Friday, May 29, 2009


I took this picture during my last night in Amsterdam on a mission trip earlier this year. It's a really good shot, but could have been a great shot with a better fastened tripod. :(

As I think about my life over the past few weeks, I feel like this blurring movement has been a theme. It seems like our culture as a whole is constantly moving, and that there are very few places in which we can find stillness and serenity. The other day, I was spending time with my dad (who is doing remarkably well physically!), and I just noticed that even in his life it seemed like there was a phrenetic pace happening.

It's like there is so much going on for people these days that there is little time to think, to reflect, and to plan the next move. Sometimes I think we spend more of our time and life reacting to the events of the day than planning long term for the future.

Right now I'm entering a mode where I'm fighting back the reactions to the events of the day in order to be with people and in order to plan for the future. It's a difficult process, and it's a process that is becoming all too familiar for folks in the west.

What is it that causes us to have to fight away the little things that tear away at our limited resource of time? How did we find ourselves in this predicament of a million little commitments and side projects.

As the weekend approaches, I plan to continue fighting, keep on moving, and learning rest amid the frenzy.

Hope you can do the same.

The Life You Can Save

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Peter Singer
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

Earlier today I was on Amazon looking at books, when I saw a book with the title "The Life You Can Save". It was a book about poverty, and the opportunity we in the West have to do something about it. There was a video on the page, but unfortunately, Amazon doesn't provide embedding codes on their website. Here's a link to the video though. I thought the video was pretty poignant, and I was initially gonna write about it, but couldn't figure out a way to embed it on my blog.

I did find this hilarious interview on the Colbert Report. While I don't regularly watch the Colbert Report, nor have I read Singer's book, among the few times I've seen interviews on Colbert's show, I've seen a sharp wit and at the same time an ability to engage intellectually. While I imagine Colbert does give to a number of causes in reality, his humor here illustrate some of the problems and arguments many folks really do conceive for not helping those who are less fortunate.

As you watch, take some time to ask yourself what you might be able to do to help solve the myriad problems of consumerism, poverty, suffering, the environment, and others that are tied directly to how and where we spend the money we have at our disposal.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Urbanism

My friend Christopher King is an architect, and I just saw a link he posted and thought I'd share it with you. The video is about a trend in architecture called "New Urbanism" and it is part of a move toward working against the 'sprawl' that makes up more and more of our suburban landscapes.

The main concept is that things should be within walking distance of our homes. Many people in urban areas drive 20 minutes or more to get to their place of work, school, church, etc. Imagine the better quality of life that might come from walking instead of driving. Imagine what life might be like if we were engaging with our neighbors and not meeting people by going far from our homes.

As I think about the idea of engaging with neighbors, I realize that since I left for college, I haven't been all that well connected with my neighbors. I'm wondering if this is a typical experience for college students, or even for people post college in their respective neighborhoods. I can remember being really connected with my neighbors as a kid, but it doesn't seem that way anymore. Both of my parents worked just a few blocks from where we lived growing up too.

I started reading a book a few years back called "Sidewalks In the Kingdom," and it pointed out an irony that takes place in our pursuit of spirituality. The Bible ends with a vision of a heavenly city. When we think about our own spirituality, we don't necessarily think about cities as all that spiritual. In fact, we tend to go away from the city to connect with God. Maybe the problem isn't cities. Maybe the problem is how we have conceived and developed our urban and suburban areas and lives.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy the video and it allows you to think about the space in which you live. What would have to change in your life and community to allow you to live, work, etc. close to home. How well do you know your neighbors? Where do you go to connect with God?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shavers Fork

This afternoon I took a drive to have some time in for reflection and
prayer. I drove to our family cabin near Elkins WV. This morning I
realized after cutting my grass last week it would probably be good to
cut the grass at the cabin too. It's all done now.
As I sat alongside the river and watched the flow, I could help but
think about the flow and rhythm of my own life. My family and my
people have always been river people. The river reminds us of the
power of God and his deliberate and constant work in our lives.
Sometimes our lives get out of rhythm, but God never does. Sometimes
our lives seem out of control, but just like the river, God always
accomplished His purposes.
As I sit here along the river I'm reminded of His infinite stability
and resoluteness of purpose.
Wherever you might be today, take time to reflect on God's perfect
stability and strength. There are many purposes God wants to carry out
in our world and lives, and He offers each one of us an opportunity to
join in that work. In His time. According to His purpose and plan.
May God achieve His purposes through you today!

Relay For Life 2009 Retrospective

Last weekend, a small group of friends from the church and family participated in our third straight relay for life event. As you can see from the photo above, Willie won the relay for our team!

Becky bought Jamie and I both T-shirts, and after I put on this cool shirt Becky informs me that I took Jamie's shirt. Mine had a map of WV and said "Hope Lives Here" on it. Becky told me that the shirt I picked was clearly a girls shirt. I told her that I thought it was for anybody. The women I know who have fought or are currently fighting are incredibly strong. So I figured, who wouldn't want to 'fight like a girl'?

The high point of the weekend for me was seeing dad complete a lap. While he hasn't had cancer himself, many of his siblings have. He also is not quite three weeks forward from having a massive heart attack, quadruple bypass, and his chest ripped open twice. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

I love this picture because you can see people walking ahead of him, behind him, and on all sides. That's just a small symbol of the kind of support he has been receiving through prayer, cards, visitors, and more. I took this photo because I wanted my dad to see this any time he was in doubt about whether or not people cared about him. I wanted him to see the steps he is taking too!

No matter what life throws at us, it's good to be reminded that we aren't going at it alone. We walk through it all together. We carry each other when times get tough. (And lately, it seems like there have been more physically and emotionally tough times for the people around me than one could imagine.)

Even when we feel like we are at the end of our ropes and we don't think we can take another step, there are people around us who can encourage and push us. And then, there is the great Friend Jesus, who walks with us through the heaviest trials. I know that walking with Him has strengthened me over these last few days.

Remember wherever you are and whatever you are going through, you are not alone!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wood County Relay For Life 2009

Today marks the third year we've had a team involved in the Wood County Relay for Life. The purpose of the event, as think about it, is manifold.

It serves as an opportunity for the community to come together on a large scale to make a difference in a major healthcare problem. In Wood County alone, nearly $200,000 has already been raised to help fund research and progress toward a cure for cancer.

It brings survivors and fighters, friends and family members, together to encourage and inspire one another.

It offers a time of reflection to remember those who have died as they fought tenaciously against this disease.

Beyond this, it is one of the few times during our busy lives that it feels like we can come together to experience community in a special way.

If you are in the area, you should come join us at some point. Even if you can't make it out for the event, you can still join our team or donate by clicking that link.

For my family, we remember the loss of my Aunt Carolyn and my mom. We also remember that my sister, my Uncle Bill, Uncle Kenny, and Uncle Russell are all cancer survivors. It's a reminder that more and more people are winning the fight. For my friends, some celebrate personal victories, mourn personal losses, and remember family and friends who are still fighting heartily against this enemy.

Who knows? Maybe I'll see you walking this weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Makes Us Happy?

My friend Aerie Changala, the business program director for Nuru International's work in southwestern Kenya, sent me this video and accompanying article from "The Atlantic." Aerie is a well read, and well thought Basque man with a huge heart. He sent this article both as something to think about with regard to my dad's health and recovery, as well as something to be mindful of in my stage of life.

While the study has very little spiritual connection, it did find that people with a deep sense of faith and a commitment to serving others and living beyond themselves lived the healthiest lives and experienced the greatest joy in what they did. Those who lived for themselves alone, seemed to die earlier, become bitter, and developed many unhealthy habits along the way. The study attempted to be holistic, but also showed that there are so many factors that wind together to make up life, that it makes it hard to really nail down the secret.

As I'm writing this blog entry, I can't help but think of the words of Jesus, "Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." Jesus is essentially laying out in one sentence what this Harvard study is taking 70+ years to synthesize. Of course it makes sense that service is key, and service improves our lives. "No greater love has any man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

As I think about this study, and the words of Jesus, all that keeps running through my mind is tension between the good and the best. Sure it is good to serve other people. It improves our health, and it gives us joy. But it is BEST to serve Christ. Ultimately, when we serve Christ, we are compelled by the nature of His mandate and example to serve others. Whatever we've done to the least of these, we've done to Him.

When I look at the life my dad has led, I see a man who constantly looks to serve Christ by serving others. He doesn't always articulate it, but it is abundantly clear in my life of watching him and looking to him and my mom for guidance and for role models. When I think about my own life, I desire more than anything to lay it down for the sake of knowing Christ and serving Him. No matter what this life may throw at me, I am singularly convinced that the true and deep secret to happiness is found in Christ.

As I wrote that statement, I grew a little concerned that you might read that and just gloss over it as a religious cliché or trite statement. Go back over it and read again. No matter what this life may throw at you, I am singularly convinced that the secret to happiness is found in Christ. If you are reading this note and that seems a foreign concept to you, I want to ask you to meditate on the Person of Christ. Think about His life, His death, and His resurrection. Seriously. Set aside a couple of minutes right now in the office, or at home, or wherever you are, and contemplate Him and His life of sacrifice. Seek to follow His example, as well as the example of others as they seek to imitate Him.

May you experience the fullness of life that comes solely from King Jesus.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Homeward bound

I'm writing this note from my dad's van as we travel from camc to
parkersburg. It's been a long couple of weeks for him, but he's
finally on his way home. I took this photo a few seconds before we got
in the van. Today is the first day I've seen my dad wear something
other than a hospital gown since April 22.
It's a welcome change. Dad looks healthier just by wearing different
clothes. He looks like he has more energy than I've seen in weeks.
Now we enter the next phase of recovery--diet, exercise, and attitude.
Your prayers have sustained us, and we're all glad to have Dad back
home. Thanks for your encouragement as we celebrate this major
milestone and victory.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame?

Well here's the latest hotbed of controversy . . . people say you should avoid talking about two things with others, faith and politics. I'm going to ignore that wise advice and talk about both.

Our Nation's President has been invited to speak at commencement at Notre Dame University. Notre Dame, as you may know, is a Catholic Religious University. The Catholic Church has been very vocal about the issue of human life, and our President has been very vocal about a woman's right to choose. Typically, when a person speaks at a university commencement, they receive an honorary degree. Typically, when a national leader speaks at a commencement it's a pretty big deal for the university too!

And yet, it looks like a recipe either for greater controversy or huge reconciliation. I've heard that every North American Catholic bishop has spoken in opposition of this event. On the flip side, universities are considered to be hubs for the liberal exchange of ideas. I wonder what the subject/content of such a graduation speech might be.

I wonder how this will all resolve, and I wonder what people think about the issue in general. Your thoughts?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pacing and Waiting

That's a picture of my dad and sister after Dad's third walk of the day. He walked for over a half-hour this time, and for the first time since he got here, he was ABLE TO VENTURE OFF THE FLOOR!!!

Yesterday was a very discouraging day, but today was totally different. Dad's attitude was to do whatever was within his power to make his quality of life better and progress until he was able to leave. His main limiting factor is tweaking his coumadin dose to a PT/INR (some ratio regarding clotting capacity of blood) of two to three. His doctor told hm that he wouldn't be able to leave until this number was right. But, he has made a ton of other progress.

He's no longer hooked up to a telemetry unit. He actually has no more plugs or wires attached to him (as of 6PM), and I think he is enjoying his freedom. I asked his doctor if it would be possible for him to leave the floor and see some different sites, and not only did he allow it, but he had a nurse disconnected all of dad's remaining wires. So dad and Becky enjoyed some of his newly earned freedom this evening by exploring the other floors and spending some time outside.

The days here are pretty long, but it looks like dad will eventually be out of here. It won't be tomorrow, but it should be before Christmas according to one of the nurses here.

All of his dressings on his wounds have been removed as well. Dad looks like a totally new man. He's had some cramping in the foot of the leg from which the veins were taken, and an allergic reaction to some of his new medicine, but overall he is making some serious progress. It's really hard to believe that he had a massive heart attack and his chest ripped open twice just 10 days ago.

Thanks again for praying for dad. I honestly believe his renewed perspective and the progress of the day are largely a result of your prayers.

I hope I have more good news to report tomorrow. I'm gonna try to get some rest at a decent hour tonight, and I think Dad and Becky are as well.

Until then, we will continue pacing the halls and waiting for Dad's release.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

National Day of Prayer

It's been far from skies like this over Charleston these last few days, but I thought it was a cool different image (I kind of figured you were getting tired of seeing images from a hospital room too.).

I just heard that for the first time since it's inception in 1952, there would not be a National Day of Prayer event at the White House. This event has been part of the history of our nation, but this year, our President has opted to not have a NDP event, but rather chooses to say his prayers in private according to recent news posts and a recent twitter report I read and Re-tweeted.

As I think about this, my mind goes in a couple of directions. I think about my lack of participation in community events, and typically it is because I have different priorities with regard to the event. Sometimes I don't participate in events because the event doesn't have value to me. Sometimes I don't participate simply because I have limited time and I have to say 'no' to some things to be able to say 'yes' to others. Sometimes I don't participate publicly in events so I can do some type of private celebration. But usually, there is a mix of public and private participation.

President Obama has shared that he would like to celebrate the national day of prayer in privacy according to recent news posts. Now I'll share why I'm divided over this fact. I'm divided because I think that there's a strength to folks staying at home and away from the public to focus on prayer and intercession to the Creator of the universe for the sake of the people who live in our neighborhoods and beyond. At the same time, the NDP has become a community celebration that celebrates both faith and good citizenship.

I could waffle back and forth between the strengths and weaknesses of these different perspectives, but I think you get the point. Now I need to ask you this simple question. How will you spend Thursday May 7th, 2009? Will you participate in a public event? Will you spend time in prayer at home? Will you rise up to the challenge and participate at all?

There's a few hours to decide, and then the day will have passed. What will you do?

PS For more information on the history of a National Day of Prayer, click here for wikipedia and here for another religious tolerance NDP site.

Some of the People I Meet Along the Way (Part 2)

This is Terri, and she has been helping us out since my dad arrived on this floor. She was asked to change my dad's dressings for the myriad holes that had been made in his body, and to clean all of those incisions he had. She's an LPN at the hospital, and she has just been dynamite.

As she stood at the bedside, she explained thoroughly everything she was doing, and what each wound, hole, and dressing was from. It was great because none of us knew exactly what was going on with my dad. She had a very gentle and caring bedside manner that night, and it really did a lot to make my dad feel safe and encouraged in a VERY scary situation.

On Monday, the day he had such repeated setbacks, she made it a point to come into the room and be the person who change the dressing on his wounds again. I think she did it purely to be an encouragement to dad and the family, and to be a friendly and calming voice in the hospital. There's a lot of hustle and bustle in this place, and I can see how easy it might be for one to become callous (and if that happens, it's probably time to find a new career or take a vacation).

There has been a lot happening with my dad, and for the folks on this floor, my dad's situation is probably routine, but it is not routine for us. Everyone has been really helpful here, but Terri has just really stood out as a friendly voice on the day my dad arrived on this floor. Some of what was happening up to that point was a mystery, but she explained everything to us. She asked dad as she was cleaning him if he had ever used alcohol (to clean wounds) before. I responded, "He doesn't drink, but if you think it will help with the pain he's willing to start!" She just about lost it laughing at that statement.

I talked with Terri briefly on my way out the other night, and told her what a great witness she was to the deep love God has for us. She told me that she looks at her work in the hospital as an opportunity to bring a little bit of the light of Christ's love into each patient's room by listening and serving in whatever way she could.

I'm thankful for the faith and the attitude of service of people like her in the world. She has been an encouragement to us, and I'm sure the same is true for many other patients and families here in this hospital.

Strides and Stressors

Dad is taking a nap right now, so I'm taking this opportunity to blog and give some form of update on the last couple of days. I want to thank folks again for responding to my blogs by leaving comments, by replying to my twitters, and my facebook status updates as well as other forms of reaching me. The comments are encouraging, and as often as possible, I share them with my dad.

On Monday, Dad had an incredibly difficult day. I shared that with you later monay afternoon I believe. Yesterday, we received the results of his echocardiogram. Before his heart attack, he had 55% ejection fraction for his heart. Monday, he was at 35%. This is understandable since his heart did sustain some damage from the attack. The good news is that because Dad walks so much (and will continue), his heart will recover and gain in strength.

In fact, that's one of the coolest things about yesterday. For as bad as Monday was, Tuesday was hugely encouraging. He had a few visitors, and they were spaced out perfectly throughout the day. Each visitor was an incredible encouragement to him. We had some good conversations during the day, and on three different occasions, he walked for about 20 minutes. He also stood up to shave and he bathed himself yesterday. In the evening, I brought in a salad and a sampler platter from fazoli's for us to split (Borrowed my sister's car when she came to visit). We also talked with the doctor about starting Coumadin (which is a nasty little drugnasty little drug btw), and we finally had a visit from a dermatologist who could explain and remedy the rash he had developed on his back and chest over the last few days.

Dad has been making some serious strides in attitude and in physical health over the last day or so. I'm not sure the cardiac rehab people know what to do with him because he's so much farther along than what they expect a quadruple bypass patient to be. It's kind of comical really. They came in to explain to him on monday that he could esy into exercise by walking for three minutes each day for two or three days. I told the lady that he was already walking 15+ minutes multiple times daily.

Today, we were given a glimmer of hope for going home too. If they can get his coumadin dose where they want it, he may be able to go home by Friday. You can pray for wisdom on the part of the physicians in making that determination.

At the same time there have been major strides, there are still a few stressors. One that emerged today is a tightness and pain in the arch of the foot of the leg from which veins were removed for the bypass. It has hampered his walking and his stride, but hopefully a visit from a podiatrist will be ale to help with that and a couple of ingrown toenails. Ouch!

The other big stressor is this. Because dad's Ejection Fraction value for his heart is less than 40%, this means that his condition is described as Congestive Heart Failure, or CHF. This is a scary term used to describe a heart that can't eject blood at the same rate that it is entering the chamber. This causes "congestion" of the heart, and leads to fluid build-up in the feet and the mid-section of the body (among other things). It's usually regulated with a cocktail of drugs that aid in relieving symptoms in different ways, but it can cause some serious lifestyle adjustments. The good news in dad's case is that because of his lifestyle up to this point, his heart is in pretty good condition, and has the potential to recover so that CHF could only be a temporary problem for him.

These next few months are gonna be challenging as he moves along the road to recovery, but the good news is that he is already one week along the road, and he's gathering strength at an incredible pace.

This entry is getting a bit long, but I want to thank you again for your encouragement and prayers.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Some of the People I Meet Along the Way

This post is a little different. That photo above is of Sarah. She's a housekeeper at the hospital on my dad's floor. The first day we arrived at the floor, Sarah came in and welcomed us to the floor. She let us know that she was our housekeeper, and that if we needed anything, to please call the housekeeping number.

I wanted to write about Sarah (and hopefully I'll be able to share a couple of other people's stories in the future) simply because of the way she goes about her work, and her care for the patients at the hospital.

Yesterday, there were a couple of other housekeepers on our floor. We spilled some milk (literally) and made a mess in the floor. Our nurse told us she would get hold of housekeeping to get it cleaned up. It was 30-45 minutes later that it was cleaned up but we just figured the housekeepers were busy. I was totally prepared to clean it myself, but our nurse told us we had enough to deal with, and that they had housekeeping there to help us if we needed anything.

Well, I guess one of the nurses talked to Sarah today about the lack of promptness of the housekeeping folks yesterday. Sarah came in first thing in the morning, and apologized to us on behalf of her staff. She told us that our experience yesterday was not what she wanted us to have. She was extremely humble and truly sorry that we didn't have top notch service. The irony is that we really just thought folks were busy.

She came back in a couple of times looking for a good opportunity to mop and clean Dad's room. It was very clear to me that she saw her job as more than a paycheck, so I talked to her about it. I told her that it was extremely rare that people in any job took their work so seriously, and looked at it as an opportunity to serve others instead of as a means to an end.

She told me that she sought to do her work "as unto the LORD" and that was why she took it so seriously. She believed that God deserves our best, and she wasn't looking for accolades here, but rather she was looking to hear Him say "Well done, you good and faithful servant" when she one day meets her Maker.

What a perspective! Wouldn't be something if EVERYONE who called on the name of Jesus saw their work as more than a means to a paycheck? What would be different about what you do if you were working for the Creator of the universe instead of working for your earthly employer? Would your perspective change? What about the quality of your work?

Who knows, maybe if more people saw men and women of faith pursuing their vocation with this kind of passion and tenacity, they would look more highly on the faith that produces such saints.


Last week, before I left our strategic planning time to be with my dad, I was able to get a sneak preview of the latest video Nuru released. I'm thoroughly impressed with the quality of these videos. Especially when I consider that each one of them was produced in Kuria on a laptop by our communications director, Doug Scott. Doug used to lead a production team and at Willow Creek Community Church. For the last ten months, he has been a full time volunteer serving on the ground in Kuria, Kenya. Can you believe the quality of these videos? If I didn't know better, I would think he had a whole crew of videographers and editors working with him, but the truth is, he's got a digital video camera that fits in his hand, and an apple laptop computer. (Of course I needed to get my little "mac" plug into a blog).

As you can see from the video, the community is really progressing in amazing ways. In fact, Jake was telling me that the farmers who took a loan for seed and fertilizer have corn that is over six feet tall right now. That may not seem all that impressive--in fact it might seem quite normal--for us. But the farmers in Kuria who didn't participate in the farm loan program have corn that is barely knee high right now. Nuru is making a difference, and the farmers lives are going to be changed forever. Can you imagine what it would mean to a family to know that
they had produced enough corn that their family wouldn't go hungry.
they would have a surplus to sell

Which means . . .
they can pay off the nuru loan
they can invest in seed and fertilizer for the next growing season.

And that means that they will have made a HUGE step in lifting themselves out of poverty FOR GOOD.

Nuru doesn't offer handouts. It offers people an opportunity to reach the bottom rung of the ladder and begin to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. That's what everybody needs. Everyone needs an opportunity to be empowered to live up to their potential. Nuru's project in Kuria will eventually begin to spread across the region, and then across the nation of Kenya. Can you imagine the impact this could mean for the people of Kenya, as well as for other parts of the world as Nuru starts projects in New locations? (Be on the lookout for a new seed project in Malawi in 2010).

Will you take a moment to consider contibuting to this great work? For all of you facebook users, you can donate on facebook too and watch your donation of as little as $5 add up with other people's gifts to make a LASTING difference in the fight against extreme poverty.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and be the change you want to see in the world.

Be hope. Be light.

Be Nuru.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Setbacks and Determination

When we went to bed last night everybody thought dad was probably going to be heading home today. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. This morning he woke up with his left hand and in both of his feet. As a result, an EKG and echocardiogram were ordered, and the doctors said that he WILL NOT be coming home today or tomorrow. The doctor wants to examine the his heart for possible blockage. He said that the numbness may be nothing at all, but because dad is on the heart floor they have to check it out as a possible mini-stroke.

My dad is more than a little deflated from finding out he won't be able to go home for a couple more days. In his words, he was "disgusted" with everything that was happening. I can't blame him. We were convinced that he was doing really well. He walked four times yesterday, and covered some serious distance. He even had a Hardee's Thickburger, and a little microwave popcorn. He was cracking jokes, and all of us were beginning to plan his departure and return to home.

But today was full of setbacks. He's had trouble getting up. He's had trouble going to the bathroom. He's had trouble bathing. He's developed a rash over the last couple of days too. It's really been a rough day. But he has still managed to walk four times, and I was tremendously thankful for the opportunity he had to play cornhole with other patients and nurses on the floor (he made it to the championship game!). The game gave him a little respite in the middle of a pretty discouraging day. It was kind of cool to see the determination on his face as he played cornhole--it was a good bit of fun for him and helped him to take his mind off the fact he isn't going to make it home for a couple of days.

Right now, he is resting but he's feeling more than a little discouraged. Since you read this entry, I want to ask you to take 30 seconds and pray for him. Pray for some of these physical setbacks to go away. Pray for his attitude to get positive again. I was told that many heart patients have a difficult time with depression post-op, but dad has been doing well the last couple of days. Today has been different though. He's frustrated and disgusted that he can't go home yet, and nothing seems to be going for him.

I've reminded him that it is a really good thing tha tall of these things are happening now, and not after he leaves. While it would be great to be home, it is greater to know that his physicians are doing everything they can to insure that he will have no problems after he goes home. I would hate for him to have a day like today as his first day home--so much better to be here at CAMC.

As for me, I'm going to hitch a ride off my friend Matt Santen and stay the night again at his house. I feel like I'm a member of the family after staying with Santen's the last few days. His family has been a great example of the fact that in Christ our family is HUGE.

Thanks again for reading, for praying, for encouraging, and for helping sustain my dad and the family during this time. Your encouragement on twitterand your comments on facebookcontinue to encourage.

We have been setback a few times today, but pray for a deepening determination on my dad's part to do what he can, and accept what he can't as we seek to get him back to better than his old self.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

River Ridge Church

It's been about seven years since my friend Matt Santen and his wife (along with a few other folks) moved from Morgantown to Charleston, WV to start a church in the West Virginia state capital. And today marks the first day I have been able to attend the Sunday morning worship time. It was doubly cool because my old roommate, Ben Tuel was leading worship as I walked in. I don't think I had ever heard him play guitar or sing before, so it was a pretty cool experience that way too.

I've been sleeping at Matt and his family's house each night when I leave the hospital. As Matt leaves to drop his kids off for school or to go to soccer practice, or whatever he's got going on, he or his wife drop me off at the hospital, where I spend my day with my dad. I'm extremely grateful for the fact that the Santen's have provided me with lodging each night, and been so accommodating with getting me to the hospital. (My car is still in Morgantown, so in some ways I'm stranded and dependent on the support of others. Of course this is totally ok--we can grow dependent on the autonomy that a car gives us, and that dependency may be more detrimental to our spiritual growth than it is helpful).

As I sat among the church, I couldn't help but think about the way God has been shaping all of our lives over the years. Ben and I became Christians around the same time. Matt used to be a Younglife leader in Morgantown, and then went on to be a pastoral intern at Chestnut Ridge Church back when I first started working for GCM. Now God has Ben and Matt (along with a few other peeps) leading a steadily growing church that has planted a second church in Teays Valley since it's inception.

I was also able to connect with another Morgantown friend who was transplanted to Charleston, Eric Crutchfield. Eric actually took me back to the hospital after church, but not before stopping at a hardee's to get my dad a thickburger. (I know what you are thinking, thickburgers and 4-way bypasses don't mix. Actually, you are right, but for the next month, they want my dad to eat anything he likes, just so he eats and gets his strength back).

If you live in the Charleston, WV area, and you are looking for a church, you should definitely check out River Ridge. I think you will love the community, the messages, and the worship. It's a pretty cool group of people.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Out of Print?

This evening while hanging out with my dad, the subject of newspapers came up. Each day, he get's a copy of the Charleston Gazette delivered to his room with breakfast, and he was wondering why they would give him the paper. We talked about how the newspaper would give patients something to read, and a way to keep up on local news.

Then, my brother in law Ray started talking about how the Parkersburg News was doing away with its evening edition as a result of declining subscriptions. There'sjus a lot of stuff folks can get online these days I guess. At the same time, it means a decline in a number of jobs. From printers to paper factories, and even down to paper carriers, there are a number of people who make their living from the printed newspaper. (Of course photographers and journalists can still publish online, but the folks who work behind the scenes have their livelihood from the printed word).

Here's an article that looks at the environmental/energy impact of both. Given that most people spend less than 30 minutes reading the paper, it looks like reading online wins out for energy consumption.

Another article explains that while most newspapers are declining in circulation, slight increases in printing costs are keeping them within their budget.

One of the largest factors for declining circulation cited was a decrease in advertisements through the news. I guess more and more people are advertising online, and news covereage is becoming more competitive. While perusing this subject I found the Newspaper Death Watch website. The site heralds the advent of a new generation of journalism as newspaper offices close their door.

But what about the old paper boy? What's he supposed to do? This is a healthy first job that requires discipline and responsibility. You learn to dress for the elements, and you get plenty of exercise. According to this story most kids have enough pocket money from mom and dad that they don't need to work--especially at a paper route.

Think about this story too. It's simply not safe to be on foot and alone in many urban areas whether you are a child or an adult.

Our world is changing so quickly, and there are so many areas of life that are radically interwoven. Health, safety, newspapers, jobs, and the environment . . . and much much more.

What do you think about declining newspaper sales? is it a good thing or a bad thing?

And more importantly, how would my sister get her daily dose of sudoku? ;)

He Walks!

According to Confucius, "The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

(Interesting side note--at 12 miles per day, Dad probably walked about 4000, miles over the last year. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Confucius!) ;)

Well dad made some serious steps today. As of the time I wrote this, he had walked three times today. The first time he walked about 100 feet. The second time, a bout three times that. The third time, he walked a full lap around the floor. Each time, he's increased his stride and pace.

I'm so stoked about my dad's progress. Monday night he experienced a massive heart attack and then had an immediate quadruple bypass surgery. Tuesday, his chest was reopened to check into excessive bleeding. Wednesday, they had given him the green light to find a room. Unfortunately, he had to wait in the recovery room (which means 30 minute visits every four hours) for another day.

He's doing amazingly well, and as he gets his strength back, he's gonna be difficult to keep up with. His attitude has been incredible! He knows what he needs to do to go home, and he is going at it with intensity.

I imagine he'll walk one more time tonight, and then call it a night. If it weren't the highly visible scar on his chest, you'd think that he was just moving a little slow from an illness. He's making amazing progress. Even the nurses have been overheard talking about how they too are amazed at his level of progress so quickly.

Thanks again for praying. I imagine he will be able to go home in a couple of days at this rate. Great news!

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Latest On Dad

Well, dad has been pretty active today, so there hasn't been a lot of time to write. I wanted to take a few minutes though and give a little update on the day thus far.

Dad's still making pretty incredible progress considering he had a massive heart attack monday night AND a quadruple bypass AND had his chest reopened tuesday because of he was bleeding a bit much. Of course at the same time, my dad is a total stud. Until this surgery, he walked an average of twelve miles/day.

But today, he's pushing himself, and I'm pushing him too. This morning he was laying in bed a little tired, and we had a heart to heart. My dad is in excellent physical condition. He can recover really quickly. But the thing that's going to make the difference as to whether it's going to be a few days or a few weeks before he gets home is ATTITUDE.

But isn't that the case with all of us? So often we all feel the chips are stacked against us and fail to realize the incredible potential and opportunities we possess at our fingertips.

Dad is working hard, and now he is resting hard. After we talked, he sat up for a bath, and even stood up for part of his bath too. A little later, cardiac rehab came in, and they thought he might not be up for walking yet. Dad walked with them from the bed to the hallway, and then sat in a chair for TWO hours. He sat up to eat his lunch (he needs to eat more), and then asked to be able to lie down. The nurses helped him to get in his bed, and he was pretty talkative but tired for a while.

I grabbed a quick bite to eat while he started napping, and when I came back we talked about what his strategy would be for the rest of the day. His goal is to sit up again for supper, and then to walk across the room one more time today. I think those are respectable goals.

Earlier today, I sent a prayer request through twitter and facebook that said the following:
"back at hospital (w) dad. His no. 1 need now is a (+) attitude, tenacity, and discipline to push through his rehab. Pls pray 4 this!"

Supper time is coming soon, but thanks for reading, and I hope your weekend is off to a wonderful start. Keep praying if you don't mind--keep praying for a positive attitude for my dad, and for yourself while you are at it. Many obstacles can be overcome simply by changing our attitude and our perspective.

May your obstacles become opportunities and your perspective be one of perseverance!

Be Hope To Her Retrospective

BH2O+ Day of Recap Video from Nuru International on Vimeo.

Yesterday, Nuruuploaded a video celebrating itsBe Hope To Herevent. This nationwide event was the first event of it's kind Nuru hosted, and after you see the video, I think you will agree with me that it was a HUGE success.

Here's what happened. Women on eleven college campuses walked through the center of their campuses with yellow five gallon buckets and went to a water source to fill them. Then they walked through their campus carrying these buckets on their heads to a final destination where there was a rally, clean water, food, music and a wide variety of fun.

At the same time these women walked, men on these campuses held posters or helped educate folks in other ways.

For over one billion people, this kind of walk is a part of daily life. You can scroll back through my blog entries to see a video that explains this a little bit better too.

Part of the reason why Nuru did this is because it is raising funds for FOUR deep water wells for the people of Kuria, Kenya. Want to help? These wells will cost several thousand to get drilled, but if you want to give and support this endeavor, visit the Nuru website and donate.

Oh, and if you watch the video closely, you just might see a familiar face in it. ;)