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Transplant Journal Posts 1-3

Introduction

 

On December 14th, 2022 I’m having a kidney transplant. This is a scary, but exhilarating road that I’ve not traveled before. My minor surgeries over the years have been nothing compared to this one.


And I have to mention that yes, a wonderful woman and friend named Annette, is also donating one of her kidneys so I can live a higher quality of life and avoid dialysis. Her mom got a kidney donated that saved mom’s life some years ago and Annette has always wanted to give back. The journey for her is also a major sacrifice from which I benefit. Wow.


She is a bold woman of faith and is obviously living out that faith in ways few do. Though she and I are both happily married to spouses we adore, I cherish Annette and her gracious gift of life to me this Christmas season, 2022. She will always be one of my heroes.


However, as a long-time communicator and through my years of teaching, pastoring, counseling and coaching, I felt compelled to write a journal every couple of days using the Facebook Story option.


I want to have a written record of my medical expedition and provide inspiration and laughter to others who may be going through their own tough times or who just want to ride along.


Why the humor when talking about something so serious? A couple of reasons. One, I have a demented mind. Second, I like being funny and capturing people’s attention using off-the-wall illustrations at times to make very serious points.


Third, as I alluded to a moment ago, some of you reading this are facing your own struggles such as grief, loss, shame, rejection, etc. And the holiday seasons tend to make that far worse.


So I’m hoping that these posts will provide you and others something to both laugh about and to be encouraged by as you walk through your story and the tough times that you or are facing right now.


These posts were written in real time so as of this writing we’re beyond the surgery and both doing well in our recuperation.


So enjoy each post as they apply to you even though they are in our past. You may find many of them in your present!  Give yourself permission to laugh. Cry when you need to. Learn something that you can use and forget the rest.


The content should still be current so feel free to pass them along to others who might find the writing, wisdom and humor helpful.


If you use it or forward it to others please just include my name as the author. If you are a person of faith, then your prayers would also be most welcomed for both me and Annette as we move forward.


Thanks!  Read on.

 


 

Miracles

 

In the now classic movie, The Princess Bride, there’s a character played by Billy Crystal known as Miracle Max. He’s a hilarious, crotchety, old guy who along with his wife used to perform miracles for people, apparently for a price. In the movie the main characters turn to him for a miracle to revive their hero, the man in black.


The scene is one of the funniest eight minutes in all of movie-dom. I watch it now and then when I need a light-hearted break to just laugh again.


Interestingly, don’t most of us face situations when we too would love to have a Miracle Max come along and turn our bad circumstances into good? As Christians we more seriously hope that God will do real miracles like Jesus did and heal a loved one, restore a relationship, provide the needed funds or whatever might be needed to ease our pain and rid us of our challenges.


And thankfully, God still does do miracles like that. My wife Jackie is a beneficiary of God’s miracles in overcoming her cancer. There were miracles of time, the right doctors, catching things when they did, people we later ministered to because of what she went through.


The problem is that we sometimes miss God’s bigger plan and purposes. Hebrews 2:4 tells us that one of the main reasons signs, wonders and miracles were so prevalent in Jesus day was to provide very real proof that Jesus was and is who He said He was. Miracles had a distinct and broader purpose in Jesus’ day.


Second, God doesn’t always do our miracle when we want it. As I alluded to in Jackie’s story, we may want a miracle at a time and place that would actually prohibit a greater number of miracles from happening later. My getting a kidney donor was miraculous but we would never have experienced that miracle, that story would never have been told if God just healed me months or years ago.


Third, miracles are occurring all around us every day. As I write this early in the morning, it’s still dark. But a miracle will soon occur, that of the sun again rising in the east, part of this amazing solar system we humans live in. Think about that. It’s miraculous.


Babies still get born, lives still change, relationships are restored, we come out healed and healthy after long strings of challenges. That’s miraculous.


So I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in me,  you and others in the days ahead. I’m confident the miraculous will be on display in both big and small ways. Allow God to determine the who, what, where, when and why of His wonderful acts. Pray for them, the, keep your eyes and ears open.


 

 

Not Long Now

 

 Well, my surgery is just a fortnight away now. Two weeks from tomorrow. Where did the word “fortnight” originate? I believe two eighteenth century British soldiers were complaining about having to fight another 24 hours outside in the dark, snow and cold when their captain came along and said, “Hey guys, tonight is a fort night. You can stay inside. Now if we only had a video game to play.”


Actually, some believe that it was because of the use of words like fortnight (and God forbid, “crisps” instead of chips), corrupting the English language of people on the East Coast who already had major accents, that the Revolutionary War started. Google it and you’ll see that this is very possibly close to right.


Similarly, I’m reminded that carefully chosen words matter and sometimes paint pictures that people remember more than others. For example, if you were to ask me, “So Gary, how does this upcoming surgery a fortnight from now make you feel?” I might use one of my favorite non-British phrases: I feeleth exhilarating terror.


Okay, so terror may be a bit strong but there is a healthy nervousness about the unknowns of both the surgery itself and the recuperation to follow. How painful will it be, how long will I be in the hospital (hopefully not a fortnight), how soon can I get back to some sort of normalcy, drive a car and be in big crowds? What if something goes wrong? What if I still can’t eat at Chick-Fil-A?


But on this Giving Tuesday I have a sense of exhilaration that there is a good possibility of a healthier, more vibrant life and the opportunity to still serve God and others for a while longer all because someone is sacrificially giving to me out of the goodness of their heart and the reality of their faith.


You see, I’m convinced that many of us never do what I call testing the power of the rope.

When I used to do more climbing and rappelling it became clear that I and my fellow climbers were ultimately dependent upon the rope to keep us from falling and possibly dying. But if we never tried to climb up or rappel down, we wouldn’t have tested the strength of the rope at all. We might say we did, but we were really just playing it safe.


Of course, no one wants to face major surgeries or other life challenges. Sacrificial giving usually has a cost. But sometimes real life is found doing something way bigger than we are, whether we choose it or not, and trusting that we’re in God’s hands, that He will hold us. Psalm 31:14-15, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands. . . .’


So let me ask you, “Is there something you’re supposed to be doing, that perhaps God has been nudging you to do, that you’re afraid of and in a sense unwilling to test the power of God’s rope?”


I can guarantee that as you try things that God or life give you to do that are harder and bigger than you are, you’ll eventually experience exhilarating terror. But as a result you’ll grow, try more new things, stretch your reach and character doing more than you ever thought you could. And when finished, you’ll want to do more things at that level.


After my first rappelling opportunity in Colorado, I would think often about the terror of going over that cliff and yet feeling so exhilarated because I’d made it, had tried something scary while all that time the rope held me.


God’s rope will hold you, too, no matter how hard the challenge. Let me know if I can pray for you and any cliffs who are climbing or descending these days. I’ll be available for at least another fortnight.


 

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