A Car Accident, Dog Poop, Spraying Sprite and Perspective

It all began at 6:30 AM ~

It’s the last day of school! A full summer looms ahead of us! Beginning in eight hours and five minutes, ‘Summertime, and the livin’ is easy’ becomes our slogan. I. cannot. wait.

I dropped the youngest off at school and began to head home with the radio on, coffee cup in hand, and JOY in my heart. It’s going to be a great day as I prepare for the festivities for the last day of school!

There was a very long line of cars waiting to drop kids off and I could see an accident up ahead – someone had rear-ended someone else – I drove by slowly, this is what I saw…my 17 year old son talking on the phone and waving his arm at me! My daughter is on the grass with 2 other passengers. I pull over and run across the street. Please nobody hit me as I dart through cars, and Why, oh why, didn’t I wear a bra?!! Oh yeah, because I am still in my pajamas!!

“What happened? Is everyone OK?!” Tears are in my daughters eyes, and my son, although steady and mature as he calls the police, is shaking. Yes – they are all OK. He rear-ended the woman ahead of him. She was driving a brand new Buick Enclave. Of course she was. The front of my husband’s beloved red Mustang is pretty smashed, and her vehicle is going to cost some big money to repair. Awesome. As I try to talk to her, I understand anger, it’s the second time she has been rear-ended by a teen boy. Poor her. Seriously.

A family friend comes to pick up Zach’s passengers and I sit with Zach as we wait for the police, and then while we wait for the report to be written up. I put a hand on his back and try to assure him that it’s only money, it’s only cars, no one was hurt. This is what matters. (Although consequences await, they are not at the forefront of this moment). I’m compassionate and I’m frustrated, a slower speed would have avoided this. Eventually he is released from the scene, he goes on to school, and I drive home.

Once  home, I can feel that I’m a little shaken. I made a quick phone call, jumped in the shower and rushed to get ready as I needed to get to the middle school awards and was now running late. I hurried out of my room, through the kitchen…….wait…“Why does it smell like poop?” There on the rug, by the door is a BIG pile of dog poop. Awesome. I decide to just toss the whole rug out the door and deal with it later – as I do that, the poop falls off the rug and onto step right outside the door. Of course. I will get to that later, and I will hope Courtney doesn’t step in it. Then I ran out the door.

I got home from the awards (we will take perfect attendance as an award for Mr.), I take care of the poop, run to the grocery store to get what I need for teen boys that are going to be at my house – oh yeah, and drinks for a party Erin is going to that evening. Back from the store, I unload and put away groceries, make pasta salad, realize I have forgotten a vet appointment, greet Kyler as he comes home from his last day of 7th grade, drive to Zesto’s (our last day of school tradition for 12 years) with Kyler to meet Erin and Zach for ice-cream. Ahhh….ice-cream makes everything better, at least for a moment. When we get home, Erin asks for S’mores stuff in addition to the pop.

“I already went to the store, why didn’t you ask me yesterday?! And why am I sending drinks and smore’s stuff to a party someone else is having?!” (Yes….all that actually came out of my mouth. My goodness. So embarrassing.)

Her older sister swiftly steps in to save the day, and off they run to the store for smore’s stuff. When they get home Erin opens a case of Sprite to put in a cooler with ice, and  6, maybe 7, cans roll off the counter and onto floor – one after another in rapid succession and now there is Sprite spraying e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e! It looks like little fire hoses wildly going every which way in my kitchen!! The cans were on the floor but the pop was reaching my counters, cupboards, computer and walls! I stepped over the whole spraying mess and went outside onto the patio, shut the door and sat down. After this day, it was going to be Sprite that makes me come undone. Unbelievable.

Somehow I don’t come undone (Thank you, Jesus), and the girls and Kyler clean up the sticky mess. Kevin comes home, and Zach comes home and the Mustang is in the driveway – and a hard conversation takes place. Hotdogs go on the grill, teen boys are in my basement, a friend calls, and as we talk she tells me her husband’s cancer has returned. He will have surgery again in a few days. Every chaotic moment from the day falls away. Perspective has entered.

It’s only money, it’s only cars, no one was hurt, the poop is gone, the pop has been cleaned up, well, mostly cleaned up ~ my fingers are slightly sticky after typing and I still see some spots on the cupboards – but they just make me smile tonight ~ it was a sight to see. I wish I could have been the mom who stopped and laughed in that moment, but after my day, I just couldn’t…or wouldn’t, I don’t know which one. But now I can smile…at the pop that sticks to my feet and shines on the walls. The car situation will still have to be figured out, and it’s going to be painful – for us to parent through and for Zach to walk through – but it’s not cancer.

8:30 PM  ~  Perspective.

Thank God!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you might remember that in May our pastor was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma, grade 4. It dropped many in our church, in our community, and because of his influence, literally around the world, to our knees. I first wrote about it here. It’s been a long five months of taking this in and praying…constantly.

With the amazing blessing of Stan’s return to teaching this fall, (after surgery and a summer of recovery as well as treatment) we’ve been learning about Living with Dying, (we’re all doing it) Healing, Strength in Weakness, Hope, Prayer and more. I’ve experienced deeper worship, lifting my hands without knowing the outcome has forced me to lean into this God who I believe is good – all the time. We sing in one song that the Lord gives and takes away, and so we stand with hands lifted in gratitude or surrender, or pleading. The giving is easy to accept, the taking away…not so much. (Here is a link to page with the above messages that Stan Buck preached.)

Well, last week Stan had his first MRI scan since the removal of the tumor, and he is cancer free! It absolutely is a miracle. When I first heard the news, tears sprang to my eyes and just flowed and flowed. I was immediately aware of how different those tears were from the ones I shed in May, they actually felt lighter on my cheeks.

I am overjoyed! I am beyond thankful for him and his family, and thrilled for our church. (You can read what he posted about this news on his CaringBridge site here.) As I drove by our church today, this was the marquee. It gripped my heart (as much as the one in May did that simply said “Hope”) and I wanted to let out a WHOOP!! I wanted to yell at all the drivers around me “Did you see our sign?! Have you heard our news?!” Instead I drove home to get my camera, I knew I wanted to share about this news here. I took the picture and then understood in my spirit that I needed to drive up to the church and stop in our Prayer Chapel.

I felt drawn to my knees once more and realized it was to give thanks to the Lord. I dragged a kneeler in front of the alter where there is a very large Bible. I put my hands on the Bible, my head down, and said “Thank you.” Immediately, I began to sob. I continued to pray – the only words were…Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you

I wanted to share that because I didn’t expect that response from me, and it made me wonder how often do I want to shout to others….“Did you see that!? Have you heard what God has done!!?” Which is great – wonderful – we should share what God has done. (1 Chronicles 16:8-36) But how often do I get down on my knees, I do mean literally, and simply thank God for who He is or what He has done? The answer: not often enough.

I’m learning a lot through this.

Thank you Lord, for setting our pastor into remission. Thank you Lord, for comforting those who love you the same yet do not receive this same news. Thank you, Lord for who you are. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
Previous posts: Face Down, Getting up to Follow, He’s Back!

He’s Back!

Sunday, August 7, 2010, our pastor, Stan Buck, was back in his spot at our church. He hasn’t been in his spot since May 15th. On May 19th a brain tumor was discovered and May 20th it was removed

Its been a long eleven weeks.
Its been a miraculous eleven weeks.
Its been an emotionally draining eleven weeks.

If you go to church, you know that many of us have “our seats”. Mine is in the front, third row, right side, on the end. I sit here because I am easily distracted, in this spot I can focus more easily on worship and the message. Our pastor sits two rows in front of us, and its been unnerving to not see him in his spot this summer.

But this past Sunday he was back! I didn’t realize how much I appreciated seeing the back of that guy’s head over the past nine years! Its hard to articulate what it felt like. It was overwhelming, it was comforting, it was joyful, it was evidence of the grace of God. It warmed my heart and made my feet move during worship.

He will be preaching “Messages that Matter” over the next three weeks, I cannot wait to sit under his teaching again. I am overjoyed by his return. I am praying still for his recovery. I am mindful of God’s grace. I am aware of my own brokenness and mortality. I am stronger for this even as I feel weak in the knees.

In all of this, with hands lifted high – in grief and in joy –  I am again made aware that God is good…all the time. No matter what.

Click here for “Face Down” my first post about this.
Click here for “Getting up to Follow” my second post.
Click here for the messages from Sonrise Church, Southwest Campus

Getting Up to Follow

When I woke up the morning after hearing the pathology report of Stan’s (our pastor) brain tumor, I thought I would feel better. I didn’t. But I knew I was going to pray with some others that morning and there was hope in that. We read scripture, sang worship songs, prayed and talked. This news is too heavy to carry alone; it weighs me down and fogs me up, I have to give it Jesus and trust in the love of the Father. I had a great need to worship with my church family this morning, and I know I need to be led through this.

Fortunately, Stan Buck, the founding and lead pastor of our church, is leading still, and its some of his most powerful leadership. He trusted God immediately and completely with the news of the tumor. On May 31, he posted this on his Facebook page:

My soul is finding rest, my body is healing! Feeling very good, sensing a deeper renewal coming in my body, mind & Spirit! This surgery surprised me – but this season of healing is allowing me to go deeper and grow!Embracing this weakness, becoming stronger by grace! (2 Corinthians 12:9 I’m grateful – prayed for – finding a peace in being made more whole in being who God has created me!

One of our other pastors has met with Stan and reports back that Stan keeps saying that nothing defines him except for this: he is a Bondservant of Jesus Christ. (You can click below to read more about that term.)

On his CaringBridge web page the other day, his wife wrote that Stan is feeling physically good (which is amazing, considering he just had brain surgery) and that he is enjoying playing the piano and guitar and singing songs to the Lord. Singing songs to the Lord. What a leader. The power of his leadership today is undeniable. The places he is taking us, without even talking with us (he is fasting from email, texting and Facebook), is deeper than I have been. He is reminding me of David, assaulted yet singing songs to the Lord.

Stan has been our pastor, our friend, our leader, my boss (while I worked on staff for four years), and my mentor in many ways. He has been one to re-direct me as well as tell me that he is proud of me, so this is personal. The day Stan received the pathology report, he wrote down a few words for his daughter to post on CaringBridge, it ended with this: My soul finds rest in God. (Psalm 62).

So I guess mine will too. Lead on teacher, we are following.

Bondservant        Previous Post: Face Down

Face Down

I’d like to say I am still standing, but it wouldn’t be true. I will be tomorrow, but tonight I am on the floor. A leader, a friend, our pastor received word that the tumor removed from his brain, that two weeks ago no one even knew was there, hasn’t had the last word yet.

The fight is just beginning, and the warriors are spreading the news that its time to get in position. But the position many are finding tonight is prostrate. Maybe this isn’t the worst position to begin in. To be prostrate is to cast (oneself) face down on the ground in humility, submission, or adoration. I feel humbled as I lay here knowing there is nothing I can do to make this better for our friend, his wife, his daughter, or his other daughter. I feel submitted to God, who will determine what is next. I adore the one whose feet I lay at, for he is the one to restore peace, confidence, healing, and that which we don’t even know to ask.

Tomorrow I will stand back up. We must stand back up. We are waging a battle and the truth is, victory is already ours. Tonight, rest if you are down, because tomorrow we are going to get up ~ and we will stand strong. Our leader is living for God’s glory – and we will join him in that.

Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king. 1 Chronicles 29:20.

The Team

I believe being on the team, in the band or part of the club is important in school – especially in high school. Yesterday I saw another reason our kids’ involvement can be vital.

Through football and wrestling, Zach has come to know Landon pretty well. Landon lost his dad to cancer last Monday. I cannot imagine. The grief my son felt on behalf of his friend was apparent. He immediately did what he could to let Landon know he was there for him.

Yesterday was the funeral. It was something to see so many students sitting as a group in the front of the church. The support these kids showed was a sign of community, care, friendship and love. On one side of the church, the grief of the family penetrated the entire room. On the other side of the church the quiet support of the kids made a statement no one could miss. We are here for you.

One of the football coaches spoke about the first time he met the father, Tim. Tim had introduced himself and when the coach mentioned what a hard worker Landon was, Tim asked if the coaches would also help him watch his grades. Instant community, a village mentality, let’s help each other, all of this was there. A support team created for the family as well as the son.

The coach also spoke about the night the father took him aside after a game and told him about the cancer. He and his wife were going to tell their three kids that evening and wanted the coaches to know. The father was asking the coach to look out for his son, he was in for some rough times in the next days. At one point he also told the coach, I may not be around for Landon’s senior year, watch out for him for me.
Because the son was a part of a team, the father had a team to tap and the assurance that someone had his back.
Being a part of the team, band or club is important, it gives our kids a place to belong and connect. It creates accountability, character, discipline and more. It also creates a circle, which can close in tight when needed. It grants influence and assistance to other adults who can be there when we cannot.

Rest in peace Tim Hughes. The team has stepped up to the line.

A Real Man

Brian Marshall was a great man. He passed away in 2004. Kevin and Brain had become friends through the workplace, and when we work closely with people we learn a lot about who they are and what they stand for. Kevin got to know Brian pretty well and was impressed with his character, integrity, intelligence, work ethic and values.

When it became clear that Brian’s life on this earth was coming to an end due to cancer, Kevin wrote him a letter. The letter had a few purposes, Kevin wanted Brian to know what he thought of him and of his impact, but even more importantly, Kevin wanted Brian’s boys to know what kind of man their father was. He knew due to their young ages they might not remember. Kevin wanted something in writing for those boys, something they could turn to at any time, a way for them to know what others thought of their dad.

When Brain passed away his wife shared the letter with their parents and then with their pastor. The letter was printed, in part, on the back of the funeral program. Here is that portion of the letter ~

I used to think I knew what it meant to be a man. A man is big, strong, tough, brave and independent. To some extent that’s true. I have discovered a REAL man is much more than that. A real man is intelligent, righteous, honest, selfless and courageous. It is hard to be a real man. It is lonely being a real man. It means putting your needs last, no matter how great your needs are. It means taking care of others, when you deserve to have others take care of you. It means being a leader when you aren’t sure you can find your way. It means being brave when those around you are frightened. It means taking the right path, not the easy path. 

Seven years later Kevin found out just how much those words resonated with someone else. In recent leadership training at work the concept of the shadow of a leader was discussed. This is when those in positions of leadership, through their behavior and actions, tend to influence the behavior and actions of those around them, thus “casting a shadow”. 

A co-worker, Steve, stopped by Kevin’s office this week and told him You don’t always know who you cast your shadow on and what kind kind of meaning it has. He wanted Kevin to know that the letter that was read at Brian’s funeral cast a shadow on him and that those words have been influencing him since. He has kept the funeral program near and has even used Kevin’s words to teach his boys what it means to be a real man. He then gave Kevin a box which held a plaque etched with the above words.

Our Real Man
(in El Salvador)

 I am grateful for many things today ~

  • For men like Brian Marshall, who lived his life – literally to the last day like a Real Man.
  • For Steve, who gave the plaque to Kevin. He surely has walked with intention in the ways of a Real Man, and I believe real men fortify our families and communities.
  • For Kevin’s words to be put before me again. To recognize what a Real Man is, you must be one. Kevin is and we are blessed.
  • Grateful that our sixteen and thirteen year old sons have the definition before them. Not only is this the definition their dad uses, but it is who he is recognized to be; may they grow up to be Real Men.
  • Grateful that our thiretten and eighteen year old daughters have their dad as the standard. May Real Men enter their lives at the right time and may they recognize them easily due to the first Real Man in their lives.
  • To be reminded that we influence others, even when we are unaware.