When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Cracks

This is the first post of many in my WTWCTD series. I am hoping to chronicle my struggle with my health and how I’m attempting to push through.

Before I entered into full time ministry I did a lot of time working retail. I worked in everything from grocery stores, book stores, music stores, to movie theaters. One thing I often noticed from time to time was that my feet would hurt a lot. I figured it was bad shoes and being on hard floors for hours upon hours. I tried everything but the pain stayed. I never mentioned it to anyone simply because I assumed they had foot pain as well.

Fast forward to my first church in Virginia. I was summertime and we had just wrapped up Vacation Bible School and I was helping clean up the craft room. As I was leaving I hopped on a step and felt a very sharp pain. I sat on the step and took off my show to massage my now screaming foot. I was scared I had fractured it, but the pain subsided and I went home.

When my wife came home I told her what happened and she told me to got to he dr. I wasn’t in the mood to go to the ER so I went to a clinic near my house that actually did X-rays. The doctor took X-rays and when they got the results told me I needed to go to a specialist. I became concerned and asked what was wrong. The doctor told me he saw some things he wasn’t happy with and I needed to stay off the foot and get a referral to a podiatrist.

So I did.

It didn’t take to long to get a referral to one of the top podiatrist in Roanoke so my wife and I went to the first appointment together knowing they he would have seen the X-rays. As I sit in the office I small man and his student come in. I notice that the Dr looks exactly like Nascar Champion Jeff Gordon. Dr Gordon, as I’ll call him, told me to take my shoes off and walk for him. I did and he asked me to roll up my pant legs he wasted to see my calf muscles. When He saw them he asked me to sit down.

He pointed at my feet and asked me how often that hurt. I told him often and he said you see that your feet are rolling in. I told him yes, but I never really paid attention to them. Her said well your lower legs are shaped like upside down coke bottles. I looked down and sure enough they did.

Again I really never paid attention to these things.

Dr. Gordon told me he thinks I have Charcot Marie Tooth. Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) is a degenerative nerve disease that usually appears in adolescence or early adulthood.Muscle weakness, decreased muscle size, decreased sensation, hammertoes, and high arches are symptoms. Needless to say all of this made sense and to be honest it scared me a bit.

I was then sent to other specialists and it was confirmed that I did in fact have CMT. I went back to Dr. Gordon for a follow up and we discussed the options. He mentioned that my left foot was worse than the right and at this point surgery would be an option. What he would do is basically rebuild the foot with hopes that it would buy me some time.

Time? I remember asking. He said yes I want to keep you out of the wheel chair as long as we can.

So the first surgery was schedules.

to be continued.

The Joy in Failure

I will be the first to admit I don’t like to lose. With that being said I have lost more in life than I have won. When I played sports in school I was always on the team that never won or during PE I was one of the last people to be picked on a team. To be honest it bothered me at times, but over time it was a badge of honor.

Over my life I have been management for companies and now run my farm and am a Pastor of two Churches. I have to admit that I am the happiest in my life than I have ever been.

Yesterday I was giving a huge and I mean huge glass of humility. On the farm we have been raising pigs and our goal was to send off our first three to be processed for meat. Monday we caught the pigs and it seemed like the hard part was done.

I was wrong.

I had my son and a few local friends over to help me load the pigs into the crate we built to take them to their final destination. This should have been easy, but it wasn’t because while I had everything I needed, I didn’t do one important step that would have lead to success. You see in order to get a 350 pound pig into a crate, you can’t just show up with one. You have to place it in front of them for a few days and put food and water in the crate. In essence you are making the crate a false oasis of hope and food. The pig gets used to it and then they go in on their own and boom! you got bacon.

Because I forgot this step, I failed. Not my son and friends, I failed due to an oversite that I should have had in place. Needless to say we regrouped and have rescheduled. Currently the crate is set up to make the oasis I mentioned before. This would fix the issues I caused yesterday.

I’ll be honest to write of such a failure is painful. I beat myself up most of the evening, but this morning I remembered that as over the years of farming and ministry I have made mistakes. The key however is I learned from them. I know I will fail and I also know I will succeed too.

I had to voices pop in my head as I was beating myself up. The first was my old theater boss Mr. Mckay. He was a good man, who would often say, “Moving forward”. I can still hear him saying that to me and others when we needed to possibly try something different.

The other voice was my old chaplain mentor who would say,” feel bad for 30 seconds, move on and learn.”

Both voices were true gifts from Jesus as I sit on my porch kinda paying attention to my seminary class, with a sense of peace.

I will, moving forward, take the wins and the losses as opportunities to get better and be able to teach my kids to be better people.

Hopefully next entry will be one where I share the pigs are gone, but if I fail again, at least I’m still learning.

Until next time… and thank God there’s always a next time

Ash Wednesday Thoughts

I am what one would call a denominational mutt. I grew up Baptist, Preach in a Methodist Charge, but I relate to the Mennonite way of life. When I grew up Baptist I never paid much attention to Ash Wednesday, but later in life I did.

It is the beginning of Lent and basically paved the road to Easter. It’s a time of preparation and getting your act together spiritually. However, most folks tend to “painfully” give up chocolate, TV, or social media. I tend to get annoyed at this.

I tend to focus on tweaking areas in my life I may have lost control of and slow down. This year I am going to focus more on eliminating the toxic from my life and focus on the blessings God has given me. I will also spend more time being present with family and friends. This is a time where i evaluate if I’m being real in all areas of my life. I’m not trying to come across as a hipster, but i never want to see myself just going through the motions. i want to make sure I’m literally practicing what i preach. Sometimes this can be painful, but when done right, very freeing.

I feel that these additions will help me as I strive to be a better follower of Jesus. I don’t see Lent as a Christian New Year’s Resolution, but a time of real reflection and change.

We will see if I have grown after the coming days…

“Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves… What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment’s hesitation.” Catherine Doherty

If You Give

I have always believed that if you freely give then you’re attached to nothing.

Years ago my wife and i decided to share what God has blessed up with. We felt led by God to never be hoarders or stingy with anything. What we found is a freedom to enjoy life with no attachments. we love our family and our farm, but if we have extra, there is no greater joy than to simply share.

We don’t say this to make ourselves look good, but with the hope that someone would be encouraged to become generous with your time and resources.

until next time!