June 30, 2010

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You...

Greetings from the deep end!
Have you ever had a morning that was bad? Have you ever had one that was so bad that it could be a movie? Have you ever had one that was so bad it was ALREADY a movie? I have. Robin Williams starred as me. The movie? "RV". I mean, it was just one crazy bad thing after another this morning. If nothing else I think I have learned that it's okay to laugh at yourself after your tears subside (just another unwelcome reminder of a thing I already knew). Wanna know what happened? I didn't think so, but I'm gonna tell you anyway, because hey, you've read this far and if you are still reading, well, that's your choice.

I remember waking up around 6am with a crazy headache and Xander just losing it in his crib. I remember Aryll doing the same and Pam getting them both settled down in the front of the Parsonage. We have dubbed the motor home we are living in "The Parsonage" as it is parked on church grounds. It is not as funny a title as "The Rolling Turd" in the movie "RV" but we address it as the Parsonage just as affectionately. As is my style, I have digressed, point is, crazy headache, crying babies, 6am. I next remember waking at 7am enough to realize that I desperately needed to snag some sinus medication and Ibuprofen. I slammed the pills and a half a bottle of water, put a wet rag on my forehead and laid back down. I remember the pain subsiding around 7:30am and going back to sleep at that time.

Pam woke me at 8am to go "dump" the RV. This is a rather improper word as it inspires such visual definitions as a dump truck "dumping" a load of dirt or gravel at a work site. Let me assure you, the reader, this is NOT what dumping the RV means. If you have seen the movie, my experience of dumping the RV was not that bad. However, anytime you try to "dump" an RV and come away wet, it's nasty. So then, we get to the dump site, Pam chose to come along and bring the children and "help" me with the project. A sound plan, in theory. Usually when Pam helps me with the RV stuff, one of us walks outside to supervise and one stays inside to do the work, whether it be leveling, dumping, hooking up water or electricity. We communicate through our phones, me through my Bluetooth and her through her cell. Again, a great idea for this morning, in theory. I get outside and need Pam to run water through the pipes from inside. My cell says, "calling Pamela". Ring... Ring... Ring... "WAAAH GANGWAGH WAAAH hello? WAHH GAINGWAHH!!!" Dear reader, does this make any sense to you? Me neither. I finally understood that Pam had answered her phone and our two lovely children (affectionately dubbed "The Symphony of Scream") were tuning up in the background. I asked Pam to perform the task which she had joined me for... "Can you flush the toilet?" to which she replied, "WHAT?" to which I replied, "CAN YOU FLUSH THE TOILET?" to which she replied, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU", to which I replied, "DO THAT THING YOU CAME HERE TO DO!!!" To which she replied, "I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!!!" I then returned to the inside of the RV to complete the job alone and send the family on their way. Dumping an RV is hectic enough without the symphony providing background tunes. I finished the job at the dump station, to make a long disgusting story short and less disgusting, I left wet and desperately desiring a shower.

Learning the streets in a new town is bad enough when you are in the family car and there is no construction. I got to take a detour in the RV on the way back to the church in a town that I don't know this morning at about 8:45am. I only ended up about a mile from where I originally intended to be. Classic movie prank. I was thinking to myself on the way back that things couldn't get worse for me because the dirty part was done. I was wrong.

I got back to the spot where I wanted to park the RV. I began to level it only so that the jacks would bottom out before it was level. This should not have happened as the infernal thing was on the same spot as it was not more than an hour before. 30 minutes later I was still trying to get it leveled. The on-board leveling system told me that it was level so I went outside to finish hooking up the water and electrical. Pam called to me through the RV walls to tell me that it wasn't level (she could have opened a window). I asked her how she knew and she replied by putting a water bottle on it's side on the table. I think the bottle rolled faster off of the table than the RV can go at top speed. I angrily stomped back inside, started the engine, got the hydraulic jacks turned back on, checked for level (it said it was level) chose to use the bubble levels by the fridge instead and finished the job.

Before we had left for the dump job I had parked my pickup in such a way as to hide the hoses and electrical wires in hopes of keeping them from being stolen while we were away. As I began to back it out of the area between the RV and the building I heard a weird scraping sound. My heart jumped and I slammed on the break. Pam looked over at me, looked under the pickup, shook her head and motioned for me to continue backing up. I obeyed and out from under the pickup popped a fence post. I silently parked my pickup and crawled underneath it to make sure there was no damage. Praise God there wasn't. I went back to try to bend the pole straight (I hadn't showered yet mind you). I grabbed a hold of the fence post and began to pull, I noticed a white car coming up by me as I felt the pole snap. Time went into super slow motion at that point. I remember the pole snapping, me looking down at it and then the force from the break hitting my body. I felt my feet leave the ground before my back smashed into the gravel. Probably looked pretty funny. Didn't feel funny. I looked up enough to see that I was still holding the pole and that the white car probably saw the whole thing. Great. Wonderful. Shuh-weet! I called for Pam. She came out to see me lying on the ground with a fence post across my chest and my hands on my head. She asked what happened and if I was okay. The only lasting damage, and the only mark from my ordeal was a broken blood vessel near my left elbow. Pam helped me up and I went to sit on a nearby step to cry for a minute. Then I picked myself up (thanks Batman's Dad) and went to take a nice short shower. A person really shouldn't take a long shower when they have just dumped their RV and are hoping to make it 5 days before dumping again.

So then, if nothing else, I am again reminded of Batman Begins. Bruce's father says, "And why do we fall, Bruce?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up."

June 16, 2010

When it's All Been Said and Done

Greetings from the deep end!
This is gonna be a short one. I just have a few feelings I want to try to work out. So, I was done with youth tonight, they prayed for me, Pam and the kids. We all shared a bunch of our favorite memories of our times together, and I shared my last words of encouragement and challenge for their future in the youth group. Did fine, didn't get sad, didn't cry, my voice didn't even crack. Gave and received hugs and well wishes, not a tear. Then at 9:03pm I went back to the youth room to shut down for the last time. I shut off the A/C, told the kids I was closing up, and flipped all 6 light switches. As I turned around and looked at the darkened room, lit with only the dim light that came through the windows, I looked at Matt walking out the door with his long board for the last time and stopped moving. I just stopped. Matt seemed to look at me as if he were waiting for me, but I couldn't move, and didn't speak. As Matt turned to leave and the door shut behind him, I found myself all alone in the youth room and suddenly a myriad of thoughts and memories, both good and bad, flooded into my mind. Remembering battles won and lost, kids that came for a long time and kids that were only there for a season.

I walked to the stage and sat down on the second step and began to choke up. I asked God as I looked at the empty room if I had done what I was supposed to do with the kids He gave me in the time He gave them to me. I asked if I were leaving the youth group, the church, in a better position than it was when I arrived. As I asked the question, I wasn't sure of the answer to those questions. As I thought and prayed a song came to mind. I couldn't remember all of the words but I remembered the gist of it...

When It's All Been Said And Done

Verse 1
When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth
Did I live my life for You
Verse 2
When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I've done for love's reward
Will stand the test of time
Verse 3
Lord Your mercy is so great
That You look beyond our weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
Making sinners into saints
Verse 4
I will always sing Your praise
Here on earth and ever after
For You've shown me Heaven's my true home
When it's all been said and done
You're my life when life is gone

The song didn't give me any answers, as the song is questions only. I guess that means that God, rather than giving me a solid, easy, yes or no answer, brought to mind a song that only multiplied the questions. Great. Thanks! But that is where I am, did I do what I did here for the right reasons? If I did, then it was worth while, if I didn't, I hope and pray that God will use it anyway. I won't probably know about the impact that my life and actions in Sheridan may have had until heaven. That is the great drawback to ministry, and youth ministry specifically. We do lots and lots of work on hearts, we can't see hearts, and only in heaven will we be able to really see what work God was able to do through our feeble hands and hearts. In the end, "Only what I've done for love's reward, will stand the test of time."

June 5, 2010

Greetings from the deep end!!!
I finished packing up my desk at the ACE program yesterday afternoon. Stupid bittersweet days. I'm really really happy to be moving on to the next adventure in my life. But what I am coming to realize, especially over the last week or so is that I am really leaving one life behind and beginning a new one. So, as we humans do when a life ends, I find myself mourning the loss of what once was and to a degree, still is for the moment but will cease to be in the next 16 days.

I've noticed the people around me that I have worked with for the last 3 to 6 years are starting to plan the future, without me. Plans and situations that I once would have been a big part of I now find myself on the outside of looking on. If I weren't leaving I would feel jealous that I wasn't being included, but my logical mind (I do have a logical mind, in some situations) tells me that life here in Sheridan must go on without me. As I write and my thoughts get organized I realize that moving isn't here one day, gone the next, but rather a process that will be finalized 16 days from now. For me, things in Sheridan are coming to a close. Relationships are ending, projects are being finalized and I am sad. I feel as if I am watching my life slowly end.

The up side to all of this is that I will be reborn into my new life in 17 days. God has a plan and purpose for that new life. For each relationship lost or severed by hundreds of miles one will be made new to take it's place. For each project that I won't be able to work with and watch grow and change and become more and more useful there will be a new project to be birthed and swaddled. In the end, this change is what is best for me and my family. As I said, I look forward to the bright future ahead of me, but I mourn for what will be left and lost.