Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Patience


Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Today we were hoping for the official approval from the board and the date to be confirmed for Valentine’s Day.  Of course we didn’t get the call, before you get all crazy we didn’t get any call, I talked by email to my coordinator and he said he would try to call tonight, but he might not be in contact until tomorrow.  So we are still on hold until tomorrow, so check back in for what is hopefully the good news and a final approval on the date. 

Back to the story: June 2011
Still patience is definitely the theme for this blog entry.  Kate and I returned from UNC no further along in the process than we thought we would be, our expectations were that we would come back from UNC with a full approval to donate and we could start thinking about a date.  Instead on the ride back to Florida we were scheduling Dr’s appointments to find out why my Iron was low and my spleen is enlarged. 
We scheduled an appt. with Dr. Gilbert so I could get a referral to a hematologist.  Now you have to know Dr. Gilbert who is really my favorite Dr. ever and I was referred by my good friend Beau.  Dr. Gilbert is the kind of Dr. you can call and have an appt. the same day or at worst the next day.  He doesn’t have the best bedside manner but you get in and out quickly and he knows his stuff.  Dr. Gilbert really thought there was probably nothing wrong with me, he really thought it was a bad idea to do full body scans like they had done at UNC, because they always find something that is hard to explain.
He recommended me to a hematologist at the Palm Beach Cancer Institute (once again not a place you want to have to go get checked out).  The appt was scheduled for June 21st, so we managed to get in within the month.  They drew blood again, and I had another CT scan to take a look at my spleen, there was a lot of pushing on my stomach to see if they could feel my enlarged spleen and also my armpits to see if I had enlarged lymph nodes.  They say that being the correct weight is better for your health, and it also makes it easier to diagnose things like an enlarged spleen.

Long story short after all of the tests it turns out that I didn’t have an enlarged spleen, it is only misshapen.  It also turns out that my iron levels could be explained by the fact that I am a heavy blood donor and I had been eating so poorly.  So at this point Kate and I were back to feeling pretty good about being able to donate.  There would still be more tests and a couple other road blocks but we were back on track heading toward the donation.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Splenomegaly


What? That was our response but we will get back to that.

back to the story: May/June 2011
So we arrived a little earlier than scheduled on Thursday, we weren’t supposed to have any actual tests on Thursday, just an appointment with the Psychologist and with the Surgeon.   Because of my iron levels were low we needed to have blood drawn again to test those levels.  Everything went smoothly and I was off to the Psychologist after a short meeting with my coordinator just to go over a couple of things.
If you have ever been to UNC Chapel Hill medical center you realize it is about 5 hospitals together (give or take), so they sent me on a long goose chase down some back halls to make my way to the Psychologist.  I finally made it to the correct place, even though I wasn’t quite sure where I gave the lady my name and asked for the Psychologist they had directed me too. 
It turns out that the normal Transplant Psychologist was on vacation and not available today so they had scheduled me with a different psychologist.  Well to make a long story short, I waited for what seemed like forever (45 minutes, and to be fair every other appt. went off right on schedule).  Then the Psychologist finally came out after I had asked the receptionist at least 3 times if everything was ok and I was in the correct spot.  She was very nice and let me know that there was a problem with scheduling and she wasn’t going to be able to meet with me.   It turns out that by North Carolina law seeing the Social worker was enough and she signed off on me so I wasn’t going to have to see a Psychologist at all, some people might say it was good I got to avoid that because I was never going to pass a Psychological exam.
So that left only one more meeting on the schedule, so after lunch, cheese steaks at a place off of 501 they weren’t bad, but not John’s Roast Pork (that will be a whole blog one day).  We headed back to the hospital to meet with the surgeon.
Kate were sitting in a room when a resident came in (let’s call her Christina Yang for you Grey’s Anatomy fans) and started feeling around on my stomach.  She asked if my stomach hurt and informed us that the CT showed that I had a Splenomegaly (enlarged spleen).  She didn’t have a great bedside manner, plus I had no idea what that word meant at the time, and all I remember her saying was you’ve probably had a lot of people poking at your stomach.  My response was no you are the first one to say anything about my spleen being enlarged, the other thing I remember her saying was that they probably wouldn’t want to use me as the donor (not what Kate and I were wanting to hear after traveling from Florida and going through all of these tests).
Next the surgeon came in, he was a very tall guy with a thick accent, which at this point I have no idea where it could be from.  He was much better to talk too than Yang but he basically gave us the same message. The majority of my tests were perfect but we had the problem of the low iron and the Splenomegaly that we would have to clear up before I could be approved as a donor,  a little bit better new that they weren’t eliminating me as a donor.
As I am writing this and I’m sure as you are reading this about now is when you start thinking, wait I know I want to donate but maybe the most important thing here is am I actually healthy what is wrong with me.  So next we went back to meet with the nephrologist, the second set of blood tests for my iron levels also showed low iron levels and low ferritin so we were going to have to determine the cause of that.  We had a lot of conversations and we determined the most likely cause was that I have been a 5 gallon blood donor over my life, plus Kate and I had been eating a diet known as the Daniel Fast, which pretty much eliminates all foods except fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, so I wasn’t getting any iron.
He recommended that we see a Hematologist for the iron issues and the enlarged spleen.  He thought it wasn’t probably that big a deal, however it could be cancer or some other sort of blood disease (leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s, or cancer), not really what we were looking forward to hearing as we are heading back to Florida from trying to donate a kidney. All of our sudden our focus has gone from helping Ashley to what in the world is wrong with me, and did I mention that I was going to have to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy to make sure there were no internal bleeds (just what a 36 year old guy wants to hear). 
Before we left we talked to our coordinator and she told us that at this point a lot of people would give up on the donation, it was too many tests to have to go through, and she asked us if we wanted to still try to donate.   Of course we said yes, just because Satan had thrown up a couple road blocks we weren’t going to quit, God had started us on this Journey and we were going to follow it until the end.
Did I mention that we still had to meet with Ashley that night to let her know what we just found out?  She handled it very well even though you could see the frustration in her eyes, we did our best to encourage her that we were going to follow through with the testing and not quit.  We had some very good conversations that night; she talked about the guilt she had felt that someone had to die for her to get her lungs and how much she has struggled with the idea of taking my kidney.  We talked about Kate going through the process if I didn’t and her comment was that she really wanted a curly kidney instead of a bossy one, which still makes me laugh as I write it.  It was night of tears and laughter (which there will always be a lot of if Ashley is around, laughter I mean) and another night I won’t forget.
Afterwards we went to dinner at Mami Nora’s a Peruvian place with very good lomo saltado, (beef with stir fry peppers and French fries) and to a Durham Bulls baseball game.  Crash Davis and Nick Luleoch weren’t playing but it was a good game and we had a great time.  Ashley went home and Kate and I went to bed ready to start a whole new part of this story, to find out if I was healthy enough to donate.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What it feels like to be a Lab Rat

Day 2 was the big day for appointments, I had 8 on the schedule that they gave me, so we were going to be running like crazy, we had to show up at 8 am and the last appt. started at 3 so it was going to be a full day.   So we woke up at 7, left the hotel at 7:35 and made it to the hospital on time, which is really quite an accomplishment for Kate and me.

The day started with Labs and an EKG, which were pretty uneventful, just drawing blood and putting a bunch of suction cups on your chest for the EKG.  The only thing is at this point I had an IV from the day before and now they are drawing blood again from pretty much the same location, after drawing it at least 3 or 4 times the day before, so I’m starting to look like a drug addict.
Next we met with the social worker, and Kate and I decided that basically a lot of these people’s job is to try to talk you out of donating, which I guess is a good thing, they are just trying to make sure you know what you are in for.  I think if more pre-marriage counselors took this approach there might be less divorces.   She asked us a lot of questions and at one point had to ask Kate to stop answering so she could be sure I knew the situation. 
After that we met with our transplant coordinator, this is the first time we had met her even though we had communicated a lot by email.  We had to watch a 40 minute video that took us through the process of donating and what that looked like, it was very informative, for me it was a lot of review since I had done thorough research on what the process was going to be like, however it was really good for Kate since she hadn’t researched as much as I had
Finally we are on to some of the real tests, at 11am I was scheduled for a renal ultrasound, or basically an ultrasound of my kidneys this test is to find out the shape and location of my kidneys, or to make sure I wasn’t pregnant I’m not exactly sure, but this is the second time in my life I have had an ultrasound, I’d rather not go into the first but this experience was much better.  Didn’t take very long and wasn’t very intrusive.  The next step was a chest x-ray, not 100% sure what the purpose of this test was, but once again no problem and done very quickly.  I will say that I was really impressed with how quickly these procedures went off and how on schedule we were.
Now my next appt at 1 was with the Nephrologist, and at 2 we had an appt with the Financial Coordinator, but the more interesting part was I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink after one o’clock  for the CT, it’s really not that long but when you are talking to so many people you get thirsty pretty quickly.
At the nephrologist we got our first piece of information to be concerned about, my labs had come back and my iron level was low, not anemic but for a young (ok I know I’m not that young) man it shouldn’t be that low, so we were going to have to redo the labs in the morning. He thought with all the blood that had been taken they could be getting a false reading and we would worry about it more tomorrow.  He also informed us of what the procedure was going to be like, and did his best to talk us out of it to make sure we were sure about what we were doing.   The financial coordinator was uneventful just gave us the information on the procedure, Ashley’s insurance would pay for all of my medical bills, but not for any of the travel, we are lucky that Ashley has been taking donations to help with that, and that I am able to use FMLA and sick time from work.
Finally the last procedure of the day, I am just as worn out writing about it as I was that day going through all of this.  The last step was the CT, which I was worried I was going to have to drink one of those thick glasses of stuff that I saw other people fighting down all day.  But they let me know that they were going to inject me with the dye, so they take you back to this big room, and lay you down on the table by the machine, it wasn’t a full body scan so it wasn’t anywhere near as claustrophobic as you see on TV.  I was only getting one done of my midsection up to my chest.  When they shoot the dye into you it makes your whole body warm and makes it feel like you have peed your pants, they warn you about this but it is still very surprising when it happens, and you really want to check to make sure you didn’t but you aren’t allowed to move. 
The procedure went well and we were done for the day, this would be our longest day of tests so we thought we were on the downhill stretch now but we weren’t quite prepared for the surprises we would get on day 3. 
Kate’s friend Liz from Asheville had come into town on Tuesday evening.  It was good for Kate to have someone else to talk to since I am not a very good patient and was getting asked so many different questions by so many different people that I had used up all my words for the day.  We went to dinner at outback to eat some red meat and to get my iron levels up for the tests tomorrow and someone (probably Kate’s Parents) had given us a gift card.  That concludes the marathon that was day 2 and now we are preparing for what we were expecting to be an easier day 3 with only 3 appointments but you know what happens when you assume, and if you don’t I’m not telling you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chapel Hill by way of St. Simons Island



We were scheduled to have our first tests in Chapel Hill on Tuesday May 31st, this is one day after Kate’s birthday.  The hospital only does testing Tuesday through Thursday, I guess the transplant doctors don’t work on Monday or Friday I’m not really sure, but it makes it so anytime we go up there we have to take extra days off work on both sides.  We decided since we would have to take Monday off anyway we would do a trip over the weekend before the testing.  My brother Keith and his wife Stacy were planning on going to St. Simons Island Georgia for the weekend so we asked if we could piggyback and have a little vacation with them, and get a chance to see our niece Abby who we really don’t see enough. 
I really didn’t know what to expect from this location, I have a very low opinion of Georgia as a place to visit, to me it is just the place that smells bad on the way from Florida to New Jersey.  We rented a 3 bedroom condo of off VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) which is an excellent site if you haven’t used it.  St Simons is a really cute little area, and a beach town, and we thoroughly enjoyed it and have suggested take one or both of our families up there for a vacation some time, I definitely recommend it.  The highlight might have been Jekyll Island where there are literally hundreds of old trees on the beach, which make for some great pictures.
After the weekend of relaxing we headed north for Chapel Hill, I had booked a hotel through Priceline for 45 dollars a night(if you didn’t know already I am cheap, and I am willing to risk where I stay to save some money, and have had very good luck with Priceline) which was located in Durham, called the Millennium.  It was actually located really close to Duke, so we were staying on enemy turf.  It was a nice hotel the location wasn’t as convenient as we would have liked, and there was an extra charge for something, probably wouldn’t stay there again, but enough of the review and on to the testing.  This entry was actually written while I was at UNC, I had the idea to journal real time, but that only lasted one day, pretty much like every other time I tried to Journal.

Registration was a breeze and since I have never really been hospitalized or had much experience with being sick I was excited to have a hospital card.  When I think about that I feel guilty about that, but I guess it is the little things that keep you smiling and enjoying yourself.  Kate and I prayed before we went to this and I was grateful she came to the appointments.
The first test was for my Kidney function, they took my blood to test it, and then they injected a radioactive fluid into my blood.  The idea is to see how fast my kidneys remove the radioactive fluid from my blood.  This was the first time I have ever had an attached IV, I mean I have given blood before and am not scared of the stick, but to have it in my arm for 4 hours was kind of interesting.  After they injected the fluid we had 2 hours to kill so I went to Sams with my IV and we bought supplies for our mission trip.  Half the time I was wondering if blood would just start shooting out of my arm but everything was fine. 

During this whole time I was instructed to drink as much water as possible, and Kate made sure I was doing that.  I guess this is like cheating the system a little because it forces you to have to urinate to get rid of the radioactive fluid.  I really had no idea that things go through your blood so quickly.  I guess God had a pretty good system with your organs and the kidneys work pretty well.
After Sams we met Ashley in downtown Chapel Hill at Momma Dibs, which is an authentic famous Soul food Restaurant.  I ordered Chicken and Dumplings which was lovely, with two sides of corn since I don’t like soul food vegetables.  Also I ordered two glasses of water which the waiter thought was funny and visited the bathroom twice.

We barely made it back by 1:45 which was the cutoff time to get my blood drawn again.   Not to mention if we missed that time we would have had to do the test all over, and wouldn’t have been able to do it for another month, which isn’t a big deal if you don’t live 12 hours from the hospital.  Anyway the IV held up and they took my blood 3 times every half hour for the next hour.  Carol was really nice and did an excellent job; she did however seem to take a little too much enjoyment in pulling off the IV securing tape.  So far that has by far been the most painful part of this.  I really should have shaved my arm before I came since it pretty much looks like I did anyway (remind me to do this, this time).
Kate and Ashley picked me up after the test and we went to Wal-Mart to finish up the shopping for our mission trip snacks and goodies to give the team on the trip.  If you ever want a good laugh you should go with Kate and I when we do this preparation for the trip.   I want to buy the cheapest stuff, and Kate wants to buy nice stuff, so it pretty much guarantees an argument every time.  The funny thing to me is I think we are both so stubborn that I picture it looking the same way 30 years from now when we are preparing the nursing home mission trip to Pucallpa

It was really great to have Ashley along for the part of the experience with us; she has pretty much been through every procedure and knows half the hospital. 

Later that night we met up with Ashley’s family in Pittsboro NC, it was a quaint little town with a lot of character, we had dinner and an old diner with a soda fountain, and it was a really fun place.  They were really thankful and didn’t really have the words to explain it.  Her mother was in tears just trying to talk about it.  It was great to meet them and feel there appreciation, and the cheeseburger and Milkshake didn’t hurt the experience either.
Kate got a Pepsi Sunday since she is a huge Pepsi drinker.  For some reason I had to convince her to order it but they poor Pure Pepsi syrup over the ice cream and it was very good.  I told her that if she didn’t try it she could never have Pepsi again as long as she lives.  Ashley spent the rest of the evening with us at the hotel and we watched the Heat win game 1 of the finals.

That wraps up day 1 of Testing, everything seemed to be moving along smoothly at this point, we thought this whole thing was going to be easy, but that changed really quickly so we will see you tomorrow for day 2, the following days will have to be more from memory so that should be interesting. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

WE ARE FAMILY


The whole time you are going through this process you are asking yourself several questions.  How long the recovery is, how this will affect my life after, what will people think, what if I’m not a match, are they going to find something I didn’t know about, what kind of cool scar will I have.  All the Questions you tend to ask tend to be very selfish and only concerned with yourself.  Once you come to grips with those questions you start to realize, I am going to have to tell people, I’m going to have to tell my parents and Kate’s parents.  I know those seem like little worries coming from someone who has willingly decided to write a blog about this but they are daunting questions. 

Kate and I decided that we didn’t want to lie at any point about what we are doing, so that left us with a decision when we found out that we would have to travel to UNC to have the testing done.  We didn’t want to make up some story and then have our families ask us why we just didn’t tell them in the first place so we decided it would be best to tell them before we went to UNC.  It sure sounds easier as I write it now than it felt when we were preparing to tell everyone.

I’m not one hundred percent sure of the exact timing, and I am sure Kate will correct it later, but we got back from Europe at the end of April and were going to UNC at the end of May, so I believe in the beginning of May my family was in town so we decided we needed to tell them.  I remember we had just finished eating dinner and we were sitting out back at our house.  As you have probably figured out from my proposal story that I tend to be a little slow at being able to get things out.  I run them over and over again in my mind trying to come up with the best words until it is just time to blurt things out.

We told my parents, I really wasn’t exactly sure how they would take it, I mean I don’t have any kids yet, but my thought is you probably never want to hear that your child is having surgery, yet alone voluntarily having a surgery.  They had a lot of very good questions, they voiced a lot of very good concerns, and we talked about it for a good while.  The funny thing is that no matter how old you get they are still your parents, you don’t have to ask their permission, but it sure helps if you have it.  My parents were great, for my safety they would really rather I not do it, but they understand what I am doing and are willing to support me through something that they might not necessarily choose for me.  It really is all you could ask for; I can only hope I can follow their example someday with my own children.



Next we had to tell Kate’s family, her whole family happened to be in town including Betsy and Carl, Kate had made the mistake of telling Betsy (granted she had to or Betsy was going to leave before dinner) that we had something to tell them at dinner, so they had spent the whole day coming up with crazy ideas (Carl suggested I was getting a sex change) and mostly they thought we might be announcing that we were moving to Peru.  I’m not sure what to think but all of them would rather I give a kidney than move to Peru.  They asked a lot of the same questions, had a lot of the same concerns and were just as supportive, I feel very lucky to have them as in-laws.


There was a lot of needless anxiety and a lot of prayer leading up to sharing this with our families, but Paul says it better than I ever could so I am going to close with that.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Do not ship liquids, blood or diagnostics in this packaging.


Kate and I were supposed to have gone first thing in the morning for a Hot Air Balloon Ride on our anniversary, since I used the word supposed I guess you have already figured out that it didn’t happen.  I got the call from the guy and the weather would not allow us to make the trip, it did turn out to be a gorgeous day, but there was too much fog early in the morning.  So as you are reading this, or first thing this morning hopefully we are floating far above ground (just got the call cancelled because of wind we are going to have to reschedule).
We left off at the decision, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just decide to donate a kidney and that was it, you were done, well that’s not the case.  There is a lot of poking prodding and making sure that you are healthy enough to be a donor.   The first thing you have to know is that you are a blood type match, check we had that one down.  But blood type isn’t enough.   I guess there are 6 things they match your blood on, the way it was explained to me was that they would put my blood and Ashley’s blood together and make sure they don’t fight. 

I was scheduled to give a blood sample in west palm beach and have it sent to UNC so they could do the test, your blood is only good for 48 hours or some short period of time so it has to be shipped immediately overnight.  I had never shipped blood before, but I assumed there was probably a special way that they transported blood.  Well I have to let you know FedEx is how I sent it, in the envelope that says please do not shipliquids, blood or diagnostics in this packaging. After they drew my blood they told me that the FedEx guy had already come so I was going to have to take it to the FedEx place myself, so we sealed it up and I drove it to FedEx and off it went to UNC.  I’m just glad my blood didn’t have a castaway situation, and I wonder what the statute of limitations is on shipping blood, I hope it is less than a year.

Well I guess you know since I have continued to go through further testing, yes I was a match with Ashley, I think it was 4 out of 6 on the chart, so we were a good blood match.  That meant we were set for the next set of tests which involved going to UNC for 3 days a Tuesday through Thursday to make sure I was healthy enough to donate and it was something I could do.  I don’t remember the exact dates of when a lot of this happened, I know we were trying to get this done before the trip to Europe in April of 2011 but our coordinator suggested we enjoy Europe and have the tests when we returned so we scheduled the tests for the end of May 2011. 

But that is a story for tomorrow, sorry this one is short but it was my anniversary cut me some slack, would I rather you get mad at me or my wife?  Well unfortunately I didn’t get that choice since I suggested going skiing the weekend before the donation, I guess that’s frowned upon by some people.  The idea of getting hurt and not being able to do the donation, but seriously what are the chances, lots of people ski or snowboard all the time and don’t get hurt.  Well as we go along we will find out who wins this one, and feel free to comment with your vote. 

To Ski or Not To Ski?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Kidney Valentine’s Day

You knew I couldn't let Kate have the whole day to herself, plus I only have 3 weeks to get this story up to date before the donation, so quick read today and Update on the status and Dates.

Today is Kate’s and my 3rd wedding anniversary, so I have to start with a happy anniversary to my beautiful wife.  It is hard to believe the time has flown by so quickly, seems like only yesterday we started dating, I am really excited to see where the next 3 years bring us not to mention the many more years after that.

So we got pretty big news yesterday, everything seems to be signed off on, and all the I’s are crossed and the t’s are dotted and I am scheduled for preop on Feb 9th, with the surgery to be scheduled on Feb 14th.  That is right Valentine’s day, so I hope Kate isn’t jealous but I guess I am giving Ashley a (insert whatever word fits here in your mind, cause they all seemed a little weird to me) better valentine's gift than I will be giving to Kate. 

My emotions are fluctuating from excitement, to apprehension, to being a little overwhelmed with the thoughts of all the things that still have to happen.  Of course these dates aren’t 100% finalized, the board will meet on Monday the 30th on our case and finalize the dates, but the coordinator said he didn’t see why it wouldn’t move forward.  I’m not sure how I expected to feel right now, but I still am waiting for another shoe to drop as they say, and still have one more delay, but I will stay positive and go back to the story.

How do you make a decision like this?

This is a decision that not only affects you but your wife, both of your families, your work, your friends at work, your friends, your mailman, the neighbors, 490 friends on facebook and well I guess it took it too far but at some level this decision has a lot of impact.  I don’t want to minimize the thoughts both Kate and I put into this decision individually, but there was never any doubt for either of us, that one of us was going to donate.

How do you decide who?

When both of us are saying that we aren’t going to let the other one do it.  Well as a man I try to use logic and as a woman Kate wants to use emotion.  It was a long conversation that took most of our drive back to Florida, and still continued weeks after that.  When we first talked to UNC we asked if we both could be tested to see if we were a match before deciding which one would go through with the procedure, however this wasn’t an option.  They will only test one possible donor at a time.

This accelerated the decision process, in Kate’s mind it was her friend and she wanted to do it, she didn’t want to put this off on me. In my mind I have a job with benefits such as sick time, a sick leave pool, and would be covered by FMLA (family medical leave act), Kate works for herself and if she can’t work there is no one to do the work for her, and she doesn’t get paid. 

In Kate’s mind it is her best friend and she should be the one to do it, wait I already said that, but this is sometimes how these things go.  In my mind, Kate works out of the house, so she could help me during recovery much better than I could help her from the office. 

In Kate’s mind she doesn’t want to worry about the health of her husband and she thinks she is tougher than me (I don’t agree with that last part). The last point we came too that was in favor of me donating was that we wanted to have children, and even though you can have children after a kidney donation, did we want to have to wait till after the recovery and put Kate’s body through that much more strain.  So Logic prevailed in our case and we chose me to be the donor.

It wasn’t an easy decision; it didn’t come without a lot of prayer, thought, and consideration.  Now that we are within a month of the surgery and with all the hoops we have had to jump through there is no doubt in my mind that it was the correct decision. 

3rd Anniversary

Since I have been following along with all of Jeremy’s posts (and no I have not been proof reading them before he posts), I have had some things to add or comment about. It is funny how he does not even know all the details of his firsthand account. So I thought I would add a few words about the whole proposal and wedding – and add those much requested pictures. And being that it is our 3rd anniversary today, I thought it would be fitting.

The story of how we met, started dating, got engaged and then our wedding day is quite the fairy tale. Jeremy did not go into all the sappy details in his past posts. But it is truly amazing to see how God brought each one of us to a place where we were ready for each other. The first Peru mission trip was a big changing point for both Jeremy and me. I am so thankful that we both stepped out in faith to go on that trip.



While on that first trip in Peru, the turning point in our relationship came on the last day. I wanted to go back and do some final sewing (go figure), so Jeremy volunteered to escort me. Next, our team jumped on a plane back to Lima; during the flight I got a little sick. Then on our bus ride I laid down in the back row. And who do you think came and sat with me? Oh yeah, Jeremy – taking one for the team. As we made our way to the coast, Jeremy told me I had to sit up to see the view. So he put his arm around me to help me sit up…. And he never took his arm away. What a smooth guy.

A year later we were back in Lima, Peru. Everyone, I mean everyone on the trip thought we were going to get engaged. But no ring appeared while we were on the mission trip. The day after we returned to the states, Jeremy suggested we go to dinner since we didn’t officially celebrate our anniversary. I suggested The River House (my favorite restaurant) and he agreed. I knew something was up – he would never normally agree to an expensive meal like that. After dinner we drove along the coast and ended up at the jetty. Now at this point I was really suspicious. We had never been back there since our first date and first kiss. So we were standing at the end of the jetty for what felt like forever. The whole time I was thinking – he is going to ask me! But time kept passing on. There was a guy fishing, a father & daughter trying to catch crabs and people standing all around us. By the time I came to the conclusion that nothing was going to happen and that standing on a jetty was his idea of romance (ugh) he said “I can’t wait any longer”. He then dropped to one knee and asked. After all the waiting I was so excited to say YES.  (ps... above are the shoes that first caught his eye)

The ring – oh the beautiful ring. It was perfect and so beautiful. Jeremy and I did not talk about rings or marriage (we like the element of surprise), so good thing he went to Ashley. I had confided in her that I had a dream about a wedding ring with polka dots. And Jeremy knowing me so well – he knew pink would have to be involved. I think Ashley also steered him towards white gold; I am forever thankful!

Now our wedding day was wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, we had more than our fair share of mishaps. Like our reception location moving the morning of our wedding. Small things like that. But it was a beautiful afternoon that we got to spend with our closes friends and family – all 225 of them!

Ashley was one of my bridesmaids. I was so blessed to have her stand next to me while I married such a special man. She came down a couple of days early to help with the final details. She also helped my sisters plan a much talked about bachelorette party. Ashley was actually the last person I shared a room with before I became a married woman – now that is a friendship.

I am sure Jeremy will be back again tomorrow to continue the journey to the kidney donations. But before I go…. Here are our wedding vows. Now you all know them and will have to quiz us on them.




Our Vows

I Promise to pursue my relationship with God as my number one priority. I will make sure nothing else takes His place in my life.

I promise not to look to you as my source of contentment, but let God meet my needs and trust Him regardless of our circumstances.

I promise to look at our life together as having one purpose, that is, that we will serve God and follow Him together wherever He leads us.

I will unconditionally accept your feelings; and approach you knowing whatever you say is out of love.

I promise to tell you the truth and I promise to accept the truth from you. I will make sure that it’s always safe to talk to me. I promise not to hurt you with unkind words.

I promise to be quick to forgive, and once I’ve forgiven you I promise to never bring it up again.

I understand the perils of expectations and promise to communicate them openly and not require you to meet them.

I promise to support you and put your needs and wants ahead of my needs and wants.

I promise to try and always see you the way that Gods does: Forgiven, Whole and Treasured.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Running out of Gas

I’m not really sure where to start, so maybe from the beginning.  Last week I fixed my alarm so it would only vibrate with no noise to wake me up, which is how my blackberry used to work, however this morning it didn’t wake me up this morning.  Since I am old and have been waking up at the same time for 10 years I woke up only 10 minutes late(right now I’m thinking this whole blog post is either going to be 10,000 words or just about my day), well let’s find out. 
I am going to skip the first story of the day because it has too much back story, which can be a full blog after the surgery (that’s right I am going to blog after the surgery).  This morning on the way to work I saw a guy in a wheelchair going down the side of Australian Blvd.  I’m not sure what came over me but I just knew that he needed help, so I turned the jeep around and went back to see if there was anything I could do to help.  His name was Ray he was missing a foot, he asked me for a ride to the Bus Depot.  So I pushed him up next to the jeep, with no top mind you, and he climbed up into it.  I threw the wheelchair in the back seat and we took off for the Bus Depot, it is only a mile or so up the road, not that big a deal, I dropped him off gave him an apple and some crackers that I had for lunch while totally forgetting to give him the bottle of water that had been sitting right in front of him the whole ride (still can’t believe I didn’t give him that water), anyway on the way to work it really just felt so pointless what I do for a living.  I mean there is so much need in the world and what am I contributing on a daily basis, I have found that when you go on the mission trips it really turns down the volume on everything else in your life, and it has become kind of the same thing with the kidney donation, other things don’t seem quite as important (like Blackberry’s not syncing the calendar, or a bill not getting paid on time)

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Let’s go back to the road trip before I finish the story of my day.  Kate and I made the last stop in Chapel Hill to see Ashley who was in the hospital, we knew she wasn’t doing well; the doctors weren’t exactly sure what was going on, whether it was rejection, or exactly what the deal was.  I don’t know about you but I have been fortunate and have spent very little time in the hospital, as a patient or visiting people (I’m not so sure if not visiting people in the hospital is something to be proud of, I think it just means that I haven’t been reaching out to enough people).  My family has been fairly healthy, and I am very thankful for that.
To realize how much of her life Ashley has spent in the hospital is a totally humbling realization, when you visit her there, she just makes it seem like something that everyone has to do (don’t get me wrong I know she doesn’t want to be there, but she handles it so much better than I ever could).  When we visited her she had known she needed a kidney for at least 6 months, she told us that she didn’t want to tell us over the phone.  She had tried to plan a trip down to see us, but she just wasn’t healthy enough, and that was when she was going to tell us. We talked about options and what they meant and what many of them looked like and I knew that it was going to be me.  Kate was willing to do it, but I just knew with the circumstance that wasn’t going to make sense.  We had a nice visit with Ashley some good Thai Food, and after two days we got in the car to head home.
We honestly didn’t make it past one light before I had to pull over because Kate was in tears.  It really is a hard thing to drive away from someone you love who you aren’t sure if you will see again and not be able to do anything about it.  I told Kate she could stay and fly back later, but she didn’t want to do that.  We spent the whole 11 hour drive back to Florida talking about what the next step would be, we really thought we would be donating a kidney in early 2011 not early 2012.  It’s crazy to thing this is still going on , and it has taken this kind of time, at times it has been an exciting journey, and at others as frustrating as you can imagine.  But I wouldn’t change it, there is a plan and a purpose, and I look forward to seeing where it leads next.
So back to the rest of our day, I decided to fast for the day as we were waiting for news from the doctors.  It was a long day I had contacted my doctor at 9:30 and by 3:30 still hadn’t heard anything and UNC was calling me to find out some news.  I called back and got deflected by a very nice receptionist, she listened to me patiently even though I knew she really couldn’t do anything, it was appreciated. 
This brings us to running out of gas, so when I got home we were supposed to take a bunch of dry cleaning to get done because we had 3 groupons that expired today.  The dry cleaning place is close to the lake trail where we like to walk Abby, so we thought we should take her and go for a walk.  Well I usually can get 300 miles a tank on the new jeep, so we were on our way and the odometer read 281, but I forgot that last time I filled up I used a card with that didn’t fill the tank all the way, so at 291 on Palm Beach on Okeechobee blvd sitting at a light the jeep stalled out.  So it was pushing time, I went to the back and Kate steered, I’m glad jeeps are light. We made our first right and got to a stop sign where a guy in a truck offered to push us to the gas station, if by chance you pushed a black jeep to a gas station, thanks.  We passed some Valet’s who were laughing up a storm, and a couple of cops, who let us go in front of them at the stop sign, told the guy thanks gassed up and hit the dry cleaners.  I find it humbling on days when I think I am able to help people and then I become one of the "least of these" right before my own eyes,  God has a great sense of humor.
Kate’s long story short the dry cleaner would only take one of the groupons, so we left 37 dollars worth of dry-cleaning and took home 60 dollars more, he said we could only have one per household even though we were able to buy 2 each, oh well, now we have to try to get a refund.  So we are 0 for 2 so far, and we only got to one task.  So now we are off to take Abby for a walk.   We get to the Lake Trail, and I feel a drop, remember we have no doors or top on the jeep, Kate feels a drop, it is starting to rain, we decide to skip the walk, but get stuck in traffic on the royal poinsettia bridge.  We manage to break through traffic as it starts to rain harder, and then we are stuck again.  I make a liberal left turn into a covered gas station so we can fill the rest of the way up, and dry off.  As we are filling up, there is a rainbow back towards where we came from, which always reminds me of Genesis 9:12-13 ” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth”. 
We made it home staying dry, walked Abby behind the house, were startled by the 8 foot gator in the lake and had a great dinner.  Did I mention that the Dr. Called me and said that none of my Dad’s conditions were hereditary and he was going to send UNC a letter to OK me to donate.  I guess I didn’t but hopefully tomorrow we should have a better idea of when the surgery is going to happen.  See you tomorrow same bat time, same bat place.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Perseverance

So today’s sermon at church today was on perseverance (which is surprisingly hard to spell) and don’t you know it that it was one of those days that you feel like the sermon is only for you.  If anyone else who was at church is reading this I’m sorry but it wasn’t for you it was for Kate and I, you can have the next one.
I know the blog was promised to be moving forward through the story, but with Kate’s insistence (and I always listen to my wife)  I have decided to talk about today’s service and how it applies to what we have been going through specifically since last Friday. 
For those of you who are close to the process of going through the kidney donation you know we have had quite a few delays in getting approved to be the donor.  Actually still to this point I have not been 100% approved to be Ashley’s donor.  That is just really crazy to say or think after having agreed to be tested in the fall of 2010, and going through the process of finding out if I was a match in May of 2011.
At this point in the process; although I know it is horrible to say or even think Kate and I just really want the process to be over, to have a date and know the surgery is going to happen.
Back to Friday.
I was scheduled to meet with a local Nephrologist (kidney doctor) on Friday at 1:20, the reason for this visit was because the nephrologist who I met with at UNC had actually consulted on Ashley’s case and by North Carolina law I am required to see an impartial doctor.   So I showed up for my appointment and they ask me if I had brought any of my paperwork, (did I mention that this appointment was set up by UNC) which I had no idea I needed to bring.  So know we are scrambling to try to contact my case worker at UNC and get the information to the doctor.  I was able to search my emails on my HTC EVO (wonder if I could get a sponsorship) and find my records and email them to the doctor’s office so we could have the appointment.  Praise God, there wasn’t another delay because of this.
The doctor’s visit went well, he seemed to think everything checked out, however as he was reading my case he realized my father has some health issues that he was worried could possibly be hereditary.  He said he was 99% sure he would sign off, but he needed to talk to my father’s doctor before he could give me the OK.  The best way I can explain my feelings on Friday afternoon is I came home and hit about 50 golf balls into the lake behind my house, and after that I was still a little frustrated.  Fortunately it was basketball night so I got to run some of that off.  I also realize that this really seems like a small inconvenience, and really it is, but it’s just not always that easy to see the forest through the trees (that cliché is dedicated to Steve Riniker). 
Now Kate and I both are thankful to have a team of doctor’s that are looking out for my best interest, but at this point we have had to get a total of what seems like 100 doctors to sign off that I’m ok to donate and now we are just adding one more (it has only really been 5). 
So my dad is going to have to call his doctor on Monday and give her approval to talk to my doctor before we can go in front of the board at Chapel Hill again.  Hopefully this will happen quickly but you know how it is with doctors (sorry if there are any doctors who are reading this, the majority of my experiences have been great).
So now you are up to date and back to the message, John spoke about patience and perseverance and God’s timing.  He spoke much more elegantly than I can about how are faith in God, helps us to grow as we have our own personal struggles.
As it clearly says in 2 Peter 1:5-7 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
Kate and I know that God has a plan for this surgery, he has a date picked out and a time to do it, and sometimes it is very hard to not push your own will onto the situation though.  We will patiently (and sometimes impatiently) wait for his timing and move forward on this with prayer and petition. 
We were very comforted by the message today and are thankful that God gave us ears to hear it.  I would like to leave you with the following verse.
2nd Peter 3:8-9 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Road Trip

 So when was the last time you went on a good road trip?  It’s not something we get to do a lot as adults.  It takes too long, nobody likes to spend that much time in a car, and well we live in fast food world, what can I get and how quick can I get it.

In August of 2010 Kate and I set out on a road trip!  I was a groomsman in Stephens wedding (yes, Stephen from LTQENUICP)  in Louisville, Kentucky.   We decided we were going to drive up to Louisville, and then go to New Jersey to see my Grandmother; also I hadn’t had a good Philly cheese steak in a while so I needed to make a visit to Philadelphia. 
The wedding weekend was great. We stayed at the Galt House hotel which is right downtown on the river.  We took a bike ride along the river and I got a flat tire. We also got to visit Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.  All in all, a great time and we were so happy to spend time with Dude (which is what Kate and I call Stephen).

Since we were making a long drive, we decided to add another fun destination onto the trip. There was only one problem; what is between Louisville and New Jersey?  Well look at the map, there really isn’t, just a whole lot of nothing, a lot of Ohio and all of Pennsylvania.  So of course, our logical decision was to go up to Canada!  After the wedding we drove to Niagara Falls, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  It ended up being a great side trip - we had fall views from our hotel and even took our bikes for a nice long ride.  We even went out on the maid of the mist; which gets you closer to the falls than anything else.  And we splurged and went out on the high speed jet boat that hits high level rapids (now, if only they would let me take our kayaks on it). Niagara Falls is a location that you need to get to at some point in your life. It was the second time that I had been there and the first for Kate.
Side Note, everyone I tell thinks this idea is crazy but I want to create the virtual experience of going over the falls in a barrel, I think it would be a gold mine and you know you are thinking right now I would pay $25 bucks for that.
Back to the story, next we headed to Skaneateles, New York. I’m guessing you have no idea where that is, well it is in upstate NY and we stopped there to visit a couple from the church that was part of my small group.  They live up in NY for the summer because of his work, and that summer they had twins that were 4 months early, they were stuck in NY without any friends and family so we were able to stop by for an afternoon and spend some time with them. 
Then on to New Jersey, where I got a John’s Roast Pork cheese steak, which the only thing better might be there Roast Pork Sandwich, if you find yourself in Philly don’t waste your time with Geno’s or Pat’s, but make your way to John’s Roast Pork, just make sure to do it early, they are only open on weekdays until about 3pm or when they run out of rolls or meat. 
At this point you have to wonder why I am going on and on about this road trip so much, well it really was a great time and 3 weeks that Kate and I got to spend enjoying the road.  But you are asking what does this have to do with the kidney donation.
Right, that is why I am writing a blog, the kidney donation, sometimes I can get to be very absent minded.  I forgot to tell you that the last stop on the trip was to the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill, NC, to make a visit to someone who happened to be in the hospital at this time.  I think you know who, but to find out more about that you are going to have to tune in tomorrow. 
You always see weird things on road trips, someone explained to me once what this probably meant, but i still think it is hilarious.
If you’re out on your bikes tonight, do wear white. ( I need a closing line, I am going to use other peoples till I come up with my own, I take suggestions.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

No one said it was going to be easy.

To quote Jimmy Duggan,"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."  I'll give a prize for the first person who comments on where that quote comes from.  I will post the correct answer in a blog at a later day.

The problem with saying you are going to do a blog everyday is you have to do it everyday.  Even if that day you didn't really feel like writing yet alone talking to anyone else.  Some people might say this is like therapy but for me sometimes reliving something by talking about it or discussing it can be torture so this can be a lot tougher than I would have expected. 

Well enough for the small talk, let get to it.   We are about to make big jumps in the story, last time we talked we were engaged, the next important thing to talk about as far as this story goes is the wedding.  After 7 months lots of planning, lots of work on invitations the date was set we managed to have a location and we were all set up to be married on January 25th, 2009.  Ashley was one of the bridesmaids and she travelled down to West Palm Beach.

It's hard for me to talk about how Ashley was involved in the wedding since it all seems to be a big blur as I am thinking about it, but I know Kate was so thankful for her being a part of that special time.  Ashley had been involved in our relationship since before we were Jeremy and Kate.  It was great to have her as a part of something that both Kate and I will remember for the rest of our lives.

Here are some pictures of the wedding to make Kate happy after no pictures of the ring yesterday. 



Sorry that this blog is kind of short and not all that interesting, maybe I can get Kate to post about teh wedding, she would be better at that than me. Starting with the next blog we will start getting into when we really started going through the process of becoming a Kidney Donor. 

Kate and I could use some prayers going through the next week, we still have to jump through a couple of hoops to get the surgery scheduled. 

Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Engaged

Kate and I had been dating for almost a year when we left for Peru in the summer of 2008.  We had decided we were going to lead a mission trip together, we thought how cool it would be to see different parts of the world while serving the lord,  however sometimes the Lord has different plans.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
When we showed up to offer our services to lead a trip Kasey Booker who was in charge of missions said it would be best since we were first time leaders if we went somewhere we had been before, so it turned out we were leading the trip to Peru (and what an amazing blessing that turned out to be for us).  We ended up with a great team of 13 people who became very instrumental in our lives and who many we are still close with today, but I think almost every one of them thought I was going to propose on the trip, including our missionary Tom Hough who wouldn’t stop talking about it.
I had a plan in place, however it wasn’t going to be in Peru, it was always very important to Kate and me that even though we met on a mission trip, that the mission trip wasn’t about our relationship.  The mission trip is about God and the work he wants to do in and through us for the Shipibo Indians in Pucallpa Peru.  Even to this point with having gone as a married couple 3 times we haven’t shared a room on any of the trips we have taken, it’s not why God has us there.  Plus Kate really looks forward to that week where she gets a break from all of my stupid jokes.
So well before the trip I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Kate, so I needed to do some ring shopping. We really hadn’t talked about marriage that much, and we definitely hadn’t talked about what kind of ring she wanted, so I had to give the best friend (Ashley) a call to see if she had any ideas.  I think her first response was pink and polka dots, so that is what I did, a diamond with sapphires and diamonds on the band like polka dots.  If I do say so myself it is a pretty cool ring ( I know I’m biased). 
So I had the girl, had the ring and if everyone would get off my back and have a little patience I was ready to propose.  So we went on our first date on a Tuesday after we got back from Peru, and I’m not sure exactly what the day of the week was, but when we got back from Peru year 2, I took Kate out to dinner at the river house, and took her back to the Singer Island Inlet where we had our first Kiss.  It is kind of funny because they both really played out the same way, we stood on the inlet for way longer than anyone expect while I worked up the courage to do what I was about to do.  So I dropped to one knee, didn’t drop the ring in the ocean and asked Kate to Marry me, there really is no feeling like it.  
To quote the book mystery of marriage by mike Mason, “Marriage is to human relations what monotheism is to theology.  It is a decision to put all the eggs in one basket, to go for broke, to bet all of the marbles.  Is there any abandonment more pure, more supreme, more radically self-abnegating than that of putting one’s entire faith in just one God, the Lord of all, in such a way as to allow that faith to have a searching impact on every corner of one’s life?  On the level of human relations, only one act of trust can begin to approach this one, and that is the decision to believe in one other person and to believe so robustly as to be ready to squander one’s whole life on that one. “
Kate said YES, and to be honest the rest of the night was a blur to me, that was all I really needed to remember. 
Still you have to be wondering when I am going to talk more about the kidney, and the decision to donate, and all of that, and believe me that will come.  But this story isn’t only about donating a kidney. Yes that is a big act, and something everyone seems to be amazed by, but it is the steps that brought the three of us this big act.  To be honest this story goes back so much further than Peru, it goes back to Catawba, it spends time in London with Kate and Ashley and there is no purpose to this story if it doesn’t bring Glorification to God. 
I will close with 2nd Thessalonians 1:11-12 “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wanna Get Away

I was wondering what was the worst thing that can happen to you at a restaurant is.  I mean I waited tables for years, I’ve dropped chili on people at Chili’s, and I’ve spilled plates down the back of a lady at a 5 star resort in Florida (the Breakers), but until today I am not sure I have every had anything like that happen to me. 

I was at Shane’s Rib Shack with my coworkers, my chicken tenders were considerably late and when the waitress handed the basket to me.  As I was putting it down on the table it clipped my straw in my drink and knocked the cup over into my lap.  I had water all the way down to my shoes, and I looked like someone with a bladder problem who couldn’t find a bathroom.  On the other hand it is a great story to start a blog with and a new way my coworkers can make fun of me.  
So back to the story.
Over the next year LTQENUIKP(in English, Team number four is number one, Peruvian Soda, Pants, just doesn’t work the same) tried it’s best to keep in touch.  Ashley went home to North Carolina, and after several months the 3 of us in south Florida thought we should make a trip to get the group back together. 
We met in Charleston, for a weekend, went on some big military boat, because everyone but me enjoys Museums, continues are love for Karaoke with what I am sure were some embarrassing song. We also had some very good meals including the very nice Magnolia, and another famous one you might have heard of, waffle house.
The second trip we made was too Salisbury, North Carolina the well known town and were the world famous school Catawba is located.  This is also where Kate and Ashley went to school and where they met.  It is a lovely town that is famous for several things, like College BBQ, Tokyo Express, and being the location of where Food Lion started.  It’s funny to think that Kate went to a school in the hometown of a store that I was once banned from for shoplifting (probably should have left that story out, but it’s too late now).
This was pretty much the end of LTQENUIKP, Ashley still lived in NC, Stephen left for Grad School in London, and Kate and I were dating in west palm beach.  I guess we should have known this day would come.  To quote the well known musician Dell Paxton, Ain't no way to keep a band together. Bands come and go. You got to keep on playin', no matter with who”.  So even though we lost LTWENU, Inca Kola and Pantalones kept on truckin (I knew that sounded wrong but I’m going to stick with it). 
I’m going to end at this point, just a short blog today, but you are definitely going to want to tune in tomorrow, you will get to hear the engagement story. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Did I leave anything else to write?

So after having 24 hours to stew on the idea of writing this blog daily I have began to doubt myself, wondering if I just threw my best pitch and am going to have to finish this with a bunch of junk pitches (sorry for the baseball metaphor). 

I appreciate all the positive responses I received on facebook and email, they really have been uplifting to keep me going, but I can’t help but wondering if it is just people being nice.  I guess the problem is I’m so used to getting yelled at during sports that I don’t know what to do with positive reinforcement and I start wondering.  Am I the kid that keeps playing because everyone is afraid to tell him he isn’t any good (back to sports analogies).
Finally I decided a good writer has to have the mentality of a defensive back, if you get beat on one play it doesn’t matter you just have to go out and play the next one (ok I promise I am done with the sports references).   
So where did I leave off? 
We came back from Peru, and I had formed some amazing new relationships.  I was in a men’s bible study, I had a date with a beautiful girl, and my life was looking up. 
Hold on let me take a step back a minute, let’s talk about how Ashley helped Kate and I get together.  On one of the last days in Pucallpa (or maybe in the airport in Lima), Ashley and I were walking and talking and as Ashley is known to do, she just made some wise remark about how I seemed to be interested in Kate.  I think I tried to be funny and say something about how did Ashley know I wasn’t interested in her since I had spent about as much time with her, and she just laughed and told me not to waste my time, she was too good for me.  Then as any confident man would do, I asked “well do you think she likes me, I thought maybe she liked Stephen?”  Ashley told me that Stephen was too short for Kate (sorry if your reading this Stephen), and that was all the confidence I needed to make the next step with Kate.  So if I have never said it Ashley THANKS for the nudge.
So now we are back in the states, and the first night we were back LTQENUIKP (Los teamos Quatros, es numero uno, Inca Kola, Pantalones), went out for some Karaoke at Foster’s Lounge, I will post some pictures because words don’t do it justice, but Kate and I busted out what has become my favorite Karaoke song,(You’re the reason are kids are ugly by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty).  Please click the link to check out how the song goes,  sorry there is no video of us singing it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFq6eZBS1iM

Probably the funniest thing about that night was this 70 year old man busting out bringing sexy back, it might be the funniest thing I have ever seen, and he was on the radio several months later, Classic.

The following night Kate and I went on our first date to Sailfish Marina, if you want to know why it took till the following night it was because we both had to end relationships that we were in when we went on the trip.  Now I know what you’re thinking and shame on you.  Nothing inappropriate happened on the mission trip, and we didn’t even talk about dating until the plane ride home, however I told Kate if we were going to date it was going to be exclusive and it wasn’t just going to be this just lets be friends and see what happens kind of thing.  So we could not start our relationship until we had no other commitments.
 So on our first date we went to Sailfish Marina on Singer Island and walked down to the Jetty, and got slurpees.  You really can’t have a first date without slurpees, come on guys.   It was a great night and the first of what became many more dates.  And on that note I think I am going to go get a slurpee.