Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Update to blog

Hello to Friends, Family and Co-workers,

I have been encouraged by many of you to write a blog to keep everyone updated on my situation and to share my thoughts along this journey. My intention is to write a few times each week or as I have new information and something relevant to share. Please feel free to share your thoughts back on the blog so that I and others can benefit from them.

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful out-pouring of support and prayer! You have been a blessing to me, Susan and my family. You have been a substantial source of strength and encouragement as we have faced this current challenge. Your emails, cards, calls and demonstrations of love have shown us how blessed of God we are to have such a family and friends!

Medical Update:
As most of you know, 3.5 weeks ago I went to the ER for abdominal pain, thinking it was an ulcer. I found out it was pancreatitis, leading to an ultrasound of my pancreas. The doctors found a mass in the head of my pancreas and diagnosed it as pancreatic cancer. Through a variety of tests, procedures, and biopsies, they subsequently determined that it is not pancreatic cancer. Thanks be to God! 

During those procedures, they found another mass in my chest, behind my sternum (anterior mediastinum), and have completed a surgical biopsy of that tissue last Friday. While we have no results from that larger biopsy, we should know more within the next few days. The current assumption based on the needle biopsies of the pancreas and chest is that I have some type of lymphoma

I will be undergoing more tests (PET/CT, bone marrow aspiration) tomorrow to help determine whether the growth is in parts of my body other than the chest and pancreas. I will then be meeting with an oncologist/hematologist next week to review all of the data from these tests to determine a treatment plan.

Although this has been a very long and tough three weeks, I want to publicly thank the team of expert doctors and staff at the IU Medical Center. What a blessing to have such a resource here in our city of Indianapolis. Your prayers have been answered in so many ways, including my not having pancreatic cancer. Please keep praying for complete healing - even a God-glorifying miracle - from whatever the doctors determine is the cause!

Living under a "death sentence" for over two weeks has had quite an effect on me. God's grip on my life has become much more real to me as I have grappled with this trial. While I will avoid pancreatic surgery/cancer, the Lord has done surgery of another kind on my heart and soul. I have been reminded more than once of a favorite section of T.S. Eliot's poem, The Four Quartets, East Coker, part IV:

The Wounded Surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

Jesus Christ (our "Wounded Surgeon") has been refining me by showing me ways he wants me to change for his glory and his kingdom. He is asking me to more deeply rely on Him, to trust him with my life and future, and to look to him for grace to live each day. He is also asking me to die to sin and myself ("our, and Adam's curse"), and live for Him and for others in his resurrection power. In moments like these, you see how powerless the things of this world are to truly save us. Unfortunately, money, status, position, power, connections, all masquerade as having a form of power, but ultimately they come up short when dealing with matters of life, death and the disposition of our souls.

The apostle Paul, summed up my situation perfectly in II Corinthians 1:8b-11:

"For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many."

While it has been difficult, God is using this trial for his glory. We are praying that as God calls you to pray with and for us, he himself will meet you in unique ways and bless your life.

In Christ alone,


  1. I will continue to pray for healing. I know God has big plans for your life, and He's going to continue to use you in a MIGHTY way, just as He has already. I love you so much, big brother, and I'll continue to pray faithfully for you.

  2. Our family has been greatly blessed through praying for you and your family. The kids have participated and seen the power of God at work through answering their simple prayers. Thank you for letting us into your life. I agree with Elyse. God has big plans for you. You have all ready taught my children that God is close and hears them. Thanks, Newt.

  3. I am devoted to a precocious 4 year old, which requires me to say his name, Newt, some 75 times a day; this is not a burden, but an opportunity to pray for you, to our Lord, for your complete healing and recovery.

  4. A profound and moving reminder of our hope in Jesus Christ as we face the strong man of death. Defeated though he is, the lingering challenge pushes us to live into the hope of Jesus Christ and his resurrection.

    Thank you for leading us in such a powerful statement of faith and hope.
    Lee Corder

  5. Dear Newt and Susan, the Ebersoles are praying for you all and the whole Crenshaw family. Love, Gail

  6. My oldest friend Newt,
    To actually finally read words from you was such a delight! I reveled in your wisdom and all the Lord has taught you. You have the makings of a great book, you know! He may be doing an even bigger work in you! I told Susan that the Lord has given you a platform now that people who normally wouldn't listen to your message will now listen intently--continue being bold in sharing all He is doing in your life. I am praying Jeremiah 17:14 for you:

    Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed;
    Save me and I will be saved,
    For You are my praise.

    Much love,

  7. Newt, We, as many, are continuing our prayers for you and the family. Prayers are being answered. Your diagnosis has show us how fragile life can be. I was happy to hear that you had talked with Ray. Thanks, Newt for the Blog. You are in our prayers and thoughts.

    Larry & Kathi

  8. Newt - I am so awed and amazed at what our Lord is doing in and through you. His light and Life are shinging through your words and actions in such a profound way. Betty Ann and I pray that you continue to sense His presence and His love as you walk this journey we call Life toward the One who truly is LIFE. We love you and continue to pray for your physical healing as He as already healed your spirit.

  9. Newt, it was good to read your words. God always seems to really get us when we are without. I pray that you will be able to Dwell in Him while all the testing and waiting is going on in peace knowing that God's outcome will surely be.
    I am reading Ecclesiastes now and the message of our lives spent chasing after the wind rings so true when like you said we are left with only Him.
    Stay strong and know your are loved!

  10. No guilt in life, no fear in death
    This is the power of Christ in me;
    From life's first cry to final breath,
    Jesus commands my destiny.
    No power of hell, no scheme of man,
    Can ever pluck me from His hand;
    Till He returns or calls me home
    Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

    Not my words, but great none the less.

    Love you Dad


  11. Dear Newt,
    We pray for you and the family each night.
    We miss you. Ganbatte..Barrett & Akemi

  12. Newt,
    You're in our prayers, brother. May God work a miracle in you that can be shouted from the rooftops and bring Him glory.

    I pray, Dear Heavenly Father, Newt's Creator, that you would reach your hand into Newt's body and remove these tumors and restore Newt's health, for Your glory.

    God be with you and your family.


  13. Dear Newt, Susan & Family,

    We will continue to lift you up to "Jehovah-rapha", the Lord who heals & are pray for a complete healing.
    Your steadfast trust and desire to glorify God amidst this trial certainly shows how He is using this to transform you more and more to His likeness. We will stand in the gap for you and your family when you are weary knowing He will sustain you and that His good purposes and will shall reign. God bless you & your family.

    Thankful for His Mighty hand and plan,
    Kara (for the Ranieri family)

  14. Newt

    That was an incredible witness on your blog. I will pray for your complete recovery. May God Bless and Heal you.


  15. Newt, you and you family are in our prayers. We will tell all our friends to pray! You are in good hands.

    Camilla Higgins Buese

  16. Dear Newt,Susan and family,

    We are praying for you and your family. We pray that your health is restored.

    Dan and Kathy Hasler

  17. Newt,

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    As you yourself have said, you are already in the best possible of "hands" - that Christ is in control!

    So my prayer is that your relationship with Christ will outgrow the cancer! And that you will not just return to your prior state of "health," but that God make you even healthier!

    Yours in Christ,


  18. Newt,
    I recently heard the news of your battle with cancer and the challenges of obtaining the correct diagnosis. You've been deeply in my prayers since then. You may not be aware that during Easter 2008 I came to the Catholic faith. Your deep faith is a witness to all, especially those still in darkness. Keep up the good fight. Let me know if there is anything that Janice or I can do.
    Al Weber (

  19. Newt
    We rejoice with you and will be praying for NO side effects. Nothing is impossible with God!

    Psalm 91:16
    With a long life I will satisfy him
    And let him see My salvation

    Much Love

  20. Dear Newt and Family,

    Lavonda, Alexm Austin, and I are praying for your everyday. We pray that you are able to continue to use the power of the holy spirit that is already within you.

    Through him, all things are possible.

    With Love,

    The Ezells