Below is what I had intended to send out last week but could not because of computer problems. It was also written before I learned that my tumor has not only spread, but is “enraged”. Any additions or changes to the original piece will be in italics.
Recently I was reading John Maxwell’s book “Intentional Living”. In his book he wrote something that caught my attention, he wrote “I’m going to live until I die”. This caught my attention for many reasons. First, since this spiritual adventure started I have said many times “As long as I am alive I am going to focus on living not on dying”. I am sure that I would drive all the end of life experts a little nutty, but that is what I am doing.
This week has taught me that my body will tell me when to focus on dying as well. Now, as I am getting used to the news of my tumor spreading, I have decided to live as fully as I can while I am dying.
Maxwell’s book caught my attention because it is a great attitude for all of us to have. Life is wonderful – so live fully, love, learn and explore! All of us are terminal. Some of us will die sooner than others. As long as you are alive, be alive! All of us were created by God and in God’s image. You were created for a purpose and to make a difference. Each of you can make a difference in someone else’s life, so make a difference today. When you realize how you can make a difference, you have discovered part of your life’s purpose.
God has a purpose for you – so live on purpose. Life and your circumstances don’t have to be perfect for you to help accomplish God’s purposes – take it from this preacher with injured vocal chords, sitting in a wheelchair as he types this out with one hand. Are you wondering what you can do for God today? Only you and God know for sure, but let me make a couple of suggestions. You can pray! For years I have taught and preached that one of the greatest gifts that you can give someone is the gift of prayer. I believe that one of the reasons that I am still alive is because of your prayers. Then go the next step – practice being a little kinder, gentler, generous more loving and forgiving and the world will be a better place. Let go of past hurts, wounds and resentments. Let’s not count on an elected official to make the world a better place. Let’s be part of the solution! Not only will you be happier, but the world will be just a little more joyous.
This has been quite a week or two for the Hogenson family. On the 4th, we were on the North Shore to celebrate my birthday. I felt really good on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday morning it was clear I was sick (I won’t go into detail) by that evening I was checked in to Methodist Hospital with my eleventh bout of pneumonia. It is scary just how quickly my health can change. A cheery Doctor told me last week that it is never cancer that kills a person, but always a complication from the cancer. Needless to say, I was very happy to get home! On the following Wednesday morning the 9th, I filmed a devotion for the Presbyterian Homes Annual Management Retreat. I was to speak to them in person, but either the devil or pneumonia prevented me from being there in person. We filmed a video that was played at the retreat.
Once I was home on the 8th, I was still not feeling good and I was back in the hospital again by the next Sunday the 13th. An MRI revealed that not only has my rare and usual tumor had grown, it had done something that this type of tumor rarely does. It has spread! Not only has it gone down my neck and back, but there are new legions in my brain. The spots are numerous, and it kind of looks like someone was making popcorn in my head. I was given the choice of doing nothing and living a few days or a few weeks or starting radiation again and getting a few more months. I started radiation on Wednesday! Because I have had radiation before, we can only do a short course this time. Hopefully, it will reduce the size of the tumor and the speed with which it is growing.
At this point I want you to know how thankful I am for your willingness to read and share these simple readings. If you feel moved to pray about this situation, please pray for my wife Ruth and the girls as they are my greatest concern right now.
Let’s all make it a point to live until we die. And, while we are at it, let’s “Look upward, travel onward and be not afraid”.
Pastor John Hogenson