Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Well, I woke up this mornin'..."

The lyrics of a WE FIVE song from the sixties begin with the words, "Well, I woke up this mornin', you were on my mind..." My story this week is a little different. When I woke up Monday morning, I felt something familiar...famiiar in the sense I remembered the feeling from several years ago. Sharp pains were pulsating through my lower back-kidney area and it took me just a few moments to realize, "I have a kidney stone!"

"Well, I woke up this mornin'..." and every morning this week with that stone on my mind and in my body, screaming for attention. A kidney stone is an unwelcome intruder. The most signficant think I heard someone say to me about the relative pain of having one was a woman who had had both babies and stones, and concluded that having the stones was worse! I can't compare so I will have to take her word for it.

This week has been an interesting adventure for me, and for my sweet wife, who has nursed me through it. Because the pain was intermittent in the beginning, I sandwiched in time at the office, led my staff meeting and shared lunch, did some disciplings-a few breaks when the stone wasn't screaming "Let me out of here!" In the other more painful moments I cancelled appointments, left my care group early, and abandoned plans to see my grandchildren--the most difficult decision of all. I made the call not to teach and preach tomorrow morning a few hours ago, because I was worried about unnecessarily punctuating my messages with gutteral sounds.

I am now on a regular regimen of vicodin--I know, I hate drugs!--and am drinking copious amounts of water. I have found relief in our jacuzzi tub (the world's greatest invention), and, believe it or not, walking--pacing thoough the house or walking on my treadmill. The concomitant nausea from the drugs has been my occasional companion but the pain is--for the moment--under control.

Yesterday's x-rays revealed that this was more than a bad dream. The technician pointed out what looked like a VERY LARGE stone to me and told me to keep my meds nearby over the weekend since my next doctor's visit is Monday.

When you wake up any morning it is difficult to imagine what lays in wait for you. In just a short period of time I have been transported from the mmagical island of Kauai and a week of sun and fun to a week of sad and bad. I am not complaining. Both menus are inevitably a part of life. When I woke up Monday I looked forward to a week of doing God's work, and spending time with my family. God had other plans.

No, I don't think He implanted a kidney stone to spoil my day. But He allowed me to have some time to really think about pain and how people I minister to deal with it every day. I tell people I will pray for them--and I do--but I feel more passionate today about praying with ferver for those who are hurting. Not surprisngly, the best words I have heard this week from those who have called me are, "I am praying for you."

I am not sure how this will all end up--I am praying for the "skip surgery" option. I do know this. When I wake up in the mornin', I will thank God for His constancy in my life...whether whispering His peace to me in Kauai, or, affirming His love to me in the jacuzzi tub in the middle of the night.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Miraculous deliverance from Kauai...

That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? If you have ever been to the island of Kauai--and you are like me--you probably never wanted to leave! The lush green mountains, the crystal blue ocean, the rolling chartruese meadows sandwiched in between--all of this, enveloped by the intermittent cooling misty rain and sunshine--has a magnetic effect that whispers, "Stay,stay,stay...".

We flew to Kauai for a weekw ith our friends on the ill-fated ATA Airllines. of course, we did not know that when we left. We arrived in Lihue safely,s ettled in to our beautiful surrounding on The Point at Poipu...and received the dreaded phone call the second day.

"Hi, Dale. I have some bad news. ATA declared bankruptcy and closed up shop and your ticket home is invalid. Sadly, it appears there are no tickets available for at least two weeks and the cost is nearly $1000 a piece!"

My faithful travel agent, Donna, assured me that things would change as the airlines sorted through the mess and she would keep me posted on her discoveries. She proved to be a valuable asset in getting us home on time for a relatively minimal additional cost.

We had some nervous days wondering if we would have to stay an extra week and began researching our options, evaluating additional costs, envisioning a work scenario that would allow me to study and prepare for the work I needed to do if we had to stay.

Strangely, none of this really effected our time in Kauai. As much as I am prone to worry I affirmed (a) Donna was working as hard as she could to help us (b) the situation was really out of my control (c) if we had to stay we would some how Kauai. Where the extra funds would come from was the only thing I worried about, and, hopefully, we would have enough to cover the surplus.

God wonderously supplied another carrier to get us home--on time--with only a little additonal cost. We found that information out about the half-way point so we were able to breathe deeply, and settle back for a delightful week of rest and relaxation.

And that is the story of our "miraculous deliverance from Kauai..."