.
I am working hard on getting the health to return to our National event in Washington DC…..and can’t wait to see many of you there….Lord willing. What a wonderful time that will be. I have replaced my L and XL shirts with S and Medium, and my suits are “tiny” now…but I am ready to saddle up and press on to what God has prepared for us all.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.
Well, believe it or not, I am now at the halfway mark for my current treatments….hooray! We have been in Houston now almost three weeks, and it is sure a “hot place” in the summer! Nancy says we will not likely ever move here. But, as with everything, we must see the positives….at least I have this option and can find joy in the fact that I am being treated and not experiencing much of the predicted “side effects”…I am blessed indeed. If you ever saw the movie “Ground Hog day”, I feel a little like Bill Murray as I get up each day and remember this similar routine just a few months ago…and now again.
Actually, there are a couple of small changes. I don’t need to wear that dreaded, portable “pump” with the chemo this time during the week, as I can take that medicine orally. That is wonderful in comparison…no permanent IV port etc. On the radiation side…I have been introduced to a whole new deal….and I wish you could see me (no, I won’t include a photo). They fitted me with a very tight mask which has a metal frame and a “mesh” interior that was stretched (very tight) to form the shape of my head and shoulders. Then when I go to the Proton machine, they “bolt” me down on my back under this mesh and metal hood so that I don’t move…fat chance of that. Now, ordinarily this would be less of an issue, but then I reminded them that I had a surgery (which left me short of a valve from the stomach to the throat), so that I was told to “always” sleep at an angle to assure nothing floats back out. Got the picture??
The surgeon says “don’t lie down flat”…the technician says there are no options with this
mask….and therefore we “hope for the best”. The first time was quite spooky especially as I didn’t know what to expect, and I soon discovered that even if I wanted to get up due to an “issue”, it takes them about 2-3 minutes to undo the bolts around me. Nice..thanks! Anyway, it is so tight that when I arise after the 20 minutes or so under the machine….my face looks like it just came out of a waffle iron with “criss-cross” patterns from the pressure. This goes away after about 30 minutes. Good thing we have no photos of that either.
This was again a great opportunity for me to recognize the destructiveness of “fear” and the availability of “peace that surpasses understanding” which God promises. The doctors and technicians really had not thought about this problem before, so when I asked them…they looked stunned. Not comforting. They said “let’s just see how it goes” Aren’t we glad that God does not have THAT in scripture?! God to man; “Good Luck!…Hope it works out for ya!” He instructs us this way; “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7(KJV)
Do you ever experience fear in your life? Ha! Of course…daily sometimes I assume. Small worries, big worries, and lots of unknowns. But God is never “surprised”. He is all knowing and all powerful and will ALWAYS give us what we need in His time and His way. The “mask” was (is) not that bad, and I have a great chance each day to lie down (uninterrupted for sure!) and reflect on His Word in prayer as the treatment progresses, and I realize that God is using the technology to accomplish His purposes. And who knows what witness I might be to those dear technicians who run the machine? Who knows what “fears” they themselves might be experiencing in their lives? I just try to remain joyful and thankful. How about you? Not always “easy, but always liberating. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)
So…that is my little routine now. Daily (not weekends) radiation and waffle-face. Little pills in between. Have any of you ever played the silly game called “Angry Birds” on your phone or I-Pad? Someone convinced me to try it in case I ever wanted a complete “time-waster” in between my other activities. (Of course I immediately needed Heather to help me figure out what the different “birds” were capable of, as I was getting stuck at the earliest levels). I learned it is both kind of fun, and yet irritating, as these little “angry birds” are used to “kill” the little green things (whatever they are, pigs?). So…what’s the point? Only this….avoid this game, as it will lower your income likely due to the extreme waste of your time, and it may raise your blood pressure too! But humorously, I have decided to refer to my “chemo-pills” as my “angry birds”, and as I swallow them, I visualize them successfully crushing the enemy inside. I pray and believe that they are more efficient and effective than I am at “the game”.
On a happy note, we were blessed last weekend to go home for two days to Atlanta on Dornan-Air, so that we could get a break from Houston, and so that we could be at Faithie’s third birthday party! What a pleasure that was! Dave and Jules decided to have everyone to our home so we entertained a pot-load of little ones in the pool and such. Happiness all around. We even had a Pinata but Faith was not at all sure she liked the idea of whacking something with a stick (she obviously hasn’t had her full Dornan family “Mexican” conversion yet. Dave ultimately had to break it for the little ones, and he looked like he enjoyed it way too much. Ella cried for a moment when she saw daddy hitting with the stick, but soon the candy was out, and they all scrambled for their prizes. A great day! We are planning one more of these quick trips home before this session is over and we are blessed to have this as a possibility this time. I have included as always a few photos of our recent experiences.
As I shared in my last post, this whole additional round of treatments was so unexpected that we are still allowing the Lord to speak to us through it as we seek to find the opportunities it provides for spiritual growth and further reflection on things often not addressed while engaged in our “normal” lives. This is definitely the longest “time-out” I have ever had. God is helping me learn what to do with it, and revealing His amazing love and sovereignty. In reading Psalm 91 recently I was struck at the end by the “completeness” of His promise to those who honor and serve Him.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
So, we are promised deliverance, protection, answers in times of trouble, rescue and honor, long life and satisfaction, and salvation. That’s good with me. But it also says we are to “hold fast to me in love”. Don’t forget that part!
Jesus also added this; “Peace I leave with you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
And in John 16:33 he said; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”.
As I have had the time to dive deeper into His word, I have also worked harder on memorizing scripture, and “hiding it in my heart”, and reminding me of His wonderful promises. Our whole family has challenged each other to memorize a new verse each week this year. This will provide us with 52 new “swords of the spirit” to make our “full armor of God” most effective and available. In case you are curious, our first one was Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight (NIV).
I am learning every day how to better live and serve as He wants. I can see His true desire is for us to be not only faith-filled, but also obedient and growing as disciples, rather than simply having an “intellectual agreement” with our faith. The Bible says that “even Satan believes”….but submission to His will, and acknowledgement of the Son, and repentance and renewal are what give us the power and the life. This takes time and focus and sometimes a bit of uninterrupted study and reflection. I sure got that lately. PTL
I got this recently from a dear friend and thought I would share as I leave for a bit. I hope you are all enjoying your summer (oops, winter in Australia and Africa) and preparing for the year ahead. I know I am!
If you never felt pain, then how would you know that I am a Healer?
If you never had to pray, how would you know that I am a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an Overcomer?
If you never felt sadness, how would you know that I am a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake, how would you know that I am a Forgiver?
If you knew all, how would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble, how would you know that I will come to your rescue
If you never were broken, then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem, how would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering, then how would you know what I went through?
If you never went through the fire, then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things, how would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you, how would you know that I love you?
If you had all power, then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect, then what would you need me for?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Well..at least for those of us in the USA, this is the day we celebrate the birth of our country. What a great reminder of the value we all place on freedom. So many of us in this global family can celebrate our freedom on many levels….financial, emotional, relational, spiritual, physical…and even political. It is important that we all keep our blessings in mind at all times as life is filled with the “good” and the “bad”. It isn’t always easy to stay focused on the things we celebrate when other things are attacking us from time to time.
As I write this I find myself with mixed emotions. I am obviously not short on things to celebrate. We just finished Eric’s National Power Soccer tournament a couple of weeks ago and his team finished second nationally again (first place was desired, but second is always great too). I am so proud of all of them as I see how very far this world of Power Soccer has come from their hard work. Many other teams
simply focus on getting better….our guys focus is also on expanding the sport to others, and positively touching lives as new teams are developed around the country and the world. Ten years
ago there were maybe 6 teams in N America and a total of 30 or 40 competitive games played in a year. Now there were 650 league games played this year by over 70 US teams! Over 400 players and growing daily. The second World Cup is in France in October 2011 and perhaps 15-20 countries will compete where previously nothing existed at all. Lots to celebrate. If some of you could only see how these athlete’s lives are completely changed and enlightened from this simple sport.
Also, I am writing this from our beautiful lake house with Nancy and the kids and enjoying a summer BBQ with fireworks. But, at the same time, I am also not in Hawaii with Dave and Jules and my friends on a long planned N21 trip (after missing Diamond Club in Hawaii two years in a row, once from Nancy’s mom’s passing and this year from my health issues)! For some 30 years now we have arranged a business/lifestyle event (about every 2 years) for those who wanted to be with us in amazing places, and this is the first one we have ever missed. Imagine the feeling when you arrange the trip, and visualize being with hundreds of great people and their families for a week of play and dreaming and celebration etc…and then the organizers themselves cannot go? Weird! Of course, with the amazing N21 events people and the great US leaders we have, it is a successful event regardless….but we really were “disappointed”. We have been to Hawaii more than 50 times, so it is not the trip itself…it is the reality of why we are not there, and the fact that we “assumed” we would go until the very last minute before leaving when the Houston tests said otherwise….. that lead to the emotions and “frustration”. A setback. A detour. But (we told ourselves)…not a defeat!!
Dave and Jules went because they have a large group of their folks going, and we are thrilled for all (Well, maybe I grumbled a little when I received the photos from so many people over there as they arrived). We had planned to go and use the time to celebrate my recovery from surgery, see the folks after so many months of my “hibernation”, and stay a couple of extra weeks with the family to rest up and prepare for my next steps of “re-entry”. God had other plans. As I learned of my unexpected need to re-enter treatment, I was immediately aware of the “domino effect” on so many other people (family and friends) who would be disappointed. And I am still sad for Nancy even though she would never say a word. (she is simply wearing a “grass skirt” to the dinner table this week….kidding)
I was also hit by the reality that I would need to return to Houston to begin my new radiation cycle exactly on my birthday (and a significant one at that!)…. which I had planned for years to celebrate in a big and unforgettable way. It certainly will qualify as “unforgettable”!!
So…..there I was…..so blessed on so many levels, and yet “disappointed” indeed. We never expected to have to go another round and deal with the “enemy” so much longer. I was just feeling enough better to enjoy Hawaii, and I had been swinging the golf club (with Nancy believe it or not!) to get ready to try the courses again. I went to the range with Heather and AK too. They are “naturals”. I am laughing too because I think I may have actually improved in my golf swing in spite of the bad knee and other sore places from the surgery.
So….to suddenly be back in the “crock pot”, and faced with more time in hospital rooms, sober doctor visits, and IV’s etc. …was a “disappointment” indeed. But….. there are great and valuable lessons in all these life experiences if we look for them. I realized, of course, pretty quickly that so often God uses such “disappointing” circumstances to better prepare us for His purposes, and perhaps test our faith (not for Him to know…but for us to discover). So many of God’s most beloved servants and heroes of the Bible had their own significant disappointments and delays and detours. God knows what He is doing.
I can assume that if you are still reading this…you too have had (or are now experiencing) some significant disappointments and setbacks in your life. We can empathize with each other on how we too often seem to be in need of perspective and faith and trust (and maybe re-read an “attitude” book, or hunt for our favorite inspirational CD) as we grapple with circumstances that are not what we expected or would have chosen. Am I right? This is a big part of life, but it still kicks us in the teeth when we first realize we are heading “sideways” (or backwards) for an unexpected period of time. Suddenly we are again faced with the need for faith and peace. “Counting it all joy” isn’t always easy….but is is clearly stated by James:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1: 1-8
God allows us to enter the “desert” occasionally (or remain there longer), and perhaps even requires it to accomplish His purposes. (?) I was reminded of this truth in a devotional I was reading (another blessing from so much “time off”). Let me share what I read:
The desert holds a special place in God’s Word. The Scriptures portray the desert as a place of inspiration and exaltation – a place where people met God in a powerful new way. King David wrote the 63rd Psalm while in exile in the Desert of Judah. He was hiding from his son Absalom, who wanted to replace him as king of Israel.
For Joseph, a deep pit in the desert was the first stop on a 13-year journey through desolation and despair. That 13-year desert experience served to break Joseph’s self-will and self-confidence. It taught him that he could not control anything and that he needed to rely on God to manage the events in his life. Joseph’s desert trial prepared him by scorching the youthful pride and arrogance out of his young life so that when he was 30 years old he could rule Egypt at Pharaoh’s side in a spirit of humility and servant-hood.
Before becoming king of Israel, David was a shepherd. Part of his training for leadership involved hand-to-claw combat with the beasts of the wilderness, including the lion and the bear. Elijah learned the principles of spiritual leadership while in the wilderness of Gilead. And Jesus was tempted and tested for 40 days in the desert before He began to preach.
Perhaps God has given you a dream, but now it seems that your dream has withered and died under the scorching desert sun. It seems that God has gone away and is not listening to your prayers. But I want you to know that that your dream still lives. God is with you, even if you can’t see Him, hear Him or sense His presence. He is preparing you in the desert.
Ok…so maybe I needed that reminder a few days ago! But, as always, I have been given(eventually) the gift of peace…. and even become thankful that in spite of not getting to the end of this current chapter as soon as I wanted…I can rest in the assurance that He has me and the family in His perfect will. I continue to claim and trust those promises that He has shown us in His Word. I continue to be grateful for such friends as I have around the world. You are amazing and I love reading your comments.
I sure know that we can all relate to these principles and emotions regardless of what dreams and circumstances
you may have that do not seem to be “on track” as you imagined. Most of God’s best work comes through people who are allowed to (or
made to) grow in the desert at times. Aren’t we often glad that He doesn’t give us exactly what we ask for when we ask for it? Haven’t we all seen His hand when we later discover how He has “used” our circumstances, and our detours, to give us an even more powerful story or lesson or blessing when we rest in Him? I am always surprised that I need to re-learn the same lesson each time I sense “disappointment”. I hope you can join me in trusting more!… and seeing
beyond the circumstances to what God might be doing in us, through them. Sometimes God does not deliver us immediately “from the fire”…but He will always deliver us “in the fire”.
So, as I endure the sweet and encouraging messages from my friends in Hawaii (Grrr), I will at the same time be aware of, and grateful for, the sweet family with me at home, and all of God’s promises and faithfulness. I will remind myself daily of your prayers and support, and I will trust in the One who made me to complete His work:
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I have included some recent photos to keep you up to speed. I know it looks like I am in full leisure or vacation mode….but I assumed you do not want me sending photos of my endless battles with food, or sitting in waiting rooms at MD Anderson prior to a “scan” or doctor visit. I will spare you too many of those. I am entering my Houston “desert” as though it is a giant series of blessings awaiting discovery. I doubt it will be as fun as being with you in the great game of life as we know it….but it can and will be a place of discovery and joy….because that is promised when we decide to trust in all things. Maybe I am working on ” Jim 3.0″ already?
A closing comforting thought from Psalms to improve your day…and mine too.
1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Well, I am just now returning from Houston after my latest round of tests. It appears that my Lord has different plans for me right now than we anticipated. The tests revealed yet some residual active cancer in at least one new lymph node. Yuck! We were pretty surprised as we all expected a clear set of reports this time. Disappointed…yes! Fearful…no (at least not for long)!
We now await the final lab reports and the doctor’s recommendations. He says it most likely means a new round of chemo and radiation to attack this remaining enemy. I guess I will get another chance to “enjoy” Houston for 6 more weeks or so. Not sure yet when that will begin, but I once again ask for your patience, and your prayers, as I return to the “active battlefield”. As always, we trust God in these days and know He always remains faithful and in control regarding His children…and His ways are not our ways. We praise Him in ALL things. (although we must acknowledge that is is not always easy)
I ask you to lift up my dear wife and family during this unexpected development. They all immediately gathered together in Atlanta to pray for me (and each other) as they received the news of the latest issue to be faced. I have been blessed with such faith-filled prayer warriors in my children…. and of course my wife…no one could wonder if God is “aware” after hearing (loudly, and persistently) from them as they pray. Other close friends have been equally amazing, and I am so grateful for such support and “intercession”. I am in great hands. Prayer matters.
I am sure this report is unsettling for some of you…but we must remember that it is not at all a problem for the God who made us, and loves us, and is with us in these fires. I imagine that you (as with us) were ready for this unpleasant chapter of my life to be “over” so we could all get back to “normal”. It is that way with us,,, that we all get “problem fatigue”. We can rise up to pray and be strong and keep each others’ challenges and needs in our thoughts and prayers….for a while. And then we get tired of it, and want the situation to go away. Amen! But sometimes God has other plans and purposes. Sometimes we apparently need “longer” in a fire to refine us and make us and test us and reveal His love for us and His power in different ways.
I remain confident in my eventual full healing, and will enter this next phase with peace and optimism… because that is what God has commanded and provided for. Make no mistake…I do not “like” this news, and was not anxious at all to re-enter the world of radiation/chemo etc. I was preparing to emerge soon and rejoin all of you in our quest for excellence in life and business. I will yet do just that…although it seems a bit later than I thought.
These “interruptions” and detours are part of what makes us into more “useful” leaders and influencers. It is all in how we respond, and in whom we trust. The Bible is clear that suffering and disappointments and setbacks are a part of each life. Jesus said to his disciples; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
We are taught that our eventual victory has already been won through Christ…and we are asked simply to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength ….and love others as well. We are taught to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. We are commanded to “Fear not”! He has our back!
As I sat in the waiting area yesterday for my endoscopy, I was again given a great opportunity to gain perspective. The procedure was supposed to happen at 10 AM, but they needed to add something after reviewing the PET scan…so I waited in my little gown and bed for 5 more hours (with no food or water since the night before). The area is filled with others awaiting their similar tests…..quite an “equalizer”. I overheard a lady next to me explaining to her doctor that she has three cancers at the same time. Breast, kidney and leukemia! Wow. She has been battling it for more than two years. I prayed for her silently and recognized again how each problem we face is often “better” than what others face. Good perspective.
I like to remember daily (and share with you) that we too often keep God too small. We act often like He is just a little bit bigger than we are…a little bit more powerful, a little more forgiving, a little more able to affect things. In the beginning, we were created in His image…and yet for thousands of years man has tried to portray God in our own image instead…and then blame Him when things aren’t as we want. Some people fear Him incorrectly as though He is a heavenly mean old man who is looking to zap anyone who is not living right. A “spoil-sport.” Others see Him as a cosmic “force” who perhaps started the universe, but then looked away as it runs it’s own course….unable or unwilling to intervene. The Bible is clear that He is “huge” and sovereign and loving and trustworthy….and is willing to have a personal relationship with any of His children who ask and trust. Christ came to show us this way…..and validated all of His claims through His miracles and resurrection. He offers eternal life! This one on earth is but a blink of an eye.
Is God big enough for our “problems”? Maybe this will help put it in perspective. Light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second (that’s fast!). At that speed, it only takes about 1.5 seconds to travel from the earth to the moon (about 240,000 miles away). It takes light about 8 seconds to get from the sun to the earth (93 million miles!). But it takes six years to get to the nearest other star and that is still in our own galaxy of more than 200 Billion stars!
There are as many as 500 Billion galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars. For light to travel from the farthest edge of the known universe, it would take 12 billion years (at 186,000 miles a second). So much of what we see in the sky as we look at these thousands of stars from multiple galaxies, is actually light that originated millions (or billions) of years ago…those stars may not even be in existence any longer…but we won’t “see” that until the light reaches us. I think we might be gone by then. I’m talking BIG! (feel small yet?)
So what’s the point? God created all that, and exists outside of it all! He is not limited to three dimensions, and He is not limited by time. He is, and always was, and always will be. That’s big. That’s who we worship and serve. That is who wants a relationship with His creation (you and me) ….a personal one. Amazing.
So…..you have Business problems? Marriage dramas? Financial setbacks? Health crises? He says “Fear not”! He has a plan. We are in His hands. But we must acknowledge Him, believe in His son who was sent to provide the gift of salvation, healing, and eternal life….and trust Him to meet our needs. According to His time and perfect will….not ours. That is why peace comes easier.
So, I am ready! I am grateful. I am expecting miracles because He is able. And I trust His timing and His promises. Regardless. You all give me great comfort and strength. Your prayers and encouragement are incredible. Thanks for being there. God is always with us, and for us.
Now, I will get even more time to read/write etc. It sure is a different chapter…but one that will bless me I know. Please continue to seek God’s favor on our family during this time of trial and faith testing. We are all still processing this newest information…but with you as friends and prayer partners…and God as our deliverer…we are at peace, and have on the “full armor of God”.
PS. As I finish this…John Maxwell called me from China! We shared the latest news and he prayed for me before his meeting. He was reminded of a famous quote from Charles Spurgeon: “God is too good to be unkind, and too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”
Let’s trust Him in this. Are ya with me?
I know it has been a month since my last update… but I am still here! Many are asking about my current progress so I will offer a bit of news and thought once again. This past month has been mostly uneventful…which is good! My progress is slow indeed in my view, but I suspect quite fast and “impressive” to most who are more familiar with the situation and what most experience. I am grateful as always.
Strangely, one of my biggest setbacks was unrelated to my surgery….I re-injured my knee somehow (perhaps weakened muscles etc) and was barely able to walk for the last 6 weeks. I limped around Founders Council in Miami, and then went to physical therapy in Sarasota after returning. Amazing how much I learned once I was in the hands of a professional. The stretching and strengthening exercises have helped immensely, and I am finally “walking” more normally…although still carefully. After barely reaching the point where I could stop all pain medicines from the surgery… I was once again in a situation where I became conscious of the blessing of a fully functioning body. If yours works well… treasure and protect it. Proper diet, weight, exercise, water, sleep etc. The basics will serve you well as I have been reminded again of just how much we are dependent on our health and energy level to perform in life. The Lord gave us amazing bodies that are capable of surviving huge attacks and even abuses….but the stronger the immune and the stronger and healthier the “parts”, the better we can survive these attacks. As I have learned…once the ideal health is lost and disease is discovered…it may be too late to reform. Even the privilege of being able to eat normally was taken for granted. As I watch others now when they eat fast, or in large gulps and bites…I feel aware of how different it is now that I don’t have those options. Maybe that too is a blessing to me. No worries about eating too much any more.
So, to finish my report on my status… I do indeed realize that I am much better than a month ago when I last commented. I seem to be getting in the needed calories while maintaining a healthy combination of food and supplements. I was having great difficulty for a while swallowing pills as they got “stuck” (yuk)…but I am adding more and more each week so that I can build up as much strength in my immune as possible. I would ask you to pray for my overall “digestion” still, along with my ability to handle quantity of food…. as that is my struggle these days. I had a “Mexican” lunch yesterday with just a small cheese enchilada and was pretty uncomfortable for the next couple of hours. I tried to go to a meeting at the office and I think I was less than heroic in my performance. ;-)) Humorously…I felt much better by the time the meeting ended! I expect this to improve over time and allow me to stray further from home. These past few days have allowed me to see the possibility of this full return to the “world”. Thanks for all your unselfish and loving prayer support and encouragement. You are truly an amazing group of friends.
As we enter summertime here in the US (remember…it is winter in Australia and S. Africa), we are beginning another round events in the N21 world. My amazing team is gathering this weekend in Pattaya, Thailand for our annual leadership “Go Diamond”. Imagine this scene when thousands of leaders from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Korea, and India…. gather with their upline and others from Australia and America to cast the next vision and learn from the best about how to grow people and business. Imagine the colorful national costumes of the opening ceremonies and the thrill of seeing our Asian friends united in one purpose, under so many languages and cultures…to add value to the lives of each other and those they lead. That is the Network 21 DNA. With the Sala’s, Peter Cox, Robert Angkasa, Angie Somers, Basil Harris, Gad Ghabrial, and RD Saunders, and all the key Asian leaders present… this will be another memory for all… and a source of renewed energy and dreams for the coming year. I can hardy believe I am not there. So unreal how this N21 machine keeps running regardless. That’s duplication and that’s freedom. We all have it.
So, as the various events and activities unfold these next couple of months, I will be monitoring and directing from home, and I will be in daily prayer for you all and for God’s continued favor on this family and the dear souls who share in our dreams and values.
I have just recently seen the final rough version of our new book release that John Maxwell and I have completed. It is in the hands of the editors, the proof readers, the graphic design people, and soon the printers. I certainly feel this book can serve a great purpose in our global family as we share ten principles for reaching your potential. These are timeless and proven truths that have been learned in the real world as John and I have lived our lives among people like you. The book will be released in September and we will have it soon in more than ten languages. The printed word has a power to impact people over time that is unlike a simply spoken message. We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with John as he is today one of the world’s best selling and most respected and read authors on the topic of leadership and success in life. As I write this, John is headed to China to speak at government, educational, and church events and his leadership materials and books are now being used in major universities (Beijing University etc) as a textbook for their courses. He will then travel to Australia for some business conferences as well as the highly respected “Hillsong” conference. John is a treasure and a friend. I hope you are as excited as I am to, have such “access” as we do.
Over these past days and weeks I have certainly been allowed to view life in general… and my life specifically… with some new lenses. I have realized the importance of faith, as well as friends, and of course health. I have been able to draw closer to my creator and father in heaven, and that alone has been a major life-changing privilege that I wish for all of you (without the “forced” urgency of an “invader”). I have been awakened to the great number of hurts and needs and suffering that many of you endure. I have been strengthened by your love and prayers and support…..and mostly too by the courage and faith many of you show daily as you deal with your challenges. I have also been shown the blessings available as we trust our Lord for His perfect will.
I have been disrupted by the change of “identity” that happens when we go from a world where we are the leader, and engaged in dynamic exciting visionary and rewarding worldly adventures and projects… to a world where we are a “patient”. When at the hospital…I cannot use my “reputation” or my “wealth” or even my leadership skills etc… to separate me from all other “patients”. I must give the receptionist or nurse my patient number in each department, and sit and wait as my turn arrives, and pray for those around me who are in “the same boat”… or worse. When I was at physical therapy, or when I am trying to find a way to eat and regain strength… I find myself identified by those around me as suddenly defined by my “situation”. This is weird and disturbing to me as I have always been one who avoids such attention, and thrives of focusing on dreams and goals and solutions and vision…suddenly my life these past days has been focused more on healing and recognizing my dependence on God for Everything. Lots of prayer time, lots of reading time, lots of family time and now a little business is popping in and I am learning to balance it all.
Wonderfully….my passion for the world of leadership, and helping others see the possibilities in their life, has been sharpened as I have been removed from the game recently more than ever before. I have found that I was in great need for a deeper relationship with my Lord even though I thought I had a great and deep one before. I am thrilled that He has allowed me to have this time to seek Him more deeply and to reflect on what I shall do with any of these bonus years (or decades) He may allow. At least now I am more conscious than ever of the gift of each day and the need to seek Him first, and His kingdom…and to allow all other things to be added after that. And He indeed has added.
I was reading one of my devotionals recently and thought I would share it as I close this message:
And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant.”-
What makes an effective Christian leader today? Is it charisma? Is it ability? Is it communication and oratory skills? God’s view of an effective leader has nothing to do with these qualities. They may be a part of an effective leader. However, the core attribute of a Christian leader is his integrity with God and his obedience to follow Him. When this happens, God manifests His power in and through that leader. Moses was effective because he was willing to obey the commands God gave him. When Moses did this, God manifested His presence in him. The result was that people followed. They followed because they saw God working in and through the man. They saw that this man was worthy of following because God’s anointing was on him.
When people see the Lord’s power manifested in your life, they will have a healthy fear of the Lord. They will look at you and say, “This person has something I don’t have that is worthy of more investigation.” Your challenge is to seek the Lord with a whole heart, resulting in God’s power being manifested in the daily activities of your life. When this happens, you can expect others to be drawn to what they see in you. The problem with many Christians today is that non-Christians see nothing different about the way they live to motivate the unsaved to desire their faith.
What makes you different from your neighbor? Is your experience with God noticeably different from that of the man next door? If you’re not experiencing regular encounters with God, it’s time to ask why not. We don’t live day-to-day for the next spiritual experience, but we should see by-products of a life centered in God that is reflected in fruit from His presence in our lives.
As I read this and reflected on it, I was struck by how many chances we have daily to send the right (or wrong) message to those in our lives that we may influence directly or indirectly. It is my goal and purpose (and Nancy’s of course) to be the type of leader who glorifies the God who made me, and leads others to desire more knowledge of Him due to the “fruit” of my faith and my life (and thru His love and forgiveness and power). I pray that with the help of so many of you, with the vision of Network of Caring, with the values we live and teach in N21, we can show others that there is a “fruit” of our faith, and it is good and desirable, and will lead them to the assurance of eternal life. We have been blessed with a business opportunity and environment that allows this platform. The more I am away from it…. the more I see it.
I return to Houston on the 21st of June for my first three month re-test and PET scan etc. Please pray that all is well and clear!! I sure am leaning on Him for this, as I will be for the next few years.
I hope and am planning to see you again soon as we move together to honor the gift of health, and serve people through our lives and businesses. I always love to hear from you still as I am always ready and available to read.
In His love as always,
After a full five months “in space” (or in Houston, and in “time-out”)… I attempted a re-entry this last week into the real world. We traveled from Houston to Atlanta after “tube removal” and enjoyed Easter with the family. Then as there was our eastern Summer Conference in Atlanta…I decided to pop down and surprise the Diamond meeting on Friday with my/our appearance. It was very rewarding indeed for me and although I was “hurting”… and risking a calorie deficit….the emotional stimulation and reward of seeing all those friends was worth it and I am sure happy to have made that decision.
With Hans Nusshold and Mitch and Deidre Sala as primary speakers for the Atlanta weekend…they were in good hands…so we left before the actual event began, but were happy to have reconnected and “tested” my ability to function in the normal world.
With this “success” under my belt…and knowing so many top N21 Crown Ambassadors from around the world would be there….I wanted to attempt the Miami Founders Council as well. Knowing it was at the Ritz Carlton, and I could get some good “service” from them as well as the superb company staff, we boarded Dornan- Air on Sunday for Miami-South Beach.
I soon discovered at my first appearance around the company management and top leaders that they were happy to see me upright and smiling….but it was clear they fully expected something different than they saw! I think they envisioned Jim 2.0 to arrive on a medical stretcher, with nurse in tow, and tubes flowing from whatever medical devices I needed. I think they had all visualized me as pale and weak and sickly and tired and maybe able to stay for an hour or two and maybe one day at a meeting. After my weeks in Florida, and my precious Lord’s grace and mercy and the power of His healing…I apparently shocked them in my healthy look. Tanned, smiling and ready to engage in the next discussion or meeting or activity…but always with peanuts or a protein shake in my hand…. ;-))
I think a few were quite surprised, as I seemed and looked less “sick” than I “should” after all that radiation and major surgery only four weeks prior. But such has been the story of God’s blessings on me through this journey. Of course…..I did have a few issues and challenges that were not visible while I am “in public”, but I was fully able to engage in the assorted meetings, and actually went from morning to night as much as possible to catch up on all the assorted global issues and discussions. What a stimulating and helpful thing for me to experience. I am grateful. My God continues to encourage me.
I was reminded once again of just how many people have been praying fervently for months and how special this family is. I received a very warm welcome from many “cross line” leaders… and special hugs and smiles from our own N21 leader/qualifiers who were so very happy to see me “vertical” and ready to serve or lead the discussions and catch up on their lives and mine on a personal face to face level. I was humbled by the warmth and outreach of all global company executives.
Nancy and I had a nice private dinner and chat with Doug and Maria DeVos Monday night and many rewarding visits with other key people after my seemingly long “absence” from the scene. At the business meeting….Rich DeVos made a surprise appearance, and even he was equally surprised to see me there. We had chatted on the phone just a week or two previous and he did not expect to see me. As always….Rich’s presence was the high point for all. Whenever he “opens his mouth” or enters a room…we are all frozen in respect and love. This is a man that has truly inspired millions and indeed been singularly responsible for my life and much of my values. what a treat it was to see him there and listen to him reminisce about life and the beginnings of Amway and why they did certain things and how he thinks. A privilege to listen to every word. It was as always a magic time.
We hugged everyone goodbye at a magical evening of food and music on the waterfront at a museum/mansion, and I departed Friday with Nancy to Sarasota…..to “recover”! I am so glad that I decided to go, as it was so heart-warming and encouraging to see so many people I love and respect… and then encourage them also that I might be retuning soon to a full status of contribution….however….as Jim 2.0, and with renewed passions and refined goals.
We have enjoyed many phases of life so far. Early struggles and limited success….the unexpected challenges that almost took us out of the game altogether…..the eventual rise to “success” and financial stability …the launch of N21 and our international expansion,…..the amazing favor of God in our life and blessings beyond expectations, or even our imaginations….and then my recent “interruption” as the Lord prepares me for the next chapter. All under His divine and loving care and design.
I have had many months to reflect and pray and listen and ponder…and now I am excited about where He will take me (and hopefully many of you along as well).
I read recently some wonderful and important scripture that impacted me once again:
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Ephesians 2:10)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)
What a delight to know the same God who created the universe and all that is in it… also wants us (and allows us) to trust Him for our needs and honor Him with our achievements. We each have been given certain talents and opportunities and each of us is fully unique and never to be duplicated. He has a purpose for our lives and we can rest in that.
We also should be careful (me too!) that we do not become prideful or boastful or arrogant when we are allowed to succeed, or when we use His gifts to prosper or gain favor or advantage. Yes….it is necessary for individuals to apply themselves, work hard, think right, and follow principles of life and leadership that God Himself lays out in the Bible. However, we must remember that His desire is that we glorify Him, serve His purposes, grow in knowledge of Him and in Christ-like character, be obedient to His commands, and love one another! That is success to our creator/father in heaven! So…..I love knowing He has a plan for me and I am excited to live it out and discover with you where He will take us. I only desire to hear someday…”Well done, my good and faithful servant”.
Here is a great summary; “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Rejoice…pray…and give thanks! Sounds right to me!!
I have work to do, character to refine, gratefulness and forgiveness to embrace, passions to fuel, and a purpose to complete. Thanks for helping me to do that better. Your prayers and support and encouragement continue to keep me lifted and feeling loved and valued. I want to do the same for you as I get back to seeing you and to whatever my next goals and activities are.
I got a taste of “re-entry” this week and I thank you all for remaining the amazing family of winners you are. I hope to get stronger and to continuing this journey together.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
Just a quick heads up that I have recently done a short video update for my good friend n21guy which is available over on his website for viewing.
Thanks again for all of your prayers and support… I’ll be in touch,
As I write this latest update, we have just completed our celebration of Easter here in the US. As Christ followers, this is such a wonderful time of rejoicing and reflecting on the gift of eternal life provided 2000 years ago…. to all who believe and confess….by the sacrifice of one. I am grateful and blessed indeed to have heard the “Good News”, and accepted the gift. I continue to pray that each of you experience this love and forgiveness, and that you can feel and enjoy the rewards provided mankind, and represented by the Easter miracle resurrection. With all the sweet bunnies and colored eggs and pretty flowers, we can feel this is simply a rite of springtime…but this is truly a rebirth of our souls, and an eternal plan of salvation from our creator. It has such power to transform our lives …both here in this life, as well as the assurance of the next in eternity with Him. How can we be anything but grateful and humble and joyful?!
We left Florida last week to fly to Houston and get my feeding tube removed and see the surgeon for a checkup. All went well and I am “tube-free” now. I just need to keep up with my eating so those prayers are still appreciated…. and I am doing better each day it seems. It has been nice to have some additional time with the kids here in Atlanta and we will return to the beach in a week or so.
We are planning at this point to attempt an appearance at Global Founders Council in early May, because it is being held in Maimi Beach, and we have quite a number of N21 partners who qualify from around the world. Having these special people so close, and knowing that this is a pretty key annual event in our world where so few actually can qualify at this level…makes us want to try to be there to support and hug our teammates ….and see what the company is planning for the future. Our first appearance at any major N21 function in the USA will be at NALC in September in Washington DC……and I expect to be “ready to go” and will be working hard between now and then to stay steady in my recovery. There is a “lifestyle event” in Hawaii in July that we also are working hard to attend as it has been planned for two years and we feel optimistic that I can travel and add positively to that week in paradise. I am also looking at an extension with the family for a couple of weeks to further “assure” I am “tanned and rested and strong” for the coming year, and what God has planned for my next chapter. I remain incredibly blessed that my recovery has been so steady and I owe a that to all of your prayers and to my God who strengthens me daily. And in no small way at all, to Nancy…who has been a true champion through these months with me and my “needs”. Those of you who know her well, can see clearly what a mess I would be if left to my own decisions and disciplines regarding this healing and recovery process. So often, the real heroes are behind the scenes in families where there is illness. All “attention” is focused on the “one who is sick”, and so much of the burden (physically, emotionally, spiritually…and sometimes financially) is on others who serve quietly and keep the ship afloat. I am blessed… and this is a great reminder to all of us how much we depend on our loving families and spouses to carry us through in the real world while God does the “heavy lifting” out of sight. Be sure to pray for Nancy and all the others who, like her, are standing in the gap for their loved ones.
I also have been stunned and saddened again this past week by news of the passing of three special friends and partners in our life journey. First, many of you know Joe Badinski…an Emerald in the US along with his dear wife Marilyn….and he and we were communication lately because he also had esophageal cancer which was diagnosed about year prior to mine. Joe passed away peacefully in his sleep least week and we ask you to remember this special man and his family in your prayers. Another dear Diamond in Indonesia named Nelleke Sosromihardjo (wife of Soegardjito), also died of a brain tumor, and then we learned suddenly of the death of Emerald leader, Suwat in Thailand…the twin brother and sponsor of Founder Double Diamond Suphat…he was only 41! These are each such unfortunate losses, and for sure difficult for their loving partners and families. The God who created each of us has numbered our days and promises us His endless love and forgiveness, such that we can be assured our life here on earth is but a “breath” compared to the eternal life promised with Him through Christ. These few are by no means all of the difficulties our large global family is facing…but were brought to my attention so recently, and reminded me of the fragile and unpredictable nature of our lives. I sure hope you each are as fully engaged as we are in enjoying, and finding joy, in what you are doing and pursuing.
I was re-reading recently something written by Rick Warren, a pastor in California and author of the super best seller “Purpose Driven Life”. This book has had phenomenal international success with more than 25 million copies sold (I hope you ALL have read it!). I think it is still the number one best selling non-fiction book of all time other than the Bible. It would seem God was and is at work! Rick was provided amazing and unexpected “wealth” as a result. This is much like some of us who achieve (beyond our expectations and initial hopes) financial success in this life…and then need to “survive” the prosperity with our values and priorities intact.
Additionally, his wife Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer, and this awakened another set of emotions, and tested their faith as often life does. I thought I would include the following interview with Rick in my comments this week. When we are faced with the unknowns and losses of life, we can gain strength from these perspectives from God’s Word and Rick’s heart.
In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:
“People ask me, What is the purpose of life?
And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not
made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but
not the end of me.
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of
years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants
us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t
going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming
out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than
your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in
making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life.
The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest,
with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.
I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark
time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like
two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and
something bad in your life..
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad
that needs to be worked on.
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something
good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:
If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is
my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of
pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands
of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her- It has
been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character,
given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn
her closer to Him and to people.
You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.
Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance,
this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it
made me instantly very wealthy.
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before.
I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you
to live a life of ease.
So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and
influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to
do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.
First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our
lifestyle one bit.. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to
plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and
educate the next generation.
Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I
started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to
serve God for free.
We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?
Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am
I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?
When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I
don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You
better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more
interested in what I am than what I do.
That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.”
As I have said many times throughout this chapter of my life, God is interested in the heart, in our character, in our obedience to His will and plan for us, in us following/accepting His son, and becoming more Christ-like as we “work out our salvation”. He often allows great prosperity (but sometimes, not), and offers us a life that is “more abundant”..even when there is loss, heartaches and suffering along the way. This is part of His mystery right? But we do always have Him with us in the storms and there are, as Rick Warren said, always “two rails”…some good and some “bad”….we can still be joy-filed and at peace and we can praise Him in all things. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.
I am saddened by the losses I have mentioned this week, and by the many that I do not know of in each of your lives, but I am also blessed to have such a richness of relationships as I do with you all….and to have been given some additional time to stay here and see what we can do together…you, me, and our Lord. My surgery was “successful”!! Praise God indeed. My recovery is underway; my future is in His hands (as it always was)…..now it is up to me (and each of us) to seek his righteousness, and let all the other things be added.
I hope this Easter was meaningful to you, and that some of you looked deeper into your faith and your expectations of life (this one, and the one to come). I will continue to chat with you while God continues chatting with me through this recovery stage. I hope to see many of you soon somewhere.
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!
Well, after a week in Atlanta, the Dornans have decided to transfer (courtesy of “Dornan-Air”) to Sarasota…. where I can continue my recovery on the beach and in the sun. What a blessing that is! My first week out of the hospital and into my own bed (well, one of my own beds) was pretty uneventful in fact, and for that I am very grateful. My “job” now is to learn how to eat enough each day to get off this feeding tube they sent me home installed with. Imagine Jim, once again spending the day hunting for healthy calories, but eating in small amounts. A new lifestyle indeed. The docs hope to get me freed of this feeding device in two more weeks if I can get my eating up to speed by then. This will be a huge relief for sure. The pain from the surgery gets better each day, and I am “encouraged” by Nurse Nancy to walk a lot so that it speeds and helps the process. I am up to about 2 miles a day now so I am getting there. I am sure she is proud of me 🙂 She is also placing endless bottles of supplements in front of me…so my Nutrilite is at work along with God and Nancy!
It has been wonderful to see the grandkids again, and we celebrated Eric’s birthday last Friday with
a big party at his house and many of his Power Soccer friends, and the rest of the family too. Nancy and I have been watching the NCAA college basketball tournament over the past weeks and enjoying the finals this weekend. Last year Amway invited us to attend the Final Four “live” last year in Indianapolis and that was a big treat for us. The tickets are hugely expensive (thousands of dollars each) and hard to get. Many years we have not been able to see these fun games as we were typically travelling somewhere during this time. So…there are blessings in our “time out” and we keep pointing them out to each other. We sure have had some great family time over these past 4 months, and although we miss all of you greatly…we have seen how God is using this period of our life to shape us and draw us nearer to Him.
Ironically, the idea of deepening my spiritual life, and studying God’s Word more, and finding a renewed passion in my life for things that are eternal, has been my private prayer for the past few years. I love what I do, and I love my life….and wouldn’t trade with anyone….but I just felt the call to seek some additional level of God’s plan and purpose. I say that to now realize and share with you all that perhaps this “invader” has done just what I asked. Not always…but often…God himself allows the “desert experiences” of our lives, as that is often the ONLY place He can get our full attention. Either way…He has mine. The “enemy” has not won…and will not win…as I belong to the Lord, He loves me (and each of you), and He is always in control. The ultimate battle is won, but we all must still face trials and danger and disappointment and discouragement and illnesses, and even death in this life. But…I can rejoice in the “Certainty” of life eternal through the amazing grace and sacrifice of Christ.
As amazing as it is that God would provide such a “gift”, It only serves to increase my awareness that so many people around my world still do not understand or accept this simple message that we call the “Gospel” which just means “Good News”. The news that we don’t “earn” our way to Heaven, but it is provided through the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord, and available to anyone who asks. As the Bible says in Revelation 3:20;
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”. What a great deal…what an offer! The creator of the universe wants a personal relationship with you and me. He loves us enough to provide a path to eternal life for everyone…not just a few, and not based on what we “do”, but on His love and grace, as long as we believe and have faith in the One He sent. So many of you share my faith and beliefs, and you have shared so wonderfully and openly about how God works and what he promises. I pray we can together somehow make sure this message gets to as many as will hear it.
As you all know, I will continue to respect each of my friends and business associates around the world, and love them and serve them regardless of whether they “agree” or accept this faith that many of us have together. But I will also seek to share the “Good News” when I can, and when appropriate, as it is this faith that has brought me to this point of healing and a “second chance” at my life. Praise the Lord indeed. This is my “personal” blog and journey, and as such I am compelled to be more open than I would ever in a “business setting”. But don’t we all love this “business” we have together globally that allows for us to love and serve people of all faiths equally. That is God’s command to us…known as the greatest commandment. When the disciples asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-39).
So…the Dornans are gathering at the beach to rejoice in this phase of my healing and to praise God …and each of you….for what is happening in my life as a result of this enemy attack. Your prayers continue to bless me as do your comments. I remain committed to loving and serving ALL people, and to being a witness to God’s perfect love and mercy. I continue to seek His face and His wisdom and to hide His Word in my heart. I am claiming a full recovery and years of more effective service and blessings….and to seeing how He will use me as we move forward in His will. It is hard to imagine being more blessed than I already am…but not to imagine being more “available” and obedient.
I pray that my experiences will be a blessing and help to others in this amazing global family that has taken such a loving interest in my welfare. I will keep posting away so that we can remain connected as I move forward, and until I can see you in person again. In the meantime…the business is strong and the leadership is fully engaged around the world in doing what we always do together….add value to the people we serve. And you can all pray for my “new parts” to work well, and my strength to return so that I can do more than just “type and eat”.
I miss you all.
I was released from the hospital Tuesday after only 6 days…not sure how that happened… but the Lord was in this big time! I am amazed at all that has transpired since entering on Wednesday morning. I have included a photo of Nancy delivering me to the operating room at 5 AM…. and then one after surgery…and one after being released. I appear to be “back”!
I am looking still for the “freight train” that ran me over, but overall…I am doing great…thanks largely to God’s infinite grace and your prayers. The surgeon did a highly effective job with some potentially challenging complications that arose, so I know God guided him as well… and I love knowing that. I emerged with tubes coming out of 6 different places ( I will not describe all that) but as the next few days went on, I found them being removed as I progressed very quickly. Then, after finding myself still on
Monday being checked for “vital signs” every 2-4 hours, and 4 different pain medications, and such (the chest tube is the worst by the way)… suddenly on Tuesday AM the doctor came in and pulled then chest tube out and said I could go home that day…wow…surprise.
As we still have a few tests to assure everything is healing correctly so we are in Houston (staying at the beautiful St Regis hotel) and I have my new “friend”, the feeding tube, from which I get all nutrition…and my pain medication (my other friend). So basically, I am “eating” (tube) 24 hours a day. The doc says I can begin supplementing with other food soon, and look to getting off the tube in 4-6 weeks (or sooner if I get enough prayer).
Again, can I say enough how thankful I am? To my Lord and savior for leading me through this time and to His ultimate purposes…and to the medical team here for the amazing things they do…and to Nurse Nancy (what a blessing indeed!)…and to my family, who were all here all week watching and praying and serving where needed. Jeff and Shannon Neuber each logged days in Houston as well… what a blessing they are in all areas of our life. Jeff has also been “running the world” in my absence and allowed me the time to heal without worry!
And so much for all of you who have lifted me and all of us up so fervently and consistently and generously and even sacrificially…. through fasting and inconvenience. You are amazing. It really matters. The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much, so what do the fervent prayers of thousands of righteous people do? We just saw that!
I will perhaps share more in a future posting about some of the small miracles and
wonderful blessings along the way. The people who were praying that don’t even know me…but know you! I will share how one of our leaders even contacted the Vatican in Rome on my behalf…. and the Pope himself offered prayers for me. Crazy huh? God is great! I think we are part of the most amazing network of friends and Godly people in the world. Does each of us even realize what we have in each other and this family we share? I do more than ever now!!
So this is just a brief one to let you know where I am….and say that I love you all.
Just a brief “Praise Report” as I am just back from my surgery. Jim 2.0 is back!!
As it is so fresh, I will not offer details except to say that “I am back!” Even the surgeon felt it went very well and he got all he wanted….. and a few extra blessings thrown in. I am now in those hours and days where everything is watched closely (prayers still welcome), but I am doing great and I am convinced it is directly due to all your earnest prayers for me. I will see the doctor later today but right now I just wanted to at least allow my dear friends to see that I am “vertical” and smiling just hours after returning from the O.R. It was so great to have all the kids surrounding Nancy and I am feeling extra grateful and blessed.
Our Lord has delivered on his promises, and answered our prayers…. as we all expected. The surgeon was superb and was able to conquer any and all of the delicate issues that had popped up over these past days and hours leading up to my surgery. It was even slightly shorter than predicted ….and so far all my “vital signs” and indicators are great. I am indeed a blessed and happy man. But then, I was a blessed and happy man “before” he gave me this latest gift too. Remember, we must “count it all joy”… and…. the Lord delivers us “in the fire“, as well as “from the fire“. We each step out daily in faith, and we make our priority knowing our God and serving him as our Lord and Savior….and He blesses and directs our path. Not because any of us “deserves” it….but simply because of who He is, and His love for us. Never has that been more clear to me than today.
So let’s praise Him together!!! …..and I will be back with more as the days go on here. A couple of photos so that you can see me “Pre-op” as we headed to the hospital…and “post-op” by a few hours.
You are such dear friends and partners with us in this life! We love you!!!
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)
We have now received results from testing, and after discussion with doctors…. the advice is clearly to go to surgery and get this “invader” out of me. We have scheduled this for March 16, and so we certainly now will ask for your fervent prayers for this to proceed successfully. As many of you will realize, the plan from the beginning was to prepare for surgery as the final “piece” of the treatment. It is indeed a quite complex and long surgery so we will be in the hospital for 7-10 days likely. Then some weeks to recover at home and regain normal functions.
I feel strong and optimistic… and very “prayed up”…and for that, I thank you all! Nancy is again gearing up as she does for her role in this somewhat lengthy recovery process, and I am sure she will be calling out “instructions” to the nurses (and me) along the way. I will likely not bore you all with a lot of details as I mainly want you to keep praying for our family, and doing what you already do so well…live your lives (for God), and love people.
We visited the hospital unit where I would be going next week and we were quite impressed with the level of professionalism and care offered there. They even have a whole section for people like me (well, I am sure there has never been anyone “exactly” like me), headed by a nurse who has been there 29 years, and they refer to us as a “FTE”…for “Fast Track Esophagectomy”….because they specialize in the post surgical care of these specific surgeries daily. That sounds like a blessing. They assured me I would get great care, but as it is a long surgery…they will be “pressing” me to get moving soon after I get to them so that recovery is best. With Nancy doing her normal supervising…and me determined to be their “best patient ever”…we ask the Lord to bless this next part of the journey mightily, and allow us to be a testimony for Him throughout.
That’s enough for now…..thanks again for your wonderful prayers and love. We love you lots!
Consider it pure Joy!
One of my favorite Bible verses is from the book of James 1:2-5 which says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him”.
There are days, which for me…. and for many of you…. will test our faith and ultimately show us what God can provide as we trust in Him. Considering “trials” as “pure joy” certainly is NOT what I want to do in my natural self…how about you? But already I am learning first hand that peace can be found through our Lord and His promises even while we are indeed “in the fire”, and with no clear evidence of the outcome. That is, after all, what faith is for. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)
As I write this, we are again returning to Houston for our follow up tests and these will help determine the next step in my healing process. I again so appreciate the incredible prayers and words of encouragement that you all send so faithfully. You have no idea how much it means to see that you are lifting our family up while we experience God’s journey for us.
As we seek wisdom for the decisions now in front of us, and as we wait on the Lord for any supernatural intervention, we also pray for wisdom and clarity while we speak with the various doctors. This is definitely my biggest “growing” experience of my life. I continue to have irreversible empathy for those of you in my world who have lived (or are living currently) this life of trials and challenges….physical, marriage, vocation, financial, as a parent….or as a business person trying to determine what you should, or can, do in the situations that arise. May the Lord continue to be with you all as He is with us. May we count it all joy!
My past few weeks have been quieter, as my main goal was to maintain or gain some weight and health and strength back. I am doing quite well on that area, and feel better than ever right now. I have included a few more photos of us out and about in the Atlanta area… at dinner, or mostly with the family. It has been a time of comfort and recovery and daily reading. Something I don’t do as easily when I am in the full throws of my “previous life”. Believe me…it is a habit, and a comfort, and a power, that I will now be carrying forth into my priorities of each day.
I believe that a great philosophy for healthy living is:
1. Daily prayer and worship to our creator. (knowledge and intimacy)
2. Daily review of priorities and goals (lined up with God’s plan and will?)
3. One hour a day to think and thank…. Plan and meditate
4. One day a month to think and study….listen and reflect
5. One week a year to Rest and strategize…. Praise and prioritize
6. A thankful heart, and forgiving spirit.…always.
I have been having great times with the kids and grandkids and as you can see…. they are growing. Nancy and I have sure been experiencing a richness of communication and refection and spiritual growth…. with all this time together focused on this new challenge…and pondering our correct and fruitful response to it. As I began to emerge from the Chemo/radiation “fog”, we decided to visit the office in Atlanta for the first time after nearly three months, and they were as happy to see us, I believe, as we were to see them. These are such amazing people that keep the N. American ship going, as well as direct the activities globally….with little availability from the “captain” these days. We have raised them well, and been so blessed to have such a level of excellence and commitment.
Everything is smooth. Dave went to South Africa in my absence to join the Convention and Leadership retreat in Johannesburg and Sun City. Peter Cox and Glenda Leonard and Basil Harris were all there as well….and Dave represented the Dornan family, and shared his “magic” as the newest Founders Diamond. I included a few photos. One is of Dave on the golf course in Sun City (with a crocodile behind him!), and one where he and RD were distributing “Free Wheelchairs” from Network of Caring to people in need in Africa. That is always a life changing experience. This was my first time in more than 10 years that I was not at this event in Africa…I sure miss these great “animals” there (both the natural animals that are so amazing…and the N21 “animals” that I love so much) and know they have been more than understanding, and so very supportive in their prayers.
I always want to keep you special friends updated on what is happening in my life as we progress along God’s path….and…. I also want to share things that I am discovering or reading…..as so many of you have shared your hearts and prayers and scriptures back to me. I love that we can encourage each other. I know that with so many reading these from differing parts of my crazy world, I have a significant number who do not trust in the exact same faith or beliefs. I must however share on “my Journey” what is meaningful to me. I hope it is at least a source of understanding of how we Christians deal with life and its challenges, as well as its blessings and opportunities.
God has given us clear instructions and promises. We have only to listen and trust and obey… and with faith….know that He has a perfect plan and we can rest in that. Another favorite scripture for all who are familiar is Philippians 4:4-8 which many of us memorize and ponder often. The apostle Paul is writing to the church people in Philipi while he himself in prison…wow! Listen to his words again.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable….if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….think on such things!” (Philippians 4: 4-8)
So, God has clearly instructed us that we are to Consider it all joy…when we face all sorts of trials. And Rejoice in the Lord…being anxious about nothing…and bringing all our cares to Him with prayer and thanksgiving….and He offers peace that surpasses understanding. Faith does that…it is His gift to those of us who believe. I sure hope that you all can see that this applies in ALL areas of our lives…work and family and health etc. We must learn to find peace and rest and freedom from anxiety or worry by trusting in the One who made us, and forgave us, and died for us, and saved/healed us. This is a victorious life…regardless of what we “see” or “hear”. We certainly cannot know for sure what plan God has for me, or any one of us, but we can seek Him, and praise Him (in spite of what we “see”)…. and trust that He will “deliver” us. Not necessarily, or always, “out of the fire”…but certainly he will deliver us, and be with us, “in the fire”. I have my “fires”… and you each have yours. He is there for us! Listen with me to what I read this morning from a book of encouraging thoughts for those “in the desert”:
We are reminded of the necessity of faith, and also of that patience by which faith has its perfect work. Let us fear missing a single lesson of His loving discipline by discouragement or doubt. The village blacksmith once said; “There is only one thing that I fear, and that is to be thrown into the scrapheap. When I am tempering a piece of steel, I first heat it, hammer it, and then suddenly plunge it into a bucket of cold water. I soon find out whether it will temper, or go to pieces in the process. When I discover after one or two tests that it is not going to allow itself to be tempered, I throw it on the scrapheap and sell it for a penny a pound when the junk man comes around. So I find the Lord tests me, too, by fire and water and heavy blows of His heavy hammer, and if I am willing to stand the test, or don’t prove to be a good subject for His tempering process, I fear He may throw me on the scrapheap. When the fire is hottest…we must stand firm…. for when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.
It takes 11 tons of pressure to tune a piano. God will tune us to harmonize with heaven’s notes…. if we can stand the strain. Maybe others of you can take strength from such thoughts as we all face trials and times when the battle is raging. Not always in health areas, but in whatever area we face. The idea is not to simply “endure”…. or survive….but to thrive and have peace and “consider it all joy” as we rest in His promise to deliver us and never forsake us.
I will be letting you all know what we learn…as we have an important additional test in the morning. Your fervent prayers are as always needed as we keep petitioning our Lord for His grace…..and…. we are rejoicing always. I am blessed indeed!
It’s definitely been quite awhile since my last post. Often things come to mind that I think would be good to share, but taking time to sit and put into words what I’m thinking gets set aside for other things– or a thought to wait until I have a little more perspective. Wowowow do I have a fresh batch of that! Sound familiar in any of your lives?
This has been the most challenging 4 months of our lives– in the last 30 years for sure. Just as I think I have a handle on things, something happens to pluck me off my “now, I’m there” state— I know one of the main contributing factors to feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed– is mismanaged expectations in any area of life.
When we returned from Houston, I felt like we had escaped the worst of the side affects from all the treatments. The docs kept “warning us” that the affects would accumulate, and most likely appear tho we had not seen any of consequence. We lived pretty much in a bubble in our little world there and stayed “prayed up” and lifted by the thousands of prayers of everyone and the amazing guest book on the blog. That has been the most encouraging gift to all of us. Jim and I would read and share and pray for those in their own battle– pulling us out of our state of “self absorption” that seems to sneak up on anyone in a crisis– tho we know that is not healthy or comforting!
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Many of you apologize for writing or making suggestions — concerned that you are filling up our email or blog– although we understand and appreciate your consideration, I assure you we are very grateful and some of the ideas and books we have gotten and used. Everything is a help because you took the time to do it and you care.
Continuing on the mismanaged expectations thought, we were surprised when a week ago, Jim had the predicted burning when swallowing and increased lack of appetite. He also has had two bouts of infection that required antibiotic, and a stressful trip to see the gastro doc in Atlanta following two days of really intense , painful “gut aches”. That was a sobering experience as the doc reiterated the possible causes. I would have given myself a “C-” on “peace and comfort” that day.
The fact that I want to be a calming, peaceful comfort to Jim compounds my situation. I was “spinning” inside , yet trying to speak reassuringly to him as he was in pain, and trying to intake what was being said. It’s at these moments I would love to be able to push the “hold” button and scream and sob and run into the arms of the Lord to be scooped up and assured. Due to years of experience with the Lord in crisis situations, I took a breath and allowed myself to go through my check list that Eric and I used for years when he was a little boy. Everyday when Eric was in the hospital, I would say to him, “Eric, let’s look for the hand of God”…. and we would list some of the blessings that we could see…. small or great…like the intensive care nurse on duty that night that was tops at starting IV’s on his very small veins….or a funny card in the mail, a skipped X-ray, a favorite take out food that Jim brought for Eric’s dinner- a sunny day and a pass to go outside- a private quiet room- a great scan indicating his shunt was functioning well,– etc etc. Next, I would say-….if we see a blessing, we know He’s here-….if we know He’s here we know He’s in control… if we know He’s in control we have No Fear! We can praise Him ! We did that for years ….a deliberate act that put an end to our spinning out of control. Remember to build dependence on the Lord in yourself and your children– not circumstances.
As Jim and I adjusted to the reality of post treatment, we began to pray and regroup. This was not an indicator that he would not be healed and free of the “invader”. Peace was reestablished, and we got on with the restoration and rebuilding of his body. Weight gain has started to come back and his energy is very good– for which we are so grateful!!
As I write this we are on our plane returning to Houston for what they call ” restaging”– that’s just the repeat and evaluation of the PET scan and the endoscopy to see how the radiation and chemo did. We will have the PET today and the endoscopy tomorrow. We so so appreciate all of the encouraging messages and the prayers.
The last week was a roller coaster for us– we have been exploring the surgery options that are used for an esophagectomy. This surgery is the 3rd part to a curative treatment– chemo, radiation, and surgery. Of course, God can heal in such a way that the esoph is totally restored as if there never was any tumor. In that case we praise the Lord and flee the scene, immediately!! I am standing on that promise. About 6 years ago I had a 2 cm growth that showed up on a PET scan– I had the elders of my church in Florida lay hands on me and pray– went back for another test and it was gone– miracles do happen today.
Regarding the surgery, the doc in Houston does a traditional “open” esophagectomy, and another leading edge doc in Penn does the same surgery using a “minimally invasive” approach where he uses 6 small incisions where he inserts instruments that work with robots to do the surgery. This is a very brief explanation of the 2 surgeries, but we are praying and seeking wisdom for which is the approach God would have for Jim– IF he does indeed require it.
We are very blessed and so grateful as we move to the final phase of this saga!! No question, our whole family is changed, and that includes our Network 21 family. I thank you for praying for our children– as you can imagine, none of them ever expected to be confronted with any possibility of a serious challenge to their father. They are all very close to Jim and have special relationships with him He is such a loving, stabilizing presence for all of us and they are walking through it with faith and reliance on the only real comforter — the Lord. I am very proud of all of them and grateful to our priceless business partners who have reached out to love and encourage them– it has made all the difference….I assure you.
Neither Jim nor I want just a healing “physically”– we want to be strengthened and deepened and made instruments that God can use to help others…. and number one…. to show His glory.
We will keep you posted and again we thank you for praying.
Progress continues! I am sure that all your prayers have been heard, and I am feeling that my most difficult days of “post treatment” are behind me. It was indeed quite a challenging two weeks here, as I have struggled mightily to maintain weight and appetite. I won’t bore you all with my dramas, but just know that for the past two days…it has become much, much better… and I can now begin to rebuild seriously. More “real food” is going in and I feel more “normal” each day. Funny how grateful we can become for “little things” …like eating! God certainly does seem to have a sense of humor as he gives me this area of battle after so many years of eating “too much”! I hunt around the house… and the internet etc …for what is “healthy” and has “lots of calories”…. without sugar/chemicals etc…and that is harder than one thinks. But I am “on it”, and Nurse Nancy is in full battle-mode, directing Kevin, and even Continue reading
Greetings again from Atlanta! I so appreciate all the wonderful new messages I have been reading since returning home to Atlanta. You all are such a blessing and your thoughts, and prayers, and sharing keeps me aware of what God has provided each of us through our N21 family and our many years of life together.
The picture you see is one taken Sunday at home during the Super Bowl. I was challenging Eric to Scrabble on my I-Pad. He won of course as he is formidable at Scrabble. We just had Dave Ruelas and Eric and Abbie and Heather and Ashley Kate…. and it was nice to be together. They ate Mexican snacks and later pizza…..and I had my famous “shake” trying to keep up the healthy calories. Continue reading
As I write this we have just returned to Atlanta from Houston…Praise God indeed! It is an understatement to say how good it feels to be in my normal environment and home. Jeff Neuber jumped on “Dornan-Air” and came out to Houston this morning with our dear Pilots (Ron and Dave)….I fear they may “forget” how to fly, as we have left them sitting around for two months now. Most “employees” would love to be paid, and not work, but these two fellows are incredible…and LOVE to fly. I am grateful for them in our life. It was good to see them…. And Jeff wanted to be there too for the ride back and to help. Continue reading
Greetings again! Well, it seemed that I waited too long last time, so I wanted to say hello again after last weeks “festivities” here in Houston. It was week 4 of my “treatments” here, so the docs keep looking to see how “beat up” I am from the radiation and chemo……so far God has spared me most of the issues that they “predicted”, and my blood levels are “normal range”. I am so grateful for those blessings as I am fully aware it is a significant attack on my system to go after this invader. I must always remember that these are the “small” ways that God shows me He is there. Continue reading