Me, MySelfie and I

If a cancer patient hasn’t updated their blog in eight months, there are three likely reasons (and one of those is not good).  Hopefully this update will clarify which end of the spectrum I’m at these days.

As proof that I’m actually still around, I’m including a selfieSteve selfie_edited-1You know, one of those pictures that you take of yourself with your smartphone and then upload to social media so that all of your friends can make fun of your vanity.  My kids actually did laugh at me for taking a selfie.

In case you missed it, the word selfie was listed as Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 “Word of the Year”.  Lest you criticize the impact of pop culture on our language, just be glad that the “runner up” word didn’t win (because I would’ve refused any personal references to twerking in my blog).

I’m still stuck on this topic of selfies (which proves that I may be more vain than I thought).  Even President Obama can’t escape being made fun of for taking a selfie (and tell me you wouldn’t take a selfie if you were standing next to him!).  Here’s why this whole thing is silly:

1.  People have been uploading selfies for years, we just used the ones that others took of us.  (The vanity it took to upload was the same).

2.  I’ve literally been taking selfies for decades.  It was called a timer on my Canon AE1 (and it was the only way that this dad was ever going to show up in a few of the 1.3 million family photos that I’ve taken).  It was my only proof that there really was a daddy to this tribe!

3.  Back in another life, I sometimes used to videotape my own selfie so that they could broadcast me on the evening news.  Imagine, the vanity of using the height of a portable light stand to set the proper focus and then using the camera lens as a mirror so that I could comb that lush of hair before the tape rolled (and I always carried a comb!).  It must be considered double-vanity to take a selfie of one’s video-selfie and then upload that.

Shots of TV stuff

Enough about selfies.  Now, let me tell you about my medical issues. (Think of the irony of that statement).  I’ll use bullet points to spare your eyes:

  • I successfully “passed” my one-year anniversary of my stem cell transplant this summer.  Doc gave a “thumbs up”.
  • I continue to be on a maintenance regimen of chemo (Revlimid) which makes me sleepy (almost all of the time) and slightly nauseous (much of the time).
  • I’m “weaning” off several of the pain killers for peripheral neuropathy (cause they’re not really working and they’re not helping me stay awake)
  • As of yesterday’s check-up, my cancer appears to still be at “zero”, my bones look great and my organs show no impact from the myeloma.

It was exactly three years ago today that I was first diagnosed with this killer disease called multiple myeloma.  It has certainly shaped (but not defined) my life and has taken me through more appointments and more needles than I could have ever imagined (not to mention, more than $750,000 in treatment, so far).  Thank the Lord for a job that pays for health insurance.  I’ll let my wife tell you about the required process of signing up through Obamacare!  (Yikes!)

Otherwise, how am I doing?  (another selfie question)

  • Medically, I’m doing really well (say the doctors).
  • Physically, I constantly fight fatigue and the urge to sleep.  Which…
  • Mentally, causes frustration as I try to live the “normal” life of a husband, dad and pastor.
  • Spiritually, is the only way that I can reconcile this crazy life I now live.

The Bible has a lot to say about not being a “selfie”.  (Phil. 2:4, 1 Cor. 10:24).  Our church just went through Rick Warren’s What on Earth Am I Here For? (It’s a refresh of his classic book, The Purpose Driven Life).  Several quotes from the first couple of chapters were great reminders of how we are to properly “view ourselves”:

  • “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.” (p. 21)
  • “…focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purposes.  The Bible says, “It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyone’s life is in his power.” (p. 21)
  • “Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God.  He thought of you first.  It is not fate, nor chance, nor luck, nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment.” (p. 26)
  • “You are alive because God wanted to create you.!  The Bible says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (p. 26)

I can’t exactly explain the why’s and wherefore’s of my life’s journey.  Nor can I predict the number of my days (nor can any of us).  What I can do is come to grips with a God who is teaching me, “It’s not about you, you goob!”  (OK…I added the goob part).  I don’t need to prove myself to impress God.  He doesn’t need me to prove myself to impress others around me (including a church congregation).

What He desires from this recovering selfie is to still do the great commandment thing:  “Love God and love others.”  (Matt. 22:37-39)  Even when I feel like….?  Yup.  (Ironically, it’s when I feel awful that I can’t do much for anybody.  I can only be that guy who loves God and loves others).

Struggling with being a selfie?  Give it up.  Your performance will not impress God.  Get your identity by who you belong to, not by what you do.  The Apostle Paul understood it when he wrote that knowing Jesus was the single most important thing in his entire life (Phil. 3:8).  Now there’s real purpose!

Thanks for reading!   Definitely enough selfies for one post (or for one lifetime).  Your friendship and your prayers are a real source of thanksgiving!  Take some time during these CHRISTmas holidays to worship Christ, enjoy your family and your friends!

Blessings.

Steve

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12 comments

  1. Shelly Schimmel

    Thanks for the update, I was wondering how you were doing.  So glad to hear your cancer markers are still at zero, and bones and organs are well too!! Lots to be thankful for.    Shelly Schimmel   Advanced Disposal Services, Incorporated 616 669-7077 office 616 669-3015 fax email : shelly_schimmel@yahoo.com

  2. Debbie Holley

    Hello from Alabama…and that be Tuscaloosa..home of the Crimson Tude!
    I’m so glad to see that things are going good for you! God has certainly had His hands on you and I know things will just get better!! Seems like forever that I’ve heard from you so thanks for the update. I keep you in my prayers and pray for God to give you more strength and for your side effects to subside.
    I hope you and your family have a Merry CHRISTmas and a healthy, prosperous 2014!!!
    Love to all,
    Debbie Thomas Holley. (Eloise’s sister in case you don’t recognize the name)

  3. Faith Kensell

    Steve, We are so happy you are doing so well, except for the sleepiness and nausea, ant that u “passed” you first year. We praise the Lord so much for His answeres to pray and what he’s helped u thru, these last several years. I know He will continue to hear & answer prayer for u and your families. May u all have a blessed Christmas and a very happy 2014. Our prayers are still with you. In Christ, Faith & Raymond kensell, Wesleyan Village.

  4. Bob & Tammy Zuiderveen

    Glad to hear that God has blessed you again. The selfie pic is nice to see. Prayers are still coming your way. We still love having you as a pastor, you have played a key role in our lives. Keep up the blogging.

  5. David and Beth Watters

    Steve, so glad to hear you are doing well and pray they will get the nausea and fatigue under control. God is so good and you are truly an example of his healing powers and spiritual strength. Blessings from David and Beth Watters

  6. Chris Conrad

    Steve, I ALWAYS love reading your posts. In part because it means that you are still with us here – and for that, I am extremely grateful. I am celebrating along with the Jones’ family that the cancer numbers are at zero at this point and that your bones and internal organs are doing well. That’s just great. I also love reading your posts because they are the most creative and fun I’ve ever read. You do an outstanding job writing these – I LOVE the creativity you ALWAYS show – way to go!!! Have a VERY blessed Christmas. Your family and your church are blessed to have you in their lives.

  7. Elaine L Harrell

    Very Good News!!!! Enjoyed your “message” tremendously. Will continue to keep you and yours in my prayers. Wish for you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

    Love,
    Cousin Elaine Harrell

  8. Margaret Faulkner

    Thank you so much for the update & your message 🙂 I am so thankful to read that you are doing well & will pray that the fatigue will vanish. Miss you all lots! Praying for your continued health. LOVE YOU ALL & MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  9. Mario

    Hi Steve! If you have a moment, I’d like to talk to you about myeloma and some other illnesses that could use more attention. Please email when you see this and thanks in advance!

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