Wednesday, April 23, 2014

High Standards

I am feeling a lot of pressure right now. The type that presses on your chest and doesn't let go. The type of pressure where a thousand little things start to consume your every thought. Yet no one thing is worthy of more then a moments passing concern. 

I think this is in part due to legitimate external factors that are beyond my control (health/work). The thing is I also heap on extra pressure of my own accord. 

Tonight for instance I led a bible study that was less then ideal (it was boring). I wanted to provide a fun filled midweek activity and realize that I didn't do that this week. 

I am beating myself up right now about the missed opportunity, but will have to let it go and try to do better next week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Winter with its long dark nights and snow covered roads has passed. The trees are still bare but if one looks close renewal has begun. In the yard tulips are blooming, fresh buds have appeared on the beech trees, and the quiet harmony of the morning birds have returned to our street.

Things are certainly blossoming for our family. We are but a week or two away from receiving final approval for our 800 sq. ft. addition (which will give us the additional bedrooms we desperately need). I am expecting to hear about a doctoral program I have applied to and I am seriously considering some new opportunities that have been presented to me recently. Soccer season has kicked into high gear and the long hot days of summer are certainly not far away.

My health, which last year at this time looked dire has stabilized. After a year and what seems like countless doctors visits things seem to be coming under control (as much as one can control a disease that is idiopathic in nature, has no cure, and is rare).

My daily Kineret shots seem to be holding the ECD from progressing, my Creon pills have restored my food options to 80% of what it was before (the other 20% consists of things I should not be eating anyways), and the nightly magnesium supplement strips most of my bone pain/muscle soreness away.

The winter has passed! Spring has begun, but I cant shake the personal notion that the dark and cold are not that far off. I can't stop thinking that the means of my death lives in me. I carry it around with me every day. I nourish it with every bite I take. I am the host of my own demise.

Please don't think that I am depressed, I am not. I am just finding the transition from crisis to long term management harder to make then I expected. Perhaps though the longer days and the warmth of spring will free me from my own worst enemy, myself.

Monday, April 21, 2014


It is Monday and with only a few days left of Spring Break my focus has started to return to my classroom. I have my final 6+ week of class between now and the end of the year exams mapped out, but there is so much to cover and so little time. It is my first year teaching this topic and I find the pressure to provide my students with a top notch education while also meeting ever changing State and Federal standards to be intense.

I am glad my weight seems to be coming under control and my overall stamina is improving because I think its going to take a hard push between now and the end of the year for my classes to meet their full potential. Lets just hope we can maintain our focus and not allow anything outside the classroom to distract us from the ultimate goal of helping each student maximize their potential.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Sunday ended a long week with a service that was well supported musically, with a sermon I was not in love with, and with by far the largest single service attendance FUPC has had since my arrival (we were just short of 130 people in attendance on Easter Sunday). It was with mixed emotions that I went to Easter Lunch at my Mother In Law's house. I felt like my work wasn't done...that there must be something I have forgotten.

Holy Week went very well this year. There is no doubt though that I have a long way to grow as a Pastor, Husband, and Father. I have found that these three parts of me often fight for the same physical and emotional resources. This makes trying to figure out what to do difficult sometimes.

This week I beat myself up wondering what I could have done to improve participation in Holy Week events. I realized that I was not fair and transparent with my wife about what I expected from her over the course of the week. I found that while this Holy Week was by far the most well planned one I have had so far there were still a lot of details that got dropped or were not properly anticipated. 

Oh how far there is to grow...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Sunday Jitters

I am struggling with the message for Easter. It is the day in which we celebrate Christ rising from the dead, but it is also the day we received a message we are called to share with the world (that Christ has risen). There must be balance in the way in which this message is shared with the congregation and all I am feeling right now is disappointment in their unwillingness to participate in the services we held throughout the week.

That is not the right tone to take with a congregation filled with once a year visitors and out of town guests. Yet...there is certainly a responsibility placed on the Pastor to speak the truth in love. There is a fine line though between righteous rebuke and resentful jerk. I hope it is a line I can successfully navigate. If not I will have missed an opportunity and hurt my ability to serve this congregation.

I know some people think that the Pastor just pops up and speaks each Sunday, but I find that the task of preparing for the weekly sermon is draining, inspiring, fulfilling and filled with potential miss steps all at the same time. May God guide me and all those still finishing their Easter Sermon. [Or you could do as my Father in Law suggested, "use the one from last year no one will remember"]

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Good Friday service was great today. As a Pastor I rarely get to hear others preach, so getting to hear five Pastors and one Elder preach in the course of one service was a real treat. 

In the past I would have found it hard to "hear" the message shared by other ministers. My life view was so filled with judgement that it was impossible to be present in the moment. This Good Friday I heard some amazing and inspiring words and I also heard some theology I don't agree with, but each preacher brought something of value with them to the pulpit. 

It's taken me 37 years to figure out that there is value in all relationships. Yes, even with someone I don't agree with on all things. 

This is huge for me. 

[Now I just need to learn to accept the congregation I serve the way it is. Instead of driving myself crazy trying to figure out why a church filled with such amazing Christ filled people isn't standing room only every time we open the doors.]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

I took part in a wonderful Maundy Thursday service this evening. It was the first in a series of four services between today and Easter (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Son Rise, and Easter Services). 

The music was perfectly executed by a wonderful bunch of musicians and my only disappointment was that there weren't more people present to enjoy the performance. 

Tomorrow's Good Friday service is going to be a long but exiting day. I find that I am nervous with anticiption for what the day will bring, you see the tension about the unknowns is always a little maddening (unknowns like attendance, potluck, preachers). 

On a positive note, I saw a whole bunch of people tonight who hadn't seen me in a year and no one mentioned my weight loss or my health. 

I hope this trend holds tomorrow and I am able to keep the focus on others and off of me. I really do hate being the center of attention (said the guy who stands up front and preaches). Seriously though, if all goes well tomorrow I will be able to relax a little and a lot of the pressure will be off.

Just got to keep plugging along.