Sunday, August 24, 2008

August Newsletter

Dear brethren,

In Ecclesiastes 9:11, Solomon, through inspiration, wrote, "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." Although Solomon writes concerning soldiers and brave men, this idea was clearly seen in the Olympic Games that took place this year. All of the participants were very well trained, were very strong, and very skillful in their certain events. However, just one wrong twist of the body or one wrong hand or foot placement could cost the participant the gold medal. If he was just one-thousandth of a second off of his mark, he would miss the prize.

In the world in which we live, everyone is subject to unforeseen conditions. Some of these conditions are favorable and some are unfavorable. The point is that we cannot always know when or how these conditions will come upon us but we must be ready to accept them and do the best we can in spite of them. In Ecclesiastes 11:6, Solomon wrote, "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."

The year 2008 has been a very eventful year in the Hill household. There have been many unforeseen conditions and, unfortunately, most have been unfavorable.

In December 2007, our daughter’s husband, Chris, left her, and our grandson Cole, for another woman. She desperately encouraged him to seek counseling and come back to them. He, however, filed for divorce in January and it was granted in May. Julie, being put into this unforeseen situation and having no money, was not financially able to take care of the lawyer and legal fees. Linda and I, out of our retirement fund, took care of this. Julie and Cole are now living in Mississippi and, at this writing, Chris in taking Julie back to court in an effort to discontinue his paying of Cole’s child support.

In February, I went to our family doctor with a severe sinus infection and extreme dizziness and nausea. After three visits to him, he told me that he had done all that he could and recommended me to an ENT doctor. The ENT doctor ordered an MRI of my head especially focusing on the inner ear. The prognosis was a tumor located in the inner ear canal that may be causing the dizziness. After reading the results of the MRI, he frantically recommended that I see a neurosurgeon. The MRI showed the inner ear to be clear but it also showed a lesion on the cerebellum portion of my brain.

In April, I saw the neurosurgeon and was told that I had either a brain tumor or that I had had a silent stroke. A tumor meant that I would definitely undergo brain surgery. As strange as it may sound, I never prayed so hard and so often that I had had a stroke. The neurosurgeon ordered another MRI (high definition), two MRAs, and a battery of blood tests. From these blood tests, our family doctor noticed that I was a borderline diabetic and that there was something strange in my thyroid gland. I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. More tests were ordered and I saw yet another doctor, an endocrinologist.

In June it was decided that I had had a stroke and not a brain tumor. We were elated about the great news. However, after a series of ultrasounds and nuclear scans, the endocrinologist wanted to biopsy three nodes found in the thyroid gland. This was done and the nodes were found to be cancerous. I saw yet another doctor, a general surgeon, and surgery for the removal of the entire thyroid and some surrounding lymph nodes was scheduled for July 30.

Things were looking bleak before the surgery but we were reconciled to the fact that, as Solomon stated, "time and chance happeneth to them all." We are Christians and whatever happens, happens! We put our faith (and our lives) in the hands of our loving God and pray His will be done. But just when you think things could not get any worse, the week before my surgery our house flooded. We had a torrential downpour of hail and rain accompanied by great gusts of high winds. Our backyard had once had a slight drainage problem and was muddy after a large rain. We spent several thousands of dollars for a massive drainage system to take care of the problem and we had had no drainage problem since its installation. But the City of Dacula permitted a house to be razed behind our house and that changed the water run-off. It all came to our property and flooded our home. (You can see some pictures of this on our web-site: We now have to replace the flooring, the baseboards, some of the walls, and paint the entire house. Because it was a flood (our house was the only one affected in the neighborhood) our homeowners insurance policy will not recompense for the damage. I contacted the City of Dacula but, to date, have heard nothing from them and probably will not.

Then in August, I was contacted by the endocrinologist’s office. He found some nodes in my lungs and ordered a CT scan to determine whether they were cancerous or not. Thankfully, they were not. He also ordered more biopsies on more lymph nodes. He believes they are cancerous. So, there will be more testing and possible surgery.

Our health insurance has been good all through these traumatic experiences. They have paid their part faithfully. However, there have been co-pays, deductibles, MRIs, MRAs, CT scans, ultrasounds, blood tests, hospital fees, doctors fees, prescriptions, and there will be more to come. And in October our health insurance premiums will be going up by about $400.00 per month. I do not know how much will be needed. To date, we have not received anything from the hospital concerning the surgery debt. My estimates are from $5,000.00 to $7,000.00.

Thank you for the cards, calls, visits, and prayers - especially the prayers. Please continue to pray for us. But brethren, we also need your help in assisting us financially. From Genesis 22:14, we know "Jehovah-jireh" (the Lord Will provide). May our God continue to bless you.

We will continue to fight a good fight, to finish the course, and to keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). We are Christians and whatever happens, happens!
In Christ Who Saves,
- Jimmie

* * * * *

Greetings from Georgia!

I’m at a loss where to begin this letter. The events of this year have been staggering, as Jimmie has told you, but the last two weeks of July were particularly difficult. Three things stand out about them -

Julie and Cole. Our daughter and grandson moved to Mississippi on the same day that we learned that Jimmie had thyroid cancer. She was actually preparing to unload the moving truck when I called her with the news. Having them so far away for the first time did not help.

The Flood. Combating water and clearing debris was physically and emotionally exhausting. If you have been to our blog and seen the pictures you know the damage was extensive. I called a water disaster team immediately hoping that if the water was removed quickly the floors could be saved. We had been through a similar disaster 19 months ago when a bathroom toilet went berserk and soaked the floors in several rooms so I really wanted to prevent as much damage as possible.

It was a shock when the men began almost immediately to rip out walls, baseboards and our still new floors. That was NOT the action I had expected. But they showed me where the water had already found its way beneath the plastic undersheeting of our bamboo laminate. The water was too deep in the house and the floors were too soaked to be salvageable. The flood had started about 7:00 in the evening and we all worked until 2:30 the next morning. The disaster crew stripped the house of anything wet, but Jimmie and I had to work along with them relocating our possessions to the few remaining dry spots in the house.

The second shock came a few days later when we learned that the damage would not be covered by our homeowner’s policy.

Cancer Surgery. Of course, those are two words you never enjoy.

But through all of this there have been many things that have actually been extraordinary blessings. Some that come to mind immediately are –

The stroke.
Jimmie had been ignoring some minor symptoms indicative of a thyroid problem, assuming they were age or stress related. He certainly would not have been to a doctor yet had it not been for the stroke.

Our family doctor, Richard Schlossberg.
Jimmie’s blood tests were actually ordered by another doctor and it was really only a minor fluctuation in the results that prompted Dr. Schlossberg to order additional testing. I am so thankful that we went to his office rather than a lab. Our battle is not over yet, but without his diligent attention we would not know that we needed to be fighting.

William Howard.
For several months now he has voluntarily taken on additional duties to help Jimmie at the New Hope Road congregation.

Bruce and Beverly Roberts.
These dear friends drove all the way from northern Pennsylvania to help us with clean up after the flood and to be here during Jimmie’s surgery.

The New Hope Road Church of Christ.
The brothers and sisters of our home congregation have been absolutely wonderful in more ways than I have room to list.

Family, friends and brethren.
Near and far, loved ones and others we scarcely know have been a tremendous encouragement and comfort.

I am happy to tell you that our blessings have far outnumbered our disasters. With God’s help that is always the case.

In Christian love,

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