The Update…

It has been a long time since I have written.  I have had a lot on my plate.

W (the Wife…) had brain surgery two weeks ago to remove the tumor.  They were able to get about half of it.  She will go into surgery again in about 2 weeks for them to attempt to get more.  We don’t know the pathology of the tumor yet, but we do know it was huge.

The tumor was 15cm x 6cm x 7cm.  That is huge.  It is a miracle that W is still alive.

The church has been great through it all.  They have overflowed with food and well wishes and prayer.  Just what they should.  We had an elders meeting last week and the elders offered to give me a month off of work with pay.  Nice.

I am not taking the time off exactly.  I am continuing to preach because it is what I love to do more than almost anything.  I have found that I love spending time with my wife more than anything.  I have been staying pretty close to the house to monitor W’s progress and help regulate the pain.  She is doing pretty well.

That is all for now.  Thanks for the prayers.

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For a number of years, I have used a GPS.

GPS.  Global Positioning System.  It is a little box that locates itself in the world and displays its location on a map displayed on the screen.  If you give it a destination, it will guide you there, turn-by-turn in an authoritative, female voice.

If you miss a turn–no matter how bad your mess up, she simply says, “Recalculating.”  Then she figures the best route to your destination from your present location.  If you make another wrong turn, “Recalculating.”

People like to talk about the will of God.  They say, “I want to be in the will of God.”  “God has a plan for my life.”  “This seems terrible right now, but I know God has a plan for all of it.”  “God knows what He is doing.”

I am not so sure.

I don’t doubt God knows where He wants me to go in life.  Heck, I basically know that.  I just doubt that He plans all of the little detours I make.

Some people think the detours are planned excursions.  All malady is, ultimately, a part of God’s plan.  W’s tumor is in God’s scheme of things.  My sin–in God’s plan.  My daughter’s assault–in God’s plan.

I don’t think so.  At least, somehow, I don’t want to believe God has a plan for my life and that plan is painful and full of tears.  I certainly would not wish that on my children.

I know.  God is wiser than I am.  He sees more than I do.  He loves more than I do.  So why does He make such stupid plans?

Some people think God has a particular route for us–a plan.  If we stray from it, we are “out of His will.”  The only reasonable thing to do is to fight our way back to where we strayed and get back on course.

The problem is, I’ve gone a long way off course and I am not sure my way back.  But I want to be “in God’s will.”  I want the blessing of God.

I surely don’t want W to suffer because I make dumb choices and get off course.

Truth is, I don’t think God works that way.  I don’t think He plans the terrible things in our lives to teach us.  I don’t think He yells at us until we get back on course.  I don’t think that is consistent with Him or with me.

I think all of these detours are moments where God whispers, “Recalculating.”  He doesn’t care where we are, He charts the course from there.

Right now, I am waiting on God to do a little recalculating.

W is in the hospital.  They took out about half the brain tumor which means they will have to do a little recalculating to get the rest.  It means I don’t know when, or if I get my wife back–actually, I don’t know this time and then I get to do this all over again.

God, I need a recalculation.

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Everything changed this week.

Since we have come to this ministry, my life has been difficult.  Just read this blog and see that.  This week I got a bit of a shift in perspective.

Over the past 6 months or so we have been noticing memory loss in my wife, W–so much that it has significant impact on our day to day lives.  A week ago we made an appointment with the doctor to try and figure out what was going on.

Last Tuesday, she developed double vision.

The same day we went to the doctor to discuss the memory loss.  He suspected that she was experiencing some issues with depression and the depression was directly causing the memory loss (the same chemical associated with depression is the same chemical used to write memories).  He also had a blood work up done.  He prescribed an anti-depressant.

The double vision had him concerned.  We saw an ophthalmologist on Friday.  He saw a bulging of the optic nerve which indicates increased inter-cranial pressure.

The combination of symptoms indicated the possibility of a brain tumor.  On Tuesday this week, we had an MRI done to see exactly what we were or were not dealing with.  The MRI showed a 6-7 cm tumor in W’s brain.  It has been the cause of the personality shifts as well as the double vision and memory loss.

Since last Tuesday, her symptoms have increased significantly.  Today we met with a surgeon and have begun pre-op medications.  Sometime within the next 10 days, W will undergo brain surgery to examine the tumor and see what/if they can do to treat it.  W continues to deteriorate.

We will not know long term prognosis until 24-48 hours after the surgery.  There may be as many as 3 surgeries within a week’s time.

Each surgery carries a 20-30% chance of significant complications (death, stroke, neurological deficit, loss of personality, loss of cognitive ability, etc).

Needless to say, our family is in shock.

At this point in time, we are working to tell our families and friends about what is going on, so we ask that you maintain strict confidence of our situation.  If you know us personally, please do not make any Facebook posts or the like.

It adds a lot of perspective.  I don’t think it was perspective I wanted.

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It is time for some good news.

He is risen.

I know He is risen because I have seen resurrection.

It was a year ago that I first got to know K.  K is S’s daughter.  It was not when I met her.  I met her when we moved here, but it was when I got to know her.  I got to know her in a terrible way.

We got to know one another because I was S’s friend and pastor and I had begun to be his wife’s pastor.  We met in the church nursery to partake in communion together and talk about what happened to K.

K was brutally assaulted in our church building–in her church building.  She was bullied, threatened, and violently sexually assaulted in the building.  Nearly every Sunday K would have panic attacks simply by walking through the building.  E made things worse because he was…well, he was E and that is another story.

I had the idea to talk with K about resurrection and redemption and to walk around the building praying.  In the nursery, we drank wine, ate bread and talked.  The adults were sitting in chairs, K was scrunched up on the floor–never looking up, seldom talking, never smiling.  Then we went on our prayer walk.  We went to each room where she was assaulted and, in very, very painful detail, she recounted the ways this monster attacked her.  Then we would pray, “God redeem this room and bring your resurrection here.”

There were many places we stood outside and prayed because K could not enter.  We all wept.  At the end, we returned to the nursery, ate more bread, drank more wine and prayed, “God, we beg you, come and heal.”

Now it is a year later and we, again, met in the nursery over bread and wine.

We all sat in chairs and talked freely.  Time came to begin.  We prayed, poured the wine and broke the bread.  We started talking about how things have changed in the last year.  K was smiling and talking about how different life was.  We talked and laughed and talked some more.  Then we were ready to go on our walk.

The first stop was the auditorium.  A very scary place for K.

K is a musician and was a member of our praise team.  TL, the abuser, was as well.  He used the times of worship as times to assault K.  He destroyed her music and her worship.  As we looked around the auditorium, I winced at all of the things K had told us the last time.

K has music again.  She sings and plays nearly every Sunday.  We spent about 40 minutes talking about all of the ways God has changed the auditorium into a sanctuary for her again.  She doesn’t fear it.  Her dad doesn’t hate it.  K has music again.  We talked at length about how she worships when she plays.

I am telling you, she glows when she plays and sings.

We went to the sound booth.  Some of the most insidious assaults happened here.  With  K’s father singing on stage, TL would whisper threats and physically attack her–all under the cover of the booth.  K couldn’t even approach the booth a year ago.  Last night, we stood in the booth, laughed and prayed.  I told K, she looks like resurrection to me.

We went to a really, really ugly dark corner in the basement of the youth building.  We reflected on how in the last year, K, had participated in painting the area.  She looked around the area and laughed about how TL did not own this place.  He did not terrorize her any more.

We went to a girls bathroom.  It is in the children’s area of the church.  TL had followed her in to hurt her.  Now she uses that bathroom.  It is just a place to go to the bathroom.  God even redeems bathrooms.

Before we began, S and I talked about what we would do with places that still had nothing redeeming about them.  We said we would just talk about how it is all a work in progress–just like K is.  There were no places.

We went back to the nursery, poured more wine and toasted to the resurrection.  We all prayed together.  K’s prayer was one of the most moving prayers I have ever heard.

I know the resurrection, her name is K.

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A Repeat.

I know I have said it before…but why is it when some people call you “brother,” I want to watch my back?

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It is over.

No big deal.  They want me to be more extroverted because I don’t connect well with everyone.  I need to log all of my conversations with ministry leaders and write a report every month.  All decisions that I am uncomfortable making should be sent to them and any that I am comfortable making, they are equally comfortable reversing.

I need more application in my preaching (but I am doing better than I used to).

I need to figure out how to better use volunteers.

As to my non-sectarian preaching, somehow this is the analysis, “The fundamental dogma that define our denomination are intact and without question.”  I guess that calls into question my whole ability to communicate at all because I know what that means and its not me!  :)

As long as we are clear.


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For My Wife…

W is nervous.  I am nervous.

It is review time.  Out of the blue came a review.  I found out the real reason for the review is people complaining that I am not towing the party line in our little sectarian world.

I am not sectarian.

W, we’ll be ok.

My gut tells me they will slap me on the wrist and everything will go on as normal.  I hope that is true.

This is a place eaten up with law.  I will keep speaking grace until it condemns me.

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