My Little Share Bear(Chef Sharon)

Well, it’s been a while. Needless to say our lives are as full as ever. There are so many new things; new jobs, new houses, new baby boys. Yes, we bought a house and added a son to our collection. So now my little ray of sunshine is no longer the baby of the bunch. Well, she is still the youngest of the daughters, but now she too is a big sister! She has found her passion in life (at least as a 5 6 year old), COOKING! She absolutely loves to be in the kitchen helping to stir, slice and saute’. So what did momma do..gave her a cooking show. Momma is having some difficulty figuring out the whole video thing (so if I actually have readers left, you might want to post some helpful tips about getting video to the blog). But you can still see my little Sharebear in action with a little awkward video and a lot of little boy noises in the background. Enjoy! You can find her also in my blogroll to the right.

You heal my broken heart, You are my Father who loves me…….

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So here I am in all my cellulitic splendor! Hooked to the machine. All I need is a tube in my mouth and a screwed in plug in the back of my head and I would look like Neo…ok just kidding. I would need to be covered in red goo, 100 lbs skinnier and bald…and in the future..and fully naked…and…ok you get the picture, I am not Neo. But here is the good news: This is a picture of me taking my follow-up stress test. My cardiologist says I am “good to go!” He actually took me about 3 or 4 levels higher than he usually takes most of his patience (Sounds good, but most of them are 7o or older). But he is confident there was no heart damage, I am down to just two medications, and that I am free from any physical restrictions! I am pumping better than before and my test score was flawless! I can pick up my kids again! So for all you out there in need of inspiration, read my original post about what happened and then hear this: I have set a goal of 16 months. I will loose about 50 to 60 lbs (Look out Jarrod) and will begin training for THIS in o8. I would like to finish top in my wave. But here is the most inspiring piece of this. God showed me His grace, His mercy, His power, His love, His discipline through my weakness and desperation for His presence. I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me and in my weakness God is strong, and through His discipline I come running to Him! Give your heart to God, miracles are His specialty! BTW, R U Listening? Wait for the next episode in the Big Daddy saga! It will be a smashing good time!

“Daddy, will you be home for Christmas?”

Big Daddy sat in a wheel chair, shattered to the core. Doing my best to hide the IV in my arm and the wires coming from my chest. I held my 8 and 5 year old daughters on my lap. My 8 year old, Abigail, was doing her best to hold back her tears. My 5 year old, Shoshana, just staring silently with her thumb in her mouth and her head laying on my chest…possibly for the last time. Finally in a rush of tears, Abigail blurts out, “Daddy, will you be home for Christmas?” I had to make a choice.

 

The story I am about to tell may amaze you, may make you cry, and hopefully bring you to your knees before the Creator of the universe. Thats what it did for me. There are some details that I will leave out, but I will probably tell them later in another story. Try to keep up.

 

Wednesday before Christmas: I have been feeling a little under the weather for a week or so. I was sure it was just the cold weather settling in for the season. It felt as if my bronchial’s were a little chaffed from the cold air. Not something I let slow me down. But at the urging (I used to call this nagging) of my wonderful wife, I went to see our chiropractor/nutritionist. He gave me the usual adjustment and supplement testing. He was a little concerned that this might not be in the lungs at all. He urged me to rest from my adjustment, do some light exertion later in the afternoon and if the feeling came back to “go MD” in the morning. I only finished shoveling half my walk.

Thursday before Christmas: I was a half hour early for my 830 am appointment. The doctor was out of town, so I had to “settle” for a P.A. (I have since changed my opinion of them as well). After explaining my symptoms to him, and still being convinced it was just a chest cold, he advised we do an EEG. Nothing was abnormal about the results. For some reason he seemed worried. He said he wanted me to take a “stress test” (treadmill test). The only problem is that our small little town has limited resources. They can’t see me till Saturday. But the alternative is to try the major hospital in the next town over. I am saying to myself, “It’s just a chest cold, I can wait till Saturday, but call them and see.” So I call the wife while he calls down the road. Turns out they are all full too. So we have to wait any way. I tell the wife never mind and hang up. The PA says he wants to try one more avenue. He calls the hospital back and gets me in…today..through the ER! For a chest cold! He explains that I can go home and rest and test on Saturday and everything may be ok, or I can go home and rest and never wake up again. He explains it’s not a chest cold. I call my wife back. My wife says we are going today.

I drive 60 miles with my family to the next town over, check in through the ER, get hooked up to machines and wait. The problem is, I am alone now. The hospital will not allow any children under 12 in…period. I am soon visited by the world’s greatest cardiologist. My wife makes it in as her father comes and takes the kids to play and dinner. He feels that there is no need for a stress test. He advises THIS instead. I spend most of the night holding the hand of my wife praying and crying. I demand to see my kids. They won’t let them come in due to some kind of “upper respiratory” thing going around. Well if you know anything about me…………lets just say they hooked me up to a remote monitor, put me in a wheel chair and let me go to the lobby to see my kids, and no one had to actually call security. Saying goodbye to my kids that afternoon was the hardest thing I have ever done….ever. But we trusted in God.

 

Friday morning before Christmas: By 10am I am on a small, very uncomfortable table to have radio-active die pumped into my heart. Medical drugs are amazing. I was completely awake, and completely numb! I only remember bits and pieces. But I do remember when they let my wife come in between the exploratory and the stint placement. I kind of remember our kisses, but I do remember telling her to “kiss the doctor, he just saved my life!”

Sometime that afternoon, I become coherent enough to absorb information. It turns our I had a 95% blockage of the main coronary that feeds my heart. It turns out, my wife saved my life by making me go. It turns out I would quite possibly have died shoveling my walk Friday morning. But it also turns out Big Daddy would be home for Christmas. They sent me home Saturday the 24th around 4 in the afternoon.

 

Faced with my own mortality, every day is….afresh! My tomorrow almost never came. My I share this with you? Get right with God, and love. Love big. Love more than you ever dreamed possible. Love now, love everyone. Not just your family and friends. Go tell the guy who works on your car that you love him and God loves him. Tell your waitress that you love her and God loves her. Do it now. Don’t waist time with anger, or blame. Don’t fall into deceit and meanness. Don’t let time dictate your life. I need you to know right now that I love you, God loves you more than I do, and that this day is the day that God made!!

SSHHH!…..did you hear that?

I want to share with you all my most recent experience with the “whisper of God”. I went down to watch my mother graduate from her correctional facility boot camp. She is an educational technician in a corrections facility. After the ceremony, we had to go pick up my mothers 1989 Grand Caravan. Apparently it broke down right when she got to town. Now this is a good thing because that means my mother was not stranded in the middle of nowhere. So we get to her van and I ask if I can check it out first before we call the tow truck. Most of you know I can fix most anything. So to make a long story short….um, ok to make it shorter than it could be, I fixed my mother’s van, I missed a meeting that I planned, and my mom ended up spending the night at our house. Listen to what God whispered…come closer…closer…good. “Family is more important than work“, by missing the meeting I made a commitment to my mother to get her home, safely and cheaply. I am also confident that the meeting went better with out me. Someday I will tell you why that makes sense. “Your mother needs to see your heart, as well as hear your words“, I never got irritated that I had to “save the day” or take time to fix a problem that wasn’t mine. I did not complain about being late, but embraced the time together. I was without burden. “Trust me with your mother“. God allowed me to share my faith with my mother in a way that has never happened before! She just listened. No debate, no rebuttal. She just listened! “Embrace what I have given to you” My mother is almost 60, and my children are growing fast. Usually my mother just wants to “push on through” to get home, so she never spends more than a few minutes with my children. Even when she comes here specifically to visit, it always seems to last less than two hours and off she goes to “get home before dark”. This is not to say I am complaining or she is doing anything wrong, it just seems like life is moving way to fast. But this morning, my children woke up with Grans there and they ate scrambled eggs together. Our time together was priceless.

Are you listening for God’s whisper in all things?

God Bless you,

BigDaddy

Todd my Tony

I have been slowly making my way through a new book I received in the mail. It is a new book by Greg Stier called “Ministry Mutiny.” It’s not a how-to manual, or even some kind of revolt against the elders of your church. In fact, as Greg would say, it really isn’t all that cutting-edge nor does it introduce some new “fail proof” method for a successful youth group. It does however capture the essence of youth ministry. I think the fact that it is a “fable” is the reason Greg can walk us through some very engaging issues that we struggle with. Instead of simply rattling off all the things we could complain about, he brings them to life and then deals with them. The solutions are primarily Biblical principals we have just forgotten all about. I say I have been slowly making my way through it. That’s because each concept deserves my honest contemplation as well as time to work on my heart. I have many flaws. As with “Ty”, I have my own “Tony” who has helped me walk through my struggles and pains. I thank God for my “Tony”. He is always there to encourage me, or let me vent, and to always remind me that its worth it. And he never spares any mercy to get in the ‘ol “welcome to youth ministry brother.” If you are a student reading this, I ask you a simple favor; be patient with me. I will give you my heart. I will make mistakes. (dramatic pause) There is nothing more I can promise than that. Look to God for promises. If you are a youth leader, read the book, check your heart, and go with God. Listen for His whisper.

I won’t say that the book has changed my life, but it has definitely challenged me to remember why I do what I do, as well as to be cautious as to what I create in students, and call it ministry. If you really get down to it, God is the one who changed my life, and ever since He has given me the “Tonys” of the world to guide and direct me in this thing called youth ministry.

Beautiful Feet

I talked a little in my last blog about hindsight. Out of the gate, none of this is really new to me, but it serves as a reminder to think about our priorities in life. What we say, what we think, what we eat, who we associate with and so forth. We know it’s going on around us, but sometimes, for some reason, it just isn’t real to us. Here at the NYWC, I had the privilege to walk through an encounter about the AIDS epidemic of Africa. 1Life , World Vision and Youth Specialties have created a beautiful partnership as well as a powerful educational encounter. At the 1Life encounter I traveled (via ipod) to Africa and the life of a young man and his struggles with war, AIDS, rape, death, and freedom. It gave me a good chance to focus on the things of life that are important. Two things I came away with: God has given value to every human life because He created us in His own image. But more importantly He desires to have a repaired relationship with every one. Yes every one. The first concept that we encounter is that every life has value, and God calls us to be among them. In 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul writes “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” This means to all people, both those who trust and believe in Christ, and those who have not yet been written in the Lambs book of life. And for the second concept, we know that God wishes that all should come to know His glory and grace. 2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Scripture also explains to us this process of both the repaired relationship as well as who will bring the good news. from Paul’s letter to the Romans we read; “As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” The 1Life experience reminded me of my priorities in life and the calling of my heart. You are valuable, God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He also wants to do a good work through you. How beautiful are your feet?