The other post…

I have another post…it’s a really good one too, it’s almost done.  I’ve been working on it for a few days.  There’s a really cool picture in that post from our trip to Fright Fest.  I talk about relevant things in that post. Frustrations with life at the moment, worries about things that are coming, annoyance with people who claim Christianity.  It’s a good post.  I’ll finish it up and post it…it’s a good post.

This isn’t that almost finished post though. You’ve probably already figured that out.

I don’t sleep a lot any more.  Life has been handing us a lot to deal with.  Everyone knows that.  So when I have an excuse not to sleep it makes things better, I can tell myself that I’m not sleeping for a good reason, instead of because of the concern and worry that plagues me. Anyway Tuesday night I was awake because I was concerned about the election.  To be clear I didn’t start out that way, and while I didn’t think it was a complete lock, I was pretty sure that the American people had the keys and were heading to the door…then I popped over to the news and saw the map and realized that not only were we on the edge of the rabbit hole, but that darn rabbit was behind us about to give us a push.

My heart sank when they called state after state for Trump.  There would be one brief moment when sanity seemed to be prevailing, and then again it started to happen with Trump being given state after state.  To make matters worse Republicans retained the Capitol building.  Promising that the next four years have the potential to be terrifying.  Health care will be rocked, common sense regulation abandoned, and another attempt at trickle down economics, a failed concept over and over and over.

More than anything I couldn’t stomach the fact that a man who in 1992 talked to a 10 year old girl and then told people he would be dating her in 10 years was actually going to be sitting in the Oval Office.  I have a 10 year old daughter, in fact I have three daughters, three daughters that have to live in a country that has decided for whatever reason to give a sexual predator the most important desk in the land.

So many of my old evangelical friends have some strange notion that America equals Israel.  That our country is in some way a New Testament substitute for the Old Testament Israelites, except that it’s not true, but for arguments sake lets say they are right (for the record they are not!)  The conventional godspeak that they use is the idea that God set this whole thing up, and while I don’t believe last nights results took God at all by surprise, (part of that whole omniscience thing) Lets apply a concept from the Children of Israel…They decided that they wanted a king, even though they were not supposed to.  They put up a big fuss and told Samuel they wanted a king. Samuel told God, Samuel was frustrated, he understood what was coming, understood what would happen, he could see what was coming even before the whole king thing happened.  He was offended for God, and told God so, then God said this…

king

Several months ago, the religious right anointed Donald Trump as their chosen King.  People like James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham have asked for their King, and have encouraged their followers to do the same.  Well they have the King they asked for…One only need look at what happened to the Children of Israel when God gave them their king. It wasn’t what they were supposed to have, it wasn’t the best thing for them, but they didn’t much care about that, they wanted what they wanted…

Will the world keep turning?  Of course.  Will we make it through the next four years?  I would like us to, but I’m really not sure.  I know that I have friends that are afraid, we minister to Syrian refugee families that are going to be terrified.  Joyce has students at school that are worried. But none of that matters right, because we have a guy who promised to repeal healthcare, stand up for the right to own guns, build a wall keeping people out…(do we realize that walls also keep us in?)  A guy who consistently disparages entire people groups, looks at women as less than men, and is down with torture, and using nuclear weapons if we need to…

They have their King…

As a person that follows Christ I have this mandate to share the Gospel with people, not some people, not a few people, not people who I understand and am comfortable with, just people.  If I get the chance to do so with words that’s fine, but more and more I am convinced that the gospel is shared through living like Christ.  I used to say acting like Christ but more and more I realize that acting is not the same thing as living.

What I have been noticing through this whole election and again in the outcome is the massive disconnect of many people who claim Christ and want to live like him and the desire to somehow bring back a time that they thought was better.  Having lived through some of those times I just am amazed, and sad, mostly sad.  Progressive, Christians are shaking our heads and wondering how our more conservative counterparts can possibly impart to the president elect faith in Christ simply because he scratched their ears on everything from abortion and marriage equality to climate change and a conservative supreme court.  Yes my person lost, but to be clear, he wasn’t even on the ticket and so I shifted my vote, and that person too lost.  I have an opportunity, I can complain and blame and do all the things that this piece seems to do, or I can live like Christ.  I can realize that now more than ever the church is going to have to stand in the gap for people, now more than ever we as a group of Christ Followers are going to have to live and move and have our being in the one we claim to follow, we are going to have to take care of the people that for the most part we may have been tolerating or giving cursory attention to, allowing the state to pick up the slack, legislators to pass the rules, non-profits to meet the needs.  Now more than ever we as a Church, a church as a whole, conservative and progressive is going to have to be Jesus to the world around us.  We may get the chance to use our words, but our actions are really all that will matter.

 

 

 

Grind

It’s Thursday, traditionally my day off.  I still pretend it is, even though I haven’t been able effectively turn off my brain for months. Nights are equally stressful, sometimes I just stare at the ceiling wondering how.

How do I make up the lack of funds at the church, how do I fix that piece of the puzzle, especially when things have begun to turn.  There is an air of vitality that comes from the new people, they are into a church that reaches, we are more and more becoming that.  I get frustrated because I feel like we are in the middle of a 5 year plan, which is what we had only to find out that we didn’t really have 5 years, it was more like three.  Offerings are up but not enough, looking at the expenses to cut, it is obvious to take a look at the largest there is and begin cutting there.  As the only full time employee the expense that is under the most scrutiny and that is ripe for the trimming is my compensation.  It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, it’s not easy, it’s just a fact, a fact that keeps me awake at night because right now is not a good time to have that happen with everything that is coming.  Surgery and recovery and then more surgery and more recovery, and, and, and.

How do I take care of Joyce when the surgery happens, how do I step away for the weeks that I will need to step away for, making sure she has all she needs?  How do I take care of the girls and make sure they have all that they need?  How do I explain to the youngest ones what is wrong why things have to be different for a while?

I know all the things that need to be done around the house, I feel like I should be working on those things every spare moment, but I get there and exhaustion jumps out at me, robbing me of the determination to push through and do the things I need to, but somehow I push myself to do it.

So many Sundays when the day is over, all I want to do is go home and do nothing, yet I feel bad when I do because if I had more in the tank I feel like I could do more for and with the girls

So I grind on, like so many others do.  Recognizing that I’m being selfish in this post, that others have it worse than I do, that as much as I want to understand and take all the mess away from her.  Joyce is so much stronger and better and amazing than I or anyone I know.  I watch her deal with the cancer and wonder at how she keeps going, how she gets up the day after chemo and teaches.  How she spends time on everyone else, worrying about them, trying to help them, trying to build them up.  How she supports me.  I feel like I’m not giving her what she needs.

I am jus so tired, and frustrated and scared, and confused.

 

 

 

Labels

Years ago I remember a story about a kid who wanted to do the grocery shopping,  It could have been in fact most likely was on one of those kids shows that used to be on the radio.  I remember Saturday’s riding in the back seat of the car while we went grocery shopping or out to visit kids in my parents Sunday school class or whatever we would do. Anyway the kid in the story was supposed to do the grocery shopping and prepare a meal or something,  money in hand she (I remember it being a she) found a cart full of cans that had all the labels torn off.  She saved money and got stuff she wanted at the same time.  Of course when it came time to make the meal she had all sort of things from the cans that didn’t go together.  There was some sort of moral involved, you can grab whatever that is on your own.  I’m using the memory more as a launching point for my thoughts.

You look at a label and it tells you what is inside…that’s how it’s supposed to work, except as I have been going over the labels I have lived under over the years I have come to a realization…

A few important definitions:

evangelical

adjective evan·gel·i·cal \ˌē-ˌvan-ˈje-li-kəl, ˌe-vən-\
  • : of or relating to a Christian sect or group that stresses the authority of the Bible, the importance of believing that Jesus Christ saved you personally from sin or hell, and the preaching of these beliefs to other people

  • : having or showing very strong and enthusiastic feelings

conservative

adjective con·ser·va·tive \kən-ˈsər-və-tiv\
  • : believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society : relating to or supporting political conservatism

  • Conservative : of or relating to the conservative party in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada

  • : not liking or accepting changes or new ideas

republican

noun re·pub·li·can \ri-ˈpə-bli-kən\
  • Republican : a member of the Republican party of the U.S.

  • : a person who believes in or supports a republican form of government

liberal

adjective lib·er·al \ˈli-b(ə-)rəl\
  • : believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change : relating to or supporting political liberalism

  • Liberal : of or belonging to the liberal political party in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom

  • : not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted

progressive

adjective pro·gres·sive \prə-ˈgre-siv\

  • : moving forward

  • : happening or developing gradually over a period of time

  • : using or interested in new or modern ideas especially in politics and education

The list is actually longer, and includes different types of political leanings, different sects of Christianity, different ideologies that become subsets under these main headlines.  Taken in turn it’s safe to say that I have lived under each of the labels at different times throughout my life.

Believe it or not, for a brief time at the end of college and for a couple years I would probably have identified as a Evangelical Republican…I would say a soft right winger, but things always bothered me on the right, still do.  The problem with these two labels well three actually is at some point they became interchangeable to many in each of those movements.  If you were an evangelical Christian you were a republican, only thing you could be.  You stood for all sorts of things that the Bible tells you to stand for, except that if you were to dig a bit deeper into the Bible you may find that things that people in power in the popular evangelical movement say are important or things we should be standing for may not necessarily be there.

Then there was that time when I decided I was going to be emergent, except you can’t really decide to be emergent, because the moment you label yourself as emergent you are becoming part of what emergent people try to not become.

The whole progressive thing is still sort of around, as is the liberal label I guess, except when it’s not.  I’m a bit conflicted there but that’s okay.

I get frustrated with people who have messed up my labels as well.  Names like Dobson, and Franklin, and Jerry have destroyed the evangelical label for me in some ways, they aren’t alone either but they seem to be the most vocal.  People who look at right wing evangelicals and get frustrated I’m okay with but when those same people begin to get antagonistic and start telling people that they have to be more progressive and ignore heart felt convictions and practice tolerance without being tolerant well that is equally annoying.

The thing that gets me is that on both sides of these issues regular every day people are not the ones that I have issues with.  I have found that on both sides regular every day people are very understanding, willing to listen, caring, and not militant in their interactions.  It is as always the vocal minority that makes the issues larger than life.

Case in point. I am for gun control.  I don’t have a problem with the second amendment, I don’t mind you owning a gun, however it shouldn’t be as simple as strolling down to the nearest Walmart to buy one.  Or heading to a gun show to avoid a background check.  Now to hear people that make the most noise on both sides you would think that everyone that is for common sense gun control laws wants to march into peoples homes, grab up all the guns and leave, you would also think that anyone that is a member of the NRA and owns a gun wants to own an assault rifle or sub machine gun with armor piercing rounds.  Real conversations however yield different results.  With several gun owners not only willing to have background checks but for them, and gun control advocates not saying take them all away but use common sense.  These voices of reason are drowned out by the louder elements of each side who are alarmist and make their money and points by stoking the fire of partisanism.  (Yes I know that’s not really a word.)

In issues of faith though, this trend really bothers me.  It bothers me that all the flavors of Christianity tend to look at each other with anything from misunderstanding to outright hostility.

Listening to people who claim to follow Christ “hold the line” on things as they watch a world full of individuals they claim to love and have answers for shake their heads and walk away from both sides of Christianity be it conservative or liberal has lead me to a discovery and a statement.

I am not an American Evangelical, Nor am I an American progressive.  I am determined though.

labelsblog

No matter where anyone in the Christian faith stands, this is the anchor point, at least it should be.  If we are all striving to make this the jumping off point for everything we do I believe that the differences that separate us don’t have to alienate us.  There will be differences.  We will not agree on things,  we will see things differently, we will reach out to people differently.  That’s okay, but if we make this the foundation that we base all our interactions with each other on, we will be able to disagree on things and still find common ground for a common mission, the only common mission we were given.  Preaching the gospel. That ultimate act of love, made by the God we serve.  The acceptance of which will, by necessity, dismantle the life we know and have so carefully built and guarded and championed, only to be put back together by the One who designed humanity in the first place.

So no I’m not Evangelical, I am trying to follow Christ.  No I’m not Progressive,  I am trying to follow Christ.

No I am not a Republican…but you already knew that.   No I’m not a Dem…wait yes, yes I am…

Thanks for reading.

 

Crashing Waves

Friday morning, before taking the girls to school and heading into the church I closed my bedroom door and cried.

It had been a somewhat trying morning getting everyone out the door, but nothing so out of the ordinary that it warranted the tears.  The thing is it keeps happening, at any given moment one small thing can push me to the brink and a nudge can send me out of the room to compose myself.  The only real way to combat it many times is to go flat, not allowing much in the way of emotion to cross my face, but that concerns people.

I know it’s obvious that I am not okay.  I appreciate people when they ask how I am, and there was a time when I would have just said, “yep fine,” plastered a smile my face and held it all in check.  The problem is I’ve lost that ability it seems, even when I think I’m holding it all together I’m not, people notice and either ask me or follow up to see how I am and while I appreciate it, I hate that it happens because it’s just not what I want people to see or remember when they interact with me.

In all the stories of life that I envisioned, the one we are now living is not the one that I expected.  I keep looking at what was, and what is and what I think should be and the disconnect is huge. There is so much that has to be done, so many responsibilities, so much that weighs on me.  Even typing this I feel guilty for putting me in all these sentences, there are others who have problems, others who’s needs are huge, me being upset and overwhelmed and frightened just doesn’t really fit.  Others need strength, leadership, tenacity, and understanding from me.

Our church is in this time that things are getting better but they are not better enough.  Growth is happening, offering is up, austerity is happening all around, God is giving the increase but my faith is getting weaker and weaker in the timing side of it. We are where we belong. I am doing the work I was designed to do but the fight is long, and the issues are hard and…

Our family is fighting what everyone knows we are fighting.  The fear and anxiety of possibly losing this fight with cancer never leaves my mind, especially when I hear of others who didn’t win.  The girls are getting older and with that age comes a host of worries on my part, BRCA genes and family history and the list just goes on.

We own this house in Ohio that is not being taken care of properly, the house payment is paid consistently, it’s frustrating to pay for two families to live, especially when one of them seems content to just let everyone take care of them.

I get what the Psalmist is saying here.  I ask the question every day, the problem is I don’t get many answers.

rustic-cabin-reference

I fall into bed exhausted only to lay there many nights wondering, praying, trying to hold it together, trying to be what everyone expects of me, trying to be what I expect of me.

I know the Jesus answers to the issues, I understand the promises I have from scripture, the care I have from friends and family.  It’s all there but it just doesn’t help, it’s just not enough and telling people that is rude and harsh and just wrong, but here I am telling you because if I don’t it just keeps getting bottled up.

I have spent weeks on the phone dealing with insurance companies for J’s cancer, as well as for the car that was stolen.  I’ve fixated on getting the car replaced, and I know it is driving J a bit nuts, but I also know that getting the car replaced, has a beginning a middle and an end, all of which are manageable, all of which have a mostly positive assured outcome.  A vehicle that will replace the one stolen and allow us to move forward and away from one of the horrors of this past summer, so I press forward with it, making sure to include her even though she isn’t into it, because it will be a task that can be completed.

There are so many other tasks that I can’t complete, that have no foreseeable end but that I must be diligent about, and so I close the door, to our room, to my office, to the car, to the bathroom, and I cry…

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Dear Fellow White People…

I wanted to write to you all as a fellow white person because apparently, it’s easier to listen to another white person than a person that looks different than you.

I have already written about the idea of Black Lives matter and All Lives Matter and whatever other lives matter.  I have already talked about the fact that when we say all lives matter we are hiding from the reality of white privilege.  I really don’t want to rehash all the reasons that I feel the way I do.

I suppose I could or should have titled this post “Dear Fellow White American Christian People,” but let’s face it, 90% of the white people that I’m writing to are also American Christians so why waste the title space.

On April 19, 1775 a group of 77 armed men stood up to a group of oppressors sent to capture them.  These 77 men had set up a shadow government that was training people for armed combat with the authorities of the day.  It’s safe to assume that no everyone agreed with what these men were doing.  It’s likely that there were people who didn’t understand what the big deal was, who didn’t understand why it was so important to make a stand against the authorities.  Historically speaking there were actually three sides  in the revolutionary war.  The Loyalists, The Patriots, and The ones who really didn’t care.  It was actually a fairly even divide.  The loyalists liked things as they were.  They were comfortable, predictable, safe.  The Patriots looked at what was happening in the world they lived in and realized that things should be better and they acted on it. The no longer respected the Union Jack, no longer agreed with what it stood for, they saw in the intolerable acts (google them, it’s pretty much  the reason we have a country, to begin with) things that they had to take a stand against…

Somewhere around 591 BC, four guys were taken captive by a king that was systematically taking over the then known world.  They weren’t the only ones taken into captivity but these four were the most vocal.  They started by standing up against the rules for eating,  given by the government at the time.  Then a few years later when the king made some rules regarding who you were supposed to worship and how they took another stand, literally, when everyone else was on their face on the ground saluting the symbol of the kingdom’s power and might, they stood, refusing to bow, refusing to place the king above what they knew was right.  Sure they could  have just gone along, of course, they could have done what everyone else was doing and no one would have said anything, but they didn’t. They stood in the face of not just certain persecution, but likely death because they believed that things had to be different.

July 2013 a man is acquitted of shooting an unarmed teenager who had been walking home with a can if Ice Tea and some Skittles.  The man decided that he didn’t like the way the kid looked and called 911. Then against the 911 dispatchers, admonishment followed the kid, confronted him and got into an altercation that ended in the teenager’s death.  This same man would go on to have run in’s with the police time and again in the years following and would  sell the gun used to kill the kid on e-bay…the #blacklivesmatter movement took off.  People noticing that there was a problem with the way some individuals were treated by people in power or authority, began to take a stand against the unfair treatment.  Instead of things getting better, though, they seem to be getting worse.  On a regular basis people of color are treated differently by people in authority than white people, and while not all officers are bad, it seems that there are more out there that are than we thought.

Before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on August 26, 2016, Kaepernick sat down, as opposed to the tradition of standing, during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. During a post-game interview he explained his position stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”, referencing a series of events that led to the “Black Lives Matter” movement and adding that he would continue to protest until he feels like “[the American flag] represents what it’s supposed to represent”.

How do I put this…you can’t have it both ways.   That’s one of the reasons that we need Black Lives Matter because for years White American Christian People have been fine with standing for their rights, claiming persecution, and making sure everyone realized that the world should look sound and live the way that best suits other White American Christian People.  Now when a group of people begins to finally stand up and bring attention to a massive disparity between law enforcement and black people, we get jittery.  When athletes use their platform to bring attention to the problem it makes people uncomfortable. We like it when an athlete stands up for Jesus but not when they stand up for justice.

God spoke to humans through this guy named Micah….

micah-68-widescreen

Seems pretty simple to me.  As people who claim to be followers of Jesus, and who belive that Jesus was fully God and fully man.  We should be standing with the #blacklivesmatter movement.

As citizens and patriots of a country that got it’s start because they no longer wanted to be treated as less than by others.  We should stand shoulder to shoulder with the #blacklivesmatter movement.

I realize that others have been far more eloquent than I have, what bothers me is we seem to  have forgotten that this country exists because people were not afraid to fight the status quoe.  The Christian faith exists because 3 men refused to pay homage to the symbol of their captivity.  We should never cheapen what our fellow human beings are doing because it makes us uncomfortable.

If #blacklivesmatter makes you uncomfortable perhaps you should ask yourself why and adjust accordingly.

 

Thanks for reading….

Aaron

 

Cause or Christ…

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been wrestling with what I’m about to write, it’s important to know that.   It matters because there are times when I just sit down and write what’s on my mind without much filtering.  This one though is different and I think I know why.

I’m a pot stirrer, or at least I can be.  Sometimes, just for the sheer joy of it, I’ll introduce a topic into conversation that I know will cause a heated discussion.  Religion, Politics and Sports are of course the easiest ways to get the ball rolling, and I find myself sitting in a group that I know has varying opinions and hitting that one spot and then feeding the flames. Childish, of course it is, but fun at times none the less.

I also love a good discussion and many times in my stirring the pot to start trouble I am also getting to know the people I’m with, building a deeper relationship, learning and growing in my understanding of who they are, why  they act and do some of what they do, and ultimately building on my ability to be a better minister to them in the long run. I know that may sound like justification, and perhaps it is a little bit but  it’s also accurate.

In  a very elementary way Christians divide people into manageable categories. There are categories for people in the club and then categories for people out of the club.  In the club there are all these different denominations, each with it’s own set of rules and regulations for getting to God.  Christians themselves usually fall  into two different camps.  Fundamental (conservative, traditional) or Progressive (social, liberal).  It is in these categories that Christians make the rules about how they interact with each other, each side looking down their noses at the other.  It is in these categories that causes are fought for, be it inclusion, tolerance (a word that I feel should be banned from any  and every church liberal or conservative) proper forms of worship, liturgy or lack there of, the social aspects of the Gospel, science and scripture, God’s gender pronouns, first amendment rights, second amendment rights, Jesus political party, making America great again, realizing that America is pretty great…the list is endless.

The problem is our causes don’t stop there, they bleed through to the other group of people that we categorize.  The WORLD, fundamentalists tend to want to keep the world out there, progressives are more apt to let the world in.  You can find exceptions on both sides but I’m talking in generalizations here.

Whenever the church, either side, interacts with the outside world we tend to do so in response to some cause, and many times even our outreach when tragedy strikes, has strings attached, though we are not so keen to admit it.

Recent causes the church has fought…

  1. The Bathroom Wars
  2. The Cake Wars
  3. The Political Wars
    1. God is a right wing republican just look at the Old Testament
    2. God is a left wing liberal just  look at the New Testament
  4. The Health Care wars
  5. The Gun Control wars
  6. The race wars (Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter and to our shame a few idiots who set up a White lives matter protest)

I’m positive there are more, many more that  I’m leaving out, mainly because I’m tired.

Christians in general owe a huge apology to The WORLD…mainly because we are failing it.  Churches and Pastors and Christians are not called on to Make America Great again, it’s not our job to safe guard freedom of religion, prayer  in schools, or my right to own a billion round semi automatic weapon designed to kill people.  It’s not our job to convict a person of their sin, or decide who we let in to our churches because we like them and who we keep out because they make us uncomfortable.  It’s not our job to interpret the constitution and laws of the land, to mandate that people in Christendom that don’t see it our way get out of the dark ages and start seeing things our way…we have enough on our plate interpreting scripture and what it meant in the past and what it means today.

Our job is not to take up all of these different causes, but to live our lives in service to one cause…the cause  of Christ.

Parables Reference

That sums it up, the problem is we confuse what the gospel is.  There is a huge difference between the Gospel and The rules as we see them.  We want people to start following our rules before they put their piece on the board.  To that end christians, grab bull horns and head out to college campuses and start yelling at people about how bad they are.  They stand next to political candidates and endorse them because they don’t like the other side, they call down fire from heaven (or attempt to) on entire people groups.  They use “fear to keep the local systems in line,” because it’s easier to motivate from fear than it is to reach out and touch in love.  One allows me to keep my distance, the other demands interaction.  If I can take over the work of the Holy Spirit in a persons life, I can mold them into the type of person that I would want to interact with.  I can remove the things that bother me, and replace them with the things that are important and matter as I interpret them.

See while the cause of Christ isn’t that hard to understand, the causes we fight for are easier to deal with, it’s easier to make signs, to protest, to legislate, to hold town meetings discussing the issue, than it is to set aside time to pray for, build relationship with, and serve without the visible rewards.  When I stand up  for a cause and protest, everyone sees me, when I go to my private place and pray for people, not causes, no one knows how great I am, how important I am, how committed I am.  When I hold a candle light vigil my spirituality is evident to all around, when I walk into the hospice facility and sit with a person with dementia, or go to the local jail to visit a person that I may not know but that hasn’t had a visit in who knows how long, and just listen, no one can pat me on the back.  When I endorse a candidate I can bask in the glow and get more hits to my blog or social media account, when I sit down with a person of a different faith and build a relationship with that person, talk to that person, struggle to understand and stand with them, people may say that I’m compromising my convictions.  The cause of Christ by necessity diminishes who I want to be, and magnifies the one that lives in me.  It’s hard to become less so that he can become more, but that’s what we signed up for, or it’s what we were supposed to sign up for.  As He becomes more the causes we find ourselves in will take on a new significance.  We will begin to see the individuals instead of the cause itself, and in seeing the individuals through the eyes of Christ we will realize that it’s not the cause that matters but the person that is hurting, crying out for something more, something tangible, something that makes a difference today but that will sustain them tomorrow and the next day.

 

So much to say.

Summer is supposed to be a time to re-set.  Theoretically summer brings with it an opportunity to step back a bit and breathe.  Kids are out of school, the air is warm, or in some cases just plain hot, everything takes on a different quality to it, at least that’s what people say, what some people experience. 

Summers for the Newell’s are usually not that way.  There is usually something big going on, or something frustrating or just plain annoying.  That’s the case this year.  As anyone reading my blog knows J was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive breast cancer.  To say the months of June and July were hard is an understatement. It’s hard to get your feet back under you when you are hit very clearly with the fragility of life.  As we move down the path that is Chemo and the side effects begin it gets harder and harder to pull out of the downward spiral.  The nausea that everyone prepared us for didn’t happen, the main struggle at the outset was the fatigue,  a few days later we had a night where we were up at 2 or 3 AM with bad back pain, but J chalked that up to something she ate, apparently she had to hit my leg pretty hard to get me to wake up, then there was no sleeping, the other seeming side effect is this persistent cough, and of course the one we were waiting for, the one we knew was coming, the hair falling out, started the day before an interview at a county school.  That one was hard because Josie realized it was happening and well she was a mess, she seems to be on the verge of tears on a regular basis.  Zoey remains clueless, not because we don’t want to tell her but every time we begin to broach the subject, or introduce the beginnings of the conversations she has no interest in continuing.  She went to help Joyce pick out her hair prosthesis (wig) we were seeing the surgeon that day as well and there was still no question no interest even sitting in the waiting room at the breast center. 

Each step of this horrific thing brings the reality of what’s happening into clearer focus.  Having said that the response to Chemo is good, excellent in fact according to the surgeon.  She is very pleased and somewhat surprised at how well the tumor is responding after one treatment.  So why am I not comforted by all of this, why am I not seeing the other side, why am I still so worried, why does it still consume most of my thought process?  I understand and know all the things I’m supposed to, even the things I have told others when I have tried encouraging them, I try and apply them to the situation but it just seems hollow. 

In addition to the whole cancer thing we have the burglary/car theft/ arson thing going on.  We have found out that our insurance claim can’t be processed until the arson unit releases the car, a process that we are told can take weeks or even months. 

Personal stress is coupled with professional stress as well.  J had a great interview and has been hired by a Tech Magnet school in Baltimore County.  There is some maneuvering within Baltimore City Schools but hopefully nothing that will be too much of  a problem.

The months of prayer and relationship building and outreach and work are finally bringing fruit.  We have had three good attendance Sundays in a row, with offering from each of these days being up.  New people keep coming and returning, things are finally working but there is so much more that must be done.  One of the biggest needs that we have is to raise a substantial amount of money in the next few months to keep moving forward.  This task naturally falls on my shoulders as the only full time employee of the church.  We started a process but then all hell broke loose and much of the time that I was planning to devote to this portion of my job was sucked up in dealing with the whole cancer thing. 

The bottom line is I’m just tired.  So very tired of trying to juggle all the balls that keep getting thrown my way.  Not complaining really just putting it out there.  I have always looked at this blog as a place to be me and well right now me is a tired me. 

Wednesday is treatment day.  Those are the long day’s the hard ones that are full of waiting and watching and trying to figure it all out.  Words fail at times, I struggle to make sure I notice things more, to pay attention to J and the girls.  Last night it was all about how to help Zoey get her hair brushed out properly, the whole time my mind kept screaming that it didn’t want to know how to do this, not because I don’t want to brush Zoeys hair, but because if I am learning how to do that stuff, it means she may not be able to or around to do it.  Funny how the mind can just go to that place, even when people are saying that things are looking good and they are pleased.  It’s like sure that’s how it works for other people, but look at our Summer and well yeah.  It’s not the same.

So to update J’s condition, just like I did 6 years ago.

1.  Side effects are not as invasive or debilitating as they could be.

2.  Tired

3.  Hair is leaving. 

4.  Cough won’t go away.

5.  Chemo Wednesday

 

Thanks for reading and praying.