Encouraging Update

Returning home from Houston

You all know that I want to always remain joy-filled and an encouragement to you as we travel this latest adventure together. How can I say again how much I/we have needed and loved and been lifted by your endless prayers and love and optimism… we had no idea how much this “connection” would mean to us and I hope that my “sharing” with you in this way also serves as a place for comfort and strength to you and your faith walk. We NEED each other, and God has provided an unexpected miracle and blessing through this new channel of communication. Each one of you that posts back on this site’s Guest Book, or sends messages… must know that they are filed , read, re-read, and pondered for what it means and says. So many dear friends, from so many diverse places, with so much care in their hearts…..what a community and what a God that would give this to all of us. Thanks again for your words.

Now, allow me to give a status from last week as I know many would be quite “concerned” after hearing the “news” of yet another challenge in this journey. The tests did indeed confirm that I am dealing with a new spread that was unwelcome and totally unexpected. Additionally, it goes to say that none of us ever want to hear we have something “foreign” popping up in such a place. But we must remember that God is still the Great Healer and stronger than any attack, and always in control of the ultimate outcome, and always for the good of those who love him. So…we are great…by definition, and by His promises. We are already victorious. The timing and details are His. The faith walk and trust is for us.

There are a few things to be very grateful for:

  1. My tests re-confirmed that there is still no evidence of any disease in the original lower body so still all clear. Yeah!
  2. Yes, there came this new situation, but there are some good options for treatment and the very specialized gamma Knife technology was available.
  3. I was immediately scheduled and now I am on the other side of that….yeah!

It was pretty amazing, by the way. The neurosurgeon and radiological oncologist first needed to take a very, very detailed MRI scan that would look much deeper and finer to be sure that there were not “other” smaller lesions that would have been missed previously. If there were…they would need to use some more aggressive, and potentially risky treatments… so we were set up and awaiting that test early Tuesday AM to see if the Gamma was still an option. It was… yeah! The next step was to be “fitted” for a metal headpiece that was to be “bolted” onto my head so that the scientists could do internal measurements of where they needed to treat. Then they gathered the doctors, and the physicists and spend 4 hours doing the calculations as to how to precisely and exactly calibrate the machine to blast these two areas without harming other nearby and sensitive areas. Needless to say, I was once again subjected to a discussion of all the scary possible complications if something was knocked, or bled, or swelled, or etc. etc. But… really, I did great and although it is certainly disturbing to go through such stuff, it is not that big a deal and I am very glad they have figured out such a thing. See…there really is a great value in scientists and engineers!!. 🙂

Following the procedure which ultimately took the whole day…I was asked to stay in Houston in order to  observe the recovery, and they placed me on medicine to prevent swelling. Humorously, when I said “what do I do”…they just told me about all the potential side-effets of the medication, or how to know if something went wrong, and then said call emergency immediately if you have “severe headaches, vomiting, or have seizures!!” Are you kidding? Don’t worry, I will call. I didn’t! Praise God indeed.

Then we popped back to Atlanta Friday afternoon and realized that we have a N21 Weekend Seminar in town….. and so we changed clothes and went to the event! Dysfunctional! Probably! But, what a great blessing for both of us to return from that surreal world of cancer, and machines, and metal head things, and scary possible after-effects….to the world we love so much that is filled with people that love us. That is the “best medicine” we could ever give ourselves.

Now, we simply pray and await a further test at the end of February to determine if “it worked”. Thus is the nature of the world of medicine. They do what they can do, and they do it so well. Then, we trust God for the final results. The question is always about how well we do that part. How well to we do “in the flames”. With all of you continuing to pray over this (and helping us bind the enemy from this awful attack of one of God’s own), we have confidence that this trial will bring forth great fruit in our lives and in the Kingdom, and we are all honored to be used and sharpened and prepared for what He may have next. This is indeed a bigger journey than I had imagined.

Our common enemy in this life wants to derail the great work that God is doing, and is about to do through our lives. One his most used and effective tools is discouragement. We refuse! God is on the throne!

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

My request is that you each pray against this enemy…. and he will flee. Our specific prayer is that this recent treatment will “solve” the problem medically, and there will be no further treatments. The rest is as always in the Lord’s loving hands and together we are already victorious. we still remember to “count it all joy” and await God’s amazing timing and grace.

As I always love to share a few additional thoughts from my reading and reflecting, here is something that I found a few days ago:


The thread of life is fragile.   A few cells within a healthy body grow erratically and we receive the diagnosis of cancer; a second’s misjudgment at an intersection, and a life is lost; a heart that keeps its cadence for decades skips a few beats and we find ourselves in intensive care; a friend loses her baby during pregnancy; an aging parent shows signs of Alzheimer’s; violence strikes someone we know.  None of us is immune to such devastating experiences for ourselves, our families, or among our friends.  Inexpressible suffering barges in at unexpected moments.  And everyone balances the more common (yet anguishing) anxieties, setbacks, and losses that challenge our ability to cope – conflict at home, financial loss, trouble with teenagers, struggles with alcohol, feelings of loneliness.  No one lives without facing a threatening darkness.

We overestimate our capacity to handle these things all by ourselves, and we underestimate the power of community to help.  Belonging to a caring community, we discover a sustenance that does not answer all our questions or end all our challenges, but which keeps us connected, rooted, grounded.  When the worst happens, God doesn’t promise us an answer; God provides us a relationship.  Through sustaining relationships, we discover that God is not aloof from life and disinterested in us.  Instead, God gets in the trenches and suffers with us.  We are not alone.  God is with us.  God’s presence reaches us through the people who love us.  The thread of life is fragile, but the fabric of life is eternal.

— Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living

This reminded me of how unique and special our N21 global family really is. A community of relationships and shared values and love and respect. God is in that too. He knows we need people, as well as having Him and His promise inside us. He rescues us often “through other people” who he places around us when we need them. Doctors, family, friends… each serving a different purpose.

I have also become aware again of how much we each have the opportunity during our daily lives to be the “salt and Light” that God commands. This role is not for the professional Christians only, nor for the big visible leaders, but for each of us to embrace together. Here is what Chuck Swindoll said:

Since God has called us to be His salt-and-light servants in a bland, dark society, it will be necessary for us to commit ourselves to the task before us. Remember, salt must not lose its taste, and light must not be hidden. In order to keep us on target, let me suggest three statements that declare and describe how to fulfill this role.

1. “I am different.”

Probably the greatest tragedy of Christianity through its changing and checkered history has been our tendency to become like the world rather than completely different from it. The prevailing culture has sucked us in like a huge vacuum cleaner, and we have done an amazing job of conforming.

But servants are to be different. As one man put it, “as different as chalk is from cheese.” As different as salt is from decayed meat . . . as light is from the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. No veneer, remember. We are authentically different.

2. “I am responsible.”

If I read Jesus’s words correctly, I see more than being salt and light. I am responsible for my salt not losing its bite and my light not becoming obscure or hidden. Every once in a while it is helpful to ask some very hard questions of myself. True servants do more than talk. We refuse to become the “rabbit-hole Christians” John Stott speaks of, popping out of our holes and racing from our insulated caves to all-Christian gatherings only to rush back again. For salt to be tasted and for light to be seen, we must make contact. We are personally responsible.

3. “I am influential.”

Let’s not kid ourselves. The very fact that we belong to Christ—that we don’t adopt the system, that we march to a different drumbeat—gives us an influence in this society of ours. Maybe the quaint old “keeper of the spring” was not seen very much, but his role meant survival to that village in the Alps. We are influencing others even when we aren’t trying to act “religious” or preach from a soapbox.

On another devotional I saw this that picks up on this theme of how easily we can represent our Lord in our life and business without “preaching”:

What would happen if Jesus took your place for a year in your workplace? Let’s consider some hypothetical things that He might do.

He would do His work with excellence. He would be known around the office for the great work He did (Exodus 31:2).

He would develop new ideas for doing things better (Eph 3:20).

He would hang out with sinners in order to develop a relationship with them in order to speak to them about the Father (Mt 9:12).

He would strategically pray for each worker about their concerns and their needs. He would pray for those who even disliked Him (Mt 5:44).

He would rally the office to support a needy family (Jer 22:16).

He would offer to pray for those who were sick in the office and see them get healed (Mt 14:14).

He would honor the boss and respect him/her (Titus 2:9).

He would consider the boss as His authority in His workplace (Rom 13:1).

He would be truthful in all his dealings and never exaggerate for the sake of advancement ( Ps 15:2).

He would be concerned about His city (Lk 19:41).

He would always have a motive to help others become successful, even at his own expense (Pr 16:2).

Hmm. Sounds like some good ideas we could each model.

As I read what is happening among my friends around the world as we interact around my personal health challenges, I am lifted greatly by the way God has allowed us all to be in a position of salt and Light to a confused world. People see illness, or tragedy, or injustice all around. Lots of things to make one discouraged or even question “Where is God”?? He is in us. He wants us to be His representatives every day in small ways. When He answers differently, or more slowly than we ourselves might choose and differently from what we personally desire, we must never conclude that he has “changed” or is absent, or worse. He is God. He knows all, sees all, does all. And it is all good in the end. Our faith is strengthened by trials, and we learn how to trust and obey and rest in Him when he refuses to respond like a “Genie in a bottle” to grant our wishes. If he did that, we would be God, and not Him…I don’t know about you…. but that scares me more. We can trust him, and we can lean on him, and we can rest in the assurance that if we have placed our faith in him, he will never leave or forsake us and this is enough. His grace is sufficient. We are the created and he is the creator.

 As  final thought today, I wanted to share one more reading that has reminded me to always trust God in spite of any setbacks or seemingly insurmountable obstacles that we can indeed trust him to deliver us. A good reminder to not just passively await God but, additionally, be sure we are boldly stepping into our faith.


“… Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” – Exodus 14:15

Moses had brought the whole nation of Israel, approximately 600,000, to a dead end in the desert. The only thing between Israel and Pharaoh’s pursuing army was the Red Sea. This was after ten plagues God had inflicted on Pharaoh to motivate him to free the Israelites. Finally, Pharaoh had freed Moses and the people, and they left Egypt. They thought they were home free. “Freedom at last,” they said. But God did a strange thing. He directed Moses to take a route that led to the Red Sea, instead of the northern route around the Red Sea. God explained that He didn’t want them fighting the enemies they would have encountered on this route. But still, there was the issue of the Red Sea.

They finally arrived at the Red Sea, and the people were wondering where they would go from there. News hit the camp: Pharaoh had changed his mind. He was coming after them with his army. Panic set in. The defenseless Israelites cried out, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Ex. 14:11b-12)

God sometimes brings each of us to a “Red Sea” in our life. It may be a work problem that can’t be solved. It may be a marriage that seems to be failing. It may be a debilitating disease. Whatever your Red Sea, God tells us one thing: “Keep moving.” The Red Sea was before them, yet God was angered at Moses and told him to “Keep moving.”

“But Lord, the Red Sea is before me.” “Keep moving.” When we live by sight, we act on what we see. God sets this stage in dramatic fashion. God is into the dramatic. There is no way out without God here. That is just the way He wants it. No one will get glory except God.

You must not withdraw from being proactive in your faith just because of this trial that you are in. God’s hand is on your life. There are too many who are depending on you to fulfill the purposes God has in your life. Keep moving! Keep investing yourself in others.” I didn’t feel like it. God met me at the point of my greatest need once I decided simply to be obedient. Getting past myself by investing myself in others helped heal the pain. 

There is great healing when we look past our own problems and seek to invest ourselves in others for the sake of Christ. This is when our own Red Seas become parted. We begin to walk to freedom. But we will never experience the miracle of the Red Sea in our lives if we don’t first “Keep moving.”

I want us all to be salt and light and remain confident in His perfect plan for us. I want us all to live daily in the small things so that our lives reflect something “different”….a “fruit of the spirit”, and a recognition that after we belong to Christ, we are indeed changed and forgiven and able to show others a better way to live. We first accept His gift, (his son, his forgiveness) and then allow him to change us and mold us and use us. God’s message through Christ is not one of “exclusivity” as some try to say. It is “good news” that salvation is a free gift to ANYONE who asks and trusts. It is so simple and so profound. No strings attached…price paid. Benefits await. Now and forever.

But we sometimes must “Move ON”….we must keep going and keep believing and keep trusting and keep Praising Him. No doubt…praise first. 

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5)

There is only one acceptable way to enter into God’s court and that is through Praise. Why? Because he is always good, his love endures forever, and his faithfulness through generations.

And Hebrews 11:6 says ” And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  

So, we are all praising, and we are standing in strong faith here at the Dornan home, and we are spreading salt and light in the world together ……and God is still and always in full control and on our side for eternity.

I wish for you all a peace in your hearts and again offer deep thank you’s for your on-going love and concern….but please know I am doing great!!….. and God has me firmly in his mighty grip. I may be in the fire, but I intend to come out!!…and not smell of smoke. Lord willing. Looks Like jim 2.0 is still a “work in progress”. Isn’t life great?

God bless.


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