Despite our slim hopes, the judge did not change his mind. With no explanation at all, he simply said, "Plaintiff's objections to the Proposed Statement of Decision and the Proposed Judgment are overruled. The Court signs and adopts the Proposed Statement of Decision and the Proposed Judgment as the Statement of Decision and Judgment of this Court as of January'
15, 2013." Thus ended our 3-and-a-half year effort to get justice for the clear discrimination I faced when debased, disciplined, demoted and eventually discharged for having shared DVDs on intelligent design. Despite our heroic effort, with support from ADF and Discovery Institute, and about $70,000 out of my own pocket for court costs, it seemed all for naught. And six days earlier, I had just learned I had cancer.
To say "Life goes on" is trite, but for me, to sit here at the computer tonight in good health, with many blessings over the past year, is proof that God stands with us in our trials. Yes, it hurt a lot to lose, and I was scared of surgery, but I was enormously blessed by countless people who prayed for me and expressed support. I received numerous cards, emails and letters. My sister and her family have helped me so much. My church paid the $8500 deductible for my health insurance. Other friends contributed, and members of my church brought meals after my surgery, offering encouragement in many ways. And best of all, God heard and answered.
The picture shows me on one of my daily walks in late summer. After the successful surgery in late February, God has let me bounce back rapidly, much better than I thought possible. I thought I might have just 2-5 years left. Though I face ongoing treatments the rest of my life, my oncologist says chances are good I can enjoy many more years of good health. I have no symptoms from the remaining tumors; they are being treated with medicine covered by my insurance. In addition, I have come under the care of one of the top experts for my kind of cancer, and just this week I obtained a health insurance policy that, despite Obamacare, looks like it will be manageable, and will cover all my treatments and doctors. I'm also encouraged by promising new treatments for cancer working their way through clinical trials; some of them are really amazing. Immunotherapy, for instance, made Science Magazine's Breakthrough of the Year. I can hope and pray the new targeted therapies will be available when I need them. In the meantime, there is an arsenal of treatments already available for carcinoid patients.
Taking advantage of the good recovery, I resolved to do my part to stay healthy as long as possible. I eat right (see my Cancer Blog) and I walk 2 to 4 miles every day. Since surgery, I calculate I have walked 800 miles on deliberate walks and hikes, enough to walk from Los Angeles to Denver. I actually feel healthier than I did in 2012.
The Lord has also kept me happy with gainful employment – self-employment, that is. I don't make near what I did at JPL, but I am able to earn enough from home to keep food on the table and the bills paid. I make money writing, speaking, and selling books and DVDs, including the ones that cost me my job. I've had the joy of helping Illustra Media on their latest nature documentary, Flight: The Genius of Birds, including participating in a photo shoot, assisting with interviews, and researching some of the amazing facts discussed in the film. The staff, some of my best friends, have been wonderful, supporting me and giving me work; now we are busy with the next project. Some of my writing has made it into magazines and radio, and some gets translated into three other languages. I've never been bored, but now, even without a full-time job and commute, my days are filled with activity! I wake up raring to go.
Within 3 months of surgery, I was carrying a pack and diving into waterfalls. As you can see, I'm doing OK even with a foot-long abdominal scar, 21" less of small bowel, no gall bladder and a lot of tumors in my liver. Who would have thought? I am SO thankful to the Lord and to all who prayed for me!
In 2013 I was able to travel, too. I led 10 Creation Safaris, including 2 backpacking trips where I carried a full load and did the distance with young people half my age. I got to photograph some amazing things that I've been posting on my Flickr page.
God is so good. Whether I truly suffered for righteousness' sake (instead of my own sake) is for God to judge, but I can vouch for His mercy, grace and answers to prayer. So no need to pity me. Like Paul, I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am, and right now, my circumstances are not too bad.
One lesson the Lord has been teaching me is the importance of prayer for others. Having been its beneficiary, I am learning to devote more time and energy to it. In the cancer support group I attend, I have seen carcinoid patients much worse off than me. There are also members of my Sunday School class who have been diagnosed with cancer and other serious conditions It's been my joy to take their trials to the Lord and to encourage them as I have been encouraged.
One special joy is to pray regularly with some JPL Christian friends who were very supportive throughout my troubles. We swap prayer requests by phone as they meet to pray on lab. We've already seen God work in answer to specific needs. It's been great to keep that relationship going.
In summary, I am moving forward, rejoicing. It looks like we will never know Judge Hiroshige's reasons for ruling against me, and frankly, I still don't understand fully why God put me through this experience (or allowed it). One thing I do know is that several individuals told me they were encouraged by my taking a stand. But I had wanted to ring the liberty bell for freedom; I had wanted the world to hear the truth about intelligent design. Instead, from a human vantage point, the opposite happened.
I told Bill Becker the other day that the story appears to be one of justice denied: a trial lost because the defendants had more money, more staff, and more experience with the tricks of the trade. That was also the Discovery Institute's opinion. Through distraction, distortion and dissembling, JPL's legal team took a clear case of religious discrimination and twisted it into a tale of employee incompetence. We were outmanned and outmaneuvered. For all we know, the judge may have had social reasons for his decision: fear of his peer group if he supported ID? not wanting to hurt JPL's good reputation? personal dislike for Christians or conservatives? We don't know, because he gave no reason. We're not even sure he watched the DVDs like he said he would. (I don't know how anyone could watch The Privileged Planet and Unlocking the Mystery of Life and think for a minute they were "pushing religion".)
But that's looking at it all from a mere human viewpoint. We can be confident God is in control. He answers prayer in His way. He is full of mercy and compassion. Losses in one area He compensates for with blessings in others. The main thing is to remain faithful, rejoicing in each day's blessings and opportunities. The next chapters remain to be written, but we know the story of the adventure of faith has a great ending.