Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Food is Awful and the Service is Worse

If I told you that about a certain restaurant and you knew me well enough to know my tastes in food and standards in service and whether I would be telling you the bare truth or an exaggeration you could make a judgment as to whether or not you wanted to risk your taste buds at said establishment. On the other hand if I tell you that a place serves yummy food and each time I go there I eat way too much, that the wait staff is sweet and keeps filling my plate with goodies and I leave over full and it takes two days to feel like eating again, but it's so good I keep going back, then what are you going to think of the place. Maybe that you can go, enjoy and have a little more self control and reason that I do, maybe.

This morning in church Mark was talking about sin and how our own sin must be abhorrent to us in order for us to want to be shed of it. If our own sin doesn't horrify and sicken us we not only continue to commit that sin again and again but at the same time we are basically advertising to those around us that the service is good and food is amazing come on in and get some. Our attitude about our own sins tells a lot about what we believe about God and His attitude about our sins and even about what we think of our fellow believers and the non-believers around us.

Think about it this way, if you are a lot or even a little overweight and you go swimming it's so freeing to be in the water where that water supports some of your weight and frees you from it. When I exit the pool and feel all of my own weight again it is heavy and burdensome, even if it is less weight than it had been before, my knees and ankles feel it, my back feels it and I want rid of it. Sin is the same way. If we are in an atmosphere where others are accepting of our sin then it doesn't weigh too much and the need to get rid of it isn't felt quite so much. It's easy to find ourselves in these situations, each of us have a proclivity towards a sin and it's easy to find company that likes the same things, just as easy as it is to find friends who like the same music, food or movies, we can find friends who like to sin the same way and when we are in their company we both lighten the weight of their sin on them, they lighten the weight we feel from ours and we help each other take a few more steps away from the cross which is the only place that either of our sins will ever truly come off of us.

We cannot love our sins and our God at the same time. When we are loving our sins we are in point of face unbelievers. We all sin, we all sin a lot, each time we repent of our sin, no matter how many times we have committed it, we are forgiven again. God knows that we are so filled and covered in sin that we need continual forgiveness. This is why God puts no limit on how many times we can hear His Words of Absolution, how often we can receive the Lord's Supper or how often we can seek Him in His Word.

We can hide our sin from our neighbor, we can hide it from our family, we can even try to fool ourselves into thinking that we are hiding it from God but in the end we do none of those things. When we have a sin that we choose to dwell in and love to hold onto and give excuses for we hurt ourselves, we hurt our family and our neighbor, if in no other way than giving them the impression that it's okay to keep sinning, after all God forgives me. The only way to be truly free of our sin is to hate it, to despise it, to want it ripped from us and to want to never ever do it again, and even then we will likely end up doing it again but just like telling someone that the food is awful and the service is worse at least we won't be leading our neighbor into that sin by making it look like fun.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

An All Positive Change

All positives. Is it possible to make a major life change that isn't a rejection or discarding of what was before the change? Is it possible to do this with any change? I think so. It may sound a little on the Polly Anna side of life but I really think this is possible as least with some changes.

Take for instance getting married. Nope, I didn't like being single but when I met Mark and we fell in love and got married that dislike for being single had nothing to do with it. It was very simply a change, a profound change from "he's an interesting guy" to "I can't imagine life without him in it." Take John. We wanted kids from the moment we were engaged, we both were hurt and had grieved our barrenness but when the opportunity to adopt John came along these things had nothing to do with it, again it was all very simple. John needed parents who could love him and care for him and we couldn't imagine doing anything other. Many choices in our lives have been this way, from homeschooling to eating more fresh veggies, so much in life is and has been driven by a choosing to do something as opposed to a rejection of the other possibilities.

At this point in life we find ourselves faced with another of these all positive kinda changes. Mark started taking CPE classes, Clinical Pastoral Education, training to be a hospital chaplain right before John went in for transplant, then stopped because the transplant was too much to do anything other than take care of John and me and his churches and then started again this past summer. He started this training for many reasons but in quite short order his reasons distilled down to two:
1. He saw a deficiency in himself, a future as a bitter old man who blamed others for his troubles and what he was learning and could learn more of in CPE showed him that he could leave that future of bitterness behind him and be someone better.
2. CPE gave him an opportunity to learn to care for people in a way that was deeper and more meaningful than he had been able to do before and anyone who has ever truly known my dearest love has known that deep inside he is all about caring for others, especially for those who are weak and hurting.

With two units of CPE training in the next logical step is more training and more intense training at that and that comes in a residency. A series of CPE classes over nine months or a year with the same supervisor and peer group, the same hospital setting and a spiraling up of responsibility and intensiveness that leads to, well we don't know where, but leads to being more of whom he has realized that he loves in himself and in his ability to give himself to others. Mark actually rejected the idea of applying for residencies because he loves and truly cares for the people of his two small congregations and for many local and area people too and knows that John and I are also quite attached to many here and in Marshall and Columbia. A lady at church says that 'choices have consequences' and they do and the choice to even look at residency has the consequence that one might be offered and leaving our home may be the next step.

Finally Mark's brother spent enough time talking with him and helped him to see that it wasn't wrong to see if God was leading us this way, no matter what came of a residency search Mark still had the choice to walk through a door, if opened, or to not do so. So Mark and I sat down together and read through many residency offerings, looking at the hospitals involved and the programs and how they spoke of themselves. In the end we picked eight that looked like good matches for what Mark wants to learn and how he wants to proceed in this education. He applied for all eight places, not knowing if he would receive even one interview, it is not unheard of for CPE students to apply for several years before they get an interview, or a residency, if they ever do. Of the eight that were chosen we each had favorites, the same three and within a very short time of the applications going out he had interviews at the favorite three and was offered the residency at the first interview. Not only was the residency offered but Mark came away from the interview feeling that he could trust the supervisor and that is in and of itself quite a huge deal as the supervisor is essentially given permission by the participant to get inside their head and heart and shape and mold and work to push them to further and further learning. Mark has the other two interviews to go to, and has already turned down the opportunity to interview with two other places, that's a total of five of the eight to which he applied. We will be doing this traveling and his interviewing the last few weeks of February.

It comes down to another all positive choice, and this impacts many people, not just us. This choice is constantly on our minds, ever present in our prayers and talked about between us and between people that Mark and I both trust with this decision again and again and again. Much like getting married or adopting John this has nothing to do with leaving, nothing to do with not loving the people that we are in the midst of or even the town in which we live, this choice in the end is a choice to learn, a choice to grow and yes, even a choice to go and see what adventures lay ahead of us. There will always be things here that draw our hearts and minds back with fondness and concern, and should God leave us in a geographic possibility ourselves to come back to see and visit and share. We don't yet know where we go from here, but we know that it is time for Mark to take this step to be more than he has ever been before and probably more that even he can see that he can be.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

John is home...

...we are all pretty tired, well except John who is just excited and amazing :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hospital Again

John is at the hospital this morning, Mark is with him and I am at home getting some rest and some things done. Leaving for the ER late Wednesday night we realized we are out of practice at this. In the time that I grabbed just a few things and was in the truck I could easily have packed for a week, paid a bill, changed out the laundry and done a few more odd things back when we used to have to do this regularly. Mixed feelings, both glad that we have been able to 'stand down' and not be on alert status is such a good thing, a blessing we could have never dreamed of and yet it would have been nice to be able to instantly go back to that just in the realm of how much stuff wasn't with us, but I guess we can't have both.

We had some time on the way in when we were both kinda beating ourselves up because we didn't see the signs earlier or take them more seriously. John just has a UTI - urinary tract infection - and according to one of the nurses it is fairly common after battling big viruses (he just finished that) this year. But still he was clingy and tired and wanted to just lay on the couch and watch tv and that is not normal John, yet when we got ready to put him to bed we checked and he was running a 101 temp and coupled with the back pain it was time to take him in. So far this summer he has had an ear infection, probably his 2nd ever and the first one we didn't even know about until it was over cause it wasn't very bad, and this virus that he just came through where he ran 104 degree fever for a while and yet was negative for strep and flu and needed to just go home and wait it out. These are just normal childhood illnesses and especially for a child who is immune suppressed, yet even typing the words 'normal childhood illness' is odd and strange, John has had a few of those over the years but they were always in conjunction with things like major surgeries or central line infections.

So Wednesday night when we told him he was going to the Tiger Hospital he was excited and ready to go, many times on the way in he told us about doctors at the Tiger hospital were going to make the hurt go away and his friend nurse would be there. Yet, when it came time in the ER for dad to leave and him to get ready to go upstairs he stopped engaging with the ER nurse he had been so friendly with, he just sat there and held my hand, biting the inside of his lip, waiting, just waiting. I told him he would get to ride up on the bed and that made him smile for a half second and he was back to waiting and thinking. At times like this it just breaks my heart that he can't get out what is bothering him. Upstairs he was a little better, he cried a little with the IV but as soon as I told him they were done and just taping he was was telling me about the red blood and that it was over. He actually enjoyed the chest X-ray and yet when it came time to settle down and sleep he was exhausted from his illness and still anxious and so I pulled the chair close to his bed and we slept there right next to each other, occasionally in the night he would roll over and pat me to wake me up for a drink or to just hold his hand for a minute.

It helped so much that his 'friend nurse' was there in the morning. He didn't 'talk' to her much when she first came in, but as soon as she walked out the door he looked at me with his gigantic grin and told me it was his friend nurse, and then started talking about getting games and movies and doing the hospital things that he has always enjoyed. I am amazed at this little boy who I have the privilege to love and hold and be his mom. Whenever I read or hear the Words about faith like a little child I see John's face and am reminded of a few lines from "Why I Am a Lutheran' by Daniel Preus about trust only being able to be created by the one who is trusted because they are trustworthy and that we trust God because He is trustworthy. God, Himself, is trustworthy in caring for my precious John, for me, Mark and all things and I continue to pray that God will give me the strength to be a trustworthy mommy for John and forgiveness when I fail.