August 5, 2016

A few days before my heart surgery Hong Kong was hit by some powerful thunderstorms. These are photos ( none taken by me, that I collected on Facebook or news sites. I don't remember the numbers exactly, but there were over 10,000 air to ground lightnings strikes in a short period of time, maybve a couple hours.

I’ve chosen to do an issue of Monday Fodder today since I’ve not done one since July 11.

It’s hard to know even where to start, but I’ll begin with the first time I checked into the Queen Mary Hospital.  The final countdown day to the surgery was a bit bumpy as I was initially asked to come in on July 19 for the surgery, which would be done the following day. I checked in and was in my lovely hospital pajamas and had barely sat down on my bed when they told me to go home. Another emergency had arisen. So I was released, but soon was called to come in on Thursday the 21st of July.

That time it was for real, and the surgery was done two weeks ago yesterday, Friday. Funny thing is I really don’t remember much of anything the morning of the surgery. I had to take a shower in some special disinfectant. Cindy said I was still talking some when they wheeled me off to surgery, but I don’t remember that part either.

Anyhow, the surgery was successful and completed in about 6 1/2 hours. To prepare for working on the heart, as I understand it, they lowered my core body temperature and had to put me on a heart / lung machine while the surgery was being done on my heart. That’s perhaps the riskiest part of the surgery as it takes a couple / few minutes to make the switch to the heart / lung machine from my own heart and lungs.

For the surgery, only the the aortic valve and what they called the stem, had to be replaced, not the mitral valve. They told me before the surgery that they might need to replace it as well and would decided after they opened me up. Gratefully they decided there was no need to replace it.

Before the surgery, we opted for a mechanical valve rather than a pig valve, primarily because of the durability. Pig valves may last as few as 7 or 8 years. The mechanical one should last the rest of my life.

The downside is that I’ll have to take a blood thinner the rest of my life, and limit my intake of what we consider the healthy green veggies that have Vitamin K in them. Since there were no blockages / bypasses needed, the less healthy stuff I can still eat! Go figure!

After the surgery I was moved to ICU for a day. There were tubes coming out of me for drainage and such. Those first 2-3 days are still pretty much a fog.

A couple days following the surgery I started sitting in a chair by my bed, and even walking around a bit, mostly to the bathroom.

Visiting hours were from 12-1pm and 6-8pm. Besides the day of the surgery, Cindy came only in the evening as we live about an hour and a half away from the hospital. She brought me some food from home, which was really good compared to the mostly tasteless hospital food. I lost about 8 kg (17 pounds) from the first time I remember they first weighed me, till the day I left the hospital. It could have been a lot because of water, but I am noticeably thinner.

I was released on Wednesday. It’s been nice to sleep in my own bed. The pain from the chest opening is nearly gone, and there’s only a bit of discomfort when I cough or move certain ways.  

Yesterday late afternoon, I went out to walk for the first time since I was walking he hallways in the hospital. I went 4 KM (2.5 miles) but quite slow, and kept my pulse rate to under 100. Thus, the training commences, slow as it is. Maybe that sounds like a lot since I just had surgery but I was regularly going double that distance at a much faster pace before the surgery.

I am grateful for everyone who visited me in the hospital, brought fruit or drinks, for those who helped out in practical ways, like driving or sitting with Cindy, etc. And of course to those who prayed with me before and after the surgery, and followed the updates on Facebook… You all mean a great deal to Cindy and me. I know your prayers are the reason the surgery was successful and why the recovery is going well.

Sure it would have been great to be healed before surgery was needed, but this way is okay too. :)

Make it a great week. Blessings, Dave


After Failing

     In the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested, the disciples fell asleep when Jesus had asked them to stay awake; they turned their heads away in weariness when he had asked them to pray and keep watch. They felt the heaviness of their eyes instead of the heaviness of the moment, though Jesus repeatedly tried to stir them to be alert. It was a day of failings. After Jesus’s arrest, everyone deserted him and fled. Peter, who had emphatically declared he would never deny Christ, heard the rooster crow and knew exactly what he had done. In the aftermath of three denials, Peter wept bitterly. One wonders how the other scattered disciples received the morning.

     What do you do with despair? What do you do when you know that you have messed up, when you know that you have missed an opportunity, when it seems that all of your shortcomings are written in large print across your life and there is no going back with an eraser?

     Most of us walk away from a ruined moment thoroughly defeated. But where do you go? And how long do you remain in your defeat? Do you throw up your hands and stop trying? Do you mentally beat yourself up? Do you carry your guilt as if paying penitence? Do you, in the words of George MacDonald, house a conscience that does its duty so well it makes the whole house uncomfortable?

     Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada knows intimately what the face of despair looks like. Injured in a diving accident that left her paralyzed, she was once convinced she had missed the best version of her life. Her misstep loomed before her, and because of it, she believed that God was somehow forcing her to go with God’s divine Plan B.

     Do we, in our assailings and failings, hold a similar perspective? In the regret of a missed opportunity, the guilt of a failed moment, the despair of an irreversible situation, it is understandable that we sometimes sink into the hopeless thought that it is all over. It is easy to beat ourselves up, to despairingly ponder what it means to have missed out, and to believe that somehow, with disappointment, God must now come in and adjust the plan for our lives.

     How significant, then, are Christ’s words to his despairing disciples, and to those of us who have ever felt the sting of regret. To those who had fallen asleep, Jesus returned and said, “Rise, let us be going” (Matthew 26:46). To Peter who had denied him three times, Jesus took him aside and said, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:17). To his once scattered disciples, Jesus offered two commands, neither asking them to sit in a corner and think about what they’d done, nor asking them to carry their sense of guilt for a time before thoroughly moving on. He simply said, “Go” and asked for their obedience.

     For the disciples in Gethsemane, it was a day of failings. For God, it was the fullness of time, the moment in history when the floodgates of heaven were opened, and failed days, missed moments, and broken lives were forever offered a hope that does not let us down. There are days that we can never get back, words we can’t erase, opportunities missed, and times when we have certainly failed. Yet in Christ, all is never lost. But somehow all is gained. In him alone we are accepted, transformed by his death, changed by his life. In him alone we are adopted, received as children of God, and loved as heirs of the promise. Do not despair. Go and follow.

~Jill Carattini is managing editor at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

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    In May 2015, 23-year-old Dominyk Antonio Alfonseca walked into a bank in Virginia Beach, VA and handed the teller a note demanding money.  About 20 minutes after the robbery, police officers located Alfonseca and took him into custody.

    When a news reporter spoke to him in jail, Alfonseca said he didn't really rob the bank.  He just asked for the money.  He said, I dont know how Im a robber because I asked for it.  She could have said no, and I could have left.  I didnt consider it robbery. The way I see it is, by law I might be guilty, but my logic I'm not.  I feel like I'm innocent by logic."

    The courts apparently don't like the "innocent by logic" defense as Alfonseca has been found guilty in a court of law of robbing the bank.

    We may find his attempt to avoid prosecution humorous, but we hear people do the same thing all the time (and probably catch ourselves doing it as well).

*  I'm not doing something as bad as what someone else is doing.  

*  Someone else made me do it.  

*  It's my parents' fault because of the way they raised me.  

*  It's society's fault (or television, or video games)  because of their influence.

*  I was drunk when I did that, so I shouldn't be held accountable for my actions.

     "By God's law I might be guilty, but by my logic I feel like I'm innocent."  

     God has never been one to accept rationalization.  He didn't accept it from Adam when he said, "Eve made me do it."  He didn't accept it from Aaron when he said, "I threw the gold into the fire and this calf popped out."  And he doesn't accept it from us. But what God seeks is not prosecution.  What he desires is reconciliation.  And he knows that the only way that can happen is for us to drop all of our excuses and simply be honest about our sin.

     "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:8-9)

     Regardless of what we feel by our logic, we are all guilty of breaking God's law. The sooner we admit that, the sooner we can find reconciliation.

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Sin of Lying

     A minister told his congregation, "Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17."

     The following Sunday, as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the minister asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17. Every hand went up.

     The minister smiled and said, "Mark has only sixteen chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying."

@Sent by Kathy Thomas


Top Ten Reasons to Come to Church Even Though It's Summer (By L. Lee Sissel)

10. Because praying for a 10 foot putt does NOT constitute an active prayer life.

9. Because saving people from the "heat" is what Christianity is all about!

8. Because this week's absentee equals next week's sermon illustration.

7. Because you helped pay for the church's central air conditioning, you might as well enjoy it!

6. Because your quest to make the immortal words, "Give me wax for my board, keep me surfing for the Lord," a lifestyle choice, just hasn't been as "gnarly" as you thought it would be!

5. Because the combination of sweaty bare legs and varnished pews makes you feel like you're suffering for the cause of Christ!

4. Because the youth minister is preaching for the month of August and someone has to keep a record of his inappropriate illustrations and theological blunders!

3. Because all new sermons are a big plus in a season of reruns!

2. Because it makes your day to see the preacher sweat!

And the number one reason to come to church even though it is Summer is:

1. Because when we say that Jesus is the Lord of our lives, we do NOT mean 9/12ths of our lives!


     A Cowboy Rides Into Town

     A cowboy rode into town and stopped at the saloon for a drink. Unfortunately, the locals always had a habit of picking on newcomers. When he finished, he found his horse had been stolen.

     He comes back into the bar, handily flips his gun into the air, catches it above his head without even looking and fires a shot into the ceiling. "Who stole my horse?" he yelled with surprising forcefulness.

     No one answered.

     "I'm gonna have another beer and if my horse ain't back outside by the time I'm finished, I'm gonna do what I dun back in Texas and I don't want to have to do what I dun back in Texas!"

     Some of the locals shifted restlessly.

     He had another beer, walked outside, and his horse was back! He saddled up and started to ride out of town.

     The bartender wandered out of the bar and asked, "Say partner, what happened in Texas?"

     The cowboy turned back and said, "I had to walk home!"

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     Working at the post office, I'm used to dealing with a moody public.

      So when one irate customer stormed my desk, I responded in my calmest voice, "What's the trouble?"

      "I went out this morning," she began, "and when I came home I found a card saying the mailman tried to deliver a package but no one was home. I'll have you know, my husband was in all morning! He never heard a thing!"

      After apologizing, I got her parcel.

     "Oh good!" she gushed. "We've been waiting for this for ages!"

     "What is it?" I asked.

     "My husband's new hearing aid."

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