Sunday, May 29, 2005

How In The Heck Did I End Up Here? (part four)

This is the fourth post in a series of posts on the history of my ministry. It's been strange and interesting to look back in this way. Hope you've felt the same way! 

When we returned to Nashville in late July of 1997, Shari & I rented an apartment on in the Hickory Hollow area and began meeting with the initial core group of 4 people (besides us) who helped plant the church @ hickory hollow. Jim Williamson (who I mentioned earlier) had worked with me as a youth sponsor at Dalewood - and was in the process of becoming Nashville City Director for the Center for Student Missions. Allen Troxler was a seminary student who became our first associate pastor. (The folks here at NewLife had the pleasure of meeting him & hearing him teach early this spring.) Michelle Mattox had also taught youth Sunday School for me. Finally, Sheridyn Smith (who would, a few years later, end up marrying Jim!), worked for the youth ministry company Interl'inc (whom I did some writing for).

What an incredible time that was... meeting together to pray and dream and think and plan about a church to reach our generation. God kept confirming that we were headed in the right direction - no more so than when He led us to Robert Grisham, our first worship leader. We met with Robert 3 or 4 times before we ever heard him play a note - our first concern was his heart for God. (Which was no problem - Robert is/was one of the most on-fire guys I've ever known.) Robert joined us in November as we headed towards our official launch in January.  

This is about the same time I met Mark Puckett, the pastor of South Gate Baptist Church. We both attended a seminar at Belmont University where Richard Jackson spoke. I don't remember much about what he said (except that he seemed pretty clueless about generational issues), but I do remember meeting Mark in the shuttle bus on the way back to our cars. That began a friendship which God has used in my life over the past five years. (Mark is currently on Prince Edward Island, doing missions work - for more information on Mark & his ministry, check out his blog, Missionary Musings From The Great White North.) 

 The seven of us (the original 6 plus Robert) launched the church on January 25th, 1998. Our first Sunday had 37 people (no kids... we didn't have a nursery for the first 8-9 months, as we only had one family with a nine month old.) We quickly settled into 40-45 each Sunday morning, and we started a small group ministry that ballooned to 20+ people in a couple of weeks, forcing us to divide into two smaller groups to keep it manageable. 

Through all of this, God took such good care of us - we were all "wet behind the ears" but He provided equipment, energy and favor with school administration and with new people. It was during these early months of the church that Steve & Shane Oakley joined us. Over time, Steve became part of our Leadership Team, while Shane sang with the worship band and ended up as the leader of our Kid's Place ministry. 

The darkest moments in our first year were with our sponsor church - Dalewood. (Yep, the church I had been on staff at for the last five years.) The crowd who wanted Bro. Tim's head on a platter reached a fever pitch in the summer of 1998... and culminated in his forced termination in October.

This was no ordinary forced termination - not only did they give him less of a severance package than they had given the pastor who had resigned due to an adulterous affair, but they also dismissed the entire deacon body, as they were supporting Bro. Tim. Needless to say, Dalewood suffered another immense hemorrhage in membership, losing over 100 people in the next month.

As Bro. Tim was one of the church @ hickory hollow's main supporters, along with a number of the deacons, the core group of tc@hh quickly worked to find an alternate sponsor church. Mark Puckett stepped in, and South Gate Baptist Church unanimously voted to take us under their wing later that month. (We had to fight with Dalewood to get the last of our state convention funds for almost 4 months... it was an extremely difficult situation.) 

Interestingly, the greatest growth in the life of tc@hh occurred in the early part of 1999... things were finally hitting their stride. At our largest, we averaged 60-70 attenders each week (not counting children).

Of course, growing pains were just around the corner, as we shifted from the leadership of the core group to the official leadership of the Leadership Team (an elder board of sorts). Looking back, we should have spent a longer period of time with the core group - our elders weren't seasoned enough in the faith and in life to deal with everything that was thrown at us.  

The high point of the life of tc@hh was in the spring of 2000... our small groups were functioning pretty well (though they never worked as well as we had hoped). The worship service was creative and, well, rockin'... we jammed. People were coming - mostly folks who had been burned in traditional churches, but a few radically unchurched folks as well. 

It's funny to say "high point" as it was one of the lowest points in our married life - we suffered our first miscarriage. The emotional pain was intense as we'd waited so long to try to have a baby. The church came along side us and loved us - and that was a part of how good it was at tc@hh, if you get my drift. 

It was around this time that our friends, David & Amy Hughes, moved in next door to us. Lay people from a more traditional Baptist church in the area,they still loved on us and encouraged us (and mowed our yard nearly the entire first summer of Braeden's life!). 

The next year was a year of transition, as Robert left us to attend seminary- but he helped us choose Stephen Weaver as the next worship leader before he was gone. The Leadership Team reduced in size as Jim & Sheridyn got married and Steve stepped down due to life pressures. We moved the service into the school cafeteria, which made set-up easier, but wasn't nearly as conducive to building community. Numbers were falling some, but we'd all gotten on a bit of treadmill - we were just pushing on, not always thinking about what came next. 

Then what I refer to as the "Chinese water torture" of circumstances caused major upheaval in our lives and the life of tc@hh. Braeden was born in early June of 2001, which was wonderful, but took my focus off of tc@hh. 4 weeks after he was born, Shari's dad was diagnosed with cancer in his throat. We piled Braeden into our Honda and headed to Houston for his surgery - which was aborted on the table. It was inoperable.

Shari & Braeden stayed in Houston while I flew back to Nashville for two weeks, then back to Houston to bring them home. By this time, I'd spent most of the summer with my focus barely on tc@hh.

And then my grandfather died. We were gone to his funeral and family gathering for nearly a week in late August... which left me emotionally exhausted. Drip... drip... drip... one of the results of my inattention was my lack of awareness of Stephen's growing emotional exhaustion. 

So it came as a complete surprise when Stephen resigned as worship leader in early September. The day he came over to talk to Shari & I about it in more detail was...9/11/01. I hate to blame a national tragedy for causing church problems, but we didn't experience the same "balloon" of people that many other churches did. Instead, the whole experience made our folks edgy and scared. And the same financial difficulties that plagued the U.S. hit us... a small church with a tiny budget.

Finally, the final straw - one of our families in the church had been through the wringer with their young son. Parker Anderson spent 11 of his 13 months in & out of the hospital with a variety of horrific medical problems - finally dying in October in the midst of a liver transplant. The folks of tc@hh had done so much to help the family and Parker - and it was a loss we all felt.

A minute ago I called this all the Chinese water torture - because it wasn't any one of these circumstances that caused us so much trouble, but the relentless drumbeat of them one right after another. I've gone over and over this in my mind - what could we have done different? What could I have done different? There are some basic things - paid more attention to Stephen's emotional health, done a better job of tracking the situation from afar - but much of what happened was out of our control.

We spent the next few months staggering forward, trying to keep it together.Our guitar player (Paul Durham) volunteered as our worship leader, and we talked through making some major changes to keep both financially viable and better able to reach people.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

How In The Heck Did I End Up Here? (part three)

This is the third part of what is becoming a longer & longer series of posts of my history in ministry. Unlike the previous two posts, this one is pretty much original to the blog, as it tells the story of our summer adventure.

In the spring of 1997, I resigned from Dalewood to spend the next few months preparing to plant the church @ hickory hollow. I attended conferences on GenX ministry (the prime one in Mt. Hermon, CA!) and Shari & I took a 7 week trip across the western U.S., visiting GenX church plants, seeing family, and camping.
That trip was an adventure in itself...

  • we drove through 10 states: Tennesse, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, & Texas
  • we saw 10 national parks: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Grand Canyon (North Rim), Zion, Sequoia, & Kings Canyon
  • we visited 10 churches: 3 in the Denver area (none of which were particularly impressive... but the most interesting had an intermission in the service so folks could go & get coffee and Italian ices), 3 in San Francisco (Highway Community, Graceland & The River Church Community), 2 in Los Angeles (NewSong & Calvary Church Newport Mesa), 1 in San Diego (Coastlands), and 1 in Waco (UBC)
Strong trip memories:
  • hanging out with Shari's very cool great-aunt in Shawnee, OK
  • looking (in vain) for a bathroom in northeastern New Mexico
  • hiking to the mythical gold mine (which we NEVER found) in the mountains above Pueblo, CO
  • visiting a charismatic church's "GenX" service in Denver... complete with a "word of prophecy" (we should read our Bibles more) and a message guaranteed to draw GenXer's closer to God (on the current nation of Israel's place in the end times... sigh)
  • the aforementioned church with the Italian ices
  • stopped on a two lane road high in the Rockies, we are approached by a Jehovah's Witness who wants to, well, witness
  • Shari sunbathing at 7,000 ft without sunscreen... and the 3 days of misery that followed
  • racing up the slickrock at dusk to catch an incredible sunset view at Arches National Park (UT)
  • carrying a gallon of water (heavy!) across slickrock spines in one of the most amazing hikes I've ever been on (again at Arches)
  • the air mattress springing a leak on the same night it rained so hard the tent was weeping (at Bryce Canyon, UT)
  • hiking down the winding switchback into Bryce Canyon, then climbing back out to avoid a thunderstorm
  • eating dinner in the hotel overlooking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon... on the way to dinner, we walked along the canyon edge and managed to walk within 5 ft of a baby deer
  • trying to set our tent up just outside Zion National Park (the ground was so hard it broke our tent stakes)... and having one of the most memorable marital fights in our marriage (I refused to ask for help - and Shari was righteously ticked at me
  • holing up in a hotel in St. George, UT, to recharge our emotional batteries
  • watching people robotically play slots in Vegas (a sick fascination)
  • climbing Moro Rock to the top for the first time (I'd frozen trying to climb it in high school)... which meant defeating a personal fear of heights (Sequoia National Park, CA)
  • spending time with Keith & Melissa for the second time in 3 months (Keith was/is my best friend from high school)
  • buying games (El Grande & Siedler DSK) from the best game store on the West Coast, Gamescape... which sits on the dividing line between Haight/Ashbury and the Castro (wild area!) - the clerk had multiple piercings & green hair, but as soon as we started talking games, all the cultural barriers dropped
  • visiting Graceland in Santa Cruz, CA... feeling like we were the nerdiest/least hip people in the room but still feeling welcomed to worship God (still remember the solo by a girl dressed in a top that showed off the rose tattoo on her shoulder, apologizing to the crowd that they might not know the song by this artist, Sandi Patti... he he he)
  • eating one of the best burgers I've ever tasted at a bar in Big Sur, CA... btw, the only cheap place to eat in Big Sur
  • fighting with a hotel clerk in San Simeon, CA, because Shari was sick and she wouldn't let us into the room we'd reserved early
  • the worship music at NewSong Covina
  • the surreal experience of Calvary Church Newport Mesa... an odd but wonderful blend of Willow Creek and GenX
  • hanging out with my Grandpa in Pomona, CA - letting him drive (which was a major mistake... it's a wonder we're still here)
  • enjoying major time with Aunt Nancy & Uncle Richard in San Diego... Shari's first "intensive" experience with the wonder that is my Aunt Nancy
  • visiting Coastlands Church and feeling hope - these guys were starting a church on a shoestring just like us (and Evan Lauer is still one of the coolest godly dudes on the planet)
  • exiting a buffet in Tuscon, AZ, at 8 pm and it STILL being 105 degrees
  • time with Shari's family in Houston (teaching my nieces & nephew to play Sindbad)
  • hanging out with my best friend from college (Tim Formby) as he showed me the house they were restoring in Tyler, TX
  • going to Six Flags over TX with Tracy (Shari's cousin) and Chris Herndon & Mark Hollingsworth, who'd road-tripped down from Nashville to join us
  • getting home, exhausted, and moving into our apartment
I'm still glad we got to experience that trip... it formed so much of what we were thinking & feeling about ministry & church. And it was an incredible marriage experience as well. (Can't imagine doing the same kind of trip with 2 kids... wow.)

To Be Continued...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

How In The Heck Did I End Up Here? (part two)

This is the second part of the stuff I wrote to Nancy & the Search Team at NewLife (then called Easton Southern Baptist) back in the spring of 2003. It does a really nice job of telling the story of my ministry... yes, I've edited it a bit.

Three months to the day from my resignation from FBC Fordyce, I went on staff at Dalewood Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, as the minister of youth. A larger church (running around 500 when we arrived), a stable pastorate (Bro. Ken had been there 10 years), following an excellent youth minister (Debbie Harned, whom Group Magazine voted Youth Leader of the Year the next year!)... we were abit gun-shy from our experience in Arkansas and we worked hard to make sure that E.G.B.O.K. (everything's gonna be OK).

As far as the youth and college ministry went, Dalewood was a dream. Debbie had trained an excellent bunch of youth workers, which I had the privilege of leading. There were a number of kids who wanted to grow deeper - and there was a history of taking God seriously, as well as a strong tradition of having fun. The best of both worlds. (A number of the very special folks first came into my life during this period. Chris Herndon was a tremendous junior high Sunday School teacher as well as a good friend. Jim Williamson was a part of our fledgling young adult Bible study group, as was Jeff Smith.)

What we didn't realize is that our pastor was in the throes of an adulterous affair with a prominent choir member. During the summer and fall of 1992, he often seemed distracted and busy, but I appreciated his "hands-off" approach to leading me, following the lists of rules & regulations I'd been forced experienced at FBC Fordyce. I interpreted his aloofness as approval. The affair was over in the late fall, but only came to light in early 1993 when the wronged husband finally followed through on his threats to tell other leaders in the church. So, in late January, the pastor sat the staff down and revealed his affair and attempts to cover it up to us.

It was like a bomb had gone off in the church... my youth were devastated, as Bro. Ken had baptized many of them - and he was their "ultimate" picture of a Christian. We spent a number of youth nights discussing sin and forgiveness and making wise choices... and just letting kids vent some of their fears and feelings about the whole situation. I'm still proud that the youth ministry was the only group in the church not to lose numerically following the "explosion."

Other parts of the church didn't react in quite as healthy a manner. There was a contigent who believed that Ken should be "forgiven" and all of this brushed under the carpet. There was a group who wanted to string him up off the church sign as a warning to future pastors. A larger group wanted to blame the woman involved. Tremendous amounts of kingdom time & energy were wasted on speculating what happened when and what was happening now.

About this same time, Shari began the long walk through dealing with clinical depression. So, here we were, struggling with the throes of depression AND the absolute insanity of the fallout of Ken's resignation. (We as a staff got regular anonymous notes from all sides, telling us what we were doing wrong.)

Still, God was big. Shari began to heal emotionally... and the three of us left (the minister of education, the minister of music and myself) split up the pastoral responsibilities and kept going.

Obviously, the church lost a number of folks (over the next year we dropped from 500 to 400 attenders), but it was not as bad as it could have been.The interim period lasted from early 1993 until September of 1994... a VERY long time. We had two interim pastors, who both did a great job helping us struggle through a difficult time.

The church called Dr. Tim Walker as it's new pastor... with the mandate to finish the building campaign we had begun in 1992 (about the time I was hired). Even with the body blow of the adulterous affair, God had still inspired people to give over $800,000 towards a $1.2 million dollar goal.

But Tim's leadership was not everyone's cup of tea - and there was a group of folks who had been blocking this particular project for nearly 20 years. When we went ahead anyway, Tim began to develop a formidable opposition in the church.

It was during this time that I was feeling the call (late 1996) to plant the church @ hickory hollow - and Chris Herndon (now a deacon) and Bro. Tim were the first two people I approached with my vision. Their prayer and encouragement helped me keep after the vision God had given me. In the spring of 1997, I resigned from Dalewood to spend the next few months preparing to plant tc@hh.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

How In The Heck Did I End Up Here? (part one)

This is part of the stuff I wrote to Nancy & the Search Team at NewLife (then called Easton Southern Baptist) back in the spring of 2003. It does a really nice job of telling the story of my ministry... yes, I've edited it a bit.

After graduating from seminary in December of 1989, I worked for a few months at Dillard's (selling men's underwear) before being called to serve as the minister of youth at First Baptist Church (Fordyce,Arkansas). We were there from April 1990 - February 1992. (In the middle of all that, I managed to end up married! Shari and I were engaged in January of 1990 and got married in June.)

The first year at Fordyce was amazing - God moved in some pretty neat ways, as I had the opportunity to help rebuild a youth ministry that had struggled under a previous youth pastor. 

But by the time our first wedding anniversary rolled around in June of 1991, the storm clouds were brewing. The parents who made up the youth committee were primarily interested in:
  1. a good safe social place for their kids
  2. having lots of kids come to their church
You'll notice that "having kids deepen in their faith" wasn't on the list. The result of this conflict in ministry visions became insidious... I had parent volunteers contradicting my directions to kids on trips (Mark on a canoe trip: "Put your life jacket on, please"; Parent: "You don't need a life jacket." Sigh.)

While Shari & I were on a one-night first anniversary vacation, the Youth & Personnel Commitees met to discuss my "situation". What resulted was a 3 page set of instructions that were loaded with false accusations and unreasonable demands. (A decision to keep a 14 yr old girl from flirting with a 20 yr old drunk was construed as "restricting evangelistic opportunities." Hmmm.) 

We decided to begin seeking another church, while continuing to minister there at Fordyce. God encouraged us in so many ways (I developed a love for Philippians 2 during this time that has never really abated) while the situation at the church continued to deteriorate. My pastor did little to help, as he was under attack from the negative/controlling group himself.

We sent out nearly 100 resumes - with NO response. I've joked before that seeking a ministry position by sending out resumes can be like throwing paper down a black hole, but this really WAS like throwing paper down a black hole. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. We began to doubt that we were even listening to God correctly. Were we supposed to stay and tough it out?

Early in October of 1991, we sat together one morning and prayed that God would show us if we'd messed up. That day, I found out that I (and the rest of the staff) were being called into "special" individual meetings with the Personnel Committee that night.And I got fired. Well, not really - they "ended the youth ministry position" effective the end of December, which essentially meant they were firing me without firing me. The reasons were murky and the meeting odd, but Shari & I took it as confirmation of what we'd prayed.

Then, in a show of what deacons SHOULD look like, the deacons got involved. A series of meetings ensued in which all of the staff and the committees involved were grilled by the deacon body - and the lameness of the accusations against me exposed. My position was reinstated by the deacons and I was finally given the choice of what I wanted to do.

We chose to resign at the end of February. The 'hidden' conflicts had done terrific damage to the youth ministry and my personal effectiveness... even though the majority of the congregation has no idea what was going on.

Three months to the day from my resignation, I went on staff at Dalewood Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, as the minister of youth. (One of the ladies in the congregation in Fordyce had let us know that she wanted us to get every penny of the severance package - and Arlie Ruth was a major prayer warrior. My first day in Nashville was the last day of severance. Two weeks later, Arlie Ruth went home to be with Jesus. I'm still thankful for her encouragement and her prayers.)

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Rob Suggs Would Be Proud

From Scott Rushing's blog, Theology Talk:

You might be liturgical if...

you're watching Star Wars and when they say, "May the force be with you,"

you reply, "and also with you."

For a more serious/thoughtful Star Wars story, check out Get Religion's Star Wars R Us?.

And if you don't know who Rob Suggs is, you're really missing out. (Couldn't find the cartoon "Liturgical Fads of the 1950's" - which inspired the title of this post - online where y'all could see it... but you can get a taste of Rob's mad cartoon skillz here.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

3 Weeks (part two)

...and this is Braeden at 3 weeks. You be the judge if they look alike. Posted by Hello

3 Weeks (part one)

This is Collin at 3 weeks... Posted by Hello

Keep All That Junk To Yourself

Another post inspired by the conference from this last weekend... this time, it was Doug Stevens, the founder of The Renewal Project, who got me thinking in a breakout session entitled "Prophet, Priest & Provocateur: The Impossible Pastor".

After working through a generational model (7 tiers in his model... and according to Doug, I'm not a GenXer!), he summed up all of that with:

The values of any age/generation can NOT be absolute. They must be submitted to Christ.

The Kingdom of God critiques all of our generational biases... including the biases of OUR generation.

The Kingdom of God acts as a discpline over all our petty generational junk...

Look, I don't think he was knocking any particular brand of church here - the reading list for the conference included (among others) Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Andy Stanley, Erwin McManus & Becky Pippert, as well as Sue Miller, who's on staff at Willow Creek. I think he's offering an important thought - generational differences help explain some of the tensions in ministry, but they don't offer real answers.

What offers answers is a Biblical vision of the Kingdom of God.

There is a barbarian revolt taking place, and its command center is the Kingdom of God. Everywhere the Kingdom of God advances, there is a violent engagement against a dark kingdom. To be born of God is to be made a citizen in the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God is at war. Do not confuse this kingdom with Paradise. Salvation is not a reentry into a Paradise Lost; it is enlistment in the mission of God.

Jesus is telling us in no uncertain terms that there is a battle raging. This is perhaps the most important reason why we must choose the barbarian way and resist any temptation to become civilized. Domesticated Christians are far too willing to abdicate the battle for the soul of the world. Civility focuses our energy on all the wrong places. We spend our lives emphasizing our personal development and spiritual well-being. We build churches that become nothing more than hiding places for the faithful while pretending that our actions are for the good of the world. Or we choose political and secular vehicles to try to advance our cultural values, strangely attempting to make unbelieving people act like civilized believers.

In contrast Jesus calls us to a different way. He tells us this a battle of kingdoms. He insists that if we are His followers, we must not live in a world only defined by the material. We cannot limit our sights to what is flesh & blood. We should know better than that. To see from a kingdom perspective is to know that there is a conflict of invisible kingdoms and that people's lives are forever changed by what happens in the unseen. We are called to be warriors of light in dark places. We are mystical warriors who use weapons not of this world.

Erwin McManus, The Barbarian Way

Monday, May 16, 2005

The 5 Lane Freeway Mind

This post comes to us courtesy of Andrew Jone's blog, Tall Skinny Kiwi. (Andrew is a very cool, very tall dude with a great accent who travels the world with his family blowing on the embers of the fire we call "the emerging church". I first met Andrew at a 1997 North American Mission Board gathering of GenX pastors - back when it was still cool to say GenX, before "pomo" and "emergent" became the buzzwords - in Atlanta, GA. The NAMB offices there are VERY nice... I can remember standing in the bathroom with Andrew & a couple of others guys speculating how long we could run our ministries if we could rip the paneling off the walls & resell it.)

Current research has reinforced something i was teaching 7 years ago. Back in 1998, I used the concept of a 5 lane freeway to explain the new mindset. Children's minds, I argued, are not a single track country road, but a “5 lane freeway”, geared up for multi-tasking and learning from the relationships between the media in those 5 lanes at the same time. The problem is not that their attention span is short, but rather than their attention span is broad. This is why they are bored with single media presentations.

Well, fast forward to 2005, and the people from Disney have paid for some
research that came up with a 5.4 number, slightly more than my number . . . but who's counting?

“Raised on more ”passive“ media, including TV, newspapers, radio and billboards, adults are content with linear entertainment experiences that unfold in a traditional story-like way. They are more patient (read: willing to wait in line) and, Lindstrom says, can cope with only about 1.7 channels of communication at once. Children, by contrast, can simultaneously master 5.4 channels of communication (including surfing the Internet, text messaging and talking on the phone). They yearn for entertainment that is frenetic, multi-sensory and interactive."

So what does this mean for your average evangelical worship service? Or, to bring my hobby into the discussion, for the design of a board game?

Flashback, Dude!

I was able to attend (along with Neil, Nancy & Debbie - three members of our church council) a conference over in the Bay Area entitled Doing Ministry In A World Growing Younger. They managed to pack a bunch into 24 hours... so you're likely to see odd posts related to this conference all week.

I had a major flashback moment when Rebecca Manley Pippert spoke... her book, Out of the Saltshaker and Into The World, played a major part in my faith development during college. I remember going to an IVCF meeting (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) and watching video teaching tapes that she'd done - I'm guessing I was a junior, which makes this 1984-85. That's right: 20 years ago. Sheesh.

Anyway, she spoke about incarnational evangelism... maybe I'll tell y'all more about that later. (Maybe not: I'm making a lot of promises about posts that I'm going to have difficulty keeping if I don't turn off my Promiser.) In the midst of that, she asked a question that's haunting me (in a good way):

The good news of Jesus Christ is the most beautiful, incredible thing there is. The question in evangelism (sharing what we believe) is how do we get the style of the way we share as beautiful as the message itself? (paraphrased from memory & my scratchy notes)

Wow. Oh, for a personal style that is as beautiful as the Gospel. Now that's a quest worth going on.

A Real Good Thing

Before I get to the meat of this, I need to get something out of the way:

This is a blanket apology to all the people I've taunted about watching Survivor over the years... because after watching this season, I think I'm beginning to understand the fascination. Sorry I was such a snob and that you got to bear the brunt of that. (Yes, Liesl, esp. you!)

OK, with that taken care of...

It's been an amazing (pun intended) week out in the land of reality television. First, Uchenna & Joyce beat Rob & Amber and the bickering Ron & Kelly to win the Amazing Race 7. (Unwanted suggestion: Kelly, you may be sad about the relationship not going to the level you wanted it to... but I think you'll look back on this in 20 years and realize that was a good thing!) Uchenna & Joyce were kind to each other, kind to the other teams in the race, and genuinely enjoyed their contact with other cultures.

Then, last night, Tom Westman won Survivor: Palau... despite actually being the strongest player in the game! (Survivor has had a tendency to reward weaker players down near the end as the stronger players get voted out because they are threats.) Moreover, he won the game by being himself - for the most part, behaving honorably and keeping a healthy distance between game & friendship. (Even more amazing: Ian's choice to put friendship & honor over a million bucks... very cool. I realize some folks think he got "island fever" and was emotionally blackmailed into it. I'm not buying. I understand in the core of my being wanting to be a man of integrity and not knowing how to buy that back.)

Anyway, the phrase that jumped to my mind with both of these winners is that "they deserved it." Which, if I'm honest, is code for "I liked them and they played fair."

Here's the deal, though. We live here in America in a society that is constantly judging whether we deserve any number of things: better pay, social acceptance, being picked for the team, personal recognition, etc. We may (may? heck, we do!) disagree on the filters used to judge who is deserving, but the vast majority of us work the process like crazy.

Thankfully, God doesn't play that game... mercy & grace are based not on how good we are, or how good we can be, or how good we promise to be, but on how good He is.

When we don't get what we deserve

It's a real good thing

When we get what we don't deserve

It's a real good thing

Born to sin

And then get caught

All our good deeds

Don't mean squat

Sell the Volvo

Shred the Visa

Send the cash to Ma Teresa

Great idea

The only catch is

You don't get saved

On merit badges

When we don't get what we deserve...

Doctor's coming

Looking grim

"Do you have a favorite hymn?"

Check your balance through the years

All accounts are in arrears

Guilt is bitter

Grace is sweet

Park it here

On the mercy seat

When we don't get what we deserve...

"It's A Real Good Thing" - Recorded by The Newsboys. Lyrics by Steve Taylor and Peter Furler

Congrats, Tom. Thanks, Jesus.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cool in the Pool

Speaking of Braeden & swim lessons, doesn't he LOOK like he's ready to win Olympic medals? :-) Posted by Hello

Jumping Into The Deep End

Braeden's been taking swim lessons from Jamie's School of Fish (shameless plug: Jamie's a neat lady, plus a former staff wife from NewLife works there, plus they've done an incredible job of teaching Braeden to swim). And one of the things that he's proudest of is when he jumps into the deep end of the pool and swims the length of it. (OK, he has help: Mr. Devon & Miss Jamie act like 'way stations' on their trip across - but still, he's not quite 4, and I'm his dad, and so... impressive!)

Watching him do this the last few weeks (I've been filling in for Shari as The Parent Who Goes To Swim Lessons while she has been recovering from the C-section) has reminded me a lot of my "professional" life.

At NewLife Community Church, we're about to jump into the "deep end" in a number of areas. What makes the "deep end" scarier is that it's the first time for me to jump into these areas, as well:

  • we've just hired a summer youth minister
  • we're clicking right along in the process of calling a full-time worship & youth pastor
  • we're planning a $250,000-$300,000 capital campaign for the fall

Any one of these would be a big deal - stuff them all into one year AND add in the birth of Collin Blake (and his subsequent health issues), and you've got The Deep Dish Pizza Pie of Overwhelmingness baking in the oven we call my brain.

Now, those of you who've known me a while know that I do have some experience:

  • being a youth minister (13 years part- and full-time)
  • working with worship leaders (hi, Robert, Stephen, Paul & Mark)

Which, as it goes, is good. But I've never supervised a youth minister... I was always on the other side of the desk, so to speak. I enter this summer praying that I can remember what is was like to be "the staff person"... that I can give direction without stifling creativity or imposing my personal (and seriously dated) view of "good" youth ministry on Jenn Shumaker. (You can pray for Jenn... heck, you can pray for me, too. I'm sure not going to stop you.)

As for working with worship leaders, I'd showed over time that I have alternated between way too much direction (my Chinese water torture of Robert to make the church @ hickory hollow's music cool yesterday if not before) and way too little (evidenced by the summer of 2001, where Stephen had to carry things pretty much by himself.) As well, all the paid staff members I've supervised (3 worship leaders & 2 associate pastors) were part-time... in one case (hi, Chris!) VERY part-time. I've never had the privilege/responsibility of being the senior pastor on a staff with a full-time person.

Moreover, the "hiring process" we used at
tc@hh ("process"... giggle, snort) was not a full-blown ministry search. Heck, it was barely a process. (To our credit, we were hiring/calling part-time worship leaders.) So this whole "search team" deal is brand new territory for me. (Thankfully, some of the search team have been on other search teams - including the one that called me to NewLife!)

As for pastoring a church through a capital campaign, I need to have a "C" tattooed on my forehead for "clueless". My nearly 8 years in the pastorate have included no major fundraising... and the only campaign I was involved in as a staff member occurred mostly before I came on staff. (And then blew up when our pastor resigned due to an adulterous affair - but that's a story for another post. And, yes, I realize I've been promising a lot of 'historical' posts - I'll get to 'em eventually.)

Anyway, I'm jumping off into the deep end. Which, of course, is exactly where God wants me to be... in a place where I have to trust Him more than my knowledge or experience.


Monday, May 09, 2005

So, Exactly What Do They Want?

Dr. Allen Troxler (aka Brainman) is possibly the coolest teacher/pastor dude on the planet. And he has a keen eye for the absurd, which leads me to his e-mail of last week...

As you know, I'm searching for ministry jobs right now. I just found a site called and was skimming through the job postings in Virginia. I found this posting; see if you spot the problem:

Pastor, teacher in Christian School

Valley Road Baptist

Front Royal, Virgina

Job Description: Pastor, evangelize, help with the school.

Very small church with school.

Also has a non-prophet organization with it.

When I took one of those spiritual gifts tests in high school, I found out that the gift of "prophecy" was my top score. Does that mean I shouldn't apply here?

May The Chocolate Force Be With You

Collin is doing his best "Emperor Palpatine" impression in his M&M blanket... which makes him the poster child for his Aunt Liz. Let's call him the Emperor of Chocolate! Posted by Hello

Never Noticed This Before

Reason #859 to keep reading your Bible: You continually find stuff you missed, even in the most obvious of places.

I mean, I'm a Southern Baptist preacher/former youth minister. How many times would you guess I've taught the stories of the Passion Week? (I'm not even going to try & count.) Still, this morning in my quiet time, a bit of journal reading from John Eldredge (the Wild At Heart Journal) sent me to this account of the Garden of Gethsemane:

Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to Him, went out and said to them, "Who is it you're looking for?"

"Jesus the Nazarene," they answered.

"I am He," Jesus told them.

Judas, who betrayed Him, was also standing with them. When He told them, "I am He," they stepped back and fell to the ground.
John 18:4-6 (Holman Christian Standard Version)

They what?! Fell to the ground? Why have I never noticed this before? A bunch of armed men go after Jesus, and when they find him, they can't stand up to the unarmed prophet/rabbi. Wild. (And then, Jesus goes with them without a fight. Double wild.)

So, I'm trying to go through the rest of today with that image locked into my short-term memory: Jesus, whose mere words cause those arresting Him to fall out in fear. That's the God I follow... one who made an impact on those around.

Prayer for the day: God, help me make an impact through your power.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Narnia... ooo, pretty

OK, campers... the sneak peek internet preview is here. And it looks amazing. Maybe a bit more LOTR-ish than Lewis might have intended, but still - it's Narnia in all it's glory.

I'm really looking forward to Episode III (Star Wars), but if Narnia's done right, it'll be an experience on par with the Lord of the Rings.

Check it out for yourself.

Spiel Des Jahres 2005

The nominees for Germany's Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) have just been announced. The 5 nominated games are:
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Jambo
  • Himalaya
  • Niagara
  • Verflixxt
The jury also recommended nine additional games: Boomtown, Diamant, Die Garten der Alhambra, Geschenkt, Piranha Pedro, Power Grid, Tanz der Hornochsen, Typo, and Wie ich die Welt sehe. (Thanks to Erik Arenson's About Boardgames site for the information.)

Allow me to handicap the race a bit. (Well, I guess you don't have any choice - as I'm the guy who owns the blog.) Verflixxt is a dice game from the award-winning team of Kramer/Kiesling, but seems unlikely to win... there's been no buzz about it. Himalaya is a re-publishing by Tilsit of Castle Merchants, a game that was available online for download & printing... and is the real surprise of the nominee list (to me). Jambo is a well-thought of two player game... but the jury does not pick 2 player games. Which leaves us with two excellent choices for Spiel des Jahres!

Around the World in 80 Days is a hour long game for 2-5 players of (no surprise here) racing around the world. It scales well from 3-5 (the 2 player game is less interesting) players and is a wonderful looking, clean playing & very enjoyable game. It has what I consider to be an important trait for any game likely to win the SdJ: luck is involved, but you can't play stupid and win.

Niagara is a bit shorter 30-45 minutes and stunningly beautiful game of gem collecting on a moving river. A nifty set of clear discs simulates the flow of the river towards the waterfalls, while wooden canoes & plastic gems round out the excellent presentation. Surprisingly, there is no actual "luck" in the game - only the randomness of the players choosing their actions at the same time.

Both are by relatively unknown designers, both games work like a charm with gamers & non-gamers... so, how do you pick a favorite? Around the World is similar (but not identical) to last year's winner, Ticket To Ride, which could a point in it's favor... or a point against it. It's been a while since Kosmos (the publisher of Around the World) has won, and Zoch (the publisher of Niagara) won 3 years ago for Villa Paletti.

Frankly, I'll be happy if either of them win, but I'd probably choose Niagara as my personal favorite. And, just to be consistent, I'll make it my prediction.

Results will be announced in late June - we'll see how I did then.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Laws of Cartoon Thermodynamics

Brought to you care of

by Trevor Paquette and Lt. Justin D. Baldwin

Cartoon Law I

Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.

Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over.

Cartoon Law II

Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly.

Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge's surcease.

Cartoon Law III

Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.

Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.

Cartoon Law IV

The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.

Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.

Cartoon Law V

All principles of gravity are negated by fear.

Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth's surface. A spooky noise or an adversary's signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole. The feet of a character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.

Cartoon Law VI

As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.

This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled. A `wacky' character has the option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.

Cartoon Law VII

Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot.

This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space. The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.

Cartoon Law VIII

Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.

Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives might comfortably afford. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify.

Corollary: A cat will assume the shape of its container.

Cartoon Law IX

Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Cartoon Law X

Guns, no matter how powerful, or no matter where aimed, will do nothing more than char flesh, blow away feathers, or rearrange beaks.

Cartoon Law XI

Any given amount of explosives will propel a body miles away, but still in one piece, charred and extremely peeved.

copyright 2004,

The original article appears here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Google Me

I decided to Google myself this morning. (For those who are not computer-savvy, Google is a very effective search engine that helps find websites that match the information you put into the system.) In this case, I typed in "mark jackson" pastor (the quotes make sure the search engine looks for occurences of the whole phrase) and it spit out 614 results.

I found ample evidence of my gaming obsession - not only stuff I've posted on the web but also mentions from friends. (There's even a reference to an internet radio show/podcast that I did late last year on a show called Geekspeak.)

The website I put up when I was hunting for a church (and you guys here at NewLife were hunting for me) is still active. (Which is weird... but kind of cool.)

There's even an article I was quoted in about the On Target Conference I attended back in February. (I remember being interviewed for the California Baptist state paper - though I don't remember saying one of the quotes attributed to me. Not that I disagree with what it says I said... I'm just not sure I said it to the reporter.)

Then, of course, there's the references to people who aren't me, but just share my name:

  • Mark Jackson, NBA star, who somehow got caught up in a turf war between the coach of the Knicks & the team chapel pastor
  • a playwright named Mark Jackson (though the reviews of his play call it "sprawling & unlikely")
  • any number of Pastor Mark Jackson's, including a couple of Dr. Mark Jackson's (man, that looks weird to see my name with a "Dr." in front of it)
  • a Lutheran youth ministry professor
  • some dead people (obituaries)
  • and at least one guy serving in our armed forces

Which brings me to the most interesting part of my search - there's a Mark Jackson who is, oddly enough, been convicted of bilking church members in Tennessee and California out of approximately $1.2 million dollars. (He's also up for charges in Georgia... you can read the article at Apologetics Index for more information.)

Here's the random thoughts that went through my head when I found this guy:

  • boy, if I'd embezzled over $1 million bucks, we sure wouldn't need to do a capital campaign later this year
  • how weird is it that this guy bilked churches in the last two states I've lived in?
  • man, I hate the prosperity gospel - it's anti-biblical and it has a tendency to give people permission to do stupid things
  • what would it take in my life to turn me into a con man?

If you're looking for a grand point to all this, I'm not sure I have one. But I'll certainly give it a try... maybe the overwhelming "someone walked on my grave" feeling of finding this con artist sharing my name comes from the fact that I'm invested in taking care of Mark. I've spent nearly 41 years building a reputation & a persona, and I'm not interested in letting someone/anyone mess that up.

Not even God.

So, maybe my reaction is not so much about my righteous indignation at a health & wealth "gospel" matchstick man. Maybe it's about my own fears of my precious life plan being altered... or of my carefully built facade crumbling under the weight of reality.

I don't know... I'm going to have to think about this one a bit.

What about you? What "important thing" are you scared God is going to take away?

We must remember there are many more important things, many more important things . . . off hand, I can't think of what they are, but I'm sure there must be something.
Willie Wonka, from the film Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

This post originally appeared in the 5/2/05 edition of The Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.

The Power of Pixar

As some of you know, I have a bit of an obsession about Disney theme parks. (OK, it's not quite as big as my obsession about board games, but it definitely exceeds the average person's interest in the inner workings of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.)

According to Jim Hill Media (which, btw, is the best site for behind the scenes news about all things Disney), the twin parks in California (Disneyland & California Adventure, hereafter referred to as DCA) are going to receive some serious Pixar pixie dust in the next few years:
  • the long-defunct DCA ride "Superstar Limo" is being remade as a Monsters Inc. "dark ride" (a dark ride is something like Peter Pan or Snow White... where you zip through memorable scenes from the movie)
  • the very popular "Turtle Talk with Crush" show (recently opened at EPCOT in Florida) will also open in the Animation Building at DCA
  • the Submarine ride at D-land is getting a "Finding Nemo" re-do which will incorporate the old subs & sub track into a new ride experience (this should be finished in late 2006)
  • there's serious talk of an E-ticket (think Space Mountain or Indiana Jones) ride with an Incredibles theme for DCA (with a planned opening in 2007)
So, what with Space Mountain finally re-opening, and Braeden now tall enough to ride the Matterhorn and Splash Mountain with his old man... we're kind of crossing our fingers and hoping to make a return trip to Disney soon. (OK, it's mostly me... but the rest of the family would be pretty happy, too.)

But what about Collin, you ask? Well, he'd be a backpacking it with us, as Disney has a rather nifty system for families with infants called Baby Swap:
  • the whole family waits in line
  • when you reach the loading area, the older sibling & one adult get on and ride while the other adult & infant wait at the loading area
  • when the older sibling & 1st adult return, the adults swap the baby and the older sibling & 2nd adult ride
So, thanks to his little brother, Braeden gets to ride every "big boy" ride twice. And Shari & I each get to enjoy special bonding time with each of our boys. And Disney-obsessed Dad gets to go to Disneyland... talk about your win/win situations!

it's not about you

One of the more interesting (and challenging) blogs that I follow is scott... diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Scott just recently stepped down as the pastor of his church, and in a post describing his last Sunday wrote: if you are reading this i'd like to remind you that church isn't about you. it isn't about your needs or your comfort or your musical tastes. sure you need to find a place where you can find a family but it's hard for me to believe that jesus died on the cross so his kids could have the best sunday school in town. Man, I've been chewing on that for a couple of weeks now... thought I'd invite you to do the same.

Better, Thank You

Collin's feeds have been MUCH better, thanks to the magic of Thick-It. He's still a noisy baby (grunts, whistles, yowls, etc.) which we're getting used to, but he isn't uncomfortable and/or choking & gagging, so that's all to the good.

And while I'm at it, a big "howdy-hi" to my newest reader, a nursing student named Katie who stumbled in here out of the cold. I'll take this opportunity to once again say how incredibly cool the nursing staff is at Valley Children's - with special mention of Fatima, Michelle & Savina... nurses who took care of Braeden back in January and checked on us (even though they weren't assigned to us) when we were in last week with Collin.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Viva, Viva Pamplona

Imagine me in a gold lame jumpsuit. (Or don't. It's probably better for your mental health if you steer clear of that particular visual.) Anyway, had an odd & wonderful occurence the other night while officiating a game of Viva Pamplona. But before I tell you the tale, a couple of notes:
  1. "Officiating" a game is a great way to introduce people you enjoy to a game you enjoy that won't play 7 players. In this case, Viva Pamplona tops out with six players, so I took the privilege of turning over the Toro cards and giving strategy hints.
  2. Viva Pamplona is a really cool game in the same vein as the ever-popular Midnight Party or the less well-known (and ridiculously expensive) Viva Topo. Players attempt to run from the bulls (well, bull, in this case) while gaining courage points for staying close to him (but not behind him) and by pushing/shoving other players.
Back to my story. This is the first game I've seen where Toro (the bull) was so incredibly slow that the entire arena was filled with pieces. The winning player (hiya, Jimbo!) had 81 courage points. (I've seen games where all six players TOGETHER didn't have 81 courage points.) Best thing: fun to watch a game play out like that. Worst thing: not getting to play in the game myself. Sigh. Thank you, thank you very much. (Fluff Daddy has left the building...)

PU - Braeden Needs A Bath!

Braeden giving some serious "kugs" (Braeden name for a kiss & a hug) to his little brother. Posted by Hello

It's Official... I'm Tired of Going To The Hospital With a Sick Child

The header says it all... these last three days (Thursday afternoon - Saturday afternoon) with Collin in Valley Children's Hospital were days #8-10 of the Jackson family's secret plan to turn a room there into a summer residence.

Collin has been having trouble with his feeding... choking & gagging in odd & scary (read: gasping for breath) kinds of ways. He had an upper GI workup on Wednesday (good news: the taste buds of babies aren't developed enough to realize how nasty barium really is) and they discovered he was aspirating some of the fluid into his windpipe.

The solution: thicken his feeds with rice cereal. This led to a very scary moment early on Thursday morning in which he couldn't catch his breath for 5-10 minutes. (Talk about moments filled to the brim with a lack of fun.), We took him into see his pediatrician (Dr. Fraley, the one who caught the Kawasaki disease in Braeden) and she, in consultation with some experts at Valley, decided to admit Collin to stabilize him and figure out the problem.

Stabilizing including a NG tube, which is hospital code for a feeding tube that runs through your nose, down the back of your throat, and into your stomach. They also put him on a heart monitor, which we learned with Braeden is mainly used to keep parents from sleeping when it goes off for scary reasons like "he's moving his foot around too much." (Can you tell yet how little sleep we had in the hospital?)

The first doctor we saw (a resident) basically scared us to death by giving us ALL of the possible scenarios (the one that stuck out was operating on Collin to put a G tube in - that's a semi-permanent feeding tube directly into your stomach.) I'll give her credit for being a mom of a 14-month old herself and wanting to make sure we weren't blindsided... but it was still a pretty scary conversation.

The attending physician was much more positive (and I'm guessing the above-mentioned resident got a mild chewing out for giving us such detail). He anticipated that we would be in the hospital with Collin until Monday, so they could get the appropriate tests done.

Here we come to one of the big problems in medicine - if it's bad enough to put you in the hospital, shouldn't the whole concept of "weekend" be a moot point? Well, evidently it's not, as we were going to have to wait for a swallow test (essentially an upper GI focusing on the swallow mechanism) until Monday.

That is, until God intervened and there was a cancellation... and we had our swallow test on Friday afternoon. Which showed (soo-prise, soo-prise) that with thinner liquids, Collin was having "silent aspirations". In other words, liquid was going down his windpipe AND he wasn't coughing it back up. When they switched to what they called a "nectar" thickness liquid, the aspirations stopped.

So far, so good. One of the discoveries was that rice cereal is not an effective thickener - it tends to clump, so you have water-y parts and thick parts. Instead, we're now using something called Thick-It, which does the job in an even (and expensive, of course) manner. Using the thickener did not entirely stop the choking/gagging, but it did seem to minimize it.

By Friday night, we were both exhausted and hoping that Collin would sleep more comfortably. Well, Collin & Daddy (that's me) took that into their own hands around 3 am. I was getting ready to change a poopy diaper when I picked Collin up and moved him the length of the crib. His NG tube (still in under doctor's orders - "in case we need it again") caught on the blanket and the tape ripped off his face. I hit the nurse's call button as Collin began sneezing up his feeding tube inch-by-inch. By the time the nurse got there, she decided to pull the tube... and there was only a 1/2 inch left in his nose. (I really liked the night nurse - she confided that she'd wanted to pull the tube earlier!) With the tube, he began to take it easier... as would I, if you took a long yellow tube out of my body!

Saturday morning, we puttered around, wondering what came next. The attending physician came in and asked me if we wanted to go home - the answer, of course, was YES. Then began the Dance Of Discharge, which is only slightly shorter than the 30 Years War.

And since nothing is that easy - a doctor came in to "observe" Collin feed (as Shari requested) and left after a minute, since nothing was going wrong. Not 30 seconds after she left, Collin began gagging. We got into a long & not terribly productive discussion with our nurse, another nurse who was an "expert" on lactation, and the doctor. In short, the conversation proved that

  • some doctors don't listen very well
  • some doctors need etiquette courses (dismissing Shari's request with "we don't have time for that" being the most clear example)
  • some doctors need to be careful about giving advice so freely when they've only glanced at the chart

We still went home - which we wanted, as it didn't seem like further discussion with the weekend staff was going to do anything. After renting a Medala pump and dealing with the pharmacy, we finally arrived home at 3 in the afternoon.

Well, it's 3 pm Sunday afternoon, and Collin is doing much better when we get the consistency of the feeds right. (For the record, what we're attempting to do flows like thick Malt-O-Meal.) Shari's getting some much needed sleep, and I'm back at the church, getting ready for two meetings & a missions study.)

Thanks for all who've been praying for us. Please don't stop now. :-)