Around Christmas 2017, Robyn began to bruise very easily. We went to see our family doctor who is also a good friend on December 28. He examined her and ordered labs to look at her blood. The results came in the following day and showed a problem with her white blood cells and platelets. He immediately referred her to an oncologist who did a bone marrow biopsy that afternoon.
Two days later, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, we got the diagnosis that Robyn has a treatable form of leukemia. I initially posted to this site, but then began posting a daily update on Facebook. Here is that first post and the daily updates from Facebook. I’ve also posted some video updates along the way, which you can view on my Facebook page. Just send me a friend request.
For Christmas, I gave Robyn, our kids and our sons-in-law, each a small smooth stone on which I’d painted a theme Scripture for the new year. Each one was different.
As I begin this post, it’s a little after 5:30 a.m. on January 1, 2018, so Happy New Year! Robyn and I have declared it the Year of the Lord’s Favor (from Isaiah 61:2), which was the verse I gave her.
We began the new year at Mercy Hospital. It’s a good name, don’t you think?
About a week and a half ago, we noticed Robyn was bruising very easily. Five days ago, she had an appointment with our family doctor who is also a dear friend. After reviewing her lab results the following day, things began to move fast. He immediately referred her to a hematologist. Later that day, she had a bone marrow biopsy. A follow up visit was scheduled for January 8th. We were told we’d get a phone call if it was serious, so we should hope to not get one.
Yesterday morning, we got one.
Robyn was diagnosed with a treatable and curable form of leukemia. Within a couple hours, we were checking in to the hospital to begin chemo. Because of the form of leukemia and the type of treatment, she will be in the hospital 24/7 for about a month. This is day 2.
It would be impossible to capture all that has led to this moment, but I believe God has been preparing us for this time throughout the past year and beyond. If you want to see how, I encourage you to read some of the recent posts from 2017.
I want to be clear that when I say God has been preparing us, I do not mean He has been preparing cancer for us. He has been preparing us for cancer. And He has been so good and so faithful to do so.
Robyn and I believe it’s significant that her diagnosis came on the last day of 2017. Leukemia will be a thing of our past. It will not be the defining factor in 2018. This is the Year of the Lord’s Favor, not the year of leukemia.
A number of months ago, I started to read an article in which the author said, “I don’t know why God gave me cancer.” I’ll be honest, I immediately stopped reading. God doesn’t give anyone cancer. It’s horrible theology to believe that. He gives life, not death. God is a good Father who delights in His children. He’s not handing out diseases to test our faith or punish us. Instead, He lovingly gets us ready for the tests He sees coming.
In John 10:10, Jesus gave us great insight into discerning His activity and the activity of the enemy…
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Difficulties will come for all of us, even in a Year of the Lord’s Favor. But God will not allow something into your life He has not already prepared you to experience. Of course, as I did for many years, we can waste the time of preparation.
For a long time, I doubted one very simple truth. I doubted God’s goodness. I wrongly focused on what He didn’t do for me, rather than all He did do. I based my view of Him on what I experienced, not what His Word revealed. Disappointments became evidence I could use to accuse Him of not being good or faithful.
Last year, a good friend was going through a confusing and difficult health situation. He told me he would read Psalm 46 and Psalm 91 everyday and God used those words to give him peace and get him through it. Last night, as Robyn was being prepared for her first chemo treatment, I read aloud those two Psalms. We are choosing to hold onto the truths revealed in those Psalms, not what we see or feel.
We invite you to believe God in your own life, not whatever you are seeing or feeling. Refuse to listen to the negative voices and discouraging circumstances. Choose to believe He is good. Trust that He is for you, not against you.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
Robyn and I also invite you to believe God with us for her total healing. One of my ongoing prayers is for her and I to enjoy 60+ years of marriage and ministry together in good health. We’ll celebrate our 33rd anniversary this year, so we have a long way to go.
One last thing…I have to brag about how amazing my wife has handled everything that’s happened in the last five days. She has experienced some difficult stuff and hasn’t complained once. Her faith is rock solid and her joy is full. To say I admire her doesn’t even come close.
Day 2 starting to wind down. Robyn is doing well. She just finished her second round of IV chemo. She has another oral round of chemo in about 20 minutes. We are so grateful for and humbled by your prayers and concern!
Day 3. Things seem to be going well. We were able to walk around a bit, which Robyn loved. Being stuck inside a hospital for a month isn’t easy for someone who likes to be on the go. One specific prayer request: one of the chemo drugs can cause headaches. You wouldn’t know it from the picture, but Robyn has now had one for three days. She has a high tolerance for pain, so I know it’s a bad one since she finally agreed to take pain medication that’s stronger than just Tylenol. Please pray for relief. And thank you again for all your prayers, comments, messages, etc. You all are amazing!
Day 4. What a good day, in so many ways…
The outpouring of love and prayer has been incredible. We are so grateful for every comment, message, text, phone call and visit. Our son’s leave request was approved by the Navy, so he will be here on Friday. Robyn still has a headache, but has had some relief today. Right before beginning the IV chemo about 30 minutes ago, the nurse read off some of Robyn’s blood counts that had improved from yesterday. The staff at Mercy Hospital and the doctor’s at Highlands Oncology have been awesome.
Last night during a live video, I read Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” I believe we will experience God to the degree that we want to and expect to. He loves to be believed and rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). And I don’t know anyone who seeks the Lord more than Robyn does. She invests time in her relationship with Him literally day and night.
A couple hours ago as she was Facetiming with our grandsons, she was suddenly hit with a wave of fear that she might never get to hold them again, that maybe the chemo wasn’t working. At that moment, a young man (Marcus King) we met several years ago called and left a voicemail. In his voicemail, he prayed for Robyn and addressed the very fear she was experiencing. He had no way of knowing what Robyn was feeling at that very moment, but God knew and used Marcus to bring hope and encouragement. When God does things like that, He’s revealing His nature to us, that He’s a good Father who sees what concerns us and is faithful to calm our fears.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good…”
Day 5. We just finished our dinner from Bonefish Grill. I had chicken. Robyn had Chilean Sea Bass with a side of chemo. For dessert, she had a gluten-free cupcake the kitchen sent up for her. Many of the staff on our floor signed a birthday card for her. And so many of you wished her a happy birthday, which she greatly appreciates. She’s truly overwhelmed (her word) by the outpouring of support.
She’s still battling a very bad headache. I’m amazed at how she can function and carry on pleasant conversations feeling the way she does. The nurse just asked her level of pain on a 10-point scale. She gave it an 8 or 9, which for me would translate to a 17.
Last night after I wrote the update, we experience a bit of a scare. As she was getting ready for bed, she noticed some new bruising and swelling around her ankle. The nurse examined her and the doctor looked at it this morning. Fortunately the swelling had gone down. We think it was from the way she was sitting with her legs crossed yesterday evening.
Due to her lab results early this morning, the doctor mentioned Robyn would probably need a blood transfusion today, but her hemoglobin level rebounded enough that it wasn’t necessary. Thank you, Lord!
So our situation got me thinking about Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. As the work progresses, their enemies launch a propaganda campaign to try and discourage them so they’ll give up and quit.
Whenever we choose to walk by faith to accomplish what God is calling us to do, we can know for certain we have an enemy who will use the same tactics he’s always used. He will point out what’s not working, what’s going wrong, what could go wrong, what resources are lacking and how you’re foolish to believe God will come through.
Robyn and I are choosing to believe God. Not our circumstances. Not our feelings. Not what could go wrong. It’s a battle though, one we don’t always win.
One of the things the medical staff does on a regular basis is check Robyn’s vital signs: blood pressure, temperature, oxygen level, heart rate, etc. These measurements give them a picture of her condition. They are measured often, because they are vital measurements of life.
I started thinking about spiritual vital signs and how you could get a picture of someone’s spiritual condition. I won’t go into all that I came up with, but one of them would be the words that come out of your mouth.
Words reveal our feelings. Feelings reveal our beliefs.
Do your words tend to be hopeful? Peaceful? Joyful? Life-giving? Faith-filled? Focused on what’s going well?
Or do your words express fear, anxiety, worry, negativity and what’s not going well?
It’s a battle. For all of us. Robyn and I are in it with you. The only way we know to do it is to keep our eyes on the Lord, His character and the truth of His word, not what we see.
Thank you again for your prayers and support! We are very grateful! Goodnight, you guys.
Day 6. At a little before 7:00 a.m., the doctor informed us there would be no chemo treatments for 24 hours due to Robyn having elevated liver enzymes. The doctor called it a “bump in the road.” It wasn’t how we wanted to start the day.
Robyn’s headache that she’s had since Sunday also intensified. She said it was the worst she’d ever had. Combined with the news about her liver enzymes…it was a rough morning.
Although the news was unexpected to us, it wasn’t to God. He already knows how our whole story turns out. Like He knew in Exodus 14…
The Israelites have seen God do incredible things and have made their escape from Egypt. Things are looking up, but then…
Doesn’t it always seem like there’s a “but then?”
Pharaoh has decided it was a bad idea to let the Israelites go, so he and his army take off in pursuit. The Israelites see them coming and freak out. The Bible says they were terrified and cried out to the Lord, but they don’t leave it there. They also get onto Moses.
“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Things were going so well. They were out of Egypt and headed toward the Promised Land. But then they hit a “bump in the road” and it’s as if they’ve totally forgotten all God did to get them to that point.
And they couldn’t see what God was about to do. Of course, we just have to read ahead a few more verses to get the rest of the story. We know what happens. “Hey Israelites, don’t freak out! You’re about to see another miracle!”
Even though they couldn’t see ahead, God could. And so could His servant Moses who said, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
It wouldn’t make sense to walk out on a movie right when it looks like all is lost and the bad guys are going to win. And yet I can approach life that way. Things are looking good! Uh oh, now they don’t! And it’s easy to let fear set in.
Moses’ words to the Israelites are just as relevant today:
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
So we’re going to be still. We have a good Father who knows how this story turns out. And He also knows how your story is going to turn out, so be still with us. Don’t panic. The best part is still coming.
One last thing, about thirty minutes ago, the night nurse asked Robyn to rate her headache pain on a 1 to 10 scale and Robyn said, “One.” Thank you, Lord!
And thank you again to each of you who are praying and believing with us. God is good and He’s up to something good in our lives and in yours.
We love you.
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 7. Robyn and I have a calendar we’ve hung on the wall across from her bed. Each day, we write a new Bible verse on it. Two days ago, on her birthday, it was Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
And then the next morning, we learned about her elevated liver enzymes, which meant no chemo. We had hoped to restart chemo today, but that didn’t happen. Instead, she received a blood transfusion because her hemoglobin was low.
It’s easy to say the Lord will fight for us and we only need to be still when we see things happening. But what about when it looks like nothing is happening? No progress. No forward momentum. No chemo. No visible fight taking place.
Just being still.
I love Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
If God is pleased by faith, then why would we be surprised when our circumstances require faith?
Uncomfortable circumstances, when we don’t necessarily see God fighting for us, are the perfect opportunity to exercise faith and experience His reward.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life is focusing on what I don’t see God doing. It always led to disappointment with Him and being angry at Him.
Robyn and I would rather focus on what God is doing and be thankful. So Lord…
We thank You for Mercy Hospital, for the doctors, the nurses and other medical staff caring for Robyn.
We thank you that Robyn’s headache that was an 8 or 9 yesterday morning is only a 2 right now.
We thank You for our amazing children who are such a blessing to us.
We thank You for so many people who are loving us, blessing us and praying for us.
We thank You for the extra time Robyn and I get to spend with each other this month.
And we thank You for fighting for us even when we can’t see it and liver enzymes are still elevated. We will choose to be still.
Day 8. One of the nurses who we haven’t had before came in a little bit ago and said, “I heard this was the fun room.” It helps that we have a 7 foot tall balloon tower!
Robyn resumed her chemo treatment today even though her liver enzymes haven’t returned to normal. After a two-day pause, the doctor made the decision to restart anyway.
The first oral treatment was this morning, which has brought back a bit of a headache. The second oral treatment and IV chemo finished a little while ago.
Would you PLEASE PRAY that Robyn’s liver is protected and her liver enzymes return to normal?
We would love to hear a good report when the doctor checks in with us in the morning. We’ll let you know what we hear.
It was one week ago this morning that we got the leukemia diagnosis. After getting the call, Robyn felt like the Lord said, “This sickness is not unto death,” which is the first part of John 11:4.
Last night, I texted a friend the Day 7 update because I didn’t think she was seeing them on Facebook. She soon texted back, “I was so moved. I wanted to write. The words were too many. The prayers too heavy and then God spoke to my heart.” She then copied and pasted a verse. It was John 11:4.
As I was going to bed last night, I asked the Lord to bring us a good word this morning at the same time we got the leukemia diagnosis last Sunday.
At 9:25 this morning, I got a text from a friend in Louisiana. It was a picture he’d taken of a verse. It was John 11:4.
So I looked back in Robyn’s phone to see when we got the actual diagnosis last Sunday morning. The doctor had called at 8:49 a.m. and left a voicemail. Robyn called back at 10:15 and heard the diagnosis. 9:25 a.m. falls pretty well in the middle.
The Lord is being so faithful to continually encourage us!
John 11:4 says…
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
That is our desire. God’s glory. For His Presence to be manifested. For others to taste and see that He is good. For Him to be known as a good Father. Robyn knows she’s not the main character in this story.
John Piper has said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
For the 33+ years I’ve known her, Robyn has lived that way. She’s a great wife and mom and loves being a grandma. And I’m so proud of the way she leads Young Life in Northwest Arkansas. But the only thing that has prepared her to walk through this process with joy and battle through the moments when fear and anxiety intrude is choosing to be most satisfied in the Lord.
Once again, THANK YOU for your prayers, comments and likes. I can’t tell you how much it means to us!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
(Video update on Facebook.)
Day 10. This was my view as I was leaving Fayetteville this evening to head back to the hospital about 20 miles north in Rogers. I love it when God paints sunsets like this one. I can’t help, but thank Him.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)
Robyn and I had some takeout from Olive Garden for dinner, then spent some time visiting with a very godly nurse who has been a great encouragement to us. We feel very blessed to be at Mercy Hospital receiving care from such wonderful people.
Robyn just started her IV chemo for today. It’ll last about an hour, then she’ll take the chemo pills a little later.
She has NO headache, which is such a huge answer to prayer! You have prayed and believed and God has answered!
This morning, when the doctor entered the room, I could see the smile on her face. I’m not an expert or anything at getting medical updates from doctors, but that seemed like a pretty good sign.
She said Robyn’s blood work is looking good! We aren’t sure if that included her liver enzymes, but since the chemo is progressing, we’re taking that as a good sign. And we might have some more good news to report in the next day or so! Stay tuned!
I wish I could put into words all I believe the Lord is doing and all the ways we’re seeing Him speak to us and encourage us. That will come more fully later. For now, I’m fully convinced that God has been preparing us, especially over the last six months, for these current circumstances.
Thank you again for walking this journey with us and joining us in prayer. I’d like to suggest that God is up to something big in all of us. Follow me for a moment…
If He has called you to pray for us, then He is also calling you deeper into relationship with Himself. He could heal Robyn as the result of just one person’s prayer. But as far as we can tell, hundreds, if not thousands of people across the world are praying.
So what if the burden you have felt to prayer is His way of saying to you, “I love you and desire you. As you pray for Robyn, know that I also have wonderful things I want to do in your life too.”
Have a great night, everyone!
Day 11. Robyn and I are blessed with some amazing kids. (I love this picture from years ago!) As soon as we got the leukemia diagnosis, they went into action.
My two oldest daughters are here helping out and visiting their mom while also wrestling with their two-year-old sons. No easy task!
My son was granted leave by the Navy to be here for a week. The second day he was here, he visited with Robyn for six hours.
And my youngest daughter has been trying to make her way here from Korea for the past week. A commercial flight out of Seoul was outrageously expensive, so she’s been waiting for an open seat on an Air Force flight to the United States. (Her husband is an Air Force captain.)
She was finally able to get on a C-5 today. She’s currently in Okinawa on a 13-hour layover. The remainder of her flight will take her to California where she’ll buy a commercial plane ticket to travel the rest of the way to Northwest Arkansas. It looks like she’ll get here on Friday.
We had more good news today! Robyn’s blood counts are looking good, which I’m assuming means the chemo is doing what it’s supposed to and isn’t harming her liver.
They also took her off the saline IV she’s had in since we got here on December 31st. It will help her be more comfortable and also give her increased mobility.
Tomorrow, they will give her a “peripherally inserted central catheter” or PIC line. It’s a form of an IV that can be used for a prolonged period of time. At this point, we’re still anticipating about 4 to 5 more months of chemotherapy, much of which will be done on an outpatient basis.
Her headaches are so much better than what she was experiencing last week. In fact, everything is so much better than last week! I believe God has really been answering your prayers!
When you stop and think about it, that’s a really cool thing. We talk to God. He listens. And then graciously does what we asked.
“Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:23-24)
There are have been many “silver linings” in this leukemia cloud over these 11 days. Here are just a few…
Robyn and I have been able to spend such rich time together. I have loved tucking her into bed at night and praying over her.
We have met some great people who have ministered to us and some we’ve had the privilege of ministering to. We will miss them greatly once we leave the hospital.
And again, each of you have been a silver lining! Whether you’re near or far, whether we’ve known you for years or we’ve never met…we are SO blessed by your love and prayers.
We love you and thank you!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 12. I have to start by thanking and giving praise to the Lord. We truly have a good, good Father.
Two weeks ago at this time, Robyn and I were waiting for lab results after she had begun to bruise very easily. Those results came the following day when we learned there was a problem with Robyn’s white blood cells and platelets. Our friend and family doctor immediately referred her to Highlands Oncology where a bone marrow biopsy was done that afternoon.
On Saturday morning (12/30), before getting out of bed, Robyn and I held each other and cried, knowing there was the possibility of something being seriously wrong. While there was sadness and grieving, we weren’t afraid.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the phone call came Sunday morning (New Year’s Even) with the diagnosis of leukemia. We felt fortunate that it was also treatable and curable, but we needed to get to the hospital right away to begin treatment.
We don’t believe it was an accident that the diagnosis came on the last day of 2017, because we were believing 2018 was to be the “Year of the Lord’s Favor.”
We feel so blessed there was an open bed for Robyn at Mercy Hospital. It wasn’t the closest hospital to us, but the staff there is amazing.
Looking back now, last week was rough. Maybe more than we realized. Robyn’s blood counts were in bad shape. She was fatigued. One of the chemo drugs was causing severe headaches. She needed blood products and a transfusion. And then her liver enzymes were elevated, which meant a two-day pause in her chemo treatments.
BUT YOU WERE PRAYING.
AND GOD WAS LISTENING.
This week, everything changed. She was sleepy from some of the medications, but not fatigued. The headaches became mild and infrequent. Her blood counts began to improve dramatically. And her liver enzymes were no longer a concern. Her doctors began talking about her going home by the end of the week.
But so much more was happening. We were connecting with amazing people who have already become friends. God was speaking to us and encouraging us. Any doubts about Robyn’s healing were evaporating. Our main concern was being faithful to seek the Lord and be used by Him however He desired. Now and in the future.
And still, there was so much more happening.
All of which leads to today when Robyn’s doctor discharged her from the hospital!
YOU WERE PRAYING.
GOD WAS LISTENING.
Robyn was supposed to be in the hospital for 30 days, but we’re already at home!
Before leaving the hospital today, they inserted a PIC line through which Robyn will continue to receive chemo treatments for the next five months. Her first outpatient treatment is at 8:15 tomorrow morning.
I can’t speak for Robyn, but leaving the hospital today was bittersweet. There are friends there I will miss. I will miss the concentrated time with Robyn. I will miss the opportunities we had to make even a small difference there.
We know there’s still a long journey ahead, but we believe her healing is already accomplished in the spiritual realm. Our assignment now is to walk faithfully with the Lord as it manifests in the physical realm.
One of the things Robyn and I are firmly convinced of is that this present trial is going to be a springboard to greater faith, deeper intimacy with the Lord and increased opportunities to be used by Him to advance His Kingdom.
As one of my favorite teachers says: heaven is our destiny. Bringing heaven to earth is our assignment.
It’s in that assignment that Robyn and I want to be found faithful.
I will continue to post updates and we would still love to have your prayers. As I mentioned a couple days ago, I believe God is up to something big in ALL of us. He’s done way too much and answered too many prayers in just 12 days to believe otherwise.
I’m excited for the rest of 2018, which we are believing is the “Year of the Lord’s Favor.” (Isaiah 61:2) Join us in believing it in your life.
Thank you, my friends, for joining us on this journey. We love you.
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
P.S. Our daughter, Amy Cassidy, is currently on a C-5 somewhere between Okinawa and California. Tomorrow, she’ll take a commercial flight to Northwest Arkansas. Would you pray she’ll be able to sleep and that jet lag will be minimal?
Day 13. Amy Cassidy made it home from Korea after a 48-hour trip, so all the daughters are together with mom. Rob Stutts left today to head back to San Diego after a one-week emergency leave. Tomorrow, he’ll run a 50-mile race! (That’s not a typo.)
Today, Robyn Tallo Stutts transitioned to doing outpatient chemo. To be honest, it wasn’t an easy 24-hours. There were insurance issues at the pharmacy and some confusion with the initial outpatient appointment. It eventually all got sorted out and now we’re adjusting to a new (temporary) normal.
It’s been an intense two weeks, but what stands out more than anything else is how real the Lord has been to us. He has answered very specific prayers multiple times. He has encouraged us when we were beginning to doubt. He has blessed us with hundreds of friends like you to believe with us.
These verses from Isaiah 43 feel appropriate for the beginning of this new season…
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
The Lord has been faithful to make a way for us. So we’re not going to dwell on the past or even the present. If we’re going to dwell, it’s going to be on the new thing the Lord is doing. We want to be sure to perceive it and believe it and experience it.
What new thing is He doing in your life?
We love you,
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 14. Just got a message from my son. He finished a 50-mile race in 12 hours 52 minutes and 42 seconds. He said “the last 20 miles were a serious gut check.”
There are seasons of life that are a serious gut check. For all of us. Maybe it’s a financial crisis. Or a struggling marriage. Or a medical diagnosis you hoped you’d never receive.
What will we do when our situation looks impossible?
Last spring, I had a dream in which I was saying, “You are good, faithful and generous.” Those words were still running through my mind as I awoke.
I haven’t been able to get away from those words. The Lord is good. He is faithful. He is generous.
No matter what Robyn and I face, He is good, He is faithful, He is generous.
When taking a shower requires that I wrap her arm in Saran wrap and tape it tightly so her PIC line doesn’t get wet, He is good, He is faithful, He is generous.
When much of a morning is taken up by chemotherapy, He is good, He is faithful, He is generous.
On November 21st, I wrote in my journal:
“Lord, what ‘impossible’ things or situations do You want me to invite You into?”
Exactly 40 days later, we got the leukemia diagnosis.
The number 40 is significant in the Bible. Israel was in the desert for 40 years and Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days.
Robyn and I have invited the Lord into these present circumstances. And we are seeing Him do amazing things, because He is good, He is faithful, He is generous.
As I told Robyn earlier this evening, “Our best days are ahead of us.”
And yours are too.
Day 15. Two weeks ago at this time, we’d been at Mercy Hospital for about 8 hours and were waiting to begin the first chemo treatment, which came about two hours later.
It’s been a good, hard, intense two weeks. We’re glad to be home.
Robyn has had a break from chemo the past two days. She’ll begin again tomorrow morning and then again each day this week.
Before our oldest daughter, Rachel Elsie, and her husband, Richard Elsie III, drove home (near Dallas) today, we had a family lunch. Rob Stutts was missing since his leave had ended and was back in San Diego.
Over lunch, I was able to share some things with our kids that were on my heart. I tried to be brief, but I’m not sure I accomplished my goal. Robyn Tallo Stutts only kicked me under the table once, but she said she was just trying to cross her legs.
One of the things I shared was that my #1 prayer is that all of my descendants and their spouses for all generations would walk with the Lord and advance His Kingdom. More than anything else, that’s what I want.
I’m fully aware that my prayer puts my family in the cross hairs of the enemy and I told them that. If the enemy can take out me and Robyn Tallo Stutts and the first generation that follows us, then my prayer is in serious jeopardy.
I’ve already seen the reality of the spiritual attacks. They’re very real.
The good news–for our family and for yours–is this…
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus has ALL authority. That means the enemy has NO authority.
The only authority the enemy has is the authority we give him when we believe his lies. His only power is in the lie.
Jesus has called us to co-labor with Him in advancing His Kingdom on earth. What a mission! What a privilege!
Through your prayers, God is using you to join with us and encourage us in such a powerful way! Thank you!!
Day 16. A little while ago, we talked with our son who ran a 50-mile race on Saturday. He said one of the hardest parts of the race was when he realized he hadn’t even run a marathon yet and still had another marathon to go.
That’s probably where Robyn and I are tonight. We haven’t yet run a marathon, but there’s still another marathon to go.
It was a 3 1/2 hour appointment today. Labs. EKG. Met with nurse practitioner. Then finally the chemo treatment. We have another appointment tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. And another on Wednesday…and Thursday…
Her energy level was low today. It’s all a normal part of the process, but for someone who likes to get a lot done and be on the go, it’s a major adjustment for her.
We’d been told that after the initial 30 days of everyday-chemo, it would be followed by 7 cycles of 2-weeks of chemo followed by 2-weeks off. We weren’t sure if that meant 2 weeks of chemo was a cycle and then 2 weeks off was another cycle.
Today, we learned that a cycle is basically a month. So after this month, we have 7 more months to go. That will take us through the end of August. We’re not discouraged by that. It’s just good to know. This isn’t a sprint. It’s more like a 50-miler.
However…would you join us in asking God that this process be finished by June 8th? That’s our 33rd wedding anniversary and we’d love to celebrate Robyn’s total healing with an anniversary trip!
As always, thank you for praying. Thank you for your encouragement. We definitely don’t take it for granted.
We love and appreciate you,
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
P.S. I took that picture of Robyn in bed a few minutes ago. She’s reading a book about experiencing the presence of God. She seeks Him morning, throughout the day and at night. It’s her normal pattern. Honestly, she amazes me.
P.P.S. Don’t worry, she loves it when I post pictures of her when she’s not wearing make-up or her hair isn’t fixed right.
Day 17. Today’s chemo appointment went smoothly then we stopped by the pharmacy to get the status on the other chemo drug, which hasn’t come in yet. Robyn has been receiving Arsenic Trioxide by IV each day, but is also supposed to take another chemo drug orally twice a day.
It’s supposed to be delivered tomorrow. It’s also the drug that was causing severe headaches two weeks ago. Would you pray with us that those don’t return?
About 20 years ago, Robyn and I took a major step of faith. I was very confident we were doing what God was leading us to do, but because He’d spoken to me about it and not everyone around me, I know I looked foolish, passive, irresponsible, even reckless.
Sometimes all it took was a comment, question or facial expression for someone to be discouraging. Anyone who has gone out on a limb by faith knows what I’m talking about.
Robyn and I are guarding ourselves against that now. It’s amazing how many people will speak without thinking about the impact their words will have.
Today, someone said one of the chemo drugs Robyn is taking is effective “if you can tolerate it.” Seems like an innocent enough statement, but it’s certainly not encouraging or life-giving.
I’m not suggesting we go through life naive or uninformed, but I’ll tell you this–I haven’t googled the particular type of leukemia Robyn has or any type of leukemia for that matter.
Why? Because it doesn’t matter. We believe God has clearly spoken about our situation. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus has the final word on the truth of our circumstances, not anyone else.
Are you taking a step of faith or facing “impossible” circumstances? Are you believing God for something so big it’ll never happen if He doesn’t come through?
Let me encourage you to seek God continually. Ask Him to speak into your situation. Ask Him to give you a verse or promise from His word to sustain you. He has been faithful to do that for us.
Then be very careful who you listen to. Unfortunately, most people you know will probably not encourage you to believe God.
You have been so gracious to pray for us. How can we pray for you?
We love you,
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 18. The oral chemo meds came today. A 21-day supply is worth more than my car! We’re glad they’re here and Robyn can get started on them.
It’s interesting how quickly life can change and what would have been crazy to even consider a few weeks ago has become the new (temporary) normal.
I say temporary because we are 100% confident Robyn is already healed. It’s only a matter of time until we actually see it. By faith, we already see it.
Our new normal is to arrive at the oncology clinic each morning around 8:00 for chemo. Without labs or a doctor appointment this morning, we were in and out in around 90 minutes. Labs will make it a longer appointment tomorrow. Labs and a doctor appointment will make it longer still on Friday.
Of course we’re all constantly adjusting to “new normals.” We are. You are.
Kids start kindergarten or go off to college. We lose a job. We get a new one. A best friend moves away. A financial crisis hits. A loved one is diagnosed with an illness that requires daily treatments.
Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone has a story. Robyn and I get glimpses of some of these stories each morning now.
Yesterday, there was the young woman whose chemo took six hours to complete and the elderly man whose chemo took five hours. She seems to be joyful. The man not so much.
Today, there was an elderly woman who was hoping her chemo worked, otherwise she’d have to go to another clinic to try an experimental drug. She likes the people at this clinic and doesn’t want to leave.
And then there was the man who was asked if he wanted to be resuscitated should it become necessary. His treatment was going to take six to seven hours.
While sitting with Robyn this morning during her treatment, I was reading in Matthew 9…
While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. (Matthew 9:18-19)
Did you catch just how great this synagogue leader’s faith was? His daughter wasn’t sick. She wasn’t near death. She was dead.
Dead, I tell ya. (Said in the voice of a character from one of those movies made in the 1940’s.)
And yet after telling Jesus his daughter had just died, the very next word out of his mouth was “but.” He knew Jesus could not only heal her, but bring her back to life.
That is audacious faith.
It’s the kind of faith Robyn and I want. It’s also the kind of faith I’d walked away from for a long time. To insulate myself from disappointment, I’d quit asking God to do “impossible” things.
It’s only been in the last few years I decided that’s no way to live. I want to believe for big things. Impossible things.
When it comes right down to it, you and I can’t afford to pray small prayers and only believe God for little things. The world is waiting to see what only God can do.
Thank you again for your love and prayers!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 19. After re-starting on the oral chemo last night, Robyn woke up this morning with a headache, which has lasted all day. Fortunately, it’s not as bad as two weeks ago.
At her chemo appointment, blood work showed her white blood cell count was low, which means she’ll need to be more careful to not pick up an infection. She wore a mask when picking up her new phone today.
Tomorrow morning is another day for labs, chemo and an appointment with the doctor.
One of the things we’re determined to not do is panic the moment something seems off. The white blood cell count is a good example. It would be nice to think every lab result will show a positive trend, but that’s obviously not going to be the case.
I realized many years ago that I really don’t want to walk by faith. I want to see how things are going to work out. Actually, that’s not even true. I don’t want to see how things are going to work out, because that implies things are not worked out now. And I always want things to be worked out.
But seeing is the opposite of faith. And it’s not seeing that pleases God, faith does.
I’ve mentioned it before, but Hebrews 11:6 is my favorite verse in the Bible…
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
God wants to be believed. Our faith is pleasing to Him. You could say it gives Him pleasure when we trust Him.
And yet…these very brief years we have in this life will be our ONLY opportunity in all of eternity to express our trust in God. In eternity, we will see Him perfectly. Faith will no longer be needed.
So WHAT IF believing His promises and remaining calm through the storms and refusing to panic or blame Him is actually a way for us to minister to God?
You. And me. Ministering TO God…by trusting Him.
Just a thought.
We love you,
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 20. This morning’s appointment lasted 3 1/2 hours. It started with labs, then an EKG. The particular type of chemo Robyn is taking can cause issues with her heart rhythm so they check it regularly.
After the EKG, we met with Robyn’s oncologist who has been great. It sounds like everything is moving in the right direction. Compared to three weeks ago today when she had the bone marrow biopsy, we’ve come a long way.
After meeting with the doctor, she had her chemo treatment and the dressing on her PIC line changed.
The IV chemo treatments will continue 5-days a week and the oral chemo will continue 7-days a week until Robyn is in remission, which is when all of her blood counts are normal.
Once she’s in remission, the 2-week on/2-week off cycles of chemo will begin and last through August. That would make this day 20 of 244. Of course, I’m asking the Lord to complete her healing by our 33rd anniversary on June 8th.
Something I’ve been reminded of this evening is that nothing is impossible for God. I know it intellectually, but it’s amazing how often I forget that it’s a real thing. It’s not a theory. It’s not a concept in a book.
When will I stop concluding something can’t happen just because I can’t see a way?
Robyn and I are facing leukemia. God has a way.
We’ve faced financial challenges. God had a way…so many times!
You’re facing your own challenge. Maybe it’s a relationship issue or health problem or financial hardship. God has a way.
Not conceptually, but experientially. As in, for real.
It’s okay that you can’t figure it out. God is at His best when you and I can’t figure it out.
He is infinitely powerful and creative. Let Him surprise you if He wants to.
In the meantime, don’t panic.
What if He delights in your confidence in Him and loves to surprise you in ways you never could have imagined?
We are so grateful for you!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
P.S. Robyn asked me a little earlier how long I planned to keep doing these updates.
Well, I’m not really sure I have a plan. Some of you have expressed that reading them is an encouragement. I also don’t want to “wear out my welcome.”
One option would be to continue daily until Robyn is in remission, then maybe do a weekly update or as needed. I believe my mission is to believe God and help others believe Him too. If these updates can help to do that, then I’m happy to keep going.
Day 21. At the 3-week mark, I think we’re still getting things figured out. It’s all still very surreal. The picture with this post was taken on New Year’s Eve, about 90-minutes before we got the leukemia diagnosis.
Even though Robyn’s energy level is not what it was, her headaches are better and she’s tolerating the chemo well. She enjoyed lunch with our daughters today and went for a short walk on a beautiful afternoon.
We have much to be thankful for.
Because her white blood cell count is still low, please pray she doesn’t pick up an infection from anyone. It would be difficult for her body to fight it off.
I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well in the hospital and haven’t done much better since being home. That’s new for me since I usually don’t have much trouble sleeping.
When I get tired and also don’t get enough alone time, I get irritable. I apologized to my family earlier tonight for allowing my frustration to spill over.
Lesson learned. In this “new normal”, I’m going to have to make some adjustments to my schedule, to be sure I’m getting enough sleep and recovery time.
Earlier this evening, I was looking back at a journal entry I made on September 2nd. I was reading in 2 Kings 19 and wrote down verse 19…
“Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
In response to that verse, I wrote out this prayer…
“Oh Lord, would You do whatever You want to in and through and for Robyn and me that would reveal to those who see and hear it, that You are good and faithful and generous and holy and glorious. Let them see Your power and Your love and Your majesty.”
Without going into detail, Robyn experienced a spiritual attack that night.
The enemy does not want God revealed. The last thing he wants is for us to believe God is good, His word can be trusted and He can handle anything we’re facing.
So he lies about God. He lies about us. He lies about our circumstances. But if we don’t believe the lies, the enemy has no power.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement that strengthen us in the battle. Please leave a comment or message us if we can pray for you.
Tomorrow night, Robyn and I will do a Facebook Live video. We’ll see you then!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
P.S. I mentioned it previously, but Robyn and I do NOT believe God sent leukemia in response to what I prayed on September 2nd. That’s not what a loving Father does. What we do believe is that He’s able to use our current circumstances for good even though the enemy would love to use them for harm.
(Video update on Facebook.)
Day 23. Yesterday, we said goodbye to Rachel Elsie, Richard Elsie III and Tyler as they headed home to Dallas. Today, we said goodbye to Lianda Creed (who’s been like a daughter to us for almost 20 years) and Amy Cassidy as she began the first leg of her trip back to Korea.
Before her flight, Amy took Robyn Tallo Stutts to her chemo appointment this morning while I went with our grandson to his mother’s day out program. They started by giving Robyn some fluids to help with the headache, which is much better today. She’ll have blood drawn tomorrow, so we’ll see how her treatment is progressing.
I mentioned yesterday that I’ve had some trouble sleeping. This morning, I was up around 4:00 and spent some time praying and reading my Bible. Psalm 5:3 says…
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
I was curious about the original meaning of “wait expectantly.” It literally means to “look out or about, spy, keep watch, observe, watch closely.”
That reminded me that the literal meaning of the name Gregg is “watchful, vigilant.”
And that reminded me (don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this!) of 1 Peter 5:8…
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
The Greek word in the Bible for alert is “gregoreo,” (the origin of my name) which means “to watch, give strict attention to, be cautious, active, to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.”
Since Robyn’s diagnosis, I’ve selected a verse for each day and written it on a wall calendar. Today, I selected 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert…” I texted it to Robyn, but she didn’t see it until later in the day.
After we dropped our daughter, Amy, off at the airport today, Robyn told me what happened during her chemo treatment this morning.
She was waiting for them to bring the Arsenic Trioxide and just had a sense she should pray that it was the correct medicine and everything was done right. In the three weeks of treatment, she’d never had that feeling before.
The nurse took longer than normal bringing the IV and when she finally brought it, she said they’d initially sent twice the dosage Robyn was supposed to receive, so she had to send it back and wait for the correct amount.
We’re grateful the clinic has a good process in place and the nurse followed it. The incident was just a reminder for us that, “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
And so we must be alert, watchful, vigilant…”lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.”
But it’s not just us. It’s you too. We all need to remain alert, watchful, vigilant. It’s easy to forget we’re in a literal war.
Where might the enemy be poised to come after you or your family?
Day 24. I enjoy watching NASCAR races. Sort of. The beginning is exciting when the checkered flag waves and the cars come up to full speed. The last 10 laps are even more exciting as they race hard to the finish line.
What I’ve found to be not as much fun are the hundreds of laps in the middle of the race. I know (and appreciate) there’s a lot of strategy going on, but from the spectator’s point-of-view, it’s lots and lots of just making laps.
This is day 24 and it feels a little like we’re making laps now. But if this is going to be an 8-month process, we have 220 days left to go. There are a lot of laps left in the race.
This isn’t the time to lose focus. We need to stay tuned-in to what the Lord is doing in us, through us and for us.
When we arrived at the oncology clinic today, we talked with one of the receptionists we’ve already developed a connection with. She said it helps her day to see us. That was a good reminder that it’s not just about making laps.
While sitting with Robyn this morning during her treatment, I was reading in Matthew 3 and 4. At the end of chapter 3, Jesus is baptized by John. The Holy Spirit comes on Him and He hears the Father say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Immediately, Jesus goes into the wilderness where He is tempted by Satan.
The Father has affirmed that Jesus is His Son, He is loved and He is pleasing to Him. And yet Satan begins his temptation with, “If you are the Son of God…”
He questions Jesus’ identity. He’ll question ours as well. We need to be solid on our relationship with God.
He goes on to tempt Jesus to turn a stone into bread. So what’s wrong with turning stone into bread, especially after fasting for 40 days?
Jesus didn’t do anything the Father didn’t tell him to do and didn’t say anything the Father didn’t tell him to say. Clearly, the Father was not telling Jesus to turn the stone to bread, so He didn’t.
Instead, Jesus responds to each temptation with, “It is written…”
Jesus stood strong by knowing His identity, being filled with the Holy Spirit and standing strong on the Word of God.
And in Philippians 2, speaking of Jesus it says…
“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
Jesus didn’t use His equality with God to His own advantage. He set those rights aside while on earth. If in a moment of temptation, Jesus had simply used His power as God to get His needs met, then we could not have related to Him.
Yes, Jesus performed miracles, but they were always for the benefit of others, not Himself. “He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”
And if Jesus performed miracles while also setting aside His rights as God, what are the implications for us? Could it be that God would do more through us if we believed He would?
Jesus set an example for us. The way to overcome the world is by knowing our identity as children of God, being filled with the Holy Spirit and standing firm on God’s Word. That’s something available to each of us.
We love and appreciate you,
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
P.S. In a NASCAR race, there are many pit stops. In the picture, Robyn is taking a “pit stop” in the middle of her chemo treatment.
Day 25. Today’s appointment was just for chemo, so we were in and out in less than two hours. Tomorrow will start with labs, then an EKG and then chemo. That will take a little longer.
We met a couple sitting next to us this morning. Her chemo treatment was going to last 5 to 6 hours, but she only has it once a week. Of course she’s been at it for a year and a half. It was another reminder that everyone has a story.
Robyn just read me a quote from a book she’s reading…
“So many spend their life praying to God when they could be praying with God.” (Bill Johnson)
That perfectly described my prayer life for many years. I would beg and plead with God to come through, but real answers seemed to be few and far between.
Often, I would bring my requests to God feeling worried, anxious and fearful…and would leave my time of prayer feeling the same way I started. Maybe worse.
I was praying to God rather than with God. My main priority was my comfort, not His Kingdom. It was a recipe for total frustration.
Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The more I get aligned with God’s priorities, the more answers to prayer I see. While I still don’t completely understand how it all plays out, I love what Jesus said in John 14:12-14…
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
I want to believe and do “even greater things.”
I want to see God’s glory manifested.
I want to ask for “anything” in the name of Jesus and see Him do it.
Not to build my personal kingdom, but to have a role in advancing His.
If we get news on Robyn’s labs tomorrow, we’ll let you know. One of these days we’re going to hear, “Your labs are all normal.”
Until then, thank you for walking with us. We are so grateful for you!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 26. A month ago today was Christmas. Robyn’s first bruise had shown up four days earlier. We just had no idea what had caused it.
A lot can change in a month.
Before her chemo treatment this morning, Robyn had labs and then an EKG. While they were doing the EKG, the nurse brought the lab results.
Her white blood cell count, hemoglobin and ANC are three of the four counts they’re especially watching. Each one is still low, but slightly higher than the last test. Her platelets have been in the normal range each of the last two tests.
Our next appointment with the oncologist is a week from tomorrow, on February 2nd. Would you pray specifically that Robyn’s blood counts all continue in the right direction and are in the normal range by that day? That could mean moving to the next phase of treatment, which is 2 weeks of chemo, then 2 weeks off for 7 months. (Although our prayer is still total healing by June 8th.)
We’ve all heard the phrase, “When it rains, it pours.” Well, around 2:00 this afternoon, Robyn called me and said, “I think we may have a plumbing emergency.” I got home 15 minutes later to find water spraying out of the closet that contains the water heater.
As it turned out, the even bigger problem was my frustration (the polite term for anger) that sprayed all over everyone. Fortunately, a plumber was available, had the needed part and was able to fix the problem. After offering my apologies, I went back to work and Robyn went back to God’s word.
We were reminded again in the last 24-hours of the importance of words that can be life-giving or deeply discouraging, even unintentionally.
When we heard certain words being spoken (I’m being intentionally vague to not identify who it was), we immediately knew they weren’t true. In fact, they were the antithesis of what we’ve been focusing on and believing.
But as a result of hearing what we did, Robyn did not sleep well and woke up feeling anxious and emotional. She fought off the negative words and regained a sense of peace and joy by seeking the Lord.
She experienced one of those wonderful moments when the Holy Spirit makes a verse come alive as she read Psalm 46:5…
“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
This verse speaks of God being within the city of Jerusalem and protecting her at the break of day when the enemy attacks. As a child of God, He is within Robyn. She felt God’s assurance that He will also protect her from the enemy’s attacks.
You guys are such an encouragement to us. Thank you again for all of your likes, comments and prayers.
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 27. Brief update tonight. I want to take a moment to brag on Robyn Tallo Stutts. I have the privilege of being married to an amazing wife, mom and grandma…a gifted leader, and a woman I greatly respect and admire.
What I’ve witnessed for 33 years is someone who is continually learning to be, think, talk and act more and more like Jesus. She exemplifies Psalm 18:35…
“You make Your saving help my shield, and Your right hand sustains me; Your help has made me great.”
We have a chemo appointment in the morning at 8:00, then Robyn’s mom, dad, brother and niece will arrive tomorrow afternoon for a visit.
I’m reminded tonight of what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16-17…
“…all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
If that doesn’t give perspective, I don’t know what does.
We love you and are so grateful for you!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 28. Robyn started the day with a headache, but fortunately isn’t ending the day with one. This was her first chemo treatment on a Saturday since leaving the hospital.
Other than a much smaller crowd than during the week, it was a familiar scene…Robyn in her favorite chair, reading her Bible and writing in her journal while Arsenic Trioxide flowed into her arm.
This afternoon, her mom, dad and brother arrived to visit for the weekend. Her mom and dad are celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary today. Congratulations, Vince and Winona Miller Tallo!
I have a list tucked into my Bible of my top prayers and key truths I want to experience on a daily basis. A couple days ago, I added this to my list:
“I enjoy an ever increasing sense of the Holy Spirit’s Presence.”
Then last night, in a dream, I was watching a cloud formation in the distance that began to turn into a dove and then moved quickly toward me. It entered me and lifted me off the ground. In my dream, I was aware that it was the Holy Spirit. I’d sure love to have that dream every night. But even more, I want to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence every waking moment.
2 Peter 1:3-4 says…
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Peter isn’t talking about principles to apply or rules to follow. He’s talking about how to actually experience the living God. He’s talking about real power…the Holy Spirit’s power. In us.
He’s talking about a relationship with a Person that changes us. He’s talking about promises from a Father we can count on to transform us more and more into His likeness.
I pray you and I will encounter the Lord in a fresh way this weekend.
And thank you again for partnering with us through your prayers!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 29. Today was a day off from the IV chemo. It was also a day off from having a bad headache! We head back to the oncology clinic at 8:00 in the morning. We’ll do that each day this week except on Friday when we’ll go at 9:30 for labs and an appointment with Robyn’s doctor.
So here’s our very specific prayer request…
Please pray that by Friday all of Robyn’s blood counts are in the normal range. That would allow us to begin the next phase of treatment.
Robyn and I were sitting on the couch this morning and she was talking about how near the Lord has been these past four weeks. When she got emotional at one point, Titan, our daughter Erica’s German Shepherd tried to console her.
I was thinking last night about how being in relationship with God, being near Him, is what He has always wanted.
He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden.
His very presence led Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. When they set up camp, they encamped around the tabernacle where His presence was.
When Israel wandered or rebelled, His message for hundreds of years through the prophets was always a call to return to Him.
Speaking of Jesus, John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Message paraphrase says it this way, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
When Jesus knew the time of His arrest and crucifixion was near, He told His disciples, “…it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Jesus wasn’t going to leave us alone; the Holy Spirit would come to us and actually dwell in us.
In the next to last chapter of the Bible, it says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
From beginning to end, the heart cry of God never changes. He wants to dwell with us. He wants us to be near Him. If we miss that, then we’ve missed everything.
Thank you for praying! Our prayer for you is that whatever this week might bring for you that you will sense the nearness of God.
Day 30. So today is day 30 of Robyn’s treatment. The original plan was for her to be in the hospital for a full 30 days. We’re grateful she’s been home for 2 1/2 weeks now.
Yesterday, Robyn went to Crystal Bridges with her mom, dad, brother and our daughter, Erica. That’s everyone in the picture. Today, it was back to chemo at 8:00 a.m.
In addition to labs on Friday, she also has labs tomorrow, so we’ll get a look at how she’s progressing compared to last week. We don’t meet with the doctor until Friday though. We’ll let you know what we find out. (Honestly though, we believe she’s healed…it’s only a matter of timing.)
One of the things Robyn and I have been processing since last summer and even more so in the last month is the Kingdom of God. As believers in Jesus, it’s the dominion in which we live and it operates very differently than the material realm.
Romans 8:6 says, “…the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Romans 14:17 says, “For the Kingdom of God is…righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”
The normal state of mind for the believer is peace. If we’re experiencing worry, anxiety and fear, it’s an indication we’re not living in the atmosphere of the Kingdom.
Those negative emotions are like the “Check Engine” light in our car. They’re letting us know something is wrong. Time to pull over and figure out what it is, because…
The mind governed by the Spirit is peace. The Kingdom of God is peace. The fruit of the Spirit is peace.
The good news?
Peace is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from the Spirit of God within us.
We love you,
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 31. Today’s appointment started with labs, then an EKG. Robyn’s heart function is normal. Her blood counts are trending in the right direction. We’re asking God that the key ones all be in the normal range by Friday.
As someone reminded me earlier today, there are facts and there is truth. The numbers on that report are facts. Jesus has the final say on what the truth is. And we are fully confident He has said Robyn will be healed.
During her chemo treatment this morning, I was reading in Matthew 7…
“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.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
We ask because we don’t have. We seek because we don’t see what we need or want. We knock because the door to where we want to be is closed.
The promise? We will receive. And find. And the door will be opened. It’s “how” and “when” that’s not usually known. And that means faith is required.
I’ve found that if I’m going to walk by faith, asking “When?” or “How?” isn’t very helpful. God may reveal the “what”, but doesn’t usually reveal when or how.
It’s better to let Him surprise us rather than wear ourselves out trying to figure out how or when He’s going to come through. Fortunately, He’s infinitely powerful, creative and good…
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
Thank you for believing with us for Robyn’s healing!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 32. A month ago, it was New Year’s Eve. Robyn and I had checked into Mercy Hospital that afternoon, which ruined our big party plans. Not really, we’re pretty boring New Year’s Eve people.
Her platelet count was 38 that first day. Normal is between 174 and 390, so there was concern about bleeding if they started chemo right away. After giving her blood products, they were finally able to start the first chemo treatment at 10:30 p.m., which lasted two hours. Not the way we thought we’d be ringing in the new year.
In a blog post I wrote the next day, I mentioned that for Christmas, I’d given Robyn, each of our kids and sons-in-law, a theme verse for 2018.
Robyn’s verse is Isaiah 61:2, “The Year of the Lord’s Favor.” So we believe it’s significant that her diagnosis came on the last day of 2017. The Year of the Lord’s Favor will be defined not by leukemia, but by the Lord’s presence, power, peace, blessing, provision and healing.
It’s been a humbling month as we’ve heard from so many of you. Your prayers and words of encouragement have meant so much to us. We are very, very grateful.
This morning was a fairly quick appointment. We were in and out in about 90 minutes. Tomorrow should be similar. Then Friday will be labs, the meeting with the doctor and chemo treatment. Please join us in praying that Robyn’s blood counts are all normal at her appointment on Friday. That’s what will allow us to move to the next phase of her treatment.
Thank you again!
Gregg and Robyn Tallo Stutts
Day 33. Back on January 5th when we were still in the hospital, Robyn’s liver enzymes were elevated enough that they stopped her chemo treatments for two days. The doctor said it was “a bump in the road.”
Since then, the road has felt nice and smooth. Until today. Seems that we hit another bump.
The last few lab reports all showed Robyn’s blood counts moving in the right direction. Today, as she was receiving her chemo treatment, the nurse gave us the latest lab report. It showed her blood counts moved in the wrong direction.
Road signs can warn us when a bump or sharp turn or steep decline is coming. Life doesn’t come with signs though. So bumps can catch us off guard.
Before getting the lab report, I was reading in Psalm 18 and writing in my journal, “Lord, I praise You for your beauty and majesty and glory. You never let us down. You never fail us or forsake us.”
In Psalm 18, David is crying out to the Lord for help…
“In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
What really caught my eye were these words a few verses later…
“He parted the heavens and came down…” (Psalm 18:9)
Isn’t that what we want?
We have a need. We’re in distress. We have nowhere to turn. We cry out to the Lord.
And He comes down to help us.
In Isaiah 7, there are two kings and their armies marching against Ahaz, the King of Judah. “So the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.”
But God comes down. He sends the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz with a message, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood…”
Bad news can shake us. Or jar us, like a bump in the road.
But leukemia is a smoldering stub of firewood. And so is the health issue, financial problem or struggling relationship you may be facing.
We can keep calm. We don’t have to be afraid. There’s no reason to lose heart. God has already come down.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
Robyn Tallo Stutts and I meet with the doctor at 9:30 tomorrow morning. We’ll let you know what we hear.
Day 34. We met with Robyn’s doctor this morning. She wasn’t concerned about the most recent lab results that showed a move in the wrong direction. She explained that it could be the medicines that are effecting her blood counts and not the leukemia. So we’ll do chemo for another week and then a second bone marrow biopsy. That will help us know.
Those pictures (our grandsons hanging out together and the Young Life staff team Christmas party) were taken the day before we found Robyn’s first bruise. We had no idea what was coming.
And we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But we do know the God who is bringing tomorrow. And He is good, He is faithful and He is generous. We believe that wholeheartedly.
Psalm 100 has become one of my favorites…
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Robyn Tallo Stutts and I are so grateful for you. I can’t imagine going through this without knowing friends like you are praying for us. Thank you!
Day 35. It was a good day. It started with a chemo appointment at 8:00 a.m. After the hour-long infusion, the nurse adjusted the dressing around Robyn’s PIC line which had been feeling uncomfortable and it now feels much better.
We made a trip to Target to pick up some Valentine’s gifts for our kids and grandchildren. While Robyn was doing that, I wandered off on my own and ran into a friend who said he’d been praying for us.
A little later, Robyn and I ran into another friend who prayed for us. And a friend we’ve known for years (along with a new friend) stopped by this evening and prayed for us.
It would be hard to forget we are not alone on this journey!
Forgetting sure is a killer when it comes to walking with the Lord. Mark 8:14 says, “The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.”
Forgetting to bring bread was the least of their problems though. In the next verse, Jesus says, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” Jesus is warning them to not adopt their teachings or worldviews.
But the disciples don’t get it. It says they discussed, or reasoned, among themselves and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
Now keep in mind, Jesus has recently multiplied bread and fish on two separate occasions to feed thousands and thousands of people. And the disciples were right there distributing the food and picking up the leftovers. So only having one loaf of bread on board for thirteen people is not a challenge for Jesus.
Now put yourself in Jesus’ shoes (or sandals) for a moment. You’ve calmed a storm. You’ve healed people. You’ve cast out demons. You’ve even raised the dead. And you’ve fed thousands of people with a few loaves and fish. And now your closest followers are getting worked up because they forgot to bring enough food.
Jesus hears them talking and has some questions for them:
“Why are you talking about having no bread?”
“Do you still not see or understand?”
“Are your hearts hardened?”
“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”
“And don’t you remember?”
Then He asks them about the time He fed the 5,000. Then He asks them about the time He fed the 4,000. They remembered exactly how many basketfuls of leftovers there were.
Then He asks, “Do you still not understand?”
If you’re like me, it’s easy to be as exasperated with the disciples as Jesus was. What in the world is wrong with you guys?! How can you miss what’s going on?!
But if I’m honest…and I go back through the same questions Jesus asked His disciples, I can be just as dense as they were.
When I’ve seen God work or speak or reassure me or answer a specific prayer…why am I fearful again a week later? In other words, why am I talking about having no bread?
Do I still not see or understand?
Is my heart hardened?
Do I have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
Don’t I remember?
When God speaks from His word or encourages us through a friend or comes through for us in response to a prayer, He’s revealing His nature to us. We can carry what we’ve learned in one circumstance or season into the next.
It doesn’t mean He will always work in the same way, but it does mean we can count on Him. He is always good. He is always faithful. We don’t ever have to panic. We don’t ever have to look at our current situation and conclude we’re in trouble “because we have no bread.”
We’re not just servants of the God who multiplies bread; we’re also His children. And a good Father always comes through for His kids.
Robyn Tallo Stutts and I are thankful for you and pray you will know the rock solid goodness and faithfulness of the Father.
Day 36. Short post tonight. It was a quiet day. No chemo at the oncology clinic, just the oral chemo twice a day.
The first half of the Super Bowl was great, but as much as I love football, I’m more excited about the Winter Olympics starting later this week.
As I write this, we’re Facetiming with our daughter, Amy, in South Korea, which is emotional for Robyn. We waited until the Justin Timberlake halftime show was over, which I thought was entertaining, but didn’t know any of the songs. 🤔
Earlier today, I was reading what I think are some of the most fascinating passages in the Bible. They’re about how God responds to our faith.
In Matthew 8, a centurion comes to Jesus asking for help because His servant is sick. Jesus is willing to go heal him, but the centurion says he’s not worthy of Jesus coming to his house. Instead, he says if Jesus will just say the word, his servant will be healed.
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8:10)
Jesus was amazed by the centurion’s faith.
It’s not the only time He was amazed by faith though.
In Mark 6, Jesus goes to His hometown and initially the people are very receptive, but then they realize He’d grown up with them and they actually took offense at Him.
Mark 6:5-6 says, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
So we can amaze God by our faith in Him or our lack of it. Robyn Tallo Stutts and I are going to continue having faith in Him. Thank you for amazing Him with us!
Day 37. Robyn had chemo at 8:00 this morning. By the time we left around 9:30, the chemotherapy room was packed. So many stories.
Tomorrow, Robyn has labs, then we meet with a nurse practitioner, then chemo. We’ll let you know what we learn.
While Robyn received her chemo this morning, I was reading Mark 4:35-41. I think I’ll be camped in these seven verses for awhile.
Jesus tells His disciples they’re going to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So they all climb into the boat and set off across the lake.
(I think it’s good to keep in mind that Jesus said they were going to the other side.)
Once they’re out on the lake, “a furious squall came up…” In Matthew’s account, he adds that the storm hit “suddenly.”
Have you ever been going along and then been hit by a sudden storm? It’s how Robyn’s leukemia diagnosis felt.
Now there were some experienced fishermen on board, but even they were freaked out by the intensity of the storm. In contrast, Jesus is sleeping soundly on a cushion at the stern of the boat.
The Greek words used to describe the storm literally mean: “violent wind, from black thunder clouds in furious gusts.” The storm is further modified by another Greek word: “megas,” which means “great.”
I would say this is a category-5 hurricane type of storm…that came out of nowhere.
The disciples woke Jesus up saying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
I think it’s helpful to look at another Greek word, the one for “drown” literally means, “to destroy.” And it’s the same word used in John 10:10 when Jesus says the thief (Satan) came to steal, kill and “destroy.”
Could it be that the origin of the storm wasn’t natural? And is that why it says, “He got up, rebuked the wind…” Jesus also rebuked demonic forces.
So what happened?
“Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
The Greek word for “completely” is the Greek word, “megas” again. In other words, the intensity of the calm Jesus brought was more than enough to match the intensity of the storm.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Remember, Jesus said they were going to the other side. There was never any reason to panic.
Well, the disciples are as terrified by what they saw Jesus do as they were about the storm, because they said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
They still didn’t have any idea who they were really dealing with.
A few things to think about…
First, I’m sure there are some storms in life that must be endured, but there may be some that need to be rebuked. Which kind are you in?
Second, what Jesus focuses on is the disciples’ faith. It’s the key. Because they had so little faith, they freaked out. If their faith in Him had been strong, they could have slept as well.
Finally, the question the disciples ask is one we all need to wrestle with, “Who is this?” If He’s really the One we say He is, then it changes everything. Even how we face the fiercest storms.
Thank you so much for sticking with us through this storm. Robyn Tallo Stutts and I are so grateful!