Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Palm Trees

Palm Trees, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I've been having some difficulties with my camera recently, and so this picture comes from a trip I took to visit my brother a few years ago in southern California. Or SoCal for you west coast insiders. ;)

You may have been wondering about my mom's current status and how she and my family are doing. I'll try to share with you, but please forgive me if my writing is not fully coherent. Yesterday evening, I made a quick trip down to Parkersburg to meet with her oncologist. He shared her condition with my dad, me, my sister, and my brother-in-law. (My brother is currently in California). She has been on a ventilator since Sunday. It appears that her body has grown somewhat dependent on it.

Last August, you may remember, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was given 6 months to live w/o treatment and 18 mo with treatment. Honestly, she was making amazing progress with regard to her cancer. But cancer has not been her only malady. On top of the cancer, a combination of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, congestive heart failure, and some form of heart disease have been combining to cause her to become very weak. She has been in ICU since may 13th, and has been in a very weak condition for over a month.

It has been a very difficult time for me and my family, and we have prayed fervently for wisdom, guidance, and healing in this situation (I know that you also may have been praying similar prayers in agreement). Right now my mom's body is very fragile, and she probably doesn't have much time left on this earth before she goes to be with Jesus. While I am sad at the loss of my mom, I'm also extremely happy because I know that being with Christ is far better (phil 1.21-23). She has labored well for her King, and I am excited for her to be able to go home.

Sometime this evening, I am travelling to Columbus, OH to pick up my brother at the airport. His flight arrives @5.49AM Thursday. We will travel back to Parkersburg to spend time with my mom and assist my dad with whatever arrangements need to be made.

May has been a difficult month for many in our community at h2o, but the LORD has sustained us. Often when I am praying for you, I am amazed by your faith and perseverance--it is truly an encouragement to me. Personally, as I have reflected on my own situation, I have found solace in the truth that God is good and trustworthy, and He takes the adversity we go through and makes something beautiful out of it. I think that in spite of all that we have undergone, we have a beautiful community called the church that even in our weakness grows stronger each day.

I want to thank you again for taking the time to pray for my family. Continue to pray for God's wisdom, guidance, and healing as we navigate these difficult waters. Pray that God would be glorified by our actions and attitudes and that in the midst of it all that God would use our circumstances and our responses to lead others to Him.

For from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11.36)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ohio River Sunset

Ohio River Sunset, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
It never fails. Any time I try to get word out for people to check my blog out for updates on thngs that are happening in my life it seems that I have a really hard time blogging for about a week from that point.

So here I am, running around all over and trying to carve out space to blog. I thought this would make a nice little photo because it depicts one of my favorite places in the world. This is the view from "the point", just outside the floodwall in Parkersburg, West Virginia. For generations, my family has come to this place to watch the sun set, to pray, to reflect, to weep, and to enjoy the company of the waters.

The old timers called this river several names, but I think the french named it rightly La Belle Rivière, or, the Beautiful River. I took this photo when I visited the river with two of my uncles last fall--they are both cancer survivors.

Right now, I'm at home, near my river, and near family. The doctors involved with my mom met to talk about possible options for her. Soon they will share their options with us, and we will weigh out which one seems best for my mom. Right now, we believe they are going to suggest moving her to a more comprehensive cancer treatment center--possibly the James Center at Ohio State or the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at WVU.

I am so thankful for the prayers that have gone out from you, and I ask that you keep them up. They are sustaining us. Please pray for us as we go to meet with the doctor. I will try to post an update in the near future.

It's interesting to me in the middle of all of this how God shows himself at work in such amazing ways. As I left the hospital with my sister this evening, I couldn't help but notice another beautiful sunset. God shows us these little signs of beauty and care like sunsets on a river. God is beautiful, and reminds us daily of the beauty in our world.

So much of our days we spend running from appointment to appointment, and event to event, and we miss out on the rich blessings God offers freshly every moment. As you pray, take time to cherish the rich blessings God is revealing all around you right . . . NOW!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Preparing for the Relay

Preparing for the Relay, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This morning's Parkersburg News had me, my dad, and my awesome friend Dan Van Valey on the front page. We didn't do anything special. We were just setting up a canopy in Parkersburg's "City Park" to mark our team's space for the Relay for Life.

A guy by the name of Jeff Baughan took our picture, and shared with us his experience with cancer. His wife is a cancer survivor, and he and his family have been intimately involved with the relay in Wood County ever since.

When I registered the team, I gave it the name "H2O for Your Soul" because I thought it would feature a number of folks from our college ministry at WVU. Many members of our community in Morgantown are unable to attend this weekend, but several people are coming out in a show of support for my mom. So as Mr. Baughan asked us about our team, we changed the name of the team on the spot to "Pat's Inspirations" because we are all hoping to inspire my mom, Pat, to fight hard and stay positive and prayerful as she fights this disease.

This week has been a very emotional week. I stood next to my close friend Frank Lambert and served as a pallbearer during his father's funeral. I drove from this funeral in Elkins to Parkersburg to sit by my mom's side while she was on a ventilator.

Yesterday she was taken off the ventilator, and her condition is stable. She's a little weak, but she has also lost over 30lbs of fluid ( which is a good thing) in the last three days. We are thrilled and thanking God for her recovery from this "bump in the road" (her words) in her battle against breast cancer.

If you are able to make it down to Parkersburg, today or tomorrow, we would love to have you be part of our relay team. Lot's of family and friends are coming around to walk, talk, reminisce, pray, and celebrate the eventual end of this dreadful malady. Feel free to call or email me if you need directions. Also, please consider joining our team or making a donation to contribute to cancer research and help people like my mom get better and safer treatments.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Graduation!, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I'm not sure why I am leaning forward in this picture, but it was taken by WVU as a complimentary service to folks who graduated this year.

That's right, I graduated. This past sunday I received a Master's in English from WVU, and attended the commencement ceremonies. In the president's hand is my diploma, or so I thought. When I returned to my seat, I opened the envelope that I thought contained my diploma and all it had was a piece of cardboard. I should get my actual degree in the near future, but it was a kind of let down to look inside and see--nothing!

Living in a town like Morgantown, it just seems to be sensible to continue with my education. I have taken a fairly slow route (one class/semester), so I have been somewhat unconventional in my approach to education, but I have really enjoyed the journey. To be honest, I am really just thankful for the opportunity to take classes and to continue learning and growing.

Lot's of folks are asking me what is next for me now that I have a higher degree. What do I want to do with it? Well, I honestly can't see myself changing careers. I LOVE what I do. I see my degree as one that prepares me to do a better job of caring for people, and thinking about how the Holy Scriptures inform and shape our understanding and response to many of the problems that face our world.

Maybe I'll continue with another degree, but I don't know. Right now, I really want to focus on being with my family and my mom as she fights cancer, and being a good leader and friend to the folks that I work with in Morgantown.

Anyway, walking across the stage at the coliseum, and getting "hooded" were really cool experiences, and I am excited that I was able to achieve this goal and honor my family, my tribe, my community, and most importantly my LORD.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Relay for Life

Relay for Life, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This picture was taken 2 years ago when my folks and I were able to take a whirlwind tour of disney's theme parks thanks to the generosity of a friend who worked there.

But that's not what this post is about. It's about the upcoming relay for life in Parkersburg. The event is scheduled for May 18-19, and I'm putting a team together to support my mom and three of my uncles.

I would love for you to be part of the action. If you click this link, you can see our team page. When you get to the page, click the link that says join our team. The rest should be pretty self explanatory. Let me know if you have any difficulties.

Thanks for helping out, and even if you can't join the team and be there, your prayers are definitely appreciated!!! Mom starts her third round of chemotherapy on the fifteenth, so we are hoping she will have some energy for the weekend too! She's gonna be taking Paclitaxel (which is a drug we used to make when i was at Mylan--pretty wild!)

Anyhoo, I've been down here with her for a couple of days. She hasn't felt like posing for the camera over the last month, so I haven't had any recent photos. But, I will tell you that she has a totally sweet spiked hairdo--mom's just so trendy!

Thanks again for taking the time to check out the link, join the team, and pray!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Frank and Dena

Frank and Dena, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So I went to that wedding. Franklin Delanor Lambert, Jr. married his wife Dena today. Unfortunately Frank's dad was at the hospital. Frank's mom stayed with her husband. So frank put his phone on speakerphone and allowed his mom and dad to listen to the wedding--pretty sweet idea!

It was great being there for my buddy at his special day. He's been my friend for a long time, and I remember when he put his faith in Jesus. He became a Christian in college, just like me.

It was a pretty cool time. This year I've been to four weddings, and so I've seen a variety of different ways of doing these celebrations.

But the key ingredient has been family and friends. At each one of these celebrations, I've tried to take some time and reflect on how my friends have ministered to me and vice versa over the years.

I've truly been blessed with some great friends, and Frank is on the upper tier. Even though many of my friends live very far away (and for some, the main way we keep in contact is through this blog), it is comforting to know that there are people who care about you that you may not see often. In a world that gets very demanding, it's refreshing to know that there are folks who pray for ya who you may never see. Beyond that, it is a comfort to know that there are people in your world who very little expectations of you--who enjoy you solely for who you are--isn't that a big part of what any Christian community should be about? What a gift!!!

Speaking of prayer for someone you may not know, if you get a chance, say a prayer for Frank, his sister, his wife, his mom, and his dad as they walk through this precarious battle against cancer. It's a real challenge, and they are bearing the challenge gracefully but with a fair share of difficulty.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Three Dimensional Life

The Cross, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
My friend Ryan Huffman did this awesome sculpture and it was on display temporarily at the creative arts center in Morgantown. He's a very talented artist, and I truly appreciate his gift for bringing new insights to faith through his art.

Unfortunately, this photo doesn't really capture the intricacy with which he has composed this sculpture. This sculpture is uniquely shaped, it's heavy, and it has a lot of depth to it.

But then isn't that true about the Messiah and His cross as well? I mean, even when someone tries to capture some aspect of this central element of our faith, it doesn't seem to fully articulate it.

The more I think about this truth, the more I realize the intricacy and intimacy with which God intervenes in our lives. The Cross seems to be the ultimate way in which God connects with our lives.

Even when we don't comprehend the details of the cross, we know our own lives. We know our own lives are extremely complex. We know that there are very difficult times and extremely joyous times in life.

And we know that God has promised never to leave or forsake us. God walks with us in those challenging circumstances and in those joy filled events.

Tomorrow I am going to a wedding. The father of the groom is in a terminal stage of cancer. His goal is to see his son's wedding and be present for it. I guess our life is never two dimensional like a photo, is it? It's more like a sculpture with both smooth and rough edges.

In the middle of that intricate sculpture, the divine Artist, reminds us that He understands both celebration and suffering, weddings and laments. He has entered into the midst of our suffering and hurting, and reminds us that we aren't alone, and that we are not without hope.

Will you take a minute and reflect on this truth? The God of all creation is intimately familiar with every aspect of your life, and He walks with you through it all, good and bad. I don't know about you, but lately I've been really encouraged by this Good News.