Gripey no Griping!

Are you a griper?  Not sure if griper is a word but I know the sentiment.  I think it’s easy to gripe in our society.  Maybe it has to do with how blessed we are.  Most of us have food to eat, have a roof over our heads, and generally compared to many in the world are hugely blessed beyond imagination. 

For a while it was the whole comparison of who has the biggest house or car or highest paying job – the oh so loved keeping up with the Jones’.  But these days it seems that it’s who’s got the worst life or the most to complain about any given day.  Who’s having the worst day ever?  I love social networking – facebook, twitter, etc. and I’m glad that people can share with each other and lift each other up.  I think it’s an awesome community thing and heck there’s a lot of pastoral care out there.  I’m unsure though if we’re noticing the line between venting and griping.

Griping.  That negativity.  That dissatisfaction.  That yuck is contagious.  If enough people complain about something, it becomes the reality for those people and it’s just an open festering wound without any hope of repair or restoration.  What good does it do to gripe?  Does it make you feel better?  Why?  In my lovely little defensive driving class Vicki Reavis said something that has stuck with me – you can’t control the other car.  You can’t control what the other person does.  But you can control how you react to it.  You can control what you do.  So when that person steals your parking space and you had your blinker on or doesn’t give you the courtesy thank you wave or goes super slow in the fast lane or drives in “stealth” mode with no blinkers or cutting you off in traffic – you can’t control them – but you can make sure it doesn’t get under your skin and shape your day.

The thing is – if we believe in a Savior – a God with us, if we truly believe that this Teacher that came and walked among us really calls us to this new life….if we really believe that – than we’ve got a lot to be thankful for.  I loved seeing people’s thanksgiving facebook statuses.  It was fun to read what people are thankful for.  I wonder how easy/hard it would be to keep up that practice all year long?  Could you come up with 1 or 2 or 3 things to be thankful for every day?  If you had the discipline to do that, would that change the way you see the world?  Would you appreciate things or look for things to be thankful for in a different way if your eyes were open and watching for them?

Don’t go down the griping road.  Just like on Dora the Explorer – Swiper, no swiping! and in life Griper, no griping!  Vent.  Get it off your chest.  Verbalize it.  But don’t let it ruin your day and rule your life.  Look around you – these beautiful trees changing from Autumn to Winter; the expectant and crazy anticipation of Christmas in the eyes of a child; the mighty wind blowing through the trees.  God has provided for us everything that we need.

Check out Chris August’ Starry Night.  I love this song.  If we believe this, we won’t be griping.  We’ll be praising.

So even on this cloudy day during the last full week of classes when students are swamped completely and are trying to figure out how in the world they will get everything done – may they get the strength that they need, may the keep going in perseverance, may they get restorative rest even on little sleep, may they find time in the day they didn’t know they had, may they have wisdom in scheduling their time, and may they know and feel the love and grace and peace of God surrounding them!

Oh Christians…

So it’s been pop culture Christian overload lately with Glee last night – Dear Cheezus (one of the main characters praying to a grilled cheese sandwich that happened to be burned with the face of Jesus into it – very random considering that the news was covering a woman who found the face of Jesus in her MRI but neither here nor there…) and watching the movie Easy A a few weeks ago. 

Christianity is so often a parody or stereotype but I’m glad to see television, movies, and media really trying to engage in the conversation even in random ways.  In Easy A Christianity becomes the hate/bashing/judging yuck of quintessential stereotypes, and yet I think that’s how a lot of people associate us.  If I was playing family feud right now (new obsession thanks to my wonderful students who hounded me until I accepted an invite) what would the number 1 answers be for – describe a Christian?  I hope we would not do too terribly, but I have a sinking suspicion that it wouldn’t be all that great.

A recent Pew study just came out in Christian Century and it was saying that one of the challenges for declining worship attendance/church membership is that the group that most self-identifies as having “no religion” are 25-34 year olds http://ow.ly/2OFU9.  It’s a good article and I like that it is looking at worship attendance instead of typical church membership because it seems that less and less people want to actually “join” even though we are great at “joining” things and “liking” things on facebook.  There’s just something about doing it in real life that seems to freak people out or turn people off or make them think that there’s this big commitment or wapow! sudden change that’s going to suddenly happen.

The study also looked at why people are attending church less frequently.  Is it demands on time?  Is it lack of commitment?  Is it cultural/social/any kind of relevancy?  Is it a time or schedule thing?  Is it inconvenient?  Does it not meet our criteria of being a “good enough” use of our time?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s all of these and a ton more that no one wants to admit or say outloud. 

I had lunch with a student today and we were talking about Wesley.  In case I haven’t told you this is what some would call a rebuilding year for us.  I kind of don’t like that language and am not sure if I even want to type it, but we graduated a huge group of seniors last year and in many ways those were our leaders – the people that showed up consistently and really rocked it out.  That can have a big impact on a group.  Trust me.  We’ve also had a lot more people with night classes and schedule changes and blah, blah, blah.  Bottom line – you can’t please everyone and there’s no good time for everyone to meet.  Maybe we should just move it to Sundays at 11 am – just kidding.  Anyway in our conversation we talked about the balance of wanting Wesley to not be a place of stress or people feeling like they have to come even if they’re swamped with schoolwork, etc. but also the kick back of not wanting Wesley to always be put on the back burner of whatever comes up in the many other activities these students are committed to.  You want to give grace and you want people to not be overwhelmed, but then again do you want to make it so easy for them to pop in and pop out that they miss what it means to be committed to something?

Is that how we treat our congregations or worshipers?  Do we notice when some of them are missing or just randomly show up once every other month?  I’ve never been someone that says we need to bow down to the sticker chart in the sky of how many times we’ve been to church over the past year, but I also think I’m a bit guilty of not taking seriously the commitment of being part of a community of faith or of realizing that worship, community, and the body of Christ matter more than we sometimes give it credit or rationalize away.

We know we can turn to the church when the chips are down and we don’t know where else to go, but where do we go when we’re happy or things are going well or when life just gets too busy?  Is “church” the first thing to get cut from the to do list, when a better offer shows up?  Nope, we’re not getting extra brownie points here, but we’re missing out too.

You don’t just go to church for the numbers or the “memberships.”  You go because there’s something about intentionally sharing and being in community with people you wouldn’t necessarily spend 10 minutes with outside these walls.  There’s something about letting your guard down and being family that is sacred.  There’s something about breaking bread and opening up to someone that can’t be undervalued.  It’s not always easy.  It’s not always convenient.  It will often challenge you.  And maybe sometimes you do feel shut out, unwelcome and frustrated.  But you don’t chuck it all over the little things – or it must not have meant that much to you to begin with.

Watching Glee last night and still actually being within that age range that the Pew study was talking about – I don’t  think it’s that people don’t care about religion and maybe it doesn’t even have to do with commitment level (even though I think this has some to do with it for all ages), but maybe our Christian story is not as clearcut for everyone.  Take for example Donald Miller’s blog post about the Blue Like Jazz movie http://bit.ly/aUcLb2 .  It’s hard to find backers for a “Christian” movie that’s not a typical clear-lined story.  I hear completely what he is saying.  But there are a lot of Christians that don’t have a hallmark movie story.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the hallmark movies or those of us that fit that mold, but there’s also nothing wrong with a little Lifetime thrown in either.  Just kidding.  I’m not advocating the drama, but I’m saying that maybe our Christianity sprinkled with a little pop culture (GleeEasy A – don’t forget Saved – and many more) speaks more to the fact that people are trying to sincerely search, question in deep ways, and claim both a brain and a foundational belief in the Gospel.  It seems like the conversation is changing – but I’m not sure that everyone is realizing that or if it’s changing at all for some folks.

Christianity doesn’t always fit neatly into certain parameters, and I don’t think Jesus did either.  But he did challenge and he did call forth something different – something not always easy and something you had to commit to.  May we not just show up for worship or believe on the inside, but may we also live out, question, challenge and nurture our faith in a variety of ways!  Looking forward to continuing the journey with you!

So if Family Feud asked you to describe “Christians” what would you say?

More than the Good Samaritan

So Sunday I preached the Luke 10:25-37 text which is commonly known as the Good Samaritan text.  I remember learning about the Good Samaritan in Sunday School with the felt board and little characters at Wesley Chapel.  When you’re a kid though you don’t get the inside info of the beginning piece of the lawyer asking Jesus “What do I need for eternal life?” or the back and forth of the conversation, and I totally don’t remember getting the big deal of this being a person from Samaria being the one to help.  All I know as a child was that this person was hurt on the road and needed help and yet these two people that were supposed to be the godly ones kept walking past while this other guy actually stopped, helped and supported the hurt person.  Pretty simple lesson right?  You want to be the one that stops and helps and not the don’t make eye contact, keep hurrying along people.

We watch The Bachelorette every Monday night.  Yes I know that is trashy television, some believe it’s scripted, they almost always break up, it’s contrived, etc., etc.  But I still love the show and when you can fast forward the yucky parts including most of the rose ceremony – it ain’t half bad.  Anyway, right after The Bachelorette they have this insane show that gets on my absolute nerves called True Beauty.  The whole premise is that these contestants think they’re trying to win a chance to be “The Face of Vegas” and they do all these challenges and everything, but the real contest is all these hidden cameras shooting them and showing what they’re really made of.  You see, they’re supposed to have beauty not just on the outside but on the inside as well.  So it records if they’ll cheat to get ahead or if they’re trash talking behind someone’s back or if they, just like the Good Samaritan, help those in need right in front of them or they just keep walking.  We didn’t end up watching the whole show because we wanted to catch up on some Leverage, but we caught the last 5 minutes where the poor girl was eliminated because she did cheat at the challenges, she did trash talk and she didn’t bother to help a mother trying to take care of her child and load luggage into her car, while the other contestant did.

So in thinking about the Good Samaritan I think about True Beauty.  If our lives were recorded every day what would the verdict be for us?  Would we have true beauty or would we cheat, trash talk, and keep walking when there’s an obvious need that we could do something about?  Lord only knows.  Literally.  I mean you’ve been waiting in a line at a red light with the other cars and someone’s trying to raise money for the Humane Society or the local Fire Department or some other group.  Do you readily give or do you do like I sometimes do and suddenly you get very busy changing the radio station, digging in your purse, or texting someone on your phone.  Do not make eye contact.

What I like about this text is that it’s not just about the story.  It starts off with that eternal life question and then it digs deep into the law – straight from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear O Israel:  The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.  Bind the as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  And the other law follows – to love your neighbor as yourself.

On Sunday I took a blue sharpie marker and wrote on my palm the word “LOVE” for the children’s sermon.  There’s just something about those words in Deuteronomy about writing this as a sign on your hand or an emblem on your forehead.  Some of us might think wait a sec I don’t want to toot my horn and put all this stuff out there like I’m somehow better than other folk.  Or maybe it’s like many a pastor including me that has said I don’t want to put anything on my car – fish, bumper sticker, or clergy sticker – because I sure don’t drive like I should.  If we wrote something on our hand or on our forehead reminding us to love God and love neighbor – would that help remind us?  would that make us pause before we look away?  would that make us see the world a little differently?

The new Senior Pastor at St. John’s said some wise words the other day.  If the church isn’t going to really welcome people, we might as well take welcome off the door.  That’s made me think a lot.  We just took down our two welcome signs at Wesley so that we could paint and add some new ones.  It definitely makes you think.  If we’re not going to live it, we sure as heck better not say we do.  That’s a challenge to each of us.

What would they show on your True Beauty?  None of us get it right all the time, but I’d like to think we’re at least striving towards it with God’s grace.  What situations challenge you to show love?  patience?  grace?

Lights Will Lead You Home

So am I the only one who has been incessantly watching America’s Got Talent?  I don’t know if it’s the lack of things on television right now or I’m just waiting to start watching Big Brother (love that show!), but we have been watching America’s Got Talent over and over and over.  They’re now down to the final 48 if you don’t know.  If that seems like a lot of people/acts left to you – wow you don’t know how long it took to get there or with what angst.

These episodes stress me out.  I know that makes me a sad person that I get so emotionall invested in tv shows but it’s not like these people are all professional people that are used to being rejected.  Some of these people you envision are just like you and me – joe blow.  Maybe melodramatic but it’s heart breaking when some of them get the boot.  I really wanted the guy with the kite to make it even though I know you couldn’t watch that for over an hour in a Vegas act (and that’s the prize) but still….  I don’t like to see the crushing rejection.  That’s not entertainment.  But you can’t have the good without the bad.  For every sad defeat, you’ve got someone who gets blown away by the opportunity to perform in Hollywood in front of a live audience one step closer to their dream.  Those moments are amazing!  The excitement, joy, hugs….wow….the blonde girl that sings Jewel and grew up in foster care, the kid from Alabama whose Dad said him making it was the most proud moment of his life, I can’t believe they let the hand whistle lady go through but dude – she was jumping up and down with a walker – that is excitement.

Last night as they were making some folks dreams happen and they were sadly crushing others they played Coldplay’s “Fix You.”  I like this song.  I’ve like it for a long time.  There’s something about the melody and the build up in the middle that really speak to the journey for me…that really speak to the every person.  One of the lectionary scriptures this week is from Luke (10:25-37) and it’s talking about the Good Samaritan and who our neighbor is…among other things.  When I think about America’s Got Talent and how some of these crazy yokels could literally be our next door neighbor – I think about that story.  When I think about MLK’s wise words that we encounter half the world every morning in the clothes that we wear and the food that we eat and all of the many ways that our wide but intricately connected world makes quick neighbors of even the most far-reaching among us.  I think about this Coldplay song and the lights the lead each of us home.  Not I’m not listening to the song for complete theological accuracy and no I’m not debating the “I will try to fix you,” because I think God does a heck of a lot more than just fix us.  But I do like that even as melancholy as the song starts out, the building instrumental bridge in the middle and the crescendo that happens there to me speaks very much to the ebb and flow of life and that we are all in this together.  That lights/our neighbors/the love of God/all sorts of crazy things do lead us home.

So who are those neighbors?  Who are the lights in our life?  What does that mean as we follow God?  What is Jesus trying to say here?  I am thankful for those that journey with us.  Those that we know and those that we don’t.  Those that we see every day and those that we see once in a lifetime.  Those that we think are just like us and those that challenge and stretch our points of view in mighty and prophetic ways.

I guess we’ll see how our neighbors in this crazy tv show will do in the coming weeks…

Dad’s Day

So I got to hear Josh this morning at Bethel.  It is rare now that I’m not in a pulpit on Sunday mornings and so it is a good treat when as someone told me this morning, I can be a “pew filler.”  It’s good to get to go to worship and just be and not have to do.  Josh preached from 1 Kings 19:1-15 this morning and he really brought out the larger story of the text and the battle that was waging between Elijah and Jezebel.  There is an ever present battle raging on and it’s easy to get discouraged from time to time.  It struck me the question that the voice of God asked Elijah – “What are you doing here?”  It reminded me of the little smart girl troup on the show Phinneas and Ferb and the beautiful little girl who is in love with Phinneas who asks always very loving and innocently, “Whatcha doin?” in such a sing song way.  What are you doing here?  Did you think life wasn’t going to be a topsy turvy battle?  Did you think that you’d win this skirmish and then it would all be done and set and steady?

Josh reminded me this morning of two of the things that Dad did when we were growing up.  When my mom went back to school to get her master’s degree in counseling to be an elementary guidance counselor, Dad became a self-proclaimed Mr. Mom for a while.  On the way to school in the mornings when we were in elementary school he would sing us John Denver, particularly “Sunshine on My Shoulder.”  Now you should know that Dad is not a singer.  LOL.  If you have ever been in one of his churches and the mic was on during the singing – you know that even though Dad enjoys singing, it’s the joyful noise kind.  And yet on the way to school, he would sing us these John Denver songs.  Not worried about how he sounded or anything about pitch, but just concerned with showing us how much he loved us.  He also would pick us up from school every day and we would get an afternoon snack.  When Josh asked the congregation this morning where they thought he picked up our snack from someone wisely said McDonald’s.  Heck that would have been more nutritious.  We actually would stop at a local gas station.  Oh, the nutrional value.  Josh remembers getting Tahition Punch (the least likely nutrional thing around – please I hope our dentists are not reading this but I do think it explains a lot) and Butterfingers.  I would always get NuGrape, the sugariest grape soda I could find.  So yes we had purple and red mouths and who knows how we didn’t each weigh a gazillion pounds, but we knew we were taken care of and loved.

As preacher’s kids we had a pretty good sense of this whole good versus evil thing.  I mean hello – who didn’t watch Star Wars and know the difference between the Jedi and the Dark Side.  We didn’t really like the Wicked Witch of the West or her flying monkeys and we knew we were safe in God’s house.  There was a 7th Heaven episode one time that showed Matt hanging out in the church, in the sanctuary and they had to consult some PK’s on that one because it was so real to who we were.  We knew who was sick or in the hospital, we knew what it meant to pray, we knew what it meant that our Dad was a pastor to this congregation and that meant he was here, there and everywhere.

The thing that stands out to me about my Dad was what a good example he was of being a real example of someone trying to live a faithful life.  He’s not perfect by any means, but he sure as heck never claims to be.  He can tell crazy stories about all sorts of things and he’s not someone anyone would ever call mamby pamby.  He is as strong and fierce and no holes barred as one can get and still follow Christ.  And that’s what I appreciate and love the most about him.  His integrity.  That he will say what he believes and stand by it whether it’s popular or not.  That he speaks the truth even when it’s super annoying, a little too blunt, and sometimes scarily too honest.  Right now he’s at the College World Series in Omaha and he spent the night on the asphalt last night, the fifth person in line to get tickets for today’s Carolina and Clemson games.  Poor games are rain delayed right now but hopefully he’ll get to use those good seats soon.  What’s funny is that in line yesterday he met this scalper.  Dad doesn’t really meet strangers – he starts talking to them, much to the usual annoyance of the rest of us.  Anyway, so somehow the man found out he is a minister and so today the man walks up to him and starts trying to talk to him and break in the line.  See here’s the thing.  Dad may be a minister, but some dude breaking into line when he’s slept on the asphalt all night – that’s not going to cut it.  So he went toe to toe with the guy.  Thankfully security came over and asked the guy if he had slept there all night and he of course said no so he told him to go to the back of the line.  You see Dad’s not one of those Christians that is just going to sit idly by and let someone cut in the line.  Yeah, yeah, I know about the whole talents thing or the workers thing with one group only working a little while and getting paid the same and that not being fair or the prodigal son stuff and I’m not really talking about those times.  What I’m talking about are the times like Elijah where we feel beat down and we’ve had enough and we say okay, we’re out – we’re done.  My Dad as crazy as he is, let’s me know that we’re not out, we’re not done, and we keep on going.  That there is a battle ever raging before us and we keep going searching for guidance and leaning on the word of God.  Because the greater story is not yours or mine, it’s God’s.

I’m thankful that God gives us those loving reminders and touchstones to look to whether it be John Denver on the way to school or sugary snacks in the afternoon or the example of one who keeps on living it and battling it out no matter the adversity.  This morning we sang the song, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and those lyrics can say it better than anything I can ever write.  Much more than the love of our earthly fathers whether biological or otherwise, God’s faithfulness provides for us and abides in us always.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Refrain

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Y’all’s faithful prayers have made a huge difference in my life.  I know that it is those prayers that is given me the strength and energy to play with the kids and keep on keeping on.  I can’t say how humbling it is to know that there are so many people praying for me.  It actually kind of freaks me out.  But I am hugely thankful for it.  Your faithfulness will not be forgotten.  All of my love to each of you and happy father’s day, padre!  Here’s Great is Thy Faithfulness by Chris Rice.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k1WhFtVp0o

The Night Before

No television shows tonight.  I was hoping Grey’s Anatomy would be on to help gear me up but no, still basketball.  Do think it’s cool it’s the Celtics and the Lakers and close games but other than that – I don’t care at all.

I’m tired.  It was amazingly amazing going to conference and I’m super glad I did!  I completely appreciate the prayers and I sure do hope Josh doesn’t melt in his yert (it could be gert I keep getting it wrong).  We had a good night with the kiddos.  The train table arrived and Mike put it together so the E’s will have something fun to play with for the next few days.  GiGi fixed a delicious brunswick stew and we celebrated both Mike’s mom’s (GiGi) and my mom’s (Grammy) birthday since we kind of robbed them of both of them.  GiGi found out the news about my lovely interloper in the noggin on June 2nd her birthday and tomorrow is my mom’s birthday so you get the drift.  But cake was had and the kids were bathed and eventually went to sleep!  They must think that it’s Christmas or something crazy going around here with so many family members in and out and gifts abounding and loose rules on bed time and everything else.

I feel a little bit like it’s the night before Christmas as well – something with anticipation.  Maybe the night before meeting with the Board of Ordained Ministry or some pressure cooked situation like that.  I’m not supposed to eat after midnight so don’t think I’m not going to pop a couple peanut m&m’s with my medicine while I still have the chance.  Other than that, the bags are packed, the bills for casa de Jeter and Wesley are paid, and I think everything’s in reasonably good shape for the unknown.

The surgery time has been moved up from arriving at 11:15 and surgery at 1:30 to arriving at 9 am and surgery at 11:15 am.  I’d like to think this is because the neurosurgeon is so super excited to go ahead and get going on this thing that he’s as geared up to get rid of this as I am.  Could be.  Or could be simple scheduling but I still like to think of him gearing up to take out this lovely thing in my head.

I have felt so much reassurance and love and prayers and encouragment and I think if I had hugged one more person at Annual Conference I might would have melted, but it’s good to have that community around you rallying.  Much like a basketball game or other crazy sporting event, you want to have some team spirit and folks cheering you on and into the game not just passively watching, but all up in it.  I hope that’s how we are when we’re church with one another.  We’re not just watching from the sidelines but we have a Saviour who gets messy and is sweaty and drinking the gatorade and gearing up right along with everyone else.  Our Bishop today talked a lot about the least of these today and the passage where there’s the back and forth of Yo Jesus, when did I see you and you were hungry and I didn’t do anything at all about it or when did I see you homeless and didn’t offer you a place to stay, etc. etc. on back to the highlight of inasmuch as you have done it for the least of these my people – you have done it for me.  Situations like this can’t help but be humbling.  Whether asking for a ride or for help to lead a session or for the simple merciful act of prayer – it kind of sucks being the one on the receiving end in our worlds sometime because we see ourselves as the big helpers and fixers and heroes.  But you know what – we can’t always be the ones doing the big wohoo thing – we need to be in the trenches with each other and learning from each other – not in a top down or “here we are to save the day!” kind of thing but in a we’ve all got things to give and we’ve all got things to learn and we’re all in this together.  None of us have it all figured out and none of us are completely clueless.

So I thank all of the medical people tomorrow who’s gift is to do this amazing medical thing that is completely outside of my English/PoliSci brain.  I thank all of the people that can cook, including my husband and mother in law because we all know that I don’t.  I thank all of the people with gifts of encouragement and prayer and passion as they share it freely and with such grace to so many people both within their communities and the random strangers that get sent our way.  I thank each of you for your prayers because I really do believe they can move mountains.

I’ve never completely loved professional sports because there’s just something about college sports that show so much more heart (don’t get me started on the University of Southern California today – wow).  But I must say in watching this basketball game – that even though they are making the big bucks either way – they want to win this game!  And even though my doctor tomorrow is making the big bucks either way – I hope he wants to knock it out of the park!  As we all play our parts in the game of life – let’s not sweat the times we get blocked or knocked down or tripped up or schooled once in a while, but let’s keep it moving, keep encouraging each other, keep challenging each other to rise to the occasion, and play our hearts out!

Time for bed.  I’ve got to get pumped up for the big game tomorrow!  (And no I am not going to link to a youtube video of Eye of the Tiger or I Will Survive or whatever, but you get geared up how you need to!)

The Hills

Yes, I’m starting to think I watch too much tv.  However I gave up on The Hills when LC left and there’s nothing really on television right now, so whatever – everyone needs a little catch up.  Why in the heck is Audrina talking to Justin Bobby?  Enough of that.

Well, I’m here at Annual Conference.  Mom and I are living it up in the nice hotel room while Dad and Josh are sleeping outside to raise money for the Central Conference Pension Initiative.  Funny.  I had originally promised that I would spend at least one night outside in solidarity but since I’m only here one night, might as well enjoy the hotel room!  I did help make the posters and construct Josh’s gurt.  Probably spelled that wrong.  If I had a camera I would take you a picture but I totally can’t describe it.

Love, love, loved eating some good bar-b-que with the section 316 folks.  It’s good to break into conference with some love and fellowship and church because we are each other’s church.  We’re each other’s community and it’s good to know that and feel that and trust that.  I hope people take advantage of the tent city and sharing meals and sitting with and getting to know new folks because it’s so important to step out of our little boxes and get to know each other and ways other than that superficial.  We have prayer requests that go out over the conference email list but really knowing each other takes a bit more than just sitting through business once a year.  I’m glad that that’s not all that Christian conferencing is and I’m real glad that we can have a little fun and real relationship here.

So as I watched Josh build his hexayurt or whatever the heck it’s called, I saw I missed a call and listened to a voicemail from the neurosurgeon.  He’s on vacation this week but had received the MRI and functional MRI results.  He gave me his cell number and I called him back and talked with him and let me tell you – that was so good.  To call and talk to not an operator or someone taking my information or just doing a courtesy call, but to the real, live doctor that’s going to be taking out this tumor.  He said that the tumor is right beside the motor cortex but it has not invaded it.  I’m telling you I was thinking about the matrix and those yucky bug looking things that try to break into the ship and I’m thinking heck yeah go motor cortex don’t let that yucky stuff get in there, but that’s my weird brain for you.

Anyway, he said that he should be able to get most of it and that should be the main tricky part – the posterior deep lateral part – whatever that means but those are the area to pray for great precision.  Another prayer would be that he said we can hope that under the microscope it will be obvious what the bad brain matter is and what the good brain matter is based on how they look.  So may that be crystal clear – maybe not matrix like yucky stuff, but nevertheless clear.  He said that there is a small chance of some side effects and potential harm, but that the hope of getting it all out is far outweighs the bad potential so I’m good with that.  He again said what they told me about the one night in neurointensive care and then 3-5 days after that but he (and this is why I like him) leaned more towards the 3 days.  His hope was that in 2-3 weeks I’d be getting my energy back and would be ready to rock and roll and that they could then monitor things by MRI.  The pathologists won’t fully get anything back about what the tumor is, etc. for about 2-3 weeks so hopefully as I start to feel better we can then find out what the heck this whole thing was.

I felt a gazillion times better after talking to him.  Hugely.  He said that he would answer any questions I had on Friday as well – gosh, it’s nice to be able to ask questions.  I feel better.  Or maybe that’s the smell from the sharpie markers that we used to make signs for the Central Conference Pension Initiative.  Either way – I feel like giving my brain a high five for keeping the tumor from invading certain parts and I can feel the prayers around me.

Prayers for all of the many people wrestling with stuff right now – whether that be next steps, destinations, or unsettling news.  May we each have the good sense not to go it alone and the community of support around us to carry us home.