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God continues to prove to me that He loves me. And more than that, He knows my name. And more than that, He truly cares about me. Robin had talked to the radiologist last week and of course, the information was realistic. I  guess I was half hoping – No, WHOLE hoping that she would be giving Robin amazing news that the cancer has been eradicated and she wouldn’t even need radiation. Truly, the Lord will provide yet another miracle and give her a clean slate! So the realistic news she received was less than uh, joyful.

I had planned on a short camping trip to retreat and regroup. I wanted to visit the top of Bison Peak. It is a 12,439 ft. mountain in Park county,  about 18 miles north on county road 77, before you get to the Taryall reservoir. It is known for it’s unique rock formations at the summit and also its secludedness. I guess with all the 14′ers in the state, 12,000 ft doesn’t rate. It was perfect for me on both counts. Taz and  I set out to find rocks, views, and peace. bp1

The Ute Creek trail starts out crossing the Taryall river by foot bridge, then across a meadow and gently slopes up from 8,500 ft. It runs through Aspen groves and Ponderosa Pine, following the Ute creek up to its source, Bison Peak. The trail sign said 4 miles to the McCurdy Brookside trail (a trail that runs north/south across both Bison Mtn and McCurdy Mtn) and 9 miles to Lost Park. The first mile and a half was a very gentle climb. Taz and I barely noticed we were going up at all, except for the creek running the opposite way, down hill. The trail started separating from the creek and soon we found the creek about 200 feet below us and the trail decided to get serious and then the rain set in.bp2 We found two huge boulders leaning against one another and decided to wait out the rain. It was a good opportunity for me to take a break as well. After going up for ever, I finally got a peek through the trees and the view spoke volumes of our altitude. We were finally getting closer to 12,000 ft.bp4 Taz was very good about scouting ahead, then coming back to check on me as I was stopping after every switchback to catch some air. Man, I really have to lighten my pack! We finally reached the McCurdy Trail and decided to camp there for the night. We would have enough  time to follow the trail north into the Lost Park to find water. bp6 I set up my hammock and tarp, then Taz and I set off for water. We only had to hike about 1/2 mile to find the headwaters of Indian creek. We filled up our water bottles and headed home. That night, the temperature dropped to 27 degrees and  left a heavy frost on everything. About 0230 hrs, Taz had enough and decided to jump in my hammock with me.

We got up the next morning and I got the fire going again, fixed Taz’s breakfast and mine, then we started up the McCurdy trail to summit Bison peak. The trail went up through the bristle cone pines and after two long switch backs, breaks in the trees started opening up to reveal the world around.bp7 The closer we got to tree line, the greater the views got. I could see as far south west as Badger Mtn,  Southeast all the way to Pike’s Peak, The Collegiates were looming to the west, and the Platte and Kenosha mountain ranges to the north. Taz was patient in waiting on me to catch up on several occasions.bp8 The top was so close! Even with the reduced weight of my  day pack (I only took my camera, water bottles, and water filtration system), it was still a chore to climb the mountain. At 11,000 feet and above, you really feel the effects of reduced oxygen. At the top, you could see the  trail marked with cairns, leading you off the summit and south, towards McCurdy mountain.bp93 Taz and I just stood on the saddle and took in the beauty of the  unique rock formations all over the top. I looked across and saw a herd of mule deer  crossing the summit. They moved so fast, and so smoothly. They covered so much ground in so little time.  I  got really jealous, thinking how I had to slog my way up  the mountain yesterday.  bp96

All the while, I  was  talking to the Lord about Robin’s situation. I  KNOW God has been with us every step of her journey. I KNOW God is faithful and everything works together for His glory, but sometimes it just wears on you and like children, we need reminders that we are loved, and we are cared for, and things will be okay. When I saw the deer, I  felt in my heart God  saying,  “Andrew, how can you look upon all this and still doubt Me?”. How can ANY man look up this and doubt there is a God? I knew in my heart at that moment that God’s plan is STILL the best plan and things are happening for His glory. He will NOT forsake us, nor leave us.

I stayed on the summit for another 2.5 hours, just drinking in the views and God’s amazing handy work.bp94centinelbp95bp97 I found rocks, tons of views, and most importantly,  peace.

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Trying to wrap my head around Chapter 4 in 1 Peter, It’s summed up in the last verse:

19 ” Therefore, those also who suffer according to
the will of God shall entrust their souls to a
faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

It makes sense! No healthy person wants to suffer, and to hear someone say they are willing to suffer for Christ, or are going through things and giving God glory and thanking Him for it is just weird – until you truly get it. I’ve tweaked my own personal definition of discipleship down to this: “Abandoning one’s self, for the sake of another.” If you are willing to abandon your Self (your desires, your comfort, your safe areas) for Christ, you will put yourself in harm’s way without hesitation, all for the sake of Christ. Not because its the cavalier thing to do, but because you hold to the blind knowledge (Faith) that Christ is going to bring you through ANYTHING and EVERYTHING for His glory and edification. The question is, Are you willing to abandon your self?

In John 21:15 – 17, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” and twice Peter answered “You know I love you” and the third time he answered “You know ALL things…” Peter’s word for love (Phileo) was not the same as Jesus’ word for love (Agape). I truly believe that Jesus was asking Peter, “Are you willing to abandon your self for me?” and Peter answered twice, “Lord, you know I like you, but…”.  To be a true disciple of Christ is to abandon your self- love Him with wreckless abandon. When you love like this, you WILL put yourself in harm’s way. You WILL suffer for Christ, but with the intimate knowledge that no matter what happens, your soul is safe, and kept by the Father’s love. Does that mean you’re weird? No. It means that you trust in God’s infinite wisdom and unfailing love!

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So for the past 3 months, Robin has been going to chemotherapy every other week. We figured out the cycle of “chemo” life and the week after chemo is crap. It’s major fatigue, major mouth sores, major stomach being tied up in a huge knot and teetering on the brink of nausea. That stuff is bad enough, but  it is also the catalyst for impatience, anger, and depression. Watching someone you love suffer tends to put a huge damper on your patience. It also inspires a feeling of helplessness. This isn’t like the flu, or a cold, where you feel miserable for a few days, but then recover. This is the reality that you are going to feel like crap for the next year or more, guaranteed.  Our son (he’s 7) was riding to the store with Robin yesterday and he was excited about getting something from the store (usually a small Lego Star Wars kit). He took his mom’s hand and said, “Mom, I don’t want any toys for Christmas this year, I just want you to be alive.”  Robin and I were talking the other day and she started crying because she noticed her right arm is very similar to her left and she’s worried that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on her other side now. I haven’t been sleeping well at all (2 to 3 hours a night)  because this  all weighs heavy on my heart. People ask all the time, “How are you doing” and the typical response is “we’re good!”.  Honestly, I don’t tell them the truth because I don’t want to lose it and start sobbing right there in front of them. This is where we are at; this is where I’M at.

I was talking to a friend this morning and likened it to being in a sailboat on the ocean in a dead calm. I  KNOW the wind is there, but it seems it’s just not blowing right now and I’m just floating. I’m ready for the wind to blow again. Then my friend says, “But Andrew, you’re floating!”. He’s right (God) I’m not sinking; WE’RE not sinking. This is the time to prepare FOR the wind to come. Thank you Lord for your Love, your Life. Bring on the wind!!

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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So the last two weeks have been much like me riding my Kawasaki, everything is pretty much a blur. Between surgery, PET scans, MRI’s, etc. We have been running non-stop between home, school, and hospital. That was just the preface for things to come.

We are sitting in the hospital waiting on the chemo drugs to come up from pharmacy and we have several ladies from church here just chatting away. What a blessing to have them here to distract Robin. She was quite nervous driving to the hospital this morning. This is the first of 4 rounds of Adriamycin and cyclophosphamide, given every two weeks. Then comes the Taxol which will be given every week, along with Carboplatin given every 3 weeks for another 12 weeks. To complicate matters, this is accompanied by a lab work done the day before chemo, and a shot to stimulate the bone marrow the day after every chemo. So the next 20 weeks are going to be um, interesting.

I can tell you just by my limited experience, no one battles with cancer, it is a full on war! The chemo, the surgery, the radiation, the nausea medicine, the steroids, the recovery, the blood work, these are the battles within the war. God doesn’t promise us that we won’t have to fight, but He DOES protect us DURING the fight. We have the comfort of knowing that whatever happens on this ball of dirt is not the end, it is merely the beginning. It is merely a “training” class to teach us how to depend on God for our existence.

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Robin woke up at 0430 this morning in order to get ready and be at the hospital at 0630 for an MRI, chest x-ray, and blood work. I stayed home to get Caleb up and off to school. After walking Caleb to school at 0810, Robin called to tell me she was finished and we met at the car dealership to drop off her vehicle to get some work done on it. We stopped at Starbucks on the way back home to just sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, and catch up on some reading and conversation.

Robin and I got a text from Caleb’s teacher around 1200; Caleb told a boy in his class that “If you want a bloody nose, I’ll give you one.” I went and picked him up and asked him why he said that and his reply was that he was having a bad day. I can understand a bad day when the day before you get told that your mom is sick and will lose her hair and that she won’t be well until next Christmas.

Robin’s resolve is no less than supernatural. She wanted to get out and mow the grass this afternoon, she even started a load of laundry. The Lord has truly given her a spirit of peace through all this.