My youngest son was hospitalized earlier this week. He is having another break thru bleed in his right knee. The complications that he deals with are painful and seem to never let up. There is no down time in our world when it comes to internal bleeding. Bleeds happen often and without warning. Each episode is unique unto itself and comes with its own share of physical and emotional issues.
Despite the hospitalization of my youngest son, this week I had several meetings scheduled with members of the hemophilia community. I had been asked to motivate people to take part in a first annual Walkathon for the Sangre De Oro Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation. (I will be posting how to participate in our Walkathon in a separate entry on my Facebook page).
As I was preparing what I would say, I was overwhelmed with the question, “Why do I participate in this community?” I do it primarily to stay informed on the latest treatments and programs related to hemophilia. Knowledge is power. The more I know the better I can treat my sons disorders.
Another reason I participate in the Sangre De Oro Chapter is because I remember what it was like to have a newly diagnosed son with hemophilia. I lived in Houston (a town of approximately 4 million people) and had never met anyone, to my knowledge, who had a bleeding disorder. I felt alone and completely lost. My emptiness was transformed into something I could never have imagined by a simple phone call. It was the voice of another parent who reached out to my family. Her child had hemophilia and assured my wife and I that we would be fine. Our son would live a good life.
I was then invited to participate in the Houston area chapter of the bleeding disorders community and began helping out by working events. With every project I learned more about my son, about hemophilia and I even learned about myself. My goal was to ensure that no one needed to feel alone again. I serve the community to help empower families who feel alone. I want others to experience the message of hope. I want people to know that they are not alone, and there is a community that longs to embrace everyone who struggles with bleeding disorders. We want to journey together.
My message of service is so intertwined with my faith. Our source of strength comes from the Divine promise that we are not alone. We are called to be much more than we can be as a single entity. Christ calls us into fellowship with one another. At the center of our faith community we discover this message of hope and Good News. At the core of our fellowship, we find the Gospel of Hope.
I just purchased a new computer and started looking through some of my files to determine whether or not I should put some of the documents on my hard drive. As I was reviewing past assignments I stumbled across a Psalm that I wrote for one of my favorite classes that I took in seminary. I’m posting it in the hopes that it will be a blessing in your life at it as it has been in mine.
Last night my sixteen year old son sang in his school choir’s holiday concert. I will just say that the program was a very ambitious collection of time honored works as well as new music. One could get carried away with over analyzing the program. I know I have to shut down my musical snobbery button and simply listen to the wonderful students excited about their own acts of music making. I just thought to myself, “Thank God this is good literature and I wasn’t trapped listening to a concert of Christmas music from the 50’s.”
What moved me so much was the absolute joy I saw in my son’s eyes as he had a place on the stage. His very being oozes music. I was watching him at the end of a number and he turned to a few other boys in the choir and they just looked at one another and laughed. My son could not have been in a moment that was more perfect for him than in that moment. I was thrilled for my “big ole stinky boy.”
I was reminded that, as a pastor, father, husband, etc., I can get so caught up in the business of the season that I forget to see the small expressions of joy around me. I could miss my youngest son sitting next to me rocking out to some of his favorite music. I could have missed my oldest son expressing his passion for being a part of a wonderful young group of musicians.
I hope that I never get so complacent and busy that I can’t experience and see the love which surrounds me as a pastor, husband, father, and friend. I hope that I never lose sight of the joy that is an integral part of the church as those of us who are in the choir prepare for the big Christmas Cantata. May we always find a brief moment of love as it surrounds us when we open a Christmas card. It lets me know that I am connected to something much bigger than which I am on my own.
Let us keep the joy of the season by finding the love in everything that we do. We will discover the basis of our hope and absolute dependence on God and how the Sacred is expressed in the care of others. May you find the joy in everything that you do in this Christmas season. God’s choicest blessings work through you and around you.
And as for that dad whose heart leapt for joy? There is no Christmas present greater than seeing your family happy. There is no store that can purchase it. There is no place that can manufacture it. I am fortunate to have been in a place to look and simply catch a glimpse of it. May my son have many more concerts that cause him to rear back and laugh for joy.
I am entering the week that marks the end of the firsts regarding my mother’s death. This is the first Thanksgiving that she will not be with us. This time last year she was in the hospital. Has a year really gone by?
My life has radically changed since last November. I have a new home, new church, new car. My family is readjusting to living in a big city. While we learned many lessons “on the prairie” we are grateful to be back in a place that affords us the opportunities to which we grew accustomed to in Houston. Having an Albertsons back in my life is wonderful!
So, while I have experienced all of these wonderful changes, I still feel an amount of sadness. I am still in a season of grief. I miss my mom (particularly at this time of year). I miss hearing the excitement in her voice as she made plans to visit us during the holidays. I miss talking about the “appropriate” things that my children should get from Santa. Of course my mom didn’t care what I had to say, my children would be smothered in gifts to their heart’s delights.
While I love my family and my life is very rich and full, for a year now there has been a hole that speaks loudly in my life. I am very grateful that my mother wasn’t ill at the end of her life. She died almost immediately after she suffered a pulmonary embolism. Praise God that it was quick and she experienced little if any pain. I am convinced that she opened her eyes on the other side and beheld the incredible wonders of God. Claiming the promises of my faith I admit that I still miss her.
As I move through my grief I rejoice that God’s work still journeys forward. I am grateful that my ministry continues to move forward with the reassurance that we are all doers of the Word. We move forward with hope, knowing that God will comfort in times of joy, grief, sorrow, etc… Name them all, God will be there.
God’s presence does not indicate that we will not feel loss. Quite the opposite. Our faith is made whole as we fall into the arms of God who will nurture us through the periods of mourning. This is the center of our hope. Through sadness, God will still be there.
I pray that the blessings of God will be with you now and always. I pray that you may grow in the love and knowledge of God. I pray for all that mourn; that they may be comforted.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6 NRSV).
The Shakespearean Tragedy “Hamlet” is an incredible search for personal acceptance and an incredible search into the human spirit to discover the inherent principles of human purpose. I believe that the Bible leads us through the same questions however; the answers to the ultimate questions lead us to God. It is in God that we find purpose and meaning. Our reason for existing is to find our way to that place within our spirit where we connect to God. God is within us, but we must find the sacred.
A question that arises out of the Isaiah text is the notion that there is a limited amount of time that God is near. How long do we have? Is there only a limited amount of time in our lives that God’s presence will be available? Perhaps the challenge is to seek God during our time on this earth. The Divine may be found as long as we live. It is with this seeking to find God that makes life exciting. Our need to connect with the Divine invites urgency to life. We are energized to find the Holy Spirit within us.
It has been my experience that when we connect with God there is a sense of finding peace. Hope is finding a Divine spark in the middle of a crisis. This is where God dwells; in the center of our struggles. We find serenity and grab hold of that sacred space. The challenge is to know how to find our way back. We must remain in touch with how to revisit that Divine source that is deep within us. We rekindle our soul by remaining close to that “Spring of Living Water” that flows through us.
The reality of life is that God will sometimes feel distant. We yearn for the time that God’s presence is vibrant and very obvious in our lives. We delight in a sense of peace and joy that guides us and inspires us. Isaiah reminds us to search immediately so that we may experience the incredible reality of God. Let us set aside time for the one who created us. We may find Him in the middle of our very existence and be transformed by His awesome presence.
I am afraid to put something out into the universe because of the fear that something may happen to prevent us from going. My wife and I are actually going on a retreat tomorrow without our children in tow. While it may sound like I am an ungrateful parent, I assure you that I love my family dearly. My aunt who I call my “Precious Princess” is visiting from Houston and will help man the house while we are away in the mountains.
I was talking to my wife yesterday and both of us were stumped when we tried to remember the last time that we traveled together sans the boys. We can’t remember. All we know is that we are excited to have a little time away for rest and relaxation. This retreat couldn’t have come at a better time for us as we celebrate today twenty-four years since our first date. Wow!
Those who know us are probably in shock that we have been together for such a long time. I look at the person I was and can’t believe that the young man who first looked at that young woman would be sitting here twenty-four years later and feel so incredibly blessed. It is this woman who has been patient with me and gave me the gift of family in a way that I could never have imagined. She reminds me that God is indeed good!
As we prepare for our retreat (thank you Bishop Max) I give thanks that I am able to take a few moments out of my week to spend quality time with the absolute love of my life. May we take a few moments to laugh together, to reflect on the past, to plan for the future, but mostly to enjoy the present. I pray that we have many more years together as God continues to surround us with blessings that we could never have predicted when we were those very young people. May we see our children’s children live out their dreams with the hope and knowledge that their family is one based on love.