"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." -Daniel 2:22
"Do not fear, for I am with you..." -Isaiah 43:5
"...we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion." -Daniel 9:18

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book Review: The Shack

First of all: it is a work of fiction. Knowing that and not expecting it to be perfectly in line with scripture, I really liked it. It had some very interesting ways of looking at our relationships. With God, with each other. It caused me to search my heart for traces of unbelief.
It took some difficult areas of understanding and presented an "outside the box" way to deal with them. I recommend this book as an exercise in expanding your capacity to allow God to work in your heart and life.
It gave me a different way to look beyond the trials and challenges we face today, to another world.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Servant Heart

If you want to see a servant heart at work, watch Al Putman. I'm not saying this just because he is my husband. Ask around. He has always had a servant heart, even before he gave himself to the Lord. He just used it in ordinary ways back then. Opening doors. Lending a hand. He'd give you the shirt off his back.
He even spent hundreds of hours one year helping a friend build his house, all while working a job that required overtime. He would drive there straight from working 10 hours and work on the house until very late at night. The next day he would do it all over again, for months. He was always that guy. As his wife, it used to frustrate me beyond measure. He was always off helping others.
After his salvation, he changed. Some probably didn't see it, but I did. God took a good man with a heart to serve others and just elevated that gift to a higher level. It has not been a gradual thing for Al. He is the kind that just jumps in the deep end. I, on the other hand, tend to stick my toe in the water and ease into service. I'm afraid of drowning, I guess, if I go too deep, too fast. Not so, Al.
If you have worked with Al in ministry or any other way, you probably already recognize this about him. After he received Christ as his Savior - he dove into men's bible study. I think he read 10 books that year. He had never read a whole book in his life and has not read one since, but he did what he needed to do, when it needed doing. "TOP GUN" was an awesome ministry.
When he got involved in youth ministry - he was darting all over the place, doing it all. Helping with missions, youth security and programs, setting up, tearing down, cleaning up, cooking for youth, for missionaries, for men's ministry, for staff. Then he became a deacon and helped in even more ways. Until 2 years ago when he got his diagnosis.
But even after the past 2 years and the the things he has dealt with and the pain he has been in. Still in. His servant heart bubbles up.
This past weekend was the first time in a while that he has felt halfway decent. He spend Saturday morning over at Larry Hosea's house. Larry has tumors that have returned. He was suppose to go for treatment to Baylor, but was too sick. So, Al got up Sunday morning and took him to Baylor. It took all his strength for the day. Then he got up this morning and took him again.
You can't tell me that God is not working in his heart and holding him up. It is amazing to see the awesome power of God in the life of a person. Those who are great people, but don't know Christ as their Savior, are just missing out on being AWESOME people.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hanging on the Promises

I am the same kind of nurse that I was a mother - somewhat neglectful and scatter-brained, at times. Good thing God is the one in charge around here. He didn't do too badly with Justin, so I guess He will take care of Al with or without me. His work is not finished with Justin. It is a promise. It's what I hang my hat on as a mother of a 21 year old.
With Al...there again, hanging on His promises.
We are approaching the 2 year mark of Al's diagnosis. I would have thought we would be at a different place. Someplace more definitive. It just continues to be a daily struggle for him to feel good at all. We are thankful for those moments and know that it could all be much worse.
After a mix up with his pain Rx (he got more hydrocodone instead of oxycodone) and taking days to get it straight, we thought he would be back to a good place. But, alas, not so. (How's that for drama!) He is still experiencing a lot of pain in his legs and feet. He still has the sniffles and just has no energy.
He got that shot of neupogen at our last visit with the doc, but that kept him awake for 3 days straight. It didn't give him energy, it just wired him. Made things worse.
It is a constant battle to get all the stars (energy, no pain, no ailments) to align themselves for him to have a whole day of feeling good. It is amazing to me that he still gets up and goes to work every day. I don't know what will happen when he is no longer able to do that.
I am so very grateful to our Lord that I have been able to be at home for Al these past 2 years. I don't know what the future looks like, but I know that God has got it all figured out. We just take each day as it comes. Deal with whatever has to be dealt with and let Him take care of future plans and needs. It is a difficult and easy place to be. Difficult if you have trouble letting go and easy if you do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...You Just Might Get It!

Hope you enjoy the pictures that I enjoy snapping outside my back door early in the morning, late in the evening or whenever the mood strikes me.
This is only Wednesday and it has already been a crazy week! Remember just a few days ago when I was whinning about not having anything to do? Don't do that. Since then, it has been non-stop go, go, go.
Al was in bed all day for several days this past week with an upper respitory infection. He was good. He went straight to the doctor as soon as he started getting sick. (Unlike years past) He stayed home from work, took his meds. But the cough medicine must have reacted with some of his other meds because it made him dizzy and just plain weird. He had a really terrible cough. He coughed so hard, he burst a blood vessel in his eye. I was concerned about the infection getting into his lungs and giving him pneumonia, but he (doctor that he is) assured me that it was not that bad.
Of course, this was over the weekend when you would have to take a trip to the emergency room if you needed a doctor. So, I allowed him the benefit of the doubt. He seemed to be getting better. By Sunday afternoon, he was okay to get up and help a couple of young ladies get their truck out of the mud in front of our house, when they came knocking. And he helped me take down the Christmas tree and put it in the attic (finally!). But he did have some more severe coughing fits and have trouble breathing. He still would not go to the doctor. He just went back to bed.
Monday morning we had to get up and drive to East Texas for a business meeting. I usually try to go with him on out of town trips to relieve him from driving all the time. Thankfully the company allows me to drive the truck. The meeting itself was a concern and ours prayers were answered that all went well and his company was not liable for mistakes made on this job. He did well. Not too much coughing. Seemed to be feeling better. Went to bed early.
Tuesday: another day for me to get out of bed at 4:30 am! (I don't see how he does it all the time.) Off to the office for a few hours before time to go see the oncologist. Good news.
All seems to be going well. They didn't do a CBC this time. That's where they check the protein levels in his blood. The doctor says to check it every month is like weighing yourself every day. You don't see much change. But his protein level a few months ago was .04% and now it is down to .03%, so this chemo is having some effect. That is great, since all we were hoping for was that it would maintain a steady level and not go up.
Because of the chemo and his fighting this respiratory stuff, his HCT (red & white blood cell count) was really, really low. No energy. So they gave him a shot of neupogen. It's the same stuff they gave him before his transplants that boost cell production.
His neuropathy (nerve pain in his legs and feet), is slowly getting better. It only took 2 months for the chemo Velcade to nearly paralyze him, but it has taken 3-4 months for it to even begin to start reversing those effects.
By the way, the doctor listened to Al's lungs & I was right. He did have pneumonia. BUT, because he had a breathing treatment already scheduled the day he began to get sick and because he went straight to the doctor for antibiotics, it did not ever get severe. The doctor says that pneumonia is easier to treat than the common cold, if you catch it in time. If not, it is what many people die from because they do not get it treated early enough.
So, we are looking forward to 3 weeks without a doctor's appointment. When Al can shake this respiratory stuff, he feels things will be looking up. He is expecting to feel like tackling a few projects around the place this summer, go turkey and varmit hunting, do lots of shooting, drive to Colorado and New Mexico in the coming months and who knows what else? When he has the energy, he is hard to keep up with.
Unfortunately, he did not sleep hardly at all last night, so he woke up extremely tired. Went to sleep a little before going on to work. I don't know if it was the neupogen shot or him laying awake worrying about me and Justin and work and a gillion things. I will have to remind him of Bruce's sermon of a few weeks ago about worrying.
Monday evening, I had a few of my heroes of the faith over to my house. We had a great time of sharing and prayer. I know that it is these prayers and those of all the ones all over the country who pray for us - many we do not even know - that sustain us, that bring us the victories. I hope to be invited to the homes of others who wish to join in prayer for our families and our churches and our communities. Thanks to all who came and all those who wanted to, but weren't able.
I am so thankful to our Lord for all the heroes of faith he has put into my life. Those who have won victories for me when I was not equipped or able to fight them. My prayer is that I meet even more who will fight for me and beside me in the battles ahead. I hope that I am and can be a hero to others, fighting for their victories, when they are weary and need a break.
So my time of inactivity seems to be over....becareful what you wish for....you just might get it! I have had 4 or 5 invitation arrive in the mail this week. Birthday parties, pampered chef parties, wedding parties, invites to dinner, invites to lunch....Don't tell me God isn't listening!
Seriously, I am going to do them all. I can't wait to jump back into the land of the living and for Al to be running circles around me, even if it makes me crazy!!!! Which it will not.
2009 is going to be a fun year.


I apologize. In an earlier blog, I stated that Larry had the same kind of cancer as Al. This is not true. I guess I misunderstood. I am not sure what kind of cancer he does have, but it really doesn't matter. It's all bad stuff. Our prayers are with him and his family.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pity Party

I have been having myself a nice little pity party the last day or so. Holiday funk. Missing my buds who have been busy with their own families and their own responsiblities. Tired of the life of blah. Sick husband. Weather that can't make up it's mind. Sick, whiny husband and did I say sick husband?
I really do love him, but he can be a big baby! There, I said it. I know I am suppose to be all supportive and sensitive about his every need and not be critical. After all, he has cancer. Sorry, the honeymoon is over. Cancer or no, he is still a man and gets on my nerves once in a while. Especially when you are the only one who he lets in on his every ache, his every pain, his every bm, his every chill, his every hot flash, his every everything!
But God is so good. He lets you stew in your own self-pity as long as you want. But when you are done with it, He will help you out of the pit. I was praying this morning that He would help me get past this. He did.
He gave me nursery duty at church this morning where I got to play with Miss Maddie Prohaska. He gave me a great friend like CJ who wrote me the most wonderful email that said exactly what I needed to hear at just the time I was needing it. He let our daughter send a me a sweet message and offer to help with "ole whiney behind" any time I needed her. Thanks Kim!
Al really is not doing too bad. I haven't heard him complain too much about the neuropathy this week. He has been in bed quite a bit, with the upper respiratory complaint, but that , too is getting better. He has been on antibiotics for a week and I think it is doing the trick. Been worried about him getting pneumonia, but he is doing really well right now. Watching the football game. Not coughing. I think he spit up a chunk of that congestion, so we should be good to go by tomorrow.
We are scheduled to go see the oncologist on Tuesday. Hopefully, we will see whether or not this latest chemo has held the cancer at bay. Pray that it is the thing for him right now. It has not caused him any problems. So, if it will just work on that cancer, we will be good.
He is coming up on his one year anniversary of his second transplant in March-April. If all goes well, he will begin getting his immunization shots. His blood is like that of a newborn. He needs to start getting all the shots that babies and toddlers get to protect him from all those diseases.
Keep lifting us up.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Strange weather

As I suspected, Al felt good most of the day on Monday despite the icy weather, which usually puts him in a bad mood. He felt so good that he did not go to the doctor for his congestion & forgot to take his pain meds. He was hurting by the time he arrived home. He has learned to take the advice of our good friend Nurse Prescott: take your pain meds on a regular schedule and keep them in your system for the best results. When he does that, he has a good day.

So, he went to the doctor on Tuesday.

We got some rotten news over the weekend. Another member of our church who was diagnosed with this same cancer last year and underwent a stem cell transplant, has been given only 6 months to live. Al called to talk with him, but it was a very difficult conversation to have. Keep Larry and his wife in your prayers.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday slump

After the fun night with the bonfire and a couple of days just resting, Al got to try to go to the gun show again on Saturday. Line was too long AGAIN. He and Steve and Justin and Joey had a good time anyway. Going to breakfast, stopping at a few gun shops to look around.
Then Saturday afternoon and evening we drove to the deer lease outside Whitney. Had a great time sitting around talking to our good friends, JB and Vicki. Our daughter, Kim was there with her husband and 4 boys. The oldest demonstrated his fire starting skills on a campfire. Way to go Chance! Then we cooked hot dogs and s'mores. Seems to be the theme for 2009!
Al did go to the stand for a little while, until his leg started hurting. Before the evening was over, he was feeling pretty lousy. Not really sure what, just not feeling good.
Sunday morning he woke up hoarse and feeling even worse. I guess it was all that fresh air. So, once again, we missed church.
As it happened, he was scheduled to get a breathing treatment at Baylor this morning. Then he was going to go to the family doctor. We weren't sure if they would give him the treatment while he was sick. They did. I called just a little while ago. He sounded better than he has in months! He said he felt great. Praise God.
I'll take it - for as long as it lasts. Which may only be until he hits the door at home this afternoon, but it's a start. We thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. We are expecting miracles this year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Eve Bonfire

It was great having the youth come out to cook hot dogs and s'mores over a campfire and then light the big bonfire that has been waiting for them for about 2 years. (Last year there was a burn ban) They sang some worship songs and listened to their new youth director, Jacob for a little bit, then topped off the evening with a few fireworks.
All you that have known Al very long, know that he is a pyromaniac. He had a great time helping Luke and Jacob light the fires and visiting with the parents and kids who came out. Luke and Becca brought little Maddie who loved it all. Rachel brought Bear. Our two little girls Maizee and Kailee were not very nice to Bear so they had to go to their room for the evening.
Hope to see the youth come make use of our place more this year. Congratulations to Jacob and Rachel for the new position and all the great things God is doing in their lives.