This past week Jan & I & two of our sons traveled to Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.  It was truly an unforgettable & inspiring experience.  But even more amazing is how God orchestrated an enormous number of details just so I could watch this.  To fully appreciate this I have to go back 20 years.  While at ORNL, I had the opportunity to get an assignment with NASA.  I actually spent time in a shuttle at Kennedy.  Guess which orbiter?  Atlantis!  Due to this experience & other involvement with NASA, I was drawn to space.  After Jan & I discussed & prayed I decided to apply to become an Astronaut.  Then came the Challenger tragedy, but we still proceeded.  Although I didn’t make it, I have continued to have a strong interest in the program.  Fast forward to last April, when Jan & I “won” 4 tickets to see a launch.  By summer we were informed that it was scheduled for October, that it would be the Atlantis, and that this would be the last mission for Atlantis.  We were excited about going, not knowing that we would spend that whole month in hospitals & with doctors beginning my battle with cancer.  I just assumed I wouldn’t make it, but then it was delayed until January.  Jumping to January, we spent that month preparing for & recovering from surgery, but again the launch was delayed.  Are you seeing God at work here?  That brings us to May 2nd.  Jan & I were just talking & both of us within a day of each other had been prompted in our minds about the launch.  I went to the NASA website & found it had been scheduled for the 11th.  Wow!  “Let’s go!”.  On the 3rd I tried to get a hotel, but all were booked.  AAA finally found a place 25 miles away, thank you, Lord.  Then it was plane ticket time, and we had to coordinate with our two sons who live in different towns.  God worked it all out, so that we all made it to Melbourne Sunday afternoon.  And finally there was my body.  I hadn’t done anything like this for months & wasn’t sure I could hold up.  We woke up at 4:30 am to get to the Space Center on time for tours & exhibits.  It was 92 degrees & we spent most of it outside.  We caught our bus to the viewing area with an hour until launch.  It was so hot, but the place was filled with anticipation.  Launches are commonly delayed due to the complexity of it all & weather, etc.   At T-minus 20 minutes, they had to “hold” due to ice forming & sent a team to evaluate.  Everyone held their breath and we all cheered when it was announced all was “go”.  But now there was a thunderstorm just north of the launch pad threatening the launch.  At T-minus 9 minutes they announced it was all “go” again, and we all cheered once more.  Those 9 minutes went quick, as the adrenalin flowed.  We all counted to “lift-off” and stared in amazement until Atlantis was out of sight.  What a day!  God strengthened me way beyond what I am able, to see Him bless me in this way.  The final token from the Father was as we drove off from Kennedy Space Center it began to rain.  Amazing!  I am so humbled that the God of the universe would do all this for one of His kids, with a plan that started over 20 years ago! (1Chr 29:11, 1Jn 3:1)  Thank you, Father.

Jan & I wanted to share a little more about our journey with all of you.  The love & support & prayers has been overwhelming, and we are truly grateful.  As Paul testifies in 2Cor 1:11, “you also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many.”  Some of you may not feel that He is answering your prayers, but that is not true.  We share Paul’s testimony, as God has blessed us in so many ways, we are convinced that this is the result of your prayers for us.  There is no other explanation.  We also testify of His faithfulness, and the faithfulness of His Word.  Countless times He has brought a verse(s) to us that is perfect for our needs.  For His peace (Is 26:3), or comfort (2Cor 1:3), or joy (Jn 15:11), or sleep (Pr 3:24).  Ps 55:22 declares “Cast your burdens upon the Lord & He will sustain you.”  We can stand with the truth of this promise.  Just today the doctor informed us that she is surprised that I am not in extreme pain.  That others in my situation are on strong pain killers.  When we heard this, Jan shouted, “Praise God!”  Amen!, another prayer being answered that we didn’t even ask!  My biggest physical challenge is my digestive system, and trying to gain some weight.  For this I do ask for your prayers.

Though the doctors may have given up, we believe that only God knows our expiration date.  We “choose life” (Duet 30:19), and recognize that “the battle is not mine, but God’s” (2Chr 20:15).  We continue to live each day as the Lord brings it to us.  We still have more to learn in this area, but are enjoying each day that He gives, asking that we might honor Him.

I have learned much, but I will pass on a few things that may encourage you.  As  I reflect & ponder the possibilities, what’s truly important stands out.  For something to stand out, first other things must fade away.  For me, “stuff” has become meaningless.  For those who know me, I haven’t even washed my car in months!  Second, those that know me well, know that I have loved adventures, and God has granted me to experience many.  But now, even those remaining on my list have faded.  So what remains?  Not what, who!  It’s only family & friends!  All of you who have been part of our lives, who have loved us, encouraged us, prayed for us.  That’s what’s important!  That’s why we want to now pray for all of you.

I have always been a doer.  Now that my body won’t let me “do” very much, I have struggled with this.  Way too much of my identity was tied up in my “doing”.  But the Holy Spirit led me to a passage in John (14:12-14), where Jesus promises that we will “do” greater works than Him!  Wow!  But how can I do that?  In the very next verse He defines the “greater works” as prayers that will be answered, that the Father would be glorified through them.  So now I can “do” these works by praying.  It is fitting, that I begin with you, all of you who been praying for us, for months!  Many of you I know by name, but I also realize that many, many more have lifted us up that we don’t even know.  What a blessing this is for us!  I pray for each of you, that God might reveal Himself to you, that you might know deeper the hope that is in Christ alone, and that your faith & trust in Him might grow through your serving us in this way.

So many of you have been so gracious in your prayers and concerns for Dan.  I want to join him in expressing heartfelt thanks for the inquiries, the messages, the prayers and the faithfulness that you have shown.  Its time for us all to redirect our focus from concerns for his treatment to celebration of the impactful person that Dan is.

Rather than focusing on the storm that cancer has presented for this stage of his life, it is his desire that we focus on the Master of calming storms.  I do not know what Dan’s next steps are physically in his approach to treatment and it is completely appropriate for us all to simply relate to Dan as Dan - friend, father, partner, leader, adviser, mentor, etc.  Do not take this as a negative or a capitulation - he is stronger each time I see him - but it is a total desire to put his faith in the Lord in total control of his circumstances,

My personal tendencies are to be a “fixer” - to strive unceasingly to locate that piece of information that holds the key to unlocking the answers to any question.   This is one of those admissions of personal limitation that we all have to face some or many times in life when we confront challenges that are so far beyond our reach that we can only rely on God for answers.  My focus has been so much on the cancer, that I have fogotten about celebrating the relationship.

Whether Dan has 1 day or 10000 days ahead on this earth, each one of those days is an opportunity to enjoy relationship with Dan.  I would encourage you also to shift your focus from Dan’s cancer to Dan’s life - celebrating what he means to you rather than the concern for his physical struggle.  He is fully in the hands of the Lord and that’s exactly where he wants to be, and he will be there from now until eternity whether his earthly days are many or few.  Continue your kind prayers for his health, but next time you see him, ask how his grandchildren are doing or whether the Vols will make it to the NCAA and enjoy a smile with the man that we all care deeply about.  Your smile will say it all and be the best earthly medicine that he could receive.

I will be slowing down on my updates during this season for Dan.  First, he is in a time of recovery from the operation and all appears well with that, but more importantly, he really seeks a time of “treatment” privacy desiring to refocus on the Lord for his life, blessings and health.  It is my hope to honor his wishes.  If there is a major change in his situation that he desires your specific prayers or praises for, I will post that information - until then, I thank you for your faithfulness in walking this journey with Dan.

I’ve been reading through the Book of Job the last few days to seek understanding about the emotions of one who is in dire circumstances.  Job had it all and it was all taken away and in the middle of the book, all of his friends start to give him advice.  In Job 16:2 Job responds to their advice:  “I have heard many such things - sorry comforters are you all.”  Given the limitations of all of my research and advice to Dan, I fall into that “sorry comforter” category - a sort of frantic striving for cloudy answers.  There is only one true comforter in these times - the Holy Spirit.   Dan is seeking His will for each step in the journey.

Each time I see Dan lately, he is physically stronger and is now getting out again and doing life.  I called him while he was with Jan flying yesterday and got a one sided conversation - I am in the airplane and can’t hear a thing! Thanks to you all for your continued prayers.  They have impact beyond what any of us know.

Dan celebrated his birthday with Jan Saturday.  I trust it was a fun day together in the mountains.

Thursday, I gave Dan some personalized M&Ms candies with a picture of Dan and Jan on each one!  I think it was the first time I had helped him laugh in months so it was well worth the express shipping!   Each time I am with him in the last two weeks he is physically stronger.  I still sense that the emotional roller coaster and the challenging treatments have taken a toll, but your prayers and God’s steadfastness are the only remedies that I can see for that.

Today’s sermon was spot on for my yearnings for Dan.  Taken from Proverbs 3:6-7 and I take the liberty to add verse 8 also:

6) In all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will make your paths straight.  7) Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

In so much of these difficult treatments, we are wise in our earthy eyes, but maybe needing to trust in Him in all ways.  Dan is nearing key decisions on his next steps.  If you would hold him up for wisdom, discernment and godly will, I would be most appreciative.

Please pray for discernment for Dan as he is deciding what treatment options to pursue going forward.  He is getting out a little bit now - lunch here and there, a Lady Vols game with family, etc.  His pain is lessening and he is off pain medication which really helps with his clarity of thinking and his will.  He remains in prayer for God’s will to be evident in his decisions and actions.

When I spend time with him, I see a man of God that is facing a tremendous battle with extraordinary courage.  My mind and heart both are at odds with a medical community that has pronounced Dan as terminal.  Perhaps it is because of my lack of medical training, my desire for a different outcome, or just perhaps its because they do not know Dan Kuban like I know Dan Kuban - a man with copious discipline and healthy habits, follower of an Almighty God, and a man who still has many journeys to make proclaiming Him.

Friends, Dan will celebrate his birthday this Saturday (28th).  Actually, if I am not mistaken, he was born on a leap year day, so he really doesn’t have a birthday this year!  If you have the time and inclination, drop him a card or an email and just let him know you are thinking about him.  We were at a busy Panera’s last week and everywhere we turned, someone was coming up to him to say hello and wish him well - I think your prayers and kindnesses are sustaining him in this painful time along with God’s care. Thanks.

Dan continues to strengthen a little bit each day.  We had a good time together today just to catch up on a number of things.  While Dan’s physical condition continues to improve in tiny, but noticeable steps, his will is significantly strengthening.  Dan is considering several options for treatment as next steps ranging from doing nothing, orthodox medicine approaches to alternative natural medicine.  Over the next 1-2 weeks, he plans to just be at the foot of the throne in prayer seeking God’s discernment and guidance on what is His will.  Dan needs a little time away from the treatment routines (scans, medications, pain, nausea, etc.) to just seek peace and clarity in his mind.  Please pray specifically for discernment of God’s will for Dan’s treatment and for continued strength to return to his body.

On a side note, I got a de-chlorinating shower head a couple of weeks ago and gave one to Dan today.  Chlorine is a carcinogen used to treat the water supply (kill bacteria) and even if you use a water filter for your drinking water, a significant amount of chlorine is absorbed through your pores in a hot shower.  Just a little note for those of you that seek to do the little things to create a healthy environment in your home.

Again, thank you for your prayers and notes for Dan.  Their power is immeasurable in lifting his spirits and needs to the Lord.

I have seen Dan a few times over the past week and each time I see his strength returning in tiny steps - a stronger voice, better color, clearer thinking, longer visits.  He is still in some considerable pain from the incision made during the operation compounded by the infection that is improving, but persisting.  I saw him on Friday and I think that he told me that he is finished with the pain medication.  What I observed was a much clearer look in his eyes and a significantly clearer thought process.

Friends, Dan is pretty beaten down by the events of the last 4 months and most particularly the last three weeks. I ask you for prayers of encouragement for him.  He has always been one that encourages others, but now is a season where we need to join together to encourage him.  His physical enemy has shifted several times during this ordeal from a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (with a 90 day mortality prognosis), to the inability to gain a conclusive biopsy, to several biopsies leading to a confirmation of pancreatic cancer, to radiation and chemotherapy intended to kill the cancer by taking him to the verge of life, to an operation to remove the tumor and save the pancreas, to a realization in that operation that the cancer was not in the pancreas but originating from the duodenum, to an infection resulting from a weakened immune system with a major incision, to another mortality prognosis of 12-18 month.  Dan is a warrior for the Lord, but this kind of physical and emotional roller-coaster is enough to extinguish anyone’s spirit.  Please pray now for the physical, emotional and spiritual fight to return to Dan in abundance.

So what is next?  Dan is considering more of the same with the established medical system (chemo and radiation) and he is also looking into some alternative approaches.  Please pray for wisdom, discernment, and energy to make wise decisions and to take action rather than be trapped by fear of the unknown or replication of treatments that have not been beneficial.  Faithfully believe that God will use Dan in a most mighty way.  Blessings to you all for your fervent prayers for Dan.

Friends of Dan:

I have been on the West Coast this week and a bit out of touch with Dan.  Today, I stopped in with him at his home.  I had noticed the last few days that his voice was not as strong and had attributed that to the recouperation period from the surgery, but I learned more today and I am seeking your intensified prayers on Dan’s behalf.

An infection set in from the surgery just internal to the incision.  As a result, Dan is taking antibiotics and continued pain medicines.  These in turn have had their impact on digestive processes that were already revamped by the surgery.  This is a time in this journey that Dan is at his physically lowest point.  The compounded effects of chemo, radiation, surgery and now infection are taking their toll on his body, and also on his enthusiasm.  So, I would just ask all you prayer warriors to kick in extra for the next two weeks to ask for physical strength, healing and spiritual encouragement for him.

In visiting with Dan today he specifically asked for your prayers.  He relayed to me that he can sense the power of your petitions for him even to the point of when they are many and intense and when they are fewer.  I have been remiss in the last week in updating all of you as I was a bit unaware of what was next for Dan or what to expect in this phase of the recovery.  The infection has been a setback and one that we need to rally around specifically.

You are all such a blessing to this dear man.  Thank you for your steadfast vigilance for Dan.

Kevin called and relayed that Dan was getting out of Duke University Hospital today (Wednesday) as soon as all the paperwork was done.  He should be headed back home in the next day or two.

Welcome home, Dan!