Update from our Mayo Clinic trip

mayo-clinic-frontWe made it safely back from the Mayo Clinic this past Wednesday, September 3. My wife and I want to thank each of you who prayed for our family. The Lord really answered prayers.  Although there is no way to convey all that God did for us on this trip, the following are a few things we would like to share with you.

When we made the appointment, the Clinic told us to expect to be there from 3 to 10 days. Many people are done in 3 days and most are done in 5 days. During our first appointment the doctor realized what we already knew – that Sarah’s situation was very complicated and if we wanted to get some real answers it would take longer than they first thought.  We decided that we would just take it day by day and see what the Lord would do.  As the days passed, it became clear that we needed to be there longer.  Although we could have stayed longer with doctors wanting to schedule more appointments, we decided to leave after three weeks.  We felt that most of the important appointments were done and that the other appointments could be done in Rhode Island.  We needed to come home.

Each day brought new tests and doctor appointments.  It really is a miracle that my wife was able to make all of these appointments except for one.   I have no words to tell you how bad Sarah was doing when we left to go to the Clinic.  Each day she was in terrible pain. She had been bed-bound for many months.  The simplest of tasks was very difficult.  Even rolling over in bed would have to be planned and accomplished with much effort and pain.  We give all the praise and honor to God that we were able to make this trip at all – let alone stay there and get to these appointments.

We thank the Lord for everyone who gave financially to allow us to stay in a hotel that was attached to the Clinic.  It really did make a huge difference.  Because the hotel was attached, if she could get into the wheelchair I could wheel her to the appointments through interior corridors.  I was so proud of her as every day I saw her dig down deep within to get from the bed to the wheelchair.  Then she endured much pain in the chair and prayed that our Lord would give her the strength to remain in the chair long enough to complete the day’s appointments.  She is one of the strongest people I have ever met.  I thank God for her bravery and will to get better so she can fulfill her dreams of being a healthy wife, mother and pastor’s wife.

While we were there, she had 12 separate appointments with seven different specialists. Also, she had two appointments with nurse specialists and an all-day appointment with nurses and 15 other people with unexplained chronic pain.  The testing was extensive.  The doctors ordered 80 blood tests, several invasive neurological tests, two biopsies, and a myriad of other tests.  These tests ruled out a lot of horrible diseases and identified ongoing problems.

Although we were happy to be at one of the premier medical facilities in the world, we were on a roller coaster of emotions.  Some doctors were helpful and encouraging while other doctors were not so helpful and discouraging.  The first 10 days there really yielded no helpful results except for ruling certain diseases out.  This was a deep valley for my wife and I to walk through.  While expending so much effort and money to be there, our faith was tested day after day of no more answers than when we arrived.  Even in the depths of this darkness, the Lord provided reminders that He was with us and was watching over us.  I remember one day in particular. We were at our lowest point. We had just walked out of a few doctor appointments that were utterly discouraging.  The devil was succeeding at his dirty deeds of discouragement and distraction. We began to wonder how this was going to work continuing to serve the Lord without any help at all.  We knew we could not go on unless something changed. As I was wheeling her down the hallway, we entered the Landow atrium. It’s a beautiful atrium with a lot of windows and natural light with marble walls, columns and floors. To the side of the room there’s a black grand piano. Often people would sit at the piano playing songs to encourage the folks that walked by.  As I walked through that atrium pushing my wife in the wheelchair, the Lord broke through my busy thoughts to bring my attention to the song that was playing. It was the song “People Need the Lord”. It was as if the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that God is not done with us yet -That people need Him and that He was going to use us to reach them with the Gospel and help them follow Christ.  I brought Sarah’s attention to the song and told her what God was speaking to my heart.  This breathed great life into us as God Himself encouraged us.  From that moment things began to look up. The next day the appointments were more helpful. As we walked through the atrium again that next day someone at the piano was playing the Hymn “How Great Thou Art”.  We serve a wonderful God Who is higher than the highest and yet cares for the lowest of the lowest.  I am thankful He is a personal God Who oversees the affairs of man and so tenderly cares for this simple preacher and his family.

Over the next several days more test results came back with more helpful doctor visits.  After years of wondering, things were starting to come into focus.

We came away from the Mayo Clinic with seven new diagnoses. Of these new diagnoses, three are difficult but have a high success rate of treatment. One is genetic in which her body does not make enough of one of the immunoglobulins that comprise the immune system. One is a painful nerve disease that is treated the same as another diagnosis.  We pray it responds well to this treatment.  Two of her primary diagnoses are not yet well understood and have no cure at this point. However, we did receive a lot of insight and tips to help manage the pain with these two while at the clinic since they are at the forefront of understanding these issues.

One doctor explained the history of medical diagnostics to help us understand where we are in hopes of a cure. He used the example of tuberculosis. When it was discovered in the 1800s it was thought to be an untreatable disease. People were “treated” by putting them into a sanitarium or being told to move to a dry place like Arizona or New Mexico.  Many people died.  Contracting tuberculosis meant a slow but sure death.  As time progressed they realized a bacteria was the culprit. As time progressed further, there was an antibiotic introduced to would help cure tuberculosis.  It is no longer a threat today in America as it once was. This doctor reminded us that with all of our knowledge there are many things we do not know yet about the workings of the human body. Although they know that there are many cases of chronic pain that are serious and severe they do not have a test to tell us the exact cause.  They are working on it all the time and believe eventually they will find a cause and a cure.

The trip home was difficult.  After three weeks of being poked and prodded, being sustained only by your prayers and the grace of God, my wife’s body just gave out.  Also, there was a complication with a biopsy that has not healed yet.  It is still causing difficulties.  Please pray that this heals quickly.  It took us 12 days to make the trip home.  We were hoping to get some family time on the way home and perhaps visit a tourist site. Sarah was just unable to do that. We did not go out of our way at all on the trip home.  The Lord in his goodness did allow us to make a few family memories with opportunities either inside or right next to a few hotels.  For example the children had the hotel pool to themselves a few times. Pool in NY MayoWorld's Largest Boot

 

 

Most days I had to stay close to Sarah to help her and couldn’t leave the hotel.  On one occasion the kids and I slipped away for a few hours while Sarah was resting and saw the “World’s Largest Boot”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a large mall that had indoor rides a few miles from one of the hotels.  The kids enjoyed their time there.  But the Highlight of the trip for the kids was that Mommy was able to spend some time with them.  She is the best Mom in the Universe!

Mom and kids at MOA

Best Mom in the Universe!!!

Dad and kids at MOA

I love these kids!!!

One high point of the trip for me was that Sarah was able to get a haircut and manicure.  I really pushed for her to do this as I wanted her to do something “normal” that she hadn’t done in years.  Truthfully, my wife did not have a haircut outside of our home for over 2 years.  I watched a few free explanation videos and did my best to trim it myself a few times as needed over the years.  I praise the Lord she was able to get a real haircut!  I have learned to be ashamed at all of the things I take for granted every day.  God is good to us in so many ways we don’t acknowledge.

So what happens now?
Although the underlying cause of Sarah’s pain is still unknown, the doctors believe that dealing with these new diagnoses will alleviate some of her pain and symptoms.  All of these situations working together are amplifying that underlying root.  We are not yet sure how much help she will receive but we are trusting in the Lord for good results.

The doctors at the clinic made many notes and recommendations for ongoing treatment.  We plan to meet with Sarah’s primary doctor this week to create a treatment plan and add that to the many helpful natural therapies we use already. We will begin treatment on the diagnoses that we understand right away. She needs to meet with three more specialists here at home to look at a few more things. Also, she needs to have some dental work done that she hasn’t been able to do for the past 2 years because of her pain.  With the appointments, treatments, protocols and therapies, we have a lot to do over the next few months.  The doctors said to be patient with the process as there will be ups and downs.  It may take months to see significant changes from the treatments.

Another issue that makes Sarah’s case so difficult to treat is that her symptoms can change very quickly.  One issue can flare up and cause treatment of other areas to be delayed.  A dormant problem can increase suddenly or a new symptom can burst on the scene that complicates things.  For example, on the way home she had severe and unusual lower leg swelling that was painful and immobilizing.  An urgent prayer request is that her body would stabilize long enough for some of these new treatments to take hold and make a difference.

For the first time in years we have some good medical news and see some light at the end of the tunnel.  Thank you so much for your prayers.  We could not have made this journey without you.  We still have a long way to go.  We need your prayers now more than ever.  Our hope is in the Great Physician.  He is the God of life and healing.     Here are a few specific requests:

  • Sarah’s health to improve miraculously
  • for the biopsy complication to heal
  • that her body would respond well to treatments
  • that her pain would reduce quickly
  • finances to cover the extra expenses of the prolonged trip
  • wisdom for her primary doctor
  • wisdom for local specialists
  • strength and provision for my in-laws who moved here last year to help us
  • blessings for the people of Curtis Corner Baptist Church who have encouraged us and gone through this 6 year trial with us
  • wisdom, love and power for me to lead my family, help my precious wife and pastor CCBC effectively
  • that she would be able to attend church services as her health increases
  • to be strengthened with God’s power and to understand the fullness of His love
  • for Sarah to be encouraged daily as she battles her pain
  • for our family to live in the joy, peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost

Thank you so much for your love, prayers and encouragement!

 

100 Ways to Say I Love You

“Say I Love You” was the theme of our Valentine Banquet this year.  I took about a week and asked the Lord to teach me 100 ways to tangibly say “I Love You” to my wife with words and actions.  This list below is what God gave me.  I shared it with the folks at the banquet.  You will probably find items that you do regularly and others that are out of your comfort zone.  I encourage you to look at this list daily and pick a few of these ideas to show true love to your mate.  I challenge you to do it faithfully for a month and watch what effect true love can have on your relationship.  Let me know how it goes!

Say I love youSay I Love You

  1. By listening to their words with love.
  2. By being patient with their faults.
  3. By looking at them with kind eyes when they speak.
  4. By holding their hand with a smile.
  5. By cuddling when seated together.
  6. By a kiss goodbye every time you leave.
  7. By gentle touch any time you are near.
  8. By kissing passionately without prompting.
  9. By choosing to be with them over other people.
  10. By protecting their reputation when attacked.
  11. By protecting their spirit from harm.
  12. By promoting their good above others.
  13. By fulfilling their desires when possible.
  14. By a hello kiss when you meet.
  15. With long hugs for no reason.
  16. By desiring them intimately.
  17. By saying why you love them.
  18. By thanking them for their work.
  19. With concern when they are hurt.
  20. With comfort when they are troubled.
  21. With an apology when you are wrong.
  22. With longsuffering when they are angry.
  23. With humility when they hurt you.
  24. With joy when they are blessed.
  25. With laughter when they are happy.
  26. With tears when they cry.
  27. With security when they are afraid.
  28. By happily caring for their needs.
  29. By helping them fulfill God’s will.
  30. By serving the Lord together.
  31. By praying for them often.
  32. By praying with them daily.
  33. By encouraging them regularly.
  34. By asking them for their thoughts.
  35. By learning how to please them.
  36. By learning how not to displease them.
  37. By lifting their load when it gets heavy.
  38. By reading a book on marriage.
  39. By listening to sermons on marriage.
  40. By talking about how to make your marriage better.
  41. By asking how you could make their day easier.
  42. By asking how you could better meet their needs.
  43. By going to church with them each service.
  44. By voicing your pleasure with them.
  45. By saying “please” and “thank you”.
  46. By helping them with their household duties.
  47. With a foot massage after a hectic day.
  48. With a relaxing back rub when tense.
  49. With a full-body massage before bed.
  50. By gently caressing their face.
  51. By exercising together on schedule.
  52. By cooking their favorite meal.
  53. By dropping everything when they need you.
  54. By taking them to a favorite restaurant.
  55. By taking them on a picnic.
  56. By taking them on a walk.
  57. With a date by the ocean.
  58. By putting the kids to bed early and spending a quiet night together.
  59. By turning the TV off and talking about nothing.
  60. With reassuring words of love.
  61. With kind words and facial expressions.
  62. By telling them why you love them.
  63. By being their best friend.
  64. By looking for their needs.
  65. By happily fulfilling their desires.
  66. By being easy to please.
  67. By being hard to disappoint.
  68. By not keeping track of wrongs.
  69. By forgiving sins quickly.
  70. By not being selfish.
  71. By putting God first in everything.
  72. With stability and consistency.
  73. With a hand-written note.
  74. By texting them words of love when apart.
  75. By transitioning your mind before you meet.
  76. By reminding them that you made a good choice.
  77. By thanking God for bringing you together.
  78. By respecting their opinions.
  79. By never putting them down.
  80. By never calling names.
  81. By never saying the word “divorce”.
  82. By responding with respect.
  83. By respecting them purposefully.
  84. By scheduling time for them daily.
  85. With unexpected surprises.
  86. By bringing them something they enjoy.
  87. By looking them in the eye.
  88. By still pursuing them after the wedding.
  89. With soft words when they are upset.
  90. By putting yourself in their shoes.
  91. With a Spirit-filled demeanor.
  92. By trusting God in times of need.
  93. By protecting your home from sin.
  94. By yielding to God every day.
  95. By thinking about them when you are apart.
  96. With a quick call during the day to confirm you love.
  97. By learning their love language and using it often.
  98. By entering their world and enjoying their interests.
  99. With a quantity of quality time.
  100. By spending the rest of your life finding new ways to Say I Love You!

God’s Love is the Greatest

sf_greatestLove_02
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.     

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

I Corinthians 13 is the famous chapter of the Bible defining and describing godly love.

This chapter is important because the love that God has for us and expects us to have for one another is a difficult concept for us to grasp.  It is infinitely higher and better than human love.  We can only experience this love through our relationship with God.  We love Him because He first loved us.  As we learn how He loves us, we are taught to love one another.  Human love is based on relationship, commonality, conditions and mutual benefit.  God’s love is based on choice, commitment and selflessness without conditions.

The idea of godly love is so foreign to human experience that when God inspired the Bible He gave us a new word to denote His love.  The greek word agape’ used in the New Testament to define God’s love was not used before the inspiration of the Bible.  It is fitting to have a special word to teach us of His Divine love.

The word agape’ is translated into the word “charity” in this chapter of the King James Bible.  This is a perfect English word to describe God’s selfless & unconditional love.  If we give money or property to a charitable organization, we understand that we are giving it for their benefit and expect nothing in return.  Likewise, when we truly love someone the way God loves us, we give that love freely for their benefit without conditions or expectation of return.  Every relationship of life will be transformed as we are filled with the knowledge and power of God’s eternal love.

I Corinthians 13 gives us an outline proving the superiority of God’s love.

The Greatest Speech

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.     (1 Corinthians 13:1)

The Greatest Gift

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.     (1 Corinthians 13:2)

The Greatest Motivation

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.     (1 Corinthians 13:3)

The Greatest Character

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;     (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)

The Greatest Strength

Beareth all things,     (1 Corinthians 13:7)

The Greatest Faith

believeth all things,     (1 Corinthians 13:7)

The Greatest Hope

hopeth all things,     (1 Corinthians 13:7)

The Greatest Endurance

endureth all things.     (1 Corinthians 13:7)

The Greatest Guarantee     

Charity never faileth:     (1 Corinthians 13:8)

God’s love is great!  It is a language that all humans understand.  That’s why Jesus tells us in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  Agape’ love is a powerful evangelistic tool.  It proves the sincerity of God’s people to the world.  It is a stark contrast to the fickle human love that is prevalent in the world.  Seeing true love in action wets the appetite of the lost to experience God’s love.  God placed in the human heart the desire to be truly and wholly loved.  We must teach people everywhere where to find fulfilling and satisfying love God desires to give them.  It is found through faith in Christ and fellowship with sincere believers.

Have you considered how much God loves you today?

Will you ask God to teach you the breadth, depth and height of His love?

Will you be a conduit to bring God’s love to the world around you?

Right now, ask God to fill you with His love and empower you to convey that love to every relationship in your world.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.     (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Truly, God’s love is the greatest!

Mother’s Day Poem

This poem was written for my Mom on Mother’s Day 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you mom!  Thanks for everything!

Happy day to you, dear mom. Youv’e earned the applause well.
When I compare the plight of some, my heart with praise doth swell.
God gave to me a mother, who gave her life to me.
He could have chosen some other, in her place to be.
But God knew a special truth, that could not be denied;
that I belonged in your care, where in your love I’d thrive.
So thank you, my dear mother, for all you’ve said and done.
And thank you Heavenly Father, for making me her son.

-Paul Chapman 5-13-12

The Mother of My Children

This poem was written for my beautiful wife Sarah on Mother’s Day 2012.  She is a gift from God to me and our children!

The Mother of My Children

The mother of my children is a gift from God above.
I’ve never been so proud, of a mother’s special love.
She passed through jaws of death, to give them precious life.
That act of love set the pace, for a life of sacrifice.
She is the one that teaches – to read, to write, to love,
to sing, to work, to laugh; to walk with God above.
I’ve seen her help our children, learn to walk life’s road,
while never to them complaining, about her heavy load.

This is the highest calling, a woman can receive,
to be a wife and mother, and to her husband cleave.
So thank you to my sweetheart, for offering to be
the mother of my children, and the better half of me.

-Paul Chapman 5-13-12