Jim’s Health Update (At Last!)

Hey Friends,
Here’s a much-delayed update on Jim’s health. Because this is an on-going, often-changing situation, it’s hard to know just where to put a pin in and give an update. This is probably a good time.
Last week I spent a few days in the hospital with an intestinal infection. We went in through the ER and I was admitted for a couple of days of IV antibiotics and then released to finish another ten days oral antibiotics at home. As you know, my immune system is severely compromised after the stem cell transplant in February. Also, partly because of the nature of Multiple Myeloma cancer and also because of the maintenance drug I’m taking to suppress the cancer, my immune system continues to be compromised and is rebuilding very slowly. So I’m susceptible to all sorts of infections.
We’ve been mostly isolating at home since the transplant and were hoping for a little more freedom this autumn, but that’s on hold until we get through the current situation. Today is the last day of the oral antibiotics and I’ve got a follow-up appointment with the trauma and surgery team on Thursday to see if the infection is gone. Also, the scan I had in the hospital showed a mass on my kidney that needs to be investigated right away. I’ve got an appointment Monday with another medical service to begin the process of my getting a biopsy of the mass. We’ll let you know when we know more.
Due to the infection, I’ve been on a break from my cancer maintenance meds for almost two weeks. I’m pretty sure I can tell the difference in feeling better when I’m not taking them. So that’s a bright spot in the current process! We’re so thankful for God’s care and for the prayers and support of our friends. And for access to excellent medical care!
I’m Thankful! In the past few days, we celebrated daughter Melissa’s and son-in-law Colin’s birthdays. At the same time, I realized and celebrated that I’ve lived ten years longer than my Dad lived! A decade ago, I was very conscious of reaching the age of 69 and a few months and days, the exact age at which my Dad died. I don’t think about it as often and I don’t keep a countdown calendar as I did in the months before I reached that age, but the date is in my calendar and I’m very often conscious of it.
I’m conscious of it because for some reason, reaching that age a decade ago was the most significant age passage for me: more than driver’s license age at 16, more than voting age at 21, more than 30 or 50 or 60.
I felt at the time that every day I lived from that point on was a gift. I’ve maintained that attitude since. Not all days are easy or pleasant or play out the way I wanted them to, but each day is a day that my Dad did not live and it’s a day that I’ve been gifted. Some gifts are nicer than others, but they’re all gifts. Receiving and living a decade’s worth of gift days is worth celebrating!
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, please leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, I’d love for you to click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.

Thankful Part 1

Jim’s Health Update – May 11, 2021

Hi friends, We’ve got some news to share with you about my health. I was recently diagnosed with a cancer called Multiple Myeloma. MM is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. We’ve chosen a targeted chemotherapy treatment. If I respond well to the treatment, remission is possible. This week I finish the first four-week treatment cycle. So far, side effects are minimal and manageable. I’m in good health otherwise, so that’s in our favor.

Jean and I are doing well. This caught us by surprise, but after a month and a half of blood tests, MRI scans, bone marrow biopsies, and treatment, we’ve accepted that we’re moving into a new season of life that simply isn’t going to be like it was before the diagnosis.

We would appreciate your prayers for healing and for wisdom and for God’s continued provision. Daily “GraceNotes Devotionals” will continue as will my Weekly blog post “Notes from My Journey”.

We’ll put a Health Updates tab on my blog site https://jimastephens.com.

Thanks for your love, prayers, and support. Love from Jim and Jean Stephens

Thankful – Part 1

We humans need someone to be thankful to! Some people thank their lucky stars, some thank the Universe, some thank “the breaks”, but we all realize that there are times when things go well, when it all seems to break our way, when we’re blessed so much more than we deserve, that we simply need someone to thank. I’ve heard that the saddest thing about being an atheist is that there’s no one to thank. It’s a glad thing for people of faith, for believers, that we can be thankful to God!

That coin has two sides, friends! There are also those times and seasons when things aren’t going our way and we are desperately looking for someone to blame! But that’s another story and we’ll deal with that later. For the next few blog posts, I’m going to address thankfulness and gratitude and it’s something we all need to think about.

As I’ve been thinking about Thankfulness and Gratitude (I think about those two things a lot!) there are a few things that have stood out to me very clearly and distinctly, and I’m going to focus the next few blog posts on what I’m learning (again, for the 1000th time) about the peace and power of learning to Simply Be Thankful.

Levels of Thankfulness – Stages of Gratitude

One really important thing as I’ve focused on Gratitude and Thankfulness is that I’ve begun recognizing levels or stages or qualities of Thankfulness in myself. It’s not necessarily a linear progression from one to the other. It can be parts of all or it can be one for one situation and another for another. And it can be most or all of these at the same time for me.

I’m talking about:

    • Circumstantial Thankfulness – Thanks for the blessings!
    • Comparative Thankfulness – Well, I guess it could be worse!
    • Thankfulness In All Things – In Everything Give Thanks
    • Whole Life Thankfulness – I’m Thankful for my life!

I’m learning that “Gratitude is an Attitude” (see what I did there?) of the heart, not a reaction to circumstances.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

The transition from Gratitude as a momentary warm, fuzzy feeling prompted by circumstances, to Gratitude as an attitude of your heart, a settled response to God and his goodness, is a process. It’s a process that involves joy and pain, blessing and loss, and it’s worth its weight in gold!

I’m learning that you can be thankful IN everything, without being thankful FOR everything!

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

I’m learning that Gratitude doesn’t come through having what you want, it comes through wanting what you have.

Be consciously and intentionally grateful for what you have and don’t waste the moments of your life whining and complaining over what you don’t have!! Express gratitude and thanksgiving continually!

When I look back over the years the most thankful things I remember have not always been the easiest things! The greatest challenges have resulted in the greatest progress in my maturity, attitude, and character! The greatest challenges have resulted in the greatest Gratitude to God! I love it when things go smoothly, but when I face challenges and God comes through, sometimes the Gratitude is almost overwhelming!

So, here’s my plan: For the next few (three or four?) posts I’m going to dig into some of these things I’ve been learning about Thankfulness and Gratitude. I hope you’ll stay with me as we explore Thankfulness and Gratitude and I’m very, very confident it won’t be a waste of your time or mine! (And I’m torn between using the word Thankfulness and using the word Gratitude.) I like both words a lot, so I think I’ll use them both in these posts!

It’s not happy people who are Grateful, it’s Grateful people who are happy!

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.