Friday, September 20, 2013

Meet My Vati (Daddy)...

I want to take some time to introduce you to my incredible Dad, Mirv - who goes by "Vati" to me (Vati is "Daddy" in German).   Vati is an amazing man.  Anyone that meets my Dad finds him interesting and likable.  He is the real deal MacGuyver, has a quirky sense of humor, a soft heart for his wife and family and a caring for others in his own unique way.  There are two additional things he loves/is passionate about (besides his family) and they are: sharing his faith in Jesus (specifically as an online missionary with Global Media Outreach) and being a pilot flying a single engine airplane!

Recently, Vati was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  It all was very overwhelming for me to hear about.  I know that treatment these days are way more advanced then in years past....I just remember both of my Opas (Grandfathers) having health issues and dying within a short period of time of each other -- and hearing the news of this health issue with my Dad really threw my emotions for a loop.

As we found out more information about the procedure it made is somewhat easier to deal with.  I think even more than that though, has been my Dad's perspective and attitude through this whole thing.  I don't think I would've had the same reaction/attitude.  Maybe that is why he has been given this trial.

Anyhow, I thought I'd attach the link to his caringbridge website so you can read it all in his own words.  (Note:  You will have to sign in/log in on the main page before you can look up his site.)   For those of you not able to access the caringbridge site, I've attached his most recent posting below.

He has two more procedures after today.  Please pray for him and my family.  Thanks everyone!  Your support means so much.

I love you Vati!!  (_)?

p.s. I'll be writing about my time management challenge results next week. 

1st Cyberknife treatment 9/19/2013
Ev and I traveled to UNC got there on time (a bit early ) and had the luxury of using the Valet Parking (yes that also is a God provision) free for Cancer Patients.   Checked in and they took me away ( but no to the funny farm haha hehe hoho like that old song goes) to the recovery area for stats and some steroids to prevent inflammation. Of course there my BP went up there again and after 45 minutes of allowing the meds to take affect I guess off we go on a wheelchair for 1/4 mile to the CyberKnife room. 

WOW several monitors, controls etc. now the grand entry to the "Ultimate Robot" with the end-effector being the x-ray beam module.  I believe it was a 7 axis motion control the arms being about 6 ft in length and sounded like stepping motors with closed loop feedback.  In the days of working with robots there were always safety gates around the working envelope of a live robot glad that they are watching every move with several cameras.

Thought it was going to be 45 min to 1 hr NOT. Try 1.5 hrs on the table laying still (Mirv and still???) after one hour they came in and asked if I needed to go to the bathroom I said that would be a good idea... me how did you know? Then the movement of the prostate, empty bladder, re- zero or initialize system again for the last 90 beams yes the total intersecting beams were 270 with 3 apertures.

While listening to nice music, I was just thinking how this treatment parallels with how God works in us, namely the radiation is invisible and one cannot tell on the outside of the body that there was cancer likewise when we were yet sinners with a sick heart it does not always show on the outside and God invisibly fixes that,  not just by knowing that He can, but only if you accept the treatment and seek the help. Jn. 3:16 allows each one of us to receive this treatment.

Praise be to Him, Thank you all for your faithfulness in your prayers, I really love you guys.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Time Management Challenge

I read a really great article this week about distractions in the workplace and how it affects our productivity.  It stated that it takes people (on average) twenty minutes to get re-focused on the task they were working on during the time of getting interrupted.    That is a long time -- and a waste of time!  Wow.  

I have a position at work that demands my attention from multiple directions at any given time - and that is not counting the interruptions I get on a daily basis!   That being said, it is quite a challenge to "manage my time".  There are days I feel like I am on top of it all with "the ship" running on pace with only minor course adjustments.  Then there are other days in which I feel completely out of control and overwhelmed.  I am always looking to tweak my time management - but how does one account for unplanned interruptions?  

I've decided that for the next week I am going to try out a couple of new "time management" strategies to see if it helps me manage my day/week better.   It will be hard to stick to, but I have to try it.    I will report back on my blog next Friday to let you know the outcome of my little test/challenge.

Here are the following things I am going to do for the coming work week:

  1. I am going to only check (and reply to) my email and voice-mail at 2 given times each day.  (8:30-9:30am and then again from 1:30-2:30pm.)
  2. When I have a scheduled meeting/conference call, I will go to a conference room or empty office so I am not at my desk (where I could get interrupted) - and I can focus fully on what the conf. call is about.
  3. I am going to actually take a lunch break each day for at least 30 minutes - OUTSIDE of the office.
  4. I am going to walk each day for the other 30min. of my lunch break. 

So there you have it.  The challenge begins starting Monday!  Let me know if you plan on joining me on my little time management pilot program!  It would be great to hear what other strategies are being tested next week in addition to mine.

See you all next week for the results!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Complacency in Creation

"Asphalt, steel and buildings all surround me.
But I'm stranded in the city, with a mountain in my heart."
-The Hills - Josh Pepper Band
One of our newest songs is called The Hills. It is a song that I wrote a few years back when I had to move my entire family from the calm, quiet life that we knew in our suburban home just outside of Raleigh, NC to the hustle of Minneapolis, MN for Carter's (my oldest son) bone marrow transplant and treatments for Fanconi Anemia. It is a song about a small town boy transplanted to the city and all of the culture shock that goes along with it.
As much as I love Minneapolis, and any other large metropolitan area, I'll always be a small town kind of guy. I like the idea of acres and acres of land. Free rolling hills. NO skyscrapers as far as you can see. And the only noise you hear is insects, animals and the occasional tractor.
Sometimes I feel like we all get complacent. We see all of the things around us, be it architecture, electronics, technology and we lose sight of the ONE TRUE CREATOR. We think that we can build anything and do anything.
This is why I have made it a point to visit places that are untouched by humans....We haven't had the chance to ruin everything yet....and over the last few weeks and forever to come, I'll be showing you some of the places and things you can do to realize that someone created a world prior to us creating THINGS.
One of the things that Crystal, Carter, Ethan and myself have really started to enjoy is biking...Novice bikers at best, we don't yet, nor will we, have full body spandex and tiny seats...BUT we can gently glide down the Greenways's set up to take you down the bank of the Neuse river. A place called Sam's Branch Greenway that is only 4 minutes outside of downtown Clayton, NC can show you in NO uncertain terms- sights, sounds, smells- that WE cannot create anything as beautiful as the parts of the world left untouched by human hands and enjoying it with family makes it all that much better....Here are a couple pics from our last couple trips...

Another place that we went just this past weekend is Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC.

 Carter took a picture of us on the way...

...Once there, it is MILES upon MILES of trails, camping and picnic areas...Just walking the trails, listening to sounds, smelling the freshness of the air, and feeling the cool breeze through the tree's is enough to make anyone step back and say, "Thank you Lord for all you have created!"


The first stop on the trail that we took, was down about 150 steps....STRAIGHT DOWN....
It is enough to make you question whether it could possibly be worth the trip down...IT IS! The river has cut trough the rock to leave you with stunningly large rocks hanging over your head and river views that are unreal...

After stumbling up the  previously mentioned stairway......and about a 15 minute rest head to the overlook. Neither words nor these pictures can describe what you are able to see and feel while standing at the overlook...I will not try, just show you the picture...


The point of this post is simple. Should you ever be overwhelmed by your hectic schedule, and never slow down attitude in life, take a break...go far away from the things that WE created and the man made stress and get back into the real world...the places that are touched by God and GOD only. And do it with your family, because the people that we care about should be there to experience the natural beauties with us.
Until the next travel into the woods, God Bless You all -
-The Pepper Family (Josh, Crystal, Carter and Ethan)