The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adjustments: the third adjustment

My walk on this path depends on a careful balance of many things. And I’m afraid as the days wander along that the balance is in danger of being totally destroyed. Why? Because there’s only so much room and so many hours in the day. And everything that has been added to my daily walk because of the surgery takes a LOT of time (as mentioned in the other adjustments...).

So, the third adjustment? Banishment. Or, putting it simply, “NO.”

We have a friend who is getting married soon, and for a brief moment it looked like I was going to be able to play the prelude for her wedding. I was thrilled... until I looked carefully at the calendar. I already have a gig that day... Now, the idea of doing two gigs in one day is not impossible, and frequently necessary - especially when one makes part of their living from such activities. But then we looked at the specifics - the timing of the first against the timing of the second, factor in time to tear down from the first and set up the the second, consider that the first is in Lansing, the second in Grand Rapids...

And, with much muttering and gnashing of teeth, I have to say no. We might be able to *just* scoot from one and make the other, but the chances are better than average that both would suffer. And should a traffic mishap occur, the second goes down the biffy. Too tight to justify trying to make both work.

I hate it when that happens.

I love “YES”. I’d much rather say yes, because I like meeting other’s needs. I like to help. Vicki and I are both like that - Vicki much more than I. She will move heaven and earth to offer help. I never really understood the term “servant’s heart” until I met her. Now I’m pretty sure her picture should be next to that entry in the dictionary.

A brief and W-A-A-A-Y overdue apology to my beloved...

I’m sorry. For so long, I didn’t really understand the gift that God has blessed you with - the desire and drive to help whomever, whenever, wherever. I would roll my eyes when the lost person found you at the gas station, the confused person in the store, or any of the other times when you were in the right place at the right time to offer help and shine His light into someone’s life, even for such a short glimpse. I was wrong, in so many ways.

You are blessed, my beloved. Your open spirit and caring heart shows them what loving others really means, and the way you will throw yourself into any situation or challenge to help someone else is a living picture of the words in First John: “Love one another.”

Forgive my blindness and my selfishness. I simply didn’t see or understand. But I do now. And when I see that confused-looking person standing by the gas pump, I now smile, because I know who is going to help them. And I laugh with joy - because my wife lives Kingdom life right here, every day, just by being who she is. What a blessing.


So, we tend to throw ourselves into whatever is needed. And we say yes a lot.

The problem? We say yes... a lot.

And in the enthusiasm of helping, we find ourselves cornered with this mountain of things we have promised to do, and no way to ever get them all done. It creates frustration, bitterness, and we end up getting overwhelmed and not doing anything, because we feel like we are drowning.

(by the way - if you’re one of the many waiting for something that we are going to do, or make, or help with - sorry. We are trying to get to the things waiting by saying no to the new ones. The battle continues... slowly.)

(And Aaron - forget it. The afghan is never coming. I’ll show you where the sweater machine is - you can do it yourself. :-D )

Now, let me turn off the “we” and get down to “me.” What these last few weeks have said to me is, “ if you’re going to get this new lifestyle right, you’ve got to pay attention. This takes more time and detail than you’ve ever paid to yourself before, but if it’s going to work as it should, you HAVE to take that time.” There HAS to be time for the details - making sure I’m getting in all medicines, vitamins, protein (which is HUGE) and exercise. The exercise hasn’t really happened yet, and I’m already suffering as a result.

(Anybody want to go for a walk? Or in my case, a shuffle and limp?)

I work in our home, and have discovered that all the clutter and chaos of our house has a direct impact on my work and my creativity. It’s hard to get excited about making music when you have to move piles of stuff to even get to the computer. It’s impossible to follow an inspiration for a jewelry piece when you can’t even see the bench. As for writing, I’m sitting at Biggby - does that answer your question? There is so much clutter and chaos that I get overwhelmed, find my chair (an uncovered oasis in a sea of stuff) and just sit. I don’t even start to try and fix it, because I honestly have no idea how to even start.

(Anybody want to spend a week helping us list stuff on eBay and Craigslist? We could really use the money to pay for the new trike that’s on order... And hey - if it sells, we’ll give you part of the profit! :-D)

So, this adjustment is Banishment. There are things that I am not going to do anymore. And when I hear of a need, I’ll consider it... for a while. If you ask me something (and feel free to do so...), don’t expect an immediate answer - I need to consider it, look at the balance of everything else, and then see if it fits. And, sadly, the answer will be “no” more often than “yes.” Or at least it feels like it will be at this point.

This is stuff most everyone already knows, but I’ve always been a slow learner. So it makes sense that learning priorities would be something I’d wait to do until my “second life.” How long will this resolve last? We’ll see. But I will say this - this is directly linked to how well I’ll do with making my new lifestyle permanent, so it’s a pretty high priority.

Time to move along... things to do. :-D

Placing the Stones - documenting the story: An Interlude...

We ended up in the Healing Garden in the last chapter of the story. Since then (two days after surgery), life in real-time has moved to 6 weeks post-surgery. I’m sure I’ve lost some of the details, but I’m going set down as many as I can remember, because I need them. These past couple of weeks have reminded me that life and all its chaos will suck away every bit of wonder and joy from all I’ve been through if I let it.

I’m as guilty as the next person of reading the Old Testament, looking at the Israelites walking through the Red Sea, following Moses to the mountain, walking into the wilderness, eating heavenly food, then whining about going back to slavery in Egypt, and to comment, “Stooooopid Israelites! How can they even THINK about running back into slavery after everything they’ve seen God do! Are they idiots?”

And God replies, “ok big boy - let’s see how you do... We’ll walk through pre-surgery, where I’ll move every obstacle aside, then we’ll go through the surgery where I’ll allow the whole procedure to be completed and have everything go as perfectly as it can, and to top it off, I’ll give you a recovery that is so smooth that you’ll think the surgery never happened. I’ll open the path before you, walk with you through it, and be the guard at your back to keep and sustain you. Now, six weeks later, what do you have to say?...”

And, after looking honestly at myself and my attitude over the last couple of weeks, I say nothing. When I see what a roller coaster of emotion Vicki has had to put up with, when I see the turmoil and stress in my head (mostly of my OWN making) and when I see the lack of trust in my behavior, I say nothing.

“I place my hand over my mouth.” - Job, who is a LOT wiser than me.

There are many, many reasons that God tells us over and over to “forget not.” To “remember.” To “recall” and “rehearse” and to “teach” and to “write them on the door of your home” and to “place these stones so that when others see them and ask ‘what do these stones mean?’, you can TELL them.”

But the reason that matters to me? I’m a dumb sheep. I’ll only see the here and now, and get so wrapped up in it that all the glory of past days will seem as a mist - gone and not remembered. Unless I teach myself to see it with my waking eyes, to keep it in front of my confused mind, and to recall it as I lay down to sleep, I’ll forget it ALL. And I have. And I do. And I’m saddened and ashamed of that.

So, I will continue to write down the story. And I’ll continue to remember the story.

Other things will be let go - they simply don’t matter anymore. I’m afraid that sometimes when people ask things of me, the answer will be, “sorry, but no.” I’m not going to head for seclusion, and I’m certainly not going to become a person who never lifts a finger to help his brother or sister. But I am going to find where the boundaries are. This is way too important to allow chaos to drive it away.

I am determined to live wrapped in the wonder of God. I’ve been given new life (physically) to match my new life in Christ. And I have a limited amount of time, in His grace - I certainly can’t waste it with things that don’t matter or that clutter my head and take my focus away.

“Sometimes, your second life is even better than your first one.” - Stick, from the end of “Electra” (slightly misquoted, but there it is)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Resurrection Story - May 2, 2010

Our pastors asked us to write and submit “Resurrection Stories” - examples of how God is at work in the lives of our Church family. On Sunday, May 2nd, I was asked to share my Resurrection Story...

During Holy Week, 2010, I will always remember that my life was changed. But it wasn’t something that I did - rather, what God did.

God has been in the process of re-building me, beginning with flattening my whole world in January 2006 when I was laid off from my job of almost 20 years. Over the last four years, He has shown me that in order to remake me into what He intends, the old construction has to be gone. He won’t begin building new until the old is cleared away. This is not punishment - rather His great love and desire to make me new.

Cracks in the foundation have been found, and although they aren’t perfectly mended, the process has begun. But one thing remained - my weight. I struggled with it, tried different things, but never gave it all over to Him.

Over the last year, He made it clearer and clearer that it was time to consider bariatric surgery. I had applied for it twice before, and been denied. I realized that in both of those times, I had applied for the surgery without submitting to Him - my mind and heart were not willing, thinking of it as, “well, I guess I have nothing else to try.” And this was not the attitude of heart and mind God wanted for me.

This time, He was asking me, “Son, do you trust me? I have a path for you to walk - will you walk it? Will you go where I’m leading, without reservation, not seeing it as ‘the last resort?’ Will you follow Me?” And, to the praise of His glorious grace, I said “yes.”

From that point, what happened reminds me of how Mr. Beaver describes Aslan in “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” when asked if he is a “safe” lion... “No, he’s not safe. But he’s good.” Rich Mullins calls it “the reckless raging fury, that they call the love of God.” The path opened, and God’s will rushed forward in a flood.

Approval came back in two and a half weeks, when it could have taken up to eight. With it came with the news that the surgery would be in two weeks - March 30th, two days after Palm Sunday. Along the way, God calmed my fears, began to restore my heart in worship, and took us down the path in the palm of His hand. God was before us, showing us the way, and His saints were at our sides and backs, keeping us upheld in prayer. The morning of the surgery, Pastor Craig asked me how I was feeling, and I truthfully answered that I wasn’t nervous or scared at all - just ready to go. The surgery went as planned, no complications, the entire procedure completed, and a recovery so smooth that I was here on Easter Sunday to sing His praise with my family, just five days after surgery.

I’m coming up on five weeks since my surgery, am already over 40 pounds lighter, and am amazed by His love and care. Sometimes, all He is waiting for is our answer: “yes.” And I’m continuing to rejoice with these words, the phrase that kept repeating itself to me almost as soon as I woke up from surgery:

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy rains
Unending love, amazing grace.”