Chicago Sun-Times
...with Jesus, doctors and common sense

40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart

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God bless you.
Today (Monday, June 30), my wife, Joyce, and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.
Those are shouting numbers that remind me how blessed I am to find a woman to put up with me that long.
They don't make too many marriages like ours anymore. So ours to truly extraordinary.
Right now, it's 6:28 a.m. Sunday (June 29) as I write this entry. Some 20 feet in back of me, Joyce, my beautiful, adorable, tender and sweet Kansas City honeybabysugarpie, is power-walking on our family-room treadmill as I await my turn in our fight against fat. Around 10 a.m., we leave for Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, where Pastor Joseph Jackson has invited me to preach and I shall preach about "The Inseparable Love of God."
While I first thank God for blessing me to have Joyce put up with me as my wife for 40 years, after she had been my girlfriend for seven, I second thank God for blessing me to be alive for this day.
Just three months ago, when I was diagnosed with end-staged congestive heart failure (requiring a heart transplant), brain cancer and prostate cancer, and my heart was so weak I could not walk 10 steps, eat a meal or wash my face without stopping to catch my breath, I was scared to death for my life.
Yes, that's right.
Me, Lacy J. Banks, the fiery preacher, the Mr. Tough Guy and brave sportswriter for the Chicago Sun-Times for 36 years--I was scared. I even doubted whether I could outlive this triple dose of doom to see today.
But by the healing grace and mercy of Almighty God, the prayers of His saints, the care of competent doctors like Dr. Allen Anderson, Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, Dr. Glenn Gerber, Dr. Brian Moran, Dr. Jim Flaherty and, now, Dr. John Alverdy, the love and care, among others, of my wife, first and foremost, and the application of my faith and common sense, I am a very impressive "healing in progress."
Now, here you are, my loyal readers and faithful prayer partners--you have accepted my invitation, through this blog, to watch God work. Through your hundreds of emailed comments and through your more than 50,000 silents hits on my blog, making it one of the tops in this distinguished big-city newspaper, you let me know that there are still a lot of caring and sharing people in the world.
God bless you.
Before I give you a more detailed update on my health situation, I want to hand out a round of thanks.

First, I want to thank God, my primary care physician, for the systematic and miraculous way in which

He ironically--check this out--has upgraded my recovery by downgrading my health.

When my heart had become so weak from years of high blood pressure, an enlarged left ventricle

and a defective mitral valve that I was hospitalized to undergo tests for a heart transplant, God

disqualified me from the waiting list by blessing me to be diagnosed with the cancers of my brain's

pituitary gland and of my prostate. Then, in order, He blessed the brain tumor to be benign and the

prostate tumors to be limited (two), early-staged, localized and conducive for effective treatment by the

minimal-invasive procedure of brachytherapy, or the implantation of radioactive seeds.

Second, I want to thank my family. It starts with Joyce, my loving primary caregiver. She

gives me a reason for wanting to live. Then, she helps make sure that I take my medicines, keep my

doctor's appointments, watch what I eat and watch how hard I work and exercise so that I don't do too

much too soon. Then, there are my daughters Nicole Chapman, Noelle Banks and Natasha Banks, who

strengthen me and help sustain me with their love and prayers. Next, there are my five

grandchildren--Laren, David, Timothy and Nina Chapman, and Caleb Banks. They also give me lots

to live for and they pray for me and with me.

Third, I want to thank God for blessing me to have a fruitful career at a first-class newspaper

like the Chicago Sun-Times, where I have had good bosses and great fellow journalists to work with for

36 years. A lot of other papers would not allow me to run this kind of blog, where I can praise God and

preach as I report the agonies and ecstasies of battling cancer and a bad heart.

Fourth, I want to thank you readers, you prayer partners, you well-wishers and you fellow Christians

for helping me to keep my mind stayed on Jesus and to inspire me with the feeling that countless

people are behind me. This past week, for example, WLS-TV news anchorwoman Cheryl Burton, sent me

a most heart-warming, hand-written get-well card.

Fifth, I want to thank all my doctors, who have been readily accessible as well as encouraging and

competent in their care.

Now, for a most encouraging praise report and health update.

Presently, my main concern now is not my bad heart, my brain cancer or my prostate cancer. Rather,

it is an abdominal hernia. Although, I had suspected I had one for years because of pains in the area of

my lower back, lower stomach and left groin area, it was first originally spotted in an echo ultra-sound of

my stomach on April 3 at theUniversity of Chicago Medical Center and then officially confirmed Friday at

the UCMC by Dr. John C. Alverdy, the institution's world renown professor of surgery and director of its

Center for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity.

The first doctor, a younger fellow and promising apprentice, could not find it. He examined me

diligently as he had me lie on my back. He even thought it might be an herniated disc in my back, another

suspicion that I have had.

But when the inimitable Dr. Alverdy came in, he crystalized chaos into cosmos. He gloved his

hands in blue plastic rubber, had me stand and drop my shorts. Then he raised his right index

finger for emphasis and used it to prove the crevice of my left groin until he found that evasive breach

and poked it until I echoed an agonizing, but joyful, "ouch!" because he had identified the problem.

Dr. Alverdy's staff now will set up a date within six weeks for what he says will be a

minimal-invasive, out-patient operation that afterward will require a six-week recovery.

Thursday, roughly 20 hours earlier, Dr. Anderson, my UCMC cardiologist, had examined my heart

and had given me a praise report to pass on to you. After his nurse Barbara had checked me in with a

blood pressure reading of 99 over 67, a pulse rate of 47, a temperature of 97.6 Farenheit and a weight of

231 (including my three-pound baggy britches), Dr. Anderson listened to my heart from various points

on my body as I coughed and then gave me his conclusion.

"I am really pleased and impressed with the wonderful way your heart is responding to the new

medicines I've prescribed," he said. "First, I was thinking I might have to add some. But after examining

you, I believe we can decrease some of the medicines you have been taking."

Friday, Dr. Anderson's nurse called and told me to eliminate two of the nine different medicines

I had been taking daily and also decreased the dosages of a couple of those I continue to take.

Excuse me, English teacher, but ain't God good?

God bless you.

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Dear Lacy,

While I don't post a comment very often I am one who reads your blog regularly. God is good. God is good all the time -- all the time God is good. You are a blessing to me. For a long time I have looked up to Joni Eareckson Tada when I was depressed and feeling sorry for myself. I have now added you to my list as a person who gives me spiritual uplifting. One night several weeks ago I couldn't sleep and was just dialing up and down the radio dial. I came across WGN in Chicago (I am in Cincinnati) and Steve & Johnny were talking about your article in the newspaper telling of your health problems. I am so thankful for not being able to sleep that night -- otherwise I would not have had the blessing of reading your blogs. Congratulations on your anniversary and may you have many, many more. God bless you and your family.

Banks' response: Thank you so much Liz for taking precious time and energy to read my blog and to offer words of encouragement, You are a symbol of tens of thousands of silent readers who care and pray and leave it at that instead of accenting that support with a comment. I pray God grants you special blessings for your compassion for those less fortunate than yourself in one way or another. God bless you,

Good Afternoon Rev.

Boy I wish I had read this blog early yesterdzy morning! I would have met you at Mt Pisgah. I praise and thank God for the good report that you have given us. Did we expect anything different? I think not. Congratulations to you and Joyce on your anniversary. Both of you are such a fine example as to what a marriage should be. When I pray for you I pray for her because I know that she is your primary caregiver and she needs her strength from the Lord too. I guess when you have the minor surgery we won't hear from you as often while you recover but know that I will still be praying for you and your family. Now.....go make your reservations for Hawaii (if you haven't already). Also, you've been preaching a lot lately. You just had an engagement last Sunday. Doesn't it take a lot out of you?

Love and Blessings,


Banks' response: Donna, preaching empowers me. Really. Sure, I sweat like a hog at slaughter time. But I am a sweater naturally anyway. Always have been. Picking cotton in Mississippi as a boy gave me a head start in the sweating department. Also, preaching is more of a supernatural act than a natural one. And when I'm preaching to praying and praising saints who push me onward with "Amens" and "Come on up!" and "Let me hear you!", that puts a lot more into me than preaching takes a lot out of me.
Thanks so much for your continued prayers and for your anniversary greeting for Joyce and me. We are a blessed couple with our seven years of courtship, our 40 years of nonstop marriage, our three daughters and five grandchildren. Plus, my health challenges have revived old friendships that are enriching me in ways I never thought possible. God is better than any of us can imagine and there are secret wonders He will bestow upon us that are beyond human understanding. We just have to thank God, give Him the credit and the glory and praise His name.

Rev. Banks,

I lost my oldest brother in April to a brain aneurysm. He was only 49. In the last 15 years I've lost 3 siblings and my mother. My faith in God seems to waiver. Somedays I feel like he doesn't know I exist and I get angry. And then I came across your blog. It is so inspirational and I feel like God is speaking to me through you. May you continue to receive miraculous news about your health. And may you continue to spread the good news of God. Thank you for being a blessing to me.

Banks response: God bless you, Crystal, for reading this blog and for sharing the thoughts, feelings and best wishes. You and I can feel sad when we think of the many good people and things that we have lost. But they really are small compared to the things we have gained, are gaining and continue to gain.
One thing life's negatives should always remind us is that we are not in heaven yet. If there were nothing but happy times, good fortune, no pain and no death on this earth, what good would heaven be? In the bible, the Apostle Paul studied the situation carefully and he concluded that the negatives of this world, at the end of the day, are nothing compared to the unlimited positives that await us in Heaven. But until then, as bad as things may be for us at times, there are millions of people elsewhere in the world who wish they could change places with us.
Suffering teaches us to appreciate life, earth, heaven, friends and, most of all, God. For is we never were hungry, how could we appreciate food? If we never were sick, how could we appreciate being well? If we never were poor, how could we appreciate being rich? If we never were sad, how could we appreciate being glad? If we never were lonely, how else could we appreciate friends.
And as friends go, Crystal, an ol' hymn reminds us:
What a friend we have in Jesus.
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh what peace we often forfeit.
Oh what needless pains we bear.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Dear Rev. Banks,
You are a living testament of the power of God's Healing. An affirmation that miracles still happen. Something a part time person of week faith needs to see.
Thank You,
N Ellis

Banks' response: Yes, indeed, I am a living testimony in terms of God's healing. And every living testimony should spend time and energy testifying about the goodness of God. Thank you for your comforting encouragement.

May God continue to bless you and your family for years to come. God is good, he will continue to watch over you and take care of you, as I hope he does to all the good people out there. Last but not least, congratulations on your 40th wedding anniversary, May God Bless you with many, many more anniversaries.

Banks' response: I thank God for blessing me to see this day. Three months ago, I had serious doubts because of critical health issues until I took the issues to God, prayed for Him to heal me and then I went public with this healing it by blogging it in this newspaper and inviting you to watch God work.
Oh, yes, Sonia, thanks to the grace of mercy of almighty God, my soul and your soul are witnesses that God has not shut down His business of healing and of working miracles. He is still changing water into wine, feeding many with little, casting our demons and setting captives free. Thank you, Sonia, for letting God use you to bless me with your comments. And rest assured that the goodness you extend to me and headed back to you manifold.

Happy Anniversary to you both! I am still praying for you all. I really want to thank you for your sharing. I cannot explain what reading your blog does for me. I cry, I laugh, I smile and I just feel good. Witnessing your healing is a joy. It really makes a difference on my down days. As you lift HIM, you lift many of our spirits and remind us HE is there for all of us. Can you imagine how your physicians must feel, knowing God has gifted them to do what they are doing with you? Wow, what a feeling! HE's amazing, ain't he? (I like saying it that way, too)We continue to praise and thank HIM for all HIS blessings. It's shouting time, preacher! Yes, yes, yes!

Banks' response: I'm so happy to have the stout-hearted, fervent-faith likes of your as my fellow passengers on this trust train. It is so beautiful how God's strength is being made perfect in my frailness of body. He said He would do this for us believers. And I want to make double sure that His healing grace is not wasted one bit. By praising Him publicly from the start and making this whole miraculous process a public affair through this blog, I want to make sure that God's Kingdom gets supreme praise mileage and maximum publicity.
I want the world to know, by my example, that it still is no secret what God can do. There obviously is a secret as to how He does things. I still don't know how He makes the snowflake, how He holds an aviation school for birds in their birth shells so that they are hatched programed to fly, or how he can make a black cow eat green grass and brown hay and produce white milk, yellow butter and orange cheese. Yes it is a secret how God does things. But it is no secret what He can do because He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
All this makes our jobs easier.
Our job is to call.
His job is to answer.
Our job is to get sick .
His job is to heal us when we pray and believe.
Our job is to ask.
His job is to give.
Our job is to seek.
His job is to make sure we find.
Our job is to knock.
His job is to make sure the door is opened.

Bless you for sharing your journey with us. May God keep you in a peaceful place as you continue to heal.

I was touched by your column about why we dont love more; I wonder the same thing, too.
I think there are many more people who feel the same way you and I do, and just putting your thoughts into words reminds us to reach out and help each other thru this life.

Banks' response: You got that right. It's one thing to lose your life to a sickness or an accident that's not your fault. But to have somebody to shoot you for money and sometimes for no reason is senseless savagery. We just pray that it doesn't happen to us or somebody near and dear to us. But even when it happens to others, the Holy Ghost won't let us be at peace. We share the hurt. All the more reason why we will be glad when Jesus comes back for us and take us away from all this evil and suffering. But until then, our job is to brighten the corner wherever we are, because we are the light of the world, and to occupy until He returns.

Dear Reverand;Growing up in Chicago I know of the great works of the UofC hospitals do. But cannot compare what the Almighty has done for you. I had consultation at the USMC also for my P. cancer. A Gleason of 4+3. I chose the Radiation because of my age (69) as well as the stage. I to have been married to a wonderful woeman for 42 years. My prayers are with you dayly for a succesful recovery. May God Bless you.
Ron, Vivat Jesus

Banks' response: Thank you Ron for your wonderful testimony. Surely, God deserves to be praised and thanked for the way he has preserved your marriage for neither of you, nor both of you, could have done it by yourselves. I don't like to see divorces. But very often people are unequally yolked from the start, are not honest about who they are and terminal incompatibilities are already built into the marriage to where it's only a matter of time before it becomes apparent that there may have been a big wedding but never really a marriage.
My wife and I had a very small house wedding because that's all we could afford. But our marriage obviously has been solid gold overall. I pray that each of our three daughters can enjoy a marriage like their parents have had. But so far, only one is married. And in terms of the other two getting a good husband or even a decent, loving, hard-working boyfriend, the pickings are slim. Most young men today don't want a commitment. They just want to play the field and exploit the affection of women because there are so many heart-broken, lovely women who are desperate for love. But I'm glad that my daughters have enough sense, salvation, faith and self-esteem to realize that it's better to stay single than to get hooked up with some boy in a man's body who is just looking for a second mama to take care of him.

We serve an awesome God! I along with many others admire you and your family for giving us an opportunity to witness the mighty, merficful and graceful acts of healing towards you. You are in my prayers daily.
Rev. Weathersby

Banks' response: Thank you for your continued prayerful support.

Let me start by saying "Yes God is Good." I have seen the hand of God work in my own life. We are truly blessed. My husband and I recently seperated after 10 years of marriage due to infidelity and we were also high school sweethearts. I cannot even picture my life with anyone else do you or your wife have any suggestions since you live in the Chicago area as do I. I am a Believer my husband is not. I know that is one issue. Where is your Church located? Congrats again on 40 years. That is truly a blessing. God bless you and your family. Thanks for being a testimony. More African-American males need to get check-ups.

"Windy City"

Banks' response: I'm sorry to hear that your marriage (?) is breaking up so soon. I wish I knew more about the relationship to determine to better understand why and how it failed to last after so few years. One problem that concerns me most is your statement that you are a "believer," or a Christian ,and he is not. That inconsistency right there can be the breaking point that prevents any starting point in terms of engaging in holy matrimony. I believe that a Christian marriage can only take place between a Christian man and a Christian woman with God serving as the principal unifier in the Christian wedding ceremony. It's not enough that one person believe in God and is truly in love with his would-be spouse and the other does not.
The love and faith in God of the woman can never compensate for the lack of love and faith in God in the man. Many women feel mistakingly that by going through a wedding ceremony with an nonbeliever that they themselves will transform by magical osmosis. But Christian salvation is a personal process between the sinner and the Saviour. Jesus will save whoever comes to Him repenting,believing and asking to be saved.

Dear Rev. Banks,
I am in Dallas(born in chi-town) and your column has been a blessing to me. I am under going chemotherapy for small intestinal cancer. I consistently speak God's healing even when the labs say something different. My doctor is amazed at my faith and stated to me that although he is an atheist he has admired my faith from day one. If for nothing else I hope my testimony can save his soul and make him a believer that God heals. I stand on Psalm 91 and psalm 118. Keep writing this column you are a blessing.

Banks' response: May God's sweet blessings cascade down softly upon you like fluffy snowflakes carpeting the ground. Your heart-warming testimony encourages us all. At least you got your doctor thinking, perhaps a lot more than his pride is willing to let him admit. I pray God's strength continue to make itself perfect in your endurance and that your healing is complete in due season. It's an honor to share this season of physical challenge with you and I pray that God heals you first.

Rev. Banks, you have been a great inspiration to me for many years, I have followed your career and have taken your advice many times. I'm currently living in Orlando Florida, where I've been for almost 20 years. I remember as an aspiring young writer wanting to be Lacy Banks, I cannot forget the way you always answered the phone when I called always Praising God first. I can truly say that you have always let your light shine, from the NBA finals to the World Series everyone knew that Lacy Banks was a man of God. And because of that you where always held in the highest esteem. Lacy Banks your light continues to shine, for me and all those that you brought to Christ, either knowingly or unknowingly through the way you live.

Banks' response: Donna, Orlando has always been a favorite vacation place for my family and me because they loved the weather, Disney World, the people and the nice accomodations with which we would be blessed. Your words are so comforting to me because one never knows how encouraging he is to others unless they say so. And for every one that takes the time to say so personally and in public, at least a thousand feel the same way but don't let the inspirer know. But what matters most at the end of the day is whether Jesus, our Saviour, is pleased with both of us. I believe He is when each of us does good and the others commends and encourages the other. It's just so nice to be nice.

Congrats! 40 years of marriage!! Shows that with God it is possible to have a happy and long lasting marriage! :-)

I love the way you talk about your wife, sounds like you are so completely in love with her!! :) I pray I will have a marriage like that someday!!

God bless,

Giselle B.

Rev. 21:1-7

Banks' response: They used to sing a song with lyrics that read "love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother, you can't have one without the other." Obviously, that is not God's Kingdom formula. For us Kingdom kids, the words would better read, "God, love and marriage go together better than a horse. This I tell you brother, you can't have anything without God."
And yes, that rimes. Not so much in sound, but very much so in substance and sanctified sense. We sought God before we got married, when we got married and all the while we've been married. The Lord has seen us through some tough times. But here we are still in loved and still committed to see this marriage through.

Mr. Banks,

The fact that you continue to thank God, first and foremost, is the reason you have begun to mend. As a practicing Catholic I've learned about the power of prayer and the need to continually thank God for what he will provide for me in the future, as well as the difficulities in the present.

While I've never had the pleasure of meeting you and I would have never read your sports reports because I don't follow sports, you are clearly a wonderful person who God has placed on this earth for a reason. He will continue to keep you hear for several more years because you are necessary.

Mary Frances Bragiel

Banks' response: You are also necessary, Mary, because the likes of you encourage warriors of the Christian faith. I am very heartened by he growing support of my Catholic friends in he Christian family. Several of my relatives and friends are Catholic and I greatly appreciate the discipline, the fervor and the scholarship and skills of real, committed Catholics. That's why I made sure the Catholic schools were integral in the education of my children. Sure, my background and my primary base has been the Baptist denomination. But as I have grown in grace, in wisdom and knowledge, I am a better preacher for understanding and respecting the Catholic as well as the Prostestant worshippers.
My Catholic prayer partners have been most steadfast in their communications with me, sending me encouraging literature and assuring me that they consistently place my name and needs in hallowed reverence, petitioning God for my healing. To be sure, I am also greatly encouraged by my Jewish sisters and brothers. And I'm sure beneficial support from adherents of other faiths, making my cause a recipient of generous religious crossover. We may not use the same religious linguistics. And any faith that urges and teaches its believers to love one another is the religion that can save this world for my bible teaches, and I preach, that he that loveth not knoweth not God for God is love.

Hello! Pastor Garrett is always asking about you and praying for you & we are so glad to hear how God is blessing you thru His healing power. Congratulations to you and Ms. Joyce for 40 years of marriage!! We are so encouraged to hear how well you are progressing thru this trial, and for you to be so open & honest about it is very encouraging to people who are going thru trials themselves. It helps to know that we don't have to leave so soon from this side of life if we use God sense,and common sense from multitudes of wise counselors! Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

Banks' response: How super it is to receive your encouraging comment, Dr. and Evangelist Garrett. My wife and I thank God for bringing us into fellowship with two solid Christian ministers like you two. Keep us in your prayers as we will do the same for you and there is no limit as to what we can receive and achieve.

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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on June 29, 2008 6:26 AM.

I'm fighting to live while others are fighting to die was the previous entry in this blog.

Best wishes from high school classmates is the next entry in this blog.

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