Archive for August, 2007

Like Flint.

August 31, 2007

Hey, it’s Amber again. Bryan is in a test. Wanted to update you quick on what is going on. Yesterday morning we had one appointment that went well- very sharp doctor- the one who ordered this test this morning. We were also able to get some other appointments scheduled for today. We spent the better part of the day being a “checker”- basically like flying on standby in a waiting room and trying to see if he could get fit in earlier. He didn’t end up getting in, but we can’t say we didn’t persevere! 🙂 Today is a very full day with 5 (possibly 6) appointments. Thank you for your prayers for these appointments. Please continue to pray for wisdom for these doctors.

Some verses that stood out to me from the Lord this morning were from Isaiah 50.
vs. 7b “I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
vs. 9a “It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.”
vs. 10 “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

The word “flint” grabbed me, so I had to know exactly what definition would be given for it. Upon looking it up, I found out it described as an extremely hard stone – used to produce a spark or strike a fire. One specific definition was “something very hard or unyielding.”

And it’s not a pretty stone either. Clearly it is a necessity and not just to look at- not the kind of stone you would use as jewelry!

This morning, we are setting our faces like flint. Our trust is in our God. We are so deeply grateful that He has allowed us to be here at this incredible facility with some of His most intelligent people. He has lead us to this point and we know He will continue. Though we are still in the dark as to what is going on… we surely have a sense that light is and will be revealed this week. We desire to be unyielding in our focus and to persevere in patience- all the while being aware with a readiness to be a spark of hope and encouragement for anyone He puts in our path.

Our host where we are staying asked to pray with us last night. It was such a beautiful time and showed us again the sweetness of the Body of Christ.

Thank you again for your prayers and words of encouragement in this process. Pray that today will be significant in getting us closer to some answers. We believe it will be… but we surely need the Lord to go before us and to bring clarity.

We love you and we are so grateful for you. We know so many of you have things going on in your own lives as well and we pray for each of you as the Lord brings you to mind. It is a joy to be on this journey together.

btw- if Bryan has time or feels up to it to write a post sometime today he might so check back in a while…


Day One: The Mayo Experience

August 29, 2007

This is Amber…

Greetings from Rochester, MN!

We arrived safely last evening after a flight delay due to weather. Our new friends we are staying with, Dr. Simon Mittal and his wife greeted us with warm hospitality!

We are deeply grateful for your prayers. The initial consultation this morning went well. The doctor overseeing the evaluation is not only smart, but also kind and easy to work with – a huge blessing! After reviewing medical records, many questions and an exam- he referred us to three other doctors and for some tests. At first, the earliest available appointment for Neurology was next week… But praise the Lord it has been moved up to Friday so far. We will continue to wait to try to get in earlier on two of the appointments- please pray that will happen. It will make a huge difference- especially if those Dr’s order more tests.

All the staff at the Mayo Clinic have been friendly and helpful. It is evident that they care about patients and are “on your team” to get answers and expedite the process as much as possible which is very encouraging (esp. in a world where I sometimes wonder if customer service has gone out the window!) Yes…it is still alive! 🙂 Amen.

Again, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your prayers and support in standing with us. There aren’t words. We love you.

So Like God

August 29, 2007

I feel so much love. The response has brought me to tears. I am utterly speechless.

God has put every piece in place. I don’t know what God has in store for this trip, but I know it is already a glimpse of how God is in control.

A few “So Like God” happenings already (wrote this entry at midnight last night—just now posting it):

So Like God #1: Here we are, staying in someone’s house we’ve never met before tonight. Dr. Simon Mittal, who works with the Mayo Health System – first a servant of God, second a family man, and third a servant to God’s church. He and his wife, Maren, asked us (actually asked!) if they could pray with us one night. I love the Body of Christ!

It feels so good to begin the tests tomorrow with a community of laborers who care. I don’t feel alone. In fact, I plan on reading all the emails and comments I have been receiving in the waiting room or wherever else they want me.

I have this humble privilege of going to one of the top medical centers in the world. It’s such a humbling thing – for little ole Bryan to receive this kind of treatment. But, you know, I am more excited to experience the Body of Christ here in Minnesota.

So Like God #2: Dr. Simon happens to live in the same city – a not-so large city of 26,000 folks, as my cousin’s wife grew up in (note: I have one first cousin! Ha!). This is where her family lives! Right down the street from the Mittal’s. How amazing. We are about 50 miles from Rochester, so it’s not like this is a coincidence. I love it when cool things happen like that. Oh, did I mention I officiated Jeff (my cousin) and Debbie’s wedding last year, so I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this wonderful family.

So Like God #3: This illness has brought me closer and reconnected to so many people. I love that! I’m quite surprised, even though I shouldn’t be, by how many people have taken the time to get in touch. I suppose it sounds like a bigger deal when you hear about it for the first time, partly because they know me as an energetic guy. I guess it has become sort of the “norm” in our lives over the past year especially.

So Like God #4: Minneapolis/Rochester happens to be only about 4 hours from where Amber grew up and where her family lives. So, when I’m done at Mayo for the holiday weekend, we’re going to drive to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and be with the Unruh clan. There’s never a dull moment around them, which I love.

Life’s sooo good!

New News – Going to Mayo Clinic

August 28, 2007

New news

I am writing to say hello, and give you an update.

It has been a long road, filled with lessons I won’t soon forget.

I have seen 16 doctors both in the medical field and the holistic field, some of whom, are the best in their area. I have traveled all over the country to see them and I am grateful to each one for adding some value to me. (btw…if you are wondering- yes, I have read Jordan Rubin’s books).

It seems it is time to visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. All of the great doctors I have visited have helped eliminate some possibilities and helped me with better health habits and nutrition, but they haven’t been able to lead me towards total health. And although I have certainly grown in my ability to manage and deal with this illness mentally, emotionally and even spiritually; my physical symptoms of extreme fatigue and “brain fog” (among other things) continue – not fun for a normally intuitive 27 yr. old should-be-full-of-energy guy. Thankfully, we were able to rule out Celiac Disease after all (a change from the first test results). With a liberated diet (praise God!), I have gained some weight. It was just two months ago when the scale read just over 110 lbs. I knew I was in trouble when one Doctor started calling me Paris Hilton and Nicole Richey. Well, I am extremely grateful to have put on 15 lbs. and of course each day we plead for divine healing.

Flipping the Switch

It’s the best way I can describe what happens when “it” hits.

If I have two-three semi-normal days in a given week, it is a phenomenal week. The other days have phases. Something like this:

    It usually begins when my body begins to slowly crash. I can usually feel it coming the day before it takes over. By the next day, I am laid out in bed with a body that can barely move. It feels like I am shut down completely. At times I can feel pain in my bones. And the biggest heartache is in my mind. I wouldn’t mind losing my bodily energy, but when my mind shuts down, it feels terrible. And this is the most humbling part of being sick. Many days, I don’t have a choice but to show up to the event I am speaking to, or the meeting I have scheduled for. And I am at the mercy of my body, or if the Lord chooses to miraculously heal me for an hour or a few days. It’s truly amazing how often this happens. Recently, we were speaking in Ohio, and my body and mind stayed focused throughout the two days. When I finished my last speech, everything immediately shut down. Those are the cool, unforgettable moments. My switch is in God’s hands.

The term worldliness can be defined as “living as though you have no need for God.” Well, God has graciously chosen to give me help in learning this. I am completely dependent on Him, and it’s actually a wonderful thing. When I try to do things without God, it’s not good. I am learning to live more prayerfully by His Word no matter what I am doing. I certainly don’t do this perfectly, far from it, but I am learning and growing. And it helps to have a wife who walks with the Spirit. All of this to say, more than anything I am learning to “fight” and “stand firm” on the promises I already have. It’s not about letting go and letting God. Rather, it’s joining Him in the “good fight” for God’s mighty power to have reign.

So much support…

I am taken back and humbled from the hundreds of emails I have received. I cannot believe there are people who have not only prayed but actually have fasted for me. I have heard so many stories of how God is using this illness for his glory, and that makes it all worth while.

I have to admit, I haven’t done a very good job communicating with everyone. I guess it’s partly due to the fact that when I have a good day, the last thing I want to do is write or talk about my illness. There’s so much more to do! It’s hard because we still don’t know what is going on. I have tried so many Doctor protocols and yet it continues. I have found it’s hard to communicate what’s going on without a “name” or a “diagnosis”.

Mayo Clinic Door Opens

I have been to Emory in Atlanta, unfortunately they join the long list of health centers and medical professionals that haven’t been able to offer a concrete solution or even a diagnosis. I have tried many tests. These tests are invasive and humbling to say the least. And now we feel it’s time to try even harder! So, tomorrow I fly out to Rochester, Minnesota and Wednesday morning is my first appointment at The Mayo Clinic. They are well-known as one of the top health centers in the world. Please pray that God would bless these doctors with the wisdom to finally understand what has been causing this illness. Please pray that he would strengthen me and bless me with peace and contentment during the multitude of tests that I will undoubtedly have to undergo. Please pray that he would bless Amber and I with discernment as to which tests should be taken and to help us to make wise decisions.

We thank God for insurance, but still these tests at Mayo could cost up to a maximum amount of $4,700.00 out of pocket- which is still a lot! Please pray the Lord will provide for whatever we end up needing through His people or whatever means necessary because we have been doing as much as possible to take on extra work, etc. but we are at a point where we still need extra help. And the last thing we need is debt.

I am most grateful to Christ who freely gives peace, love and joy that makes nothing unbearable. And I am grateful to my friends, family (and even strangers) who have lended prayers and a “huge hand” when we need it most.

Do pray with us. It’ll be nice to feel well again, but in the meantime we’ll keep roaring as loud and strong as we can.


What is the Church?

August 28, 2007

I’ve been rediscovering the essentials of the faith, a discipline I should be doing regularly. Right now, I’m digging into what Jesus called “My church.”

To begin with, I am reading through Charles Colson’s classic Being the Body. Last night, I read a good chunk in it and tonight I am taking notes. My hope is to go through this with our community in September.

Here are some excerpts about the definition of the church. It’s not even close to everything, and does not fully define it like Colson does throughout the book.


    In direct response to Peter’s confession, Christ announced: “On this rock I will build my church.”

    And to that church He promised a vast grant of authority, which He called “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

    “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,” Jesus said, “and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The church was to be His instrument on earth, and whatever was done in His will would have eternal significance and consequence.

    Jesus’ response to Peter’s confession was to announce that He would build His church. And from that declaration we learn four crucial lessons about the church.

    First, the church is not a building. An ekklesia was a gathering of people. For the culture at large, ekklesia meant a public assembly of citizens. It was used when they were “called out” of the city to vote. Through its Hebrew counterpart, it also meant those whom He brought together and called by His name. The people of God.

    All references to the church, including the metaphorical “body” and “holy nation,” refer to God’s people.

    Second, the church is more than simply a collection of people; it is a new community. Many modern Christians see the Christian faith primarily, if not exclusively, as the gospel of “Jesus and me.”

The Prosperity Gospel

August 13, 2007


There was a time in my life when I would have had a hard time -not with what John Piper is saying, but how he is saying this. But I would have been wrong.

This is a dangerous, misleading false teaching that MUST be eradicated.

Yes, these are intense words, but our day and our theology causes for it. May we continue to converse about these issues, so that we find ourselves only satisfied in Jesus. Our life and the world depends on it.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with 100% of it, but it’s important that we guard our theology. Read I Timothy 4 and 6. Paul thought so.

Kudos to Jimmie Gillespie for telling me about this.

Now let’s converse…

Oh – by the way, this applies to health and suffering too:) I surely would love to learn more with you about these issues. As for the suffering issues, I have a lot of opinions from this past year through my own health deficiences. It caused me to study it like never before. And I think I’ve heard everything under the sun. There’s certainly a lot there about what we’d like for theology to be.

What’s most important to do in college today?

August 13, 2007

I couldn’t agree more:) with most of this.

An eye on the next life

August 6, 2007

As I lay in bed this rainy afternoon, the only thing that brings joy is keeping an eye on the next life. I may not be able to talk. I may not be able to move. And even the slightest stress turns my inward body into an out-of-control spin. Yes, these are without question unique times! But my soul and my Spirit are alive and well, thanks to a great God I have the privilege of walking with. And the only way that can change (-a unaligned soul and Spirit) is to do anything but sit and rest because God wants me to do just that. I’m not supposed to make phone calls. I’m not supposed to go hang out with friends. I’m definitely not supposed to work. I am commanded by the Ruler of the Universe to sit and be. And it feels good.

I am utterly amazed.

And…I will relish every moment when my body builds itself back. However, in the meantime, as I sit and be, I am reminded how I was made for the life which is yet to come. The men before me who followed hard after God, men like Abraham and Joseph, and all the patriarchs of the Old Testament, they didn’t know why things went as it did, much less what was next. They did know, however, that God was with them, and there was more to life.

What life are you stacking up rewards for?

For the life which is yet to come—live well!


August 6, 2007

Amazingly, the moment I finished my last message at this weekend’s retreat my body went haywire. All weekend I felt relatively good—even on little sleep and a fairly busy realm of activities. And this energy lasted until the last second. God is so amazing and all-powerful! He’s definitely been protecting me from the low-times when I needed some energy. The week before I did pretty well on vacation, or about as good as you can do on a vacation. I was tired a decent bit, but hey – I was vacating so I got along all right.

God showed himself this weekend, and it was a pleasure to partake in such a sweet time. I made some incredible friends and learned a lot. But the HUGE bonus was Kara accepting Christ. Amber had the privilege of praying alongside of her as she cried out to God and as God opened his arms wide open. Amazing.

Thankfully, now I’m chillin at George and Jami’s house. Actually, I’m laid out on a bed in their guest room and can hardly move. But I’m filled with so much joy due to my gracious and giving Heavenly Father. Wow, I’ve never been so happy to partake in this gift of sickness. What an honor!

Definitely keeping me grounded, and a huge reminder of the God who created the Universe.

Kudos to Jimmie and Rachel Gillespie…who have officially become two of our dear friends for life. Our conversations were riveting—to say the least. We are so grateful to Brian and Janaa (and little Dylan, of course) and the New Life College and twentysomethings gang who blessed our socks off. Though we surely missed two of our best friends Andy and Sarah Bullard who had to make a last minute run to the hospital to have child #2—Grant Noah Bullard—who decided to arrive a little earlier than expected (credit also goes to Sarah’s erupted appendix).

Really looking forward to being back in Ohio for New Life’s men’s conference in late October.

And really, really looking forward to making the Bullard’s our brand new neighbors in September.

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