Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Unto You..."

Christmas is a time of JOY!  In this picture Frances and I are celebrating Christmas with some friends at a local restaurant.  Our town was full of lights and Christmas music was spilling from all the speakers in the mall.  What a wonderful, wonderful time of the year.

During Christmases in Nairobi when we were away from our children - we decided to invite all of our neighbors children into our home to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Here we had drafted children of our Hindu, Muslim, Bhuddist, and other African friends for a Nativity drama. 

Christmas is all about the Children

Even grown-up Children

A Very Special Nativity Collection

Our Christmas Angel

Our Family Poses for A Picture Before Eating

And What Would Christmas Be Without Snow?
A Savior is born, which is Christ, the Lord!  What great news it was.  What great news it is.  Jesus came to earth to die for our sins.  This Savior was not just for the nation of Israel - but for all the nations of the world.  To all who would believe and receive him he gave power to become the children of God.  Our salvation was not free - but it is provided for us at no cost to us.  Jesus died that we may live.  We celebrate His birth on December 25th, Christmas day.  We will celebrate his death and resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Amidst all the tinsel and glitter and the warm glow of giving and receiving gifts during the season let us remember that God, our Father in Heaven, gave us the greatest gift - His only begotten son.

Ruthie's Bunch

With The Pet

Post-Surgery Up-date

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sitting in Portera's Office
Finally -- December 22nd, we met Dr. Michael Stipanov, our Medical Oncologist, with whom we discussed three different options for treatment of any stray cancer cells which may be remaining in my body after surgery.  Three options were presented through which I would receive the chemo: 1) A surgical port could be installed in the chest area and chemicals inserted once every two weeks;   2) The medicine could be delivered via I.V. injections (if my veins were "good");   or, #3) I could take a pill twice a day every day for six months.  I have decided to go with the procedure in which there will be a "port" surgically inserted into my chest, through which the "chemo-cocktail" will be delivered once every two weeks for the next six months.   This decision was made after much care, prayer and deliberation.

Part of the Consultation Team
" is what the Dr. said."
Keeping in mind that the Lord has said, "I'm healing you",  I continue to have every confidence that the Lord is with me each step of the way.  I have had a couple of rough days – but over all I continue to feel really good!

Today - I feel great! I have walked a mile on my treadmill for three of the past five days.  We are looking forward to having two of our children, their children and our children's children together with my Mom with us for a "Christmas Celebration" in our home this afternoon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Can I Tell You About My Dream?

Before I went to surgery, I had an experience un-like any other which I have ever had in my life.  Yes, I have received re-assurance and guidance in my spiritual life through dreams in the past - but this dream was very unusual.  It was just before waking at 5:30a.m. when I saw in a dream as tho there was a framed picture of Jesus hanging on the wall.  This picture caught (more like grabbed) my attention and I could not look away from it.  As I stared at it, I realized that I have seen this picture of Jesus before.  It's of him, sitting on a rock or boulder in the garden with his right shoulder slightly turned outward.  His robe of white was covered by another of royal blue, and then another of crimson/purple as the outer garment.  His beard and hair were black.  The more I focused on this picture the more vivid the colors became ... until He turned and looked me directly in the face and said (without any drama, without any fan-fare, and in a soft but confident voice)  "I'm healing you." 

Oh, I cannot explain to you the power of that moment!  I found my hands coming up out of the covers and myself waking up ... realizing that I had a face-wide grin on my face, smiling ear to ear in the darkness as I heard myself saying, "Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus!" 

At first I had decided that I would not share this dream because it sounds like a religious fanatic.  I have heard far too many of them in my ministerial career.  Another thing - I felt that the moment was so sacred that I did not want it to be scoffed at.  However, as Frances and I were sitting at the table after breakfast, I felt that I should tell my wife about this dream,  As I was telling her the dream, searching for the right words to explain it, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to weep un-controllably.  She encouraged me to share this dream with our children when they came to our house before the surgery.  After telling them the dream as best I could, through waves of emotion, I said to them:  "Now.  Understand ... the Lord can heal me before the doctor does surgery.  Then, again, he may be saying that he is getting ready to heal me through the surgery.  But it may be that He is getting ready to give me the ultimate healing which would be that he takes me home to Heaven to live with Him.  I want you children to know that if that is what God wants for me - I am ready!"
Not the exact picture I saw in my dream, but as near as I can find
I remember asking one of the nurses in Pre-op, "What if the doctor opens me up and can't find this tumor?"  She hastened to quiet what she thought was anxiety on my part.  "Oh, No!  You don't have to worry about this.  Your colonoscopy doctor shot it full of purple dye and Dr. Portera will find it.  Don't worry at all."  I did not have time to tell her (nor the inclination) about the dream and that my real question was, "What if God has already healed me and the tumor is already gone?"

I was wheeled into surgery at 6:15a.m. and into my room at 1:04p.m. with visitors allowed into the room almost immediately.  I knew them, conversed lucidly with them all, and remembered practically everything but the actual surgery.  Over the 50 plus years I've served as a Pastor visiting patients in the hospital after surgery - all of them that I can remember were at first a little groggy.  I was not groggy or sleepy in the least.  Next morning I ate a big bowl full of grits and butter and apple-sauce and  drank an Ensure while still attached to the I.V. drip.  I only sufferred the feeling of nausea once - and that was "dry heaves" before I ate any food.  That afternoon I was up and pushing the stand that held the two medical "drips" up and down the hall.  I was asked by the nurses often if I needed a pain pill.  I took very little pain medication beside that which was going into the blood-stream through the I.V. tube.  On Thursday I was able to put on my regular pajamas and walk the halls more freely.  One of the nurses said, "Looks like you are trying to run a 5K marathon race." 

November 22, the Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Portera, had removed three cancerous tumors (laproscopically) from my small and large intestines.  On Friday, the 25th, I was sent home from the hospital on a liquid diet - which quickly gave way to a soft food diet.  On Friday, December 9th, (just two weeks after being discharged from the hospital) I drove myself the 30 miles (one way) to see the surgeon for my first check-up.  I told him that for the last week I have been walking on the tread-mill for 20 minutes per day and racking up .7 miles in that short walk.  Because of my apparent rapid recovery to date, he said, "You may now eat whatever you want to, and do whatever you feel like doing!  Just remember to back off if you start to feel pain in the abdominal area."  However he wanted me to see the "Medical Oncologist", who will lay out a plan for chemo-therapy because the lab reported micro-scopic amounts of cancer found in the lymph-nodes. (One of 22 lymph nodes examined showed cancer.)  I am to see this doctor on December 22nd.

Yesterday, I drove myself to Tellico Plains (48 miles from here) where I attend church.  I normally teach a Sunday School class there every week - but did not try to teach yesterday.  We have a wonderful couple (William and Evelyn Wright) who agreed to take that class while I recover.  I did put on the Velcro belt around my surgical wounds which helped me a lot, but I was tired when I arrived back home.  However, today, December 12, I took Frances to the Post Office, to Olive Garden for lunch and then Christmas shopping at Belks and at Bed, Bath and Beyond!  I still feel good!

My wife was praying and was with me, refusing to leave the hospital until I did.  I have had so many friends in many different places praying for me.  Calls, Cards, Notes, E-mails, and personal visits have been so encouraging.  But - I have to say - Jesus words spoken directly to me ("I'm healing you.") have been most powerful in keeping my attitude positive.  I thank you again for praying for me and believing with me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A TO Z's of Christmas

This is in response to some blog friends up North. What are your A to Z's of Christmas? Here's Mine.

Flowers In Our Yard

One of our last Roses in mid November









This single Clymatis bloom decided to make a show late this year.







Sunday, December 4, 2011


A key part of Revocery is the right food
My plate 5 days after surgery was Tilapia (Fish), Asparagus, Carrots and Apples
A very tasty meal prepared by my dear Frances

4 days after surgery, I walked outside outside our house
behind me and all the way to the corner!  It felt GREAT!
On Tuesday, November 22 at 4:15a.m. we checked into Memorial Hospital for surgical removal of two tumors which tests revealed were located in the intestinal tract of my body.  Dr. C. Portera and his team did an excellent job and I was sent to a room at 1:04p.m. after awaking from recovery.  I was fully cognizant of all things and sufferred no "drugged" effects.  I knew every visitor who came while I was awake and was able to carry on a lucid conversation with everyone.  I was honored that visitors came from the World Missions Department, including the Assistant Director and his dear wife.  I sufferred bearable pain in the stomach, but the medical marvels of pain reliever were applied automatically and "on-demand" from a bottle of pain killer hanging around my neck.  The  second day I was up and walking the halls, while pushing a rolling stand containing an I.V. with fluid drip.  The third day they released me from the I.V. and I was able to put on regular pajamas.  Of course I walked more freely now and was surprised at the amount of strength I felt.  Some of the nurses accused me of running a 5K marathon.  On the 4th day, the Doctor said that if I managed to keep down both breakfast and lunch, I could go home that evening.  I was released on Friday the 25th! 

Of course, I give highest praise to Jesus, my healer, for giving me the extra-ordinarily smooth trip through these troubled waters.  I give much credit to my dear wife of 54 years, Frances, who never left my bedside except to eat or grab a cup of coffee in the family waiting room.  She was attentive to my every move while I was in the hospital ... night or day.  She has been my primary care-giver.  Our "#1 daughter", Frankie, gave of herself and would not leave her Mom the first day.  Ruthie, our "Favorite One", was there when she could get off from work.  These two girls were so helpful that they deserve much thanks for giving their love and their prayers.  Our "Pet" was in touch by telephone from the place of her role as Pastor's wife in upstate New York.  All were praying.  I know that I'm blessed to have a family sub-structure of praying believers who love their family.//and that's on both sides (Frances and mine) of our family.

Time and space and lack of re-call abilities prohibit me from telling you all of those who did such kind acts and sent notes, cards, flowers, phone calls and personal visits.  You, my blog friend, whether from the past or from more recent months, also made my recovery move more smoothly with your encouragement, scriptures, and words of support.  THANK YOU.

Next Friday, the 9th of December, I meet Dr. Portera to discuss the route we take for chemo.  The lab report said there are micro-scopic amounts of cancer still left to deal with.  (One of 23 lymph-nodes examined showed signs of cancer.)  Pray that this goes well.  I have no idea what's in store for me - but I know that the Lord has assured me that He is healing me.  I trust Him.

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton