One Year of Blog Posts Completed!

When I started writing a weekly blog post in January 2021, I had no idea that I would be diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer three months into the year. I simply wanted to stay better in touch with friends and tell more of my story by writing and posting something once weekly.

I started out with some short blog series that were a little more “teaching” and then, partly because of your input and partly because it simply seemed as if it was the better way forward, I shifted a little more to stories as the year went on. Through the year I did some topical posts and series as well. I’d love for you to feel free to revisit the things I’ve written this past year. Feel free to share them. I think there’s some good stuff there friends! You can find it all here:

It was a big disappointment in September when we began making preparation for the Stem Cell Transplant to treat my cancer and then faced a postponement due to ICU beds at OHSU being unavailable due to COVID. We were able to complete the stem cell harvest right at the end of September, but then went on hold until the beds began to be available again and the backlog eased.

Today I began again the process of moving forward on the preparation for the transplant. All of the tests and evaluations that we did in September will need to be done again and my January calendar is already starting to fill with appointments. The first and possibly least enjoyable is another bone marrow biopsy (This’ll be my third one, so I should be getting used to them by now!). Then there will be a variety of scans, EKG’s, pulmonary tests, and weekly lab work and other tests as we move ahead. I’ll be able to do almost all these tests and evaluations here in Bend, so we can stay at home until the final week or so of January.

On January 23, we’ll travel to Portland to sign the consent forms and meet with the oncologist overseeing the transplant. I’ll check in at OHSU on January 31 and have the first day of outpatient chemotherapy. The following day, Tuesday, February 1, I’ll have the second day of chemo, then be admitted to hospital. Wednesday, February 2 is Transplant Day!

Following the transplant, I’ll expect to be in the hospital for about two weeks as my system stabilizes and my stem cells start becoming my new immune system! After release from OHSU, I’ll need to stay in the Portland area for a few more weeks for outpatient treatment and any necessary tweaks and adjustment. So by early springtime I’ll be back at home in Bend. While in Portland we’ll stay with our daughter Stephanie, her husband Philip, and our grandson Jesse in Gresham.

We would really appreciate your prayers that there will be no more delays or postponements to the process and that the transplant will be effective and give me as long as possible a period of remission from the cancer before we need to begin treating it again.

As we go through this process, there may be some time in February when I’ll not be able to write and post to my blog each week, but we’ll see how it goes!

As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.

Thanks for reading!











13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them, but the disciples told them not to bother him. 14 But when Jesus saw what was happening, he was very displeased with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.” 16 Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NLT)

When I was a little boy everyone called me Jimmy. That was fine when I was a little boy. But I thought Jimmy was a little kid’s name and when I reached my teens I decided it would be much more age-appropriate to be called Jim. That was also about the time I stopped calling my father “Daddy” and started calling him “Dad.”

My Dad’s sister Edna was the last surviving member of my father’s generation in the Stephens family. We had lost contact with Aunt Edna years ago after Uncle Clarence died, then we moved overseas for nearly two decades, and when we moved back to the USA, we didn’t know where she lived. Letters we sent to the old address we had were returned as undeliverable. Then one day we got a call from my cousin Georgia, Aunt Edna’s youngest daughter. She called us from Texas and told us that Edna had died. I hadn’t seen Georgia or her sisters since my early teens, more than half a century earlier (when I was still Jimmy!).

Georgia kept calling me “Jimmy” on the phone and at first I wanted to tell her that my name, my grownup name, is Jim. But I didn’t make a big deal of it. We talked again several times in the next few days, about Aunt Edna’s later years, about the funeral arrangements, about Georgia’s life and about her older sister Carol, who, we discovered, still lived in Oregon. Actually, it was kind of nice to be Jimmy again.

This morning, after I read the verses above from Mark 10:13-16, I felt as if Father God said to me, “Do you mind if I call you Jimmy?” And my heart replied, “That’d be great!  Can I call you Daddy?” He said, “Sure.”

Here are a couple of things that occurred to me as I thought this through:

    • The “Jim” I am now has a lot more on his mind than the “Jimmy” I used to be.
    • Being in too much of a hurry to graduate from “Jimmy” to “Jim” could cause me to miss the good parts of my life’s “Jimmy” season.
    • I’m thinking it would be good to have at least one relationship where I’ll always simply be “Jimmy”!
    • In fact, I think that might be the whole point Jesus was making when he said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.


So This Happened…!

This is something completely different. I just want to tell you the story of what happened and the outcome so far. I don’t intend to get preachy here!

A few days ago, maybe even about the time you were reading my blog post from last week, my Subaru Outback and a Honda Accord tried to both occupy the same space at the same time! If you know anything much about physics, you know that won’t work and so the attempt changed the shape of each of the vehicles a little.

I was driving south and the driver of the Honda was entering the street I was driving on from a driveway on my right, to cross my lane and turn left (north) on the street I was on. The other driver’s view and my view were blocked by a large truck-mounted camper and as the other driver cleared the camper and entered my lane, we both saw each other at the same moment – sort of a “deer-in-the-headlights moment”! I braked and she accelerated (the very best thing for each of us to do in that situation) and the left front of my car hit the left rear door of her car. The impact spun her car across the other lane and she stopped near the curb facing in the appropriate direction of travel. I stopped at the point of impact.

The laws of physics were still in effect, so about a third of the front of my car was torn off and sent skittering over to the curb. The actual impact was slight. Seat belts were worn by all participants. Air bags were available but did not deploy. No one was even slightly injured. Both cars were still drivable, but my Subie was not as pretty anymore! Altogether through, not a bad outcome!

After all the necessary reporting to police, Oregon DMV, and insurance companies, I took my car to an auto body shop and got a repair estimate that seemed reasonable to me. When I made an appointment to get the repairs done, I was given a date in February, almost three months away! Staffing shortages, supply chain problems, that sort of thing. As you may know, I’m preparing for a Stem Cell Transplant in Portland, 150 miles away, on the other side of the Cascades Pass, at the beginning of February, and I need to be able to make that drive in my all-wheel drive Subaru with snow tires and not some random rental car with original equipment tires on it!

My car was drivable, but not in rain or snowy conditions. Too much of the engine and electronics and various operating systems were exposed by the missing front trim. So, I hatched this idea of trying to fix my Subaru temporarily so I could make the drive over the pass and back in rain, snow, or whatever the current conditions might be when I need to go over to OHSU in Portland for tests and treatment. I figured:

    • There’s no point having a drivable car if I can’t drive it.
    • All the remaining front parts: grille, bumper, light assemblies, are going to be scrapped when the repair is done (eventually), because it’s all plastic and all the plastic has cracks and scratches in it.
    • It’s my car and I can do what I want with it!

So I looked at the damaged part of the front, identified some places I could drill holes in the car’s support structure and the broken trim pieces, and made a plan. Friday evening Jean and I went to a hardware store (Jake stayed in the car) and I bought 14 dollars worth of bolts, nuts, washers, threaded rod, and plumber’s tape, and Saturday after our walk in the desert, I set to work.

The plan was only a sketch in my brain at first and it gradually took shape as I worked. I drilled and measured and adjusted. I put the pieces on and off time after time, adjusting the threaded rod mountings a little each time. I cut strips of metal plumbers tape and drilled holes in the fender and bumper to bolt the broken parts to the still-attached parts. Then I quit for the night because I needed more hands to finish up. Sunday after church and lunch, Colin and Jude and Zane came out to the garage with me and we determined to finish it up.

Jude, age 14, actually did quite a lot of the crawling about on the garage floor to put bolts through holes and washers and nuts on bolts. He came up with a couple of really good ideas on getting the bolts through the plumbers tape, fastening the damaged inner fender in place and plugging in the rewired fog light. 12-year-old Zane helped where he could and asked roughly 143 curiosity-questions about cars, tools, and various things he spotted in the garage. Colin and I tried our best to stay out of the way while Jude fixed the car. Also, I made sure that the boys knew the difference between fixing the car (what we were doing) and repairing the car (what the body shop will eventually do).

Then Jean and Jake and I took the car for a test drive at highway speed to listen for unpleasant noises. None. So there you have it.


I’m still determined not to get preachy here, but here’s a few things that occurred to me in this process:

    • It’s a lot better if you can approach an incident like this accident without having to spend a lot of time and emotional energy assigning fault and blame.
    • It’s surprising what you can do when you set yourself to figure something out and just have a go at it. Maybe you need to just let the plan take shape as you go along.
    • It’s good to have help. Sometimes two hands aren’t enough, but three or more are just right.
    • If you’re trying to figure out how to do something, it’s good to get someone else’s ideas and input. They may see something you’re missing.
    • It’s really satisfying when it all comes together! My car is actually drivable for distance, at speed, in winter weather conditions. Two days ago it wasn’t.

As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.