Tuesday, December 03, 2013

"The New Heart: My heart story" Section 4: Waiting for Diagnosis

I'm developing the second half of my sermon on "My heart story" -

My last post  (Section 3)  - which was about moving from "ignorance" and "denial"  to "acceptance" -   ended with these observations

"We need to come to the same point  of accepting  that   there is "bad news" - denial - blaming and all that stuff  doesn't change the fact  that “I am responsible for my situation”   - it is up to me to do something about it.
And there is good news --  For our physical problem there are (often) health restoring) medical treatments and .....   (more importantly) ....
For the  “spiritually broken  hearts”  God has  promised a 'new heart'"
This is a draft of the next section on "Diagnosis" (I may update it as I develop the thought and any comments by readers would be  helpful)
Knowing there was a problem and  GOOD NEWS that (potential) treatment was available wasn't enough. The specific problem needed to be diagnosed.

-- 5th   comparison: I took (and failed) a stress test on January 4th. Any illusion that there really wasn’t a problem was gone but we still didn’t have a definite diagnosis – getting that required further testing. – I wished it would happen faster because it was very  stressful not knowing  -- I wanted to know even though it was possible the news wouldn’t  be good.   
A song by Toby Keith contains the line I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then”    and , of course  your mind goes in that direction  but I believe that “knowing is always better than not knowing” (and as I said in an earlier post whether I knew or not  didn't change the reality of my situation and the danger I was in)   - so I wanted to  get on with it.    (I praise God that he answered your prayers. The diagnosis was made very quickly (in less than 3 weeks on January 22).  

In the spiritual realm, once we see that there is a problem and we  turn to God for answers the diagnosis can be immediate. No waiting – worrying – wondering what it is and whether it can be fixed.  The diagnosis is already known – we are “out of step” with God.  But it seems (from my personal experience and observation) that very few people easily and immediately accept that God is the answer. There is a struggle between “the ignorance is bliss” state that they were  in and the “freedom given by truth” that can be theirs. When we see people in that struggle we pray, we encourage and we wait  because it’s their journey and as much as we would like to we can’t  “force” the process.
... to be continued
God Bless

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"The New Heart: My heart story" Section 3: Bad news - Good news

The previous 2 posts  have  been sections of   a sermon presented     Sunday morning November 17 2013 at  the Pinehill church Sault Ste Marie Ontario titled "The New Heart: My heart story"

Section 1 was titled "God's "heart" story"  and  Section 2 was titled "Comparing  My "physical"  story with God's "Spiritual  Story"

Today I'll post the 3rd  section of the  sermon which  describes how  hearing "bad news"  is necessary  before we  can recognize (and take advantage of) Good news

Last section ended with the  statement
"In both cases (my heart problem and for those who reject God) ignorance is NOT bliss."
Continuing on ...

3rd  comparison: But knowledge may not be the answer. I was very aware of the potential for heart problems.  
Heart disease (either over time or suddenly)  had caused  (what I thought was more than my share of) the “painful loss” of those  I cared deeply about  (and I know that pain was experienced even more directly by several here today)    ...  
(For  readers not present - this  turned out to be a very  emotional, tearful moment in the lesson as  I looked at the faces of those who I knew had  experienced these losses -- especially the wife of my friend and fellow elder who had died suddenly in August 2012 and  of my sister-in-law who lost her husband (my brother) in August 2011 after a lengthy period of heart disease and the reality of that pain of loss swept over me.  It was good to know that God through Jesus and His Spirit was there with us - standing by us - weeping with us and giving comfort as only He can )

Heart disease  had caused  the “painful loss” of  many   I cared deeply about  ...

and yet I had  (arrogantly) rejected the possibility that it could happen to me.  

There are many who have done the same with God, they have heard His story, and they have rejected it.  Hearing about “heart disease:” again was not going to make me seek treatment. And hearing the “gospel” over and over again is unlikely to cause this “non-believer” to turn to God. 

How do we come from denial to acceptance?  For illnesses, sometimes we find out suddenly (e.g. a heart attack), sometimes through gradual awareness that something may be wrong, sometimes because of serious symptoms, sometimes because of routine testing. 

For those with “broken spirits” awareness of their state may also come in various ways and how we “teach” them will differ dependent on the situation

What changed me was a “significant event” (although it didn’t seem significant at the time)  -- I had gone to the ER because of a persistent cough and,  as an afterthought,  told a nurse-practitioner about a mild burning sensation in my chest.  (and let met tell you mentioning chest pain in an ER is like yelling “Fire” in a crowded room J)

People who observe and study these things say that,  if anything will—it takes a significant event to cause a “wilful non-believer” to turn to God (or Jesus) (cf. Saul on the road to Damascus). 
May God give us the ears to hear and the heart to serve that lets us be there for people in those moments when they become vulnerable and are open to the possibility that they may need help. (Reference at lecture series by Dr.  Garry Bailey on shame, vulnerability and reconciliation held 2 weeks prior to my lesson - I hope  in the coming days to write more about that and how it all fit's into my journey)

4th comparison: When I  accepted the fact that there was a problem, I wondered  if it was my “fault”- could I have prevented it – could I have exercised more; had a better diet – I felt guilt and even shame because maybe I had let people down.   Or maybe it was genetic – it was my parents “fault” – there was nothing I could have done – it wasn’t my fault.  And those  “blame and shame" thoughts  flowed  through my mind  endlessly for a while – haunting my nights and crippling my days.  
However, in the end, I came to accept that the truth was ““Why”? didn’t  matter - “It was what it was”  - there was "bad news" and I needed to do something about it.

The same thing can happen when we realize that  there may be something wrong with our “God heart” –and  we need to come to the same point  of accepting  that   there is "bad news" - denial - blaming and all that stuff  doesn't change the fact  that “I am responsible for my situation”   - it is up to me to do something about it.

And there is good news --  For our physical problem there are medical treatments and cures – in my case the “broken valve” could be replaced. For the  “spiritually broken (dead) hearts”  God has  promised a “new heart

and that is GOOD NEWS

Well when I  started preparing this sermon I thought it would be one sermon – but the time is up and the story is not completed – so  we end on the fact that there is GOOD NEWS and will  wait for “Next time” for “the rest of the story"
God Bless

Monday, November 25, 2013

The New Heart: My heart story: Section 2: Comparing My "physical" story with God's "Spiritual Story

Last time I  posted  section 1 of  a  Sermon  presented  Sunday morning November 17 2013 at  the Pinehill church Sault Ste Marie Ontario titled "The New Heart: My heart story".

 Section 1 told   God's "heart" story -- the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

The sermon was  prompted by  Bible verses describing  how God  "strengthens" and "cleans (makes new) our heart.

Psalm 73:26  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and renew a right spirit within me.

This post is the continuation of that sermon.

I love explaining things using analogies and metaphors. I think they are a good way of using familiar things to help  us  understand unfamiliar things (Jesus did this with parables).  There are 2 dangers with this approach.

1) the point (or meaning) you are intending to make may not be understood (as was often the case with Jesus parables)  and

2) we may “reverse” the process and use something that is true about the “analog”  to show that the same thing must be true about the “real thing”  - and that isn’t always the case
In this sermon  lesson I am  using  something that happened to me in the “physical” world to  draw spiritual lessons – and, it is possible I may not  have  gotten it completely right.
I pray like the Bereans, you will search the scriptures to see that these things are so.

So here are some things I observed during  this "physical" journey that led to spiritual lessons.

1st comparison: No matter how healthy I was a year ago, 10 years ago or even at the moment of my birth – my body is subject to the ravages of time.
The fact is “I will  die sometime”.  (Hebrews 9:27 “appointed for man to die once”) , or   in words attributed to Benjamin Franklin “nothing in life  is certain but death and taxes”.
The same is true of our “spiritual heart” – as innocent and pure as we are when we are born – we all (eventually) die spiritually  –  “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).   

In the case of our physical health there are things we can do (or refrain from doing) which tend to keep us healthy longer or tend to speed up the “decay”.  In fact, Linda has and continues to be “my conscience’ in that area - watching my diet and encouraging me to exercise and chiding me when I spend too much of my time “hunched over the computer”. But in the end  we all die.

Equally it is true the spiritual world;  nothing I can do will affect the process  of "dying" - it isn’t up to me.  In a very real sense, without Jesus, I am (already) dead - no matter how innocent I am, or how hard I try to be or do good.

2nd comparison: A year ago I didn’t know there was anything wrong.  I was blithely unaware of the problem – but that didn’t mean the problem wasn’t there.  (as an aside – Linda is more “intuitive” about these things and she sensed there was something wrong – but she thought it was just that I had been too tied up in teaching and  had gotten “out of shape” and her answer was to wait until January when I was done and march me off to the gym J) 

How many people in the world have “broken spirits” and don’t know it?  What of those who totally reject God?  -- they are dead – and don’t know it. Their lack of knowledge doesn’t change their situation.  They may have “no clue” or they may, as  Linda did, sense “something isn’t right” but  really not know what it is. 

I hope  there are none here today in this position but if you haven’t received a “new heart” from God  – please   let’s talk more..

In both cases (my heart problem and for those who reject God) ignorance is NOT bliss.
.. to be continued

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The New Heart: My heart story: Section 1 - God's "heart" story

Sermon - Sunday morning November 17 2013 at  the Pinehill church Sault Ste Marie Ontario

Good morning: Last time I stood here to give a lesson was almost a year ago. (I believe it was December 9 2012)

A lot has happened since then – as a family of God’s people we have experienced to full cycle of life.

We have rejoiced at new births (both  “physical” and even more importantly  “spiritual births” ), we have mourned the loss of loved ones,  we have experienced weddings and other joyful events and we have experienced illness and other challenges in our lives.

(As most of you know) the reason I have NOT preached a sermon for over a year is because I too have been  a part of that story of the “beginnings and endings” of life.

A year ago I thought I was as “healthy as  a horse” (sure I had a few aches and pains that seem to come as our bodies get older but  I (thought I)  was in very good health.  I was able to get the “A” rating for health insurance when we travelled.  I was blessed with good health and I have to confess I was (maybe more than) a little proud of that.

I should have heeded Solomon’s’ advise  (Proverbs 16:18)   

 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Within a month my “winning streak” had ended. I discovered that I had a serious problem and on February 14, I had open heart surgery to replace a “broken” aortic valve. It was the beginning of a new phase of living with a “new heart”. I praise God for the wonders of modern health care that I am well on the way to be able to say once again “I’m healthy as a horse” (and pray I’ll never say it again with ‘arrogance’)

Of course,  the “clinical” facts about my illness and the medical steps taken to “fix” my heart are  NOT the real story – the real story is the emotional and spiritual response to this “wild ride”  and  the life lessons learned.  And it’s not just about me – it’s about Linda, my earthly family and  very much about you -  my church family.

Over the past year I have had a lot of time to reflect on how  my “heart” story  could be used  as a means of thinking about and illustrating  God’s story of  healing ”broken spirits (hearts).   The following verses in particular came to my mind.

 Psalm 73:26  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,  and renew a right spirit within me.

Ezekiel 11:19  And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

Ezekiel 18:31   Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit

Ezekiel 36:26."A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."—

The rest of the lesson makes comparisons between my “heart” story and God’s “heart” story.

First some context - a summary of the  great account of God’s love as revealed to us in the Bible. (likely a review of something all of you  already know)

1.      God in his divine love created humans as perfect beings (in his image)  but they “fell down” (sinned, became wicked in the sight of God)  when they disobeyed God’s single command  in the garden (Genesis 1-3)

2.     From that point forward, we all “fall down” – we all “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And are in the position that we deserve to suffer the consequences of God’s justice (we deserve punishment)(Genesis 4 and following).

3.     God went to work immediately on His plan  -  teaching, training and sometimes punishing  - so that  we -  his “fallen” humans would allow him to “pick us up” and “bring us home” so  we could abide in his love and receive protection from his justified anger at unjust and unrighteous people” ( see Genesis, Exodus, Judges  and the summary in Hebrews 11 for some of the  “chapters” in this story that show God working to renew  relationships with  fallen and broken  humans) .  (and  despite those efforts  we  humans”  had “ no hope and (were)  without God” (Eph. 2:12)

4.     As the climax of that plan he sent Jesus – His son (see John 3:16) to make available a “new heart” .  Through   Jesus and the power of God's  Spirit we are being “remade” into “perfect health” and (ultimately) will experience eternal life in the new heavens and new earth .  What a Wonderful thing!  To  “broken, sick, and sinful humans,   he sent  the “Great Physician”.

5.     We are now living out the concluding chapters of this story –  not yet written  -- until  the “new creation” is fully visible to us in that great day when Jesus returns (Revelation gives us this  picture of that  final chapter

Revelation 20: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; …. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

... to be continued
God Bless

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Retuning to a "new" normal

It has (again) been  quite a while since I ventured into "blogland".  As mentioned in my "Beginnings and Endings"  series in January and February   (see  January 23 post)

I started this year by discovering that I needed "open heart" surgery.  At the same time I was dealing with the deaths of a number of people  close to me  continuing a " series of losses dating back to 2010.   One of the  series was titled  Every ending is a beginning.

After my  major surgery in February 2013, I was beginning a new phase of life of "learning to live with a "new" (repaired) heart. and it took until well into August before I was  "back to normal" (actually it's more like learning to live in the "new" normal" )  and it was my intent to do continue writing about that "new life" --

Well - intentions are just that and the doing doesn't always follow and I have NOT resumed my blogging (even though I made one  "false start"  in late June (see "Bouncing back (Slowly)"

 I can make the excuse that it took me until well into August  before I was able to take on the level of activity that I had previously  into  a "new" normal.

I also - because I was unable to get medical coverage to travel "out of country" - had to give up plans to travel to Ireland this fall so I took on a contract to teach a course in Systems Analysis  at Algoma University which has kept me fairly busy this fall.

I do want to get back to this. It helps me keep focused on "what's important" and not get to wrapped up in all the "busy work" that so easily fills my days.

I'm reminded of 2 verses as I write this

Ecclesiastes 12:13  ... Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

 (Figuring out what this means to me and living it  - That's what is important)

Hebrews 12:1 . ...    let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
(taking this out of context , I'm using it as an encouragement to "stick to it" and  continue  a regular posting discipline)

I took my turn at preaching a sermon this past Sunday - first time since December 9 2012    and I plan Lord willing to  post  this sermon "My "heart" story" vs. God's Heart story over the next  few days. We'll see were it goes from there.

God Bless

Monday, July 01, 2013

Canada Day and Freedom

July 1 is Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) – “celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed.”    (Source Wikipedia)


Celebrations such as Canada Day and  in the USA  Independence Day (July 4)  have a theme of  patriotism for  the  citizens.


For Christians,  patriotism  (devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty.)   can raise some questions. In fact there is a lot of debate over the degree of national patriotism and involvement in that are appropriate for Christians.


Since I tend to be apolitical by “nature” I could easily justify this by referring  to scriptures such as 

1 Peter 2:10-12
Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation..


However, that would be dishonest.  The firm conviction I have is that my citizenship in God’s kingdom is of first priority. I’m also mindful of Jesus’ words when he said

Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money..

This is a reference to letting money (materialism) dominate our lives; however the principle seems the same we can`t serve (be loyal to) two “kings” at the same time.

So my belief is that if Christians involve themselves in national patriotism it must be driven by their loyalty to Jesus. The rationale must be that doing that is the best way to follow  Jesus rather than some idea that political activity can create a “Christian” nation that forces Christians values onto the citizens of that country.  Christians are called to be salt and leaven that lead others to the kingdom of God – not  policemen and judges.

Anyone interested in investigating this subject in more detail is invited to look at TimArcher’s blog (Kitchen of Half Baked thoughts) under the topic Christian Nation  


Another theme that comes to mind when celebrating days like Canada Day is freedom.  Again there is a lot of debate both in nations and in theology about the meaning of freedom.  One thing that is clear t never means freedom to do “whatever I want to do,  whenever I want to do it  and wherever I want to do it” – that’s chaos – not freedom although there are certainly some who want to define freedom this way.

The Bible speaks many times of the freedom we have in Christ.  A few examples are

 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

Something to ponder is “what are Christians free to do,   when are they free to do it and where are they free to do it?”.  We need to seek  our own answers to this from  scripture  (and from critical   comparison of what others have concluded from  their reading of the Bible) – not simply accept (be enslaved by)  religious rules and  regulations that are passed on to us or taught to us by others.

Something to think about as we   celebrate our national holidays in whatever country we live in as “aliens and exiles”.
God Bless

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bouncing back (slowly)

When I resumed blogging this year in January 2013  I intended to do a series of blogs on the theme of endings and  new beginnings.

At the same time I had just learned that I needed open heart surgery to replace a badly stenosed (restricted) aortic valve.  Most of the posts in January and February related to preparing for that major surgery and the impact it was having on me – in the context of endings and beginnings.

My latest previous post from – February 17  read

 “Now out of hospital after successful surgery. Home tomorrow - More later”

When I was released from hospital they gave me a package prepared by the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation called
 “Bouncing back from Heart surgery”
It said that with proper rest, diet and mild exercise I’d be able to resume “normal” activities within 2 to 3 months.  I  optimistically thought that I’d be able to beat that timetable and be back  full steam ahead in a week or so
For sure, I thought I would be able to resume blogging very quickly and continue writing about that experience and the recovery process.

However, I found that  “living in the day” post-surgery left very little time and energy for  extra activities  and I gave up on that idea after a couple of weeks.

In general my recovery was smooth and as went pretty much as (other people had) expected under the watchful eye of my “home nurse"  (aka my beautiful wife).
I had a good diet and was doing the recommended stretching exercises every day. Beyond that  I was spending most of my time  reading, resting (and getting extra sleep!!). 

I did have  some initial complications with an ER visit due to irregular heartbeat which was corrected quickly with medication (that I no longer need)  and a second ER visit due to a  serious cough which  was due to a cold and treated with over the counter codeine based cough suppressant (Coughing when the ribs are still healing from surgery is no fun!!)

As far a blogging and other writing, I kept thinking I would get going again by  April 1  (April Fool!!!) but for a various reasons it never seemed to be practical.

By mid-April I was feeling much better,  was attending a cardiac rehab program 3 times a week. I had started going out some and attending the church assemblies on Sunday  and my head was full of ideas for blogging which I hoped to resume by May 1.
And then a major setback.

I developed an abscess  near the top of the incision. It swelled  up the size of a large goose egg.  Without going into the gory detail I had 4 “I & D’s” (I&D = Incise & Drain) (April 21, May 10, May 13 and June 5)  at that site (It would heal over and within 2 to 3 days it would swell again). In addition, a second abcess developed about 2 inches (5 cm) below the first one and it required an I & D  June 10th. 

At this point, I’ve been off antibiotic for 10 days (I had been on  (4 different) antibiotics since April 19 except for a brief period in early May). Both of the sites are healed over for 7-10 days with  no more signs of swelling. I still haven’t declared victory but certainly  feeling more optimistic than I’ve been since April.

So I’ve decided to try resuming my blog.  Still not sure what form it will take since it has been  “hijacked” by my surgery  problems so far this year. 

I won’t be writing (much) about my daily activities – Facebook seems to have taken over as a place to do that.  I  expect that my writing will  discuss  the impact of  daily events  on my  walk in faith

We’ll see

God Bless

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Fix a broken heart - Part 4

Now out of hospital after successful surgery. Home tomorrow - More later.

Friday, February 08, 2013

How to fix a broken Heart - Part 3

This is the third in a series describing my journey through the process of discovering that I (literally)  have "a broken heart" and beginning the process of getting it fixed.

In this series I've been putting in a plug for the (Canadian)  Heart and Stroke Foundation   which provides  funds for research and  supports  people who are dealing with heart disease and strokes.

Since, in Canada, February is Heart Month  and I am about to benefit from their work, I'd encourage you to consider contributing to this work. 

In the first part  titled "How to fix a broken heart"  I told the story of how I came to find out that I had  severe aortic valve stenosis.  (Step 1 - Diagnosis)

The second part described Step 2:Talk to a cardiac surgeon

I've been playing a catch -up game describing  "what happened in the past" -this post brings us up to date.
Step 3 - Preparing for surgery

Last time,  when I left off we were home waiting for a call from the hospital.

Enjoying life: On  Friday (February 1), the day after our trip to see the surgeon, our daughter arrived home for the weekend. She had made the plan to come  shortly after we knew that the "echo"  was scheduled for the 19th and she thought it would be good to be here to help us pass the time while we were waiting to get the results on  February 5. 

Little did we know that God had other plans and  not only did we have a firm diagnosis but we also already had completed  the surgical consult. However, her idea of helping us with waiting was still a good one -- just that we were waiting for a different thing. 

It was  a great time - see "Snow time to post". 

Facing reality: I was sorry (even though it was out of my control) to see the distress in her eyes trying to deal with the fact that her "invincible father"  was in fact very "vincible" (Yes Virginia that's a word - I looked it up!!).

(And her brother's have shown the same thing as we have talked and Skyped with them)

(As an aside  - I am so proud of the adults my children have become -- I am acutely aware of my many failings as a parent - I was too often too occupied with other things and not "there in the moment" with them when I should have been but as the saying goes "I must have done something right".

I continue to pray that I can, by the power of His Spirit,  become a better husband, father and grand-father as I continue my walk with God through this world.)

It was a time for lots of conversation, some serious,  some painful, but mostly about daily routine  and "the business of life".  A few tears  and lots of laughter. 

15-2, 15-4 and there ain't no more: We played a few games of  cribbage -  something I enjoyed doing with my Dad -- and Melissa  had the idea that  there must be an online version. Sure enough there is. 

Monday morning we gave her mother a good laugh - Melissa was sitting at the desk using the laptop and I was sitting on the bed using my kindle and we were playing cribbage on-line while talking back and forth -- your play, 15-2, etc., etc. So we are all geared up to play a few games while I'm recuperating.

The waiting game: After we put her on the plane Monday afternoon we began waiting in earnest.

 Linda began packing and organizing for an extended stay away from home. We had been planning for her to stay at her niece's place - She is in the nursing program at Laurentian University and lives a couple of kilometers (mile or so) from the hospital.

Much of Tuesday was occupied with being "out and about"  doing a few errands.

Linda's uncle called to tell us about  the Travelway Inn  which is "next door" to the hospital.

 For 2-3 days following the surgery I'll be in the ICU (cardiac intensive care)  which has restricted visiting hours (30 minutes every 2 hours) so it would be difficult to  stay at the Hospital all day and equally difficult and time consuming to be running back & forth to Hilary's place.  Since it's a few minutes to walk from/to the Travelway it seems like a good idea for her to stay there at least until I'm out of ICU.

Once I've moved to a "regular" surgical recovery unit the visiting hours are more generous (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.)  and Linda  can move to Hilary's and mke 1 trip to hospital and stay for the  entire period.

I began working seriously on "preparing for the worst" - although I'll confess there was a lot of procrastination - after all it wouldn't do to get it all done and then have to sit around "twiddling my thumbs". 

The reality is that I was (self diagnosis) mildly depressed -finding it hard to focus on anything and spent (wasted) a lot of time playing free cell on my kindle and trying to clean up a large backlog of "C"-file email. 

 I also  was spending lots of time on Facebook, on some discussion groups and using email  to communicate with family and friends. And thee was of course my desire to keep writing in this blog.

On top of that (or maybe as part of it) I found I was tiring easily. That had been happening all fall but I wrote it off to the workload of teaching 3 courses - equivalent to a full time job and something I hadn't done for a long time. 

I guess it wasn't the workload after all!!! (which I should have known because it was unusual for me to get that tired that easily).

So the days went by without much being accomplished or so it seemed -- although looking back perhaps I was using the wrong measure -- that I was doing more "living in the moment" and doing "last day" things in relationships - perhaps -- or perhaps I'm just rationalizing  -- it is what it was. 
I was just reminded in this recalling of the last few days of this excerpt from the   Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

So  we move on 

What's really important?  
Throughout this waiting we continued to "pray without" ceasing.

I was also doing the most important thing.  I wanted to  spend as much time as I could being close to and talking with my beautiful "Irish eyes". She was having a difficult time - hovering a bit -- and being anxious about  every little thing I did because of the severity of the stenosis and the increased risk of sudden death.   

It is  a test of our faith - repeating many times "Lord I trust you and help me in my lack of trust"  and "not my will but yours but I really want it to be my will" --  I want to live - I choose life"  -- not because of the fear of death but because my job here isn't finished and I don't want Linda to be left here without me.  (Interesting conversation with our son the psychologist on the question he asks "Is there any part of you that wants to die?") 

I am mindful of what Paul wrote in Phillipians 1: 18b-26  "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." but I'll admit that unlike him   "My desire is to NOT  depart and be with Christ"    although I share his commitment to life because . 24  to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your (their) account.

We talk again about our constant prayer that when it's time "please God take us together" but we'll never do anything to help Him with that request -- and whatever comes we know that - if one of us is left here without the other -- we will find the good (cf. Rom 8:28) somewhere sometime after the "valley"  has been walked.

Another ending: I am, along with my older sister, an executor for my Dad's estate. 

Wednesday I managed to complete a job that had been hanging around since September when I committed to doing the most of the financial "wrapup".

I completed my Dad's "final" income tax and a "balance sheet" for his estate so it could be wrapped up. 

And the wait is (almost) over: This brings us to yesterday (Thursday) when the phone rang at 8:30 a.m. It was the hospital calling to say my surgery was scheduled for  the upcoming Wednesday (13th). They said I needed pre-op and asked did I want to do it "tomorrow" (Friday) or Monday. Given the  7 hour round trip it seemed "prudent" to say "Monday" and just plan to stay there for the extra day so Monday pre-op and Wednesday surgery. 

I was ecstatic - the wait was over - well almost anyway. Wednesday will  be less than 2 weeks from when the surgeon said 3 to 6 weeks  and only a week later than when I was originally supposed to be learning the results of the echocardiogram.   

Thank you my Father. I could almost hear the Hallelujah chorus. Of course, at the same time, my anxiety about the procedure increased - I'm not looking forward to the pain and tubes and all that major surgery entails and at the same time there is a wonderful anticipation of being able to DO things again!

Just as I had finished notifying family  the phone rang again - your surgery has been moved up to Tuesday -  That's even better  Double Hallelujah!

Well - now we are up to date.  Final preparations - do all those things I've been procrastinating on and get on the road on Sunday.

More to come  - hope to describe the final days of getting  "Ready for Surgery"
in a post on Monday night.

God Bless