Friday, June 24, 2011

Taking the Baton

Warning...long blog warning.  :)

Have you ever had one of those weeks?  You know the type.  You are reflective, even melancholy.  Well, that is me this week.  If this blog turns out to be just a little bit reflective it is probably because it is.  Like I said, it is just one of those weeks and the rain outside is reflecting my mood.  Thank you very much.

First of all, Nicole.  She continues with doing wonderful.  Next week we have an appointment to perform tissue matching with the next two potential donors, Tiffany and Krista.  Everything is lined up and we are ready to go!  The more I think about this process the more I am convinced that I really, really do not want Titia to be the donor.  She is a very good match, which is wonderful.  However, she really needs to just be “mommy”.  Titia is more than willing to give a kidney…it is just not ideal.  I am praying that one of the other potential donors is the perfect match.  It is out of my hands and we will just have to wait and see.

Nicole is such a trooper.  I will not go into details, but yesterday we had an incident with Nicole that would have sent the average kid (or adult) over the top.  She just took it in stride.  Amazing.  She has been blessed with such a calm, little spirit in the midst of difficult circumstances.  I am so thankful because I know that she will be a calming influence when the time for the transplant actually comes.

Keep praying for the tissue matching to find the perfect donor.

Now, back to my week.  I know this blog is about Nicole but since I have the keyboard you also get some of me fished in.  Okay, okay, a lot of me.  It is a package deal, I guess.  As I said, I have been a bit reflective.  Maybe this is because Nathan, my oldest, is in Puerto Rico on a missions trip for 2 weeks.  Whenever he is gone I wander around like a lost puppy.  It really is pathetic.  I love him dearly and I pray he is doing well  ministering and being ministered to.  There are worse things for a 16 year old to be involved in…I know I was at 16.  I will spare you the details.

I have been thinking about everything in my life that has not gone perfectly.  The proverbial pity party, so to speak.  My father passed away in 2001 and it was Father’s Day on Sunday.  I know, I know, it is a Hallmark holiday, but it still makes me reflect upon my dad and how much I miss him.  He was a wonderful man and I wish my children could have known him and that I would have had more time with him.  Next, my mother passed away last year very suddenly.  Our relationship was always a bit rocky, but I still loved her and miss her.  All of my blood grandparents are gone, except one.  Grandma Thomas.  I received a call last night from my sister telling me that they have brought Hospice in for her.  She is on her way out.  My childhood, though good, was greatly influenced by my parents perpetually unstable relationship.  I was born in Ohio but we moved to Florida when I was 12 at the tail-end of my 6th grade year.  Have you ever switched schools towards the end of a school year?  What a weird and awkward situation.  However, some of the kids that I met that 6th grade year at Lee Middle School in Ft. Myers I am still friends with today.  Though we rarely, if ever, see each other I still consider them friends and I know deep down that if I needed something I could call them in an instant and they would be there for me.

Prior to moving to Florida my memories from Ohio are mostly playing baseball, chasing girls on the playground at Plain City Elementary School, going to the pool during the summer, hunting and trapping with my dad, playing outside with Terri and Brad (my sister and brother), hanging out with my cousins, and going over to Grandma Thomas’ house.  She always had those Sherbet Push-up frozen treats in her freezer (and still does) and every other type of junk food that would make her young grandson happy.  We had family picnics where the whole family would gather, throw horse-shoes, romp around, and just generally have a good time.  Not all, but a lot of those family members we used to gather with have passed on.  Now Grandma Thomas is going to be heading home very soon as well.  She is a believer and follower of Christ.  I am thankful.  I just recently saw her and she is at peace with the creator of the universe.  (Are you?)  She knew she would not see us again.  She gave some advice to my son Nathan to hold on to his girlfriend, Shelby, because she is “just perfect”.  I agree.  She asked me to pray with her…I did.  She is ready to go and on she will go.

It all kind of makes me sad.  The previous generation is dying off.  It happens to all of us sooner or later.  The baton is passed on from generation to generation and we all take our turn at running the race until we just can’t run any longer.  It seems to me from watching a lot of older people pass that by the end of the race most of them don’t want to run any longer.  I get that.  Running can be a lot of work.  However, I will continue to run.  It is my turn.  I have a lot to run for right now.  I have Titia, Nathan, and my three children that are 6 years old and under.  They all need me and it is my responsibility to provide for them…emotionally, spiritually, physically, and so on.  As I have said before, I take that responsibility seriously.

Which brings me to my grand conclusion.  All of this thinking about the passing of generations to the next has made me refocus on something I know to be true.  That is, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”  Let me reword this in a way that is a little more close to home for me…”What does it gain Nicole to get a new kidney and lose her soul?”.  Not to be all doomy L, but at the end of the day Nicole is going to end up in the same place as Grandma Thomas, my dad, my mom, and everyone else on the planet for that matter…with or without a new kidney.  Don’t get me wrong.  She has a ton to offer this world and she needs that new kidney.  No way am I implying that getting a donor kidney is not important.  That is not what I am saying.  However, seriously, what will it gain her if she gets a new kidney but fails to have a relationship with the creator of kidney’s?  Or to have a life that is apart from the creator of life?  That sort of existence is like the old Kansas song, “we are all just dust in the wind”.  (An 80’s blast from the past there).  Not really worth a whole lot.

One of the scariest verses in all the Bible is this…

Judges 2
10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

This was the generation after Joshua.  Joshua had wandered through the wilderness and seen countless miracles.  God had provided for Israel while he had taught them the infinite message of trusting in him, ONLY.  He had seen the previous generation die off because of unbelief without ever experiencing the reality of God’s promises and he, like that entire generation, knew first-hand the importance of knowing and trusting in God.  So how, I ask you, did “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord.”?  How could this be?  Did they just not tell them.  Did they tell them and a hard-hearted generation just not listen.  Words spoken, but not heard.  How?  I don’t know for certain.  However, I do know this.  If I get to the end of my life and my children arise to take the baton without knowing the Lord it is NOT going to be on my hands.  I speak in faith.  If I preach a thousand sermons, write 100000 blogs, spend literally months in church, feed the poor, minister to the needy, take care of the widows, and give my body to be burned and my children not know about the Lord and his blessings in my life then may I suffer a 1000 hell’s.  I am dead serious.  My life will have been in vain regardless of the works I have performed and the lives I have touched.  I don’t control my kids lives and I rarely preach to them, though sometimes that is necessary.  However, they will know and I will testify about God’s provision for sin and of His great salvation.  If they hear nothing else, they will hear this.

Nicole needs a kidney and thus this blog.  Even greater, Nicole needs to know the Lord and no doctor can give her that.  The greatest earthly teacher she will have of the Lord will not be a pastor, it will be her mom and dad.  Titia and I.  That, my friends, is worth running for.

For His Glory,

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Being Thankful for the Common

Well, spring has sprung here in Ohio and as usual we have been catapulted right into summer with temperatures up near 90.  Nicole is doing incredibly well.  She wakes up early (too early most days J) and is going to bed later than normal with tons of energy in-between.  Her favorite things to do are play in her sand-box, jump on the trampoline and, of course, terrorize her younger brother and sister, Caleb and Katelynn.  The sun comes up early these days around 6am and sets at 9pm or later.  There is plenty of daylight for her to romp around our 15 acres that is spread between our home, grandma’s home next door, and the greenhouse land across the street.  In my opinion, it is a little chunk of paradise here in north-central Ohio, even with the winters.

With all the busy schedules it has been a challenge scheduling the next set of tissue matching with Tiffany and Krista.  If there is one thing that I am learning through the process of coming up with a kidney donor it is patience.  When we were originally told that we were going to start the process of finding a donor back in January / February I had in mind a sprint to the finish line.  Instead, the whole process goes in fits and spurts and it is a enough to drive a “type A” mad-man like me insane.  Breathe Brian, breathe!  It will get done and all just in the right time.  Worry.  Really?  What does it accomplish in the long run?  Not much.  Not much at all.  We do what we can and then we should relax.  Usually, if we are diligent, things will get done and there is no sense in sacrificing the great for the good.  A good friend of mine I don’t have much contact with now taught me that saying…do not sacrifice the great for the good.  The great things are time with family, friends, faith, hope, acts of service, good deeds, quietness, rest, a peace that passes all understanding, and above all, a sacrificial love.  The good things are work, busyness, house work, cooking dinner, and so on.  Too often I (and others) sacrifice the great for the good.  It is a bad trade.  The toys that clutter the floor because the kids have been busy playing is not a bad thing.  How about the dirty kitchen floor because Nicole has been tromping in and out all day playing in her sand-box.  Once again, would I rather have a clean kitchen floor or a daughter that is playing hard and doing well?  When it is worded like that there is really no choice at all.  Perspective.

I wanted to bring up one more thing.  I mentioned above that the days are longer and the nights are shorter.  “Big deal”, you say.  After all, it is spring and almost summer.  It happens every year.  Au contraire, it is a big deal.  The 4 seasons we have here in Ohio happen right on schedule every single year as if designed that way.  Hmmm.  Maybe they were! (wink, wink).  Each day there are things that happen that we call common or ordinary.  The sun rises, the sun sets, it rains as it did this morning and the earth fills our wells with water to drink, trees and plants grow for our food, and so on.  On a more personal level, I roll over in the morning to see my lovely wife.  I come home from work to see my kids playing.  I enjoy watching my oldest son Nathan play soccer like I have done a 1000 times before.  I text a friend who is always there for me.  I could really go on and on and on with the ordinary, common things that are in my life each and every day.  The longer days and the increased sunlight has made me cognizant that too often the common goes without thankfulness.  If “absence makes the heart grow fonder” then what does that say about the things we experience every day?  Does it imply that we take them for granted without an ounce of thankfulness?  I pray not.  Every year with the lengthening days Nicole feels better because of her increased exposure to the sun.  I am convinced of it regardless of whether or not the doctor’s say it is relevant or not.  I would like to make a public declaration that I am thankful to the Lord, the creator of the heaven, earth, and its magnificent order.  Not only am I thankful to Him for how the seasons work, but also for every little single thing in my life that happens every day.  One day, a sad day I would imagine, I might wake up and things might not be the same.  Give thanks for the common…while you can.

For His Glory,