Will you die with the music still in you?

“Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.”  ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

oliver-wendell-holmes-jr-quote-music

 

In my personal Bible reading, I took a break from the Ownit365.com reading plan for a few months and decided to dive into the Gospels – reading each one very slowly and methodically.  I finished the Gospel of Mark yesterday and today I started Luke. I couldn’t get past the first couple of verses without the Lord speaking to my heart.

Here’s what I have read hundreds of times, but this time it really struck me:

Luke 1:1-2

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.  Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you…”

I’m so glad Luke didn’t use the excuse that many of us do: “It’s already been written about, the world doesn’t need ANOTHER account of the life of Jesus!”  “What more can I add?”  “What use will it be?”  “I’m just a doctor.  I’m not a writer!”

These excuses for launching out and making your work known rattle in all of our brains.  Trust me, as I spent two years writing the manuscript for Divine Disturbance, almost every morning when my fingers hit the keyboard I had to fight the little voice inside my head that said, “Good books have already been written on the life of Nehemiah, the world doesn’t need another one!”  But, I had to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

And so do you.

What is that THING that the Lord has placed on your heart to do?  Start?  Lead?  Re-start?

Maybe, just maybe, you have been listening to the voice in your head for too long saying, “what impact can you really have?”  “It’s already being done, by someone else who has their act together…don’t try.”

Well, I’m glad that Luke didn’t listen to that voice.  In fact, he said, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us…but my version is going to be more detailed, better, more precise, and is going to last forever!” (Well, maybe he didn’t say that but you get the idea).

Take a lesson from Luke and don’t let the fact that others are doing it or have done it to deter you from what God has placed on your heart to do.  Don’t you dare die while the music (or book, or project, or ministry) is still in you.

You can’t live by faith if you don’t live by faith.

Breathe.  Step out.  Pray.  Change the world.

Frances Update: We are HOME! (and a shout out to all nurses everywhere)

Finally!  Although this is just the beginning of a 6-week recovery road, at least we are not in the hospital.  Thank you for your prayers and support through this time.  We can totally feel your prayers. Frances said that she could actually feel being carried by prayer – an amazing experience.

superhero_nurse_rectangle_magnet-296x296

We also wanted to give a shout out to all of the nurses and the support staff from the hospital.  If you’re reading this, you know who you are.  I think that nurses are the unsung heroes of the medical profession.  We have experienced unprecedented care and support every step of the way.  We have been able to bond with these ladies and see just how important they are.  We also saw how hard they worked and how under-appreciated they were at times.  Although they might be innocent looking in scrubs, let me tell you, the stuff they have to deal with (and clean up) is beyond me.  And they do it with a smile.  Amazing.  Super. Human.

So, for all you nurses and support staff in hospitals out there, I want to thank you for all the long nights, early mornings, ungrateful patients, underpay, bad hospital food, crap you have to put up with doctors at times, unrealistic expectations, and everything else you have to put up with — just so you can be there at 2am to change something, or turn a beeping button off, or answer a question from a drugged up patient (not that we have experience with that one) or fend off alligators or ISIS attacking under the bed (not that we have experience with that one either, haha).  Thank you.

You may never realize the impact you’re having on peoples lives, but keep on grinding.  Keep on smiling.  Keep on serving.  You really are superheroes in my book.  Thanks.

From a grateful husband of one of your (hopefully former) patients.

P.S. And to the midnight floor cleaner who finally accepted my begging to allow me to drive the Zamboni looking riding floor waxer, you’re the best!  I would have taken a picture of it but I didn’t want to get him fired!  But let me tell you, that was freaking awesome.

Frances Update: Pushing Through “Breakthrough Pain” (we might come home today)

After being in a hospital for 6 straight days and 22 days total in last 2 months, we might get to come home today (hopefully for good this time)!  Frances is doing better and the pain is getting manageable.  Although when what they call “breakthrough pain” hits and it’s a rough go for a stint.  I’ll keep you posted on whether or not we actually get to come home.

breakthrough pain

This whole idea of “breakthrough pain” has got me thinking…

C.S. Lewis says that “pain is God’s megaphone.”  Sometimes the only way for you to “breakthrough” to the next level is to experience pain.  Seems counterintuitive, but that’s how God works.  Think about it this way, when are you the closest to the Lord?  During times of comfort and ease or times of desperation and difficulty?

James says it this way, “Consider it PURE JOY, my friends, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  And perseverance must finish it’s work so you will be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I know that it is difficult to view your breakthrough pains through the lens of PURE JOY, but think about all that the Lord is doing IN YOU during your difficulty.

In one of our long hospital conversations, I asked Frances this question: “If you had to do this all over again, what would rather have – a clean bill of health after the FIRST surgery OR having gone through this ordeal and now your closer to the Lord than ever before?” Without hesitation she said she’s glad that she’s gone through this because she’s learned more lessons about giving up control, faith, perseverance and friendship than she has in years of living a “normal” life!  That’s what I’m talking about!!

So, if you are in a season where you are in the midst of pain, suffering, trial and unexpected difficulty, know that this is your “breakthrough pain” that is going to get you to the next level.

This is God’s megaphone speaking to you.  Consider it pure joy.  

Frances Update: One step forward, two steps back

Well, we are still in the hospital.  After the first day of successful walking the halls and moderate pain management, the last two days have been a struggle.  We’ve been having a hard time keeping her pain (especially from the incision) under control.  On top of that, because she wasn’t able to walk the halls, she’s developed a bad cough / hiccup thing.  Every time she coughs, it stresses on her incisions, which causes pain, which makes it difficult to walk.  Yeah, it’s cyclical.  success-graph-demetri-martin-squiggly-lineWe’re not sure when she will get discharged.  But, as we have learned from previous hospital stays, it’s better to stay until everything is okay, than to leave and then come back.

We watched church this Easter morning on the laptop and invited several of the nurses to join us.  It was a special time – an Easter that we will never forget.

All this back and forth (good days and bad days) during the Easter weekend has got me thinking about the silence of the Saturday.  Hinged between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, was Silent Saturday.  It seemed like God was not working.  He was not listening.  He abandoned His followers.  However, just because you can’t see His work, doesn’t mean that He’s not working.  In fact, absence of visible activity usually means that God’s behind the scenes working out something better.  And He calls us to wait.

Can you worship while waiting?  As I wrote a few months ago, the only thing worse than waiting on God is wishing that you would have waited on Him.  I’m sure the disciples hated that Silent Saturday, but more was happening than they had ever imagined.

As we wait for Frances to make the medical turn for the better, we will worship while we wait…Because God’s working behind the scenes!

 

Good Friday Good Word & Frances is walking the halls – talking about Jesus

Happy Good Friday everyone.  Last night and this morning have been good for Frances.  Although the uncomfortable hospital chair and I are not on speaking terms this morning, Frannie is doing amazingly well.  She’s telling everyone about Jesus and, once again, blasting her praise music. It’s crazy how people just come in and start opening up their life story.  Love it.   If you want to follow along with what we’re listening to, download the Spotify app and search for “IF Gathering” playlist.  Great stuff.

image1

And since it’s Good Friday, I wanted to share with you what God has been showing me lately in His Word…

IMG_9576

“We are all going through something.”

“You never know what God is doing in someone’s life.”

These two sentences echo in my mind every time I preach or talk to someone about the Lord.  Let’s be honest, we’re all going through something.

It might be…

An emotional something.

A physical something.

A financial something.

A relational something.

A marital something.

An addictive something.

A ___________something.

Once you realize that, you start to look at people differently.  And you don’t think you’re so crazy.

The second sentence gives hope to the first…You never know what God is doing in someone else’s life.

You have no idea of the inner dialogue that people are having with the Lord.  The night time conversations taking place between their ears.  The thoughts.  The silent prayers.  The inner struggle.  The secret joys.

This is what was going on in the life of Peter on that first Good Friday.  He was the one, like us, who emphatically told Jesus that “even if all these disown you, Lord, I never will…In fact, I’ll die for you!”  That pride led to his fall, because, as we know the story, before the rooster crowed the final time, he disowned Jesus three times.  The verse that penetrates my mind is where it says, “he then went out and wept bitterly.”

He felt the sting.  The felt the impact.  He was confronted with the truth of his denial.  He felt the shame.  He continued to weep.  And hide.

And the amazing thing about the resurrection story is that, on that first Easter morning, after our risen Lord busted through the powers of death, hell and the grave, the angel told them women at the tomb this powerful truth, “Go tell the disciples, AND PETER that HE IS RISEN.”

Do you find it interesting that the Jesus told the angel to specifically name Peter?  Go tell the disciples AND PETER…” In our moments of deepest need and discouragement, the resurrection story reminds us that Jesus raised for YOU (the downhearted, the depressed, the one who has blown it time and time again).

I don’t think I’m adding too much to the story when I say this, but if you have fallen from the Lord or have disappointed Him in any way, He’s probably been trying to get your attention.  Insert your name into the story and be encouraged.  “Go tell the disciples and (___insert your name here___) that HE IS RISEN.”

Happy Good Friday.

Frances Kelley Surgery Update…

We came to the hospital this morning at 6:00am and was pleasantly greeted by Chris Jones, a dear friend and deacon at Grace Church.  So thankful to start the morning covered in prayer.  Next, Frances was blasting her praise music in the pre-op surgery room rocking out some good tunes (but trying not to act over-saved).

IMG_9575

The doctor just came out and told me that she had a successful surgery!  Praise the Lord!  I still haven’t seen her yet (still in recovery).  The doctor was very confident that everything will go according to plan.  The main prayer is that the foot-long stent running from her bladder to her kidney doesn’t cause excessive amounts of pain and that there is no scar tissue build up around the stitches in the bladder.

Other than that, that’s all we know.  I’ll keep you posted.

In other news…drum roll…it’s my sister’s 40th birthday and she’s hangin’ with us in hospital.  Everyone wish Michelle Ohlmeier an amazing 40th birthday!  Wow…she’s really old!  Now, the next big one is Pam Worley turning 50!!!!

IMG_9578

A sweet night of pre-surgery prayer…

Last night, a group of 12 folks prayed together in our living room for Fran’s surgery.  It was a sweet time of prayer but an even sweeter time of community.  Which got me thinking…IMG_9568Why do we try to live this life as if we were on an island?  We clam up at the first sight of vulnerability and we tend to shut people out when we feel like they might know we are not perfect.  News flash, they already know you’re not perfect.

This time of prayer was special on multiple fronts, but in the end, we all received our marching orders – BE STILL and KNOW THAT I AM GOD.  I felt the Lord give me a word that simply said, “Don’t put a question mark where I have put a period.”  Still working out what that means for our situation right now, but I’m confident in His promises and I’m learning how to discern His still, small voice.

We are headed to bed now.  We have to be at hospital at 6am tomorrow for pre-surgery work.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress.  But for now, focus on a few verses with us:

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Prayers for my bride, Frances Kelley

I seldom write personal prayer requests for the world to see but I’m breaking norm with this post. My beloved Frances is going in for another surgery this Thursday, April 2nd to reconnect her ureter back to her bladder.  For those who don’t know the whole story, here it is…

IMG_9357

Last year (2014) we discovered that Frances had 3 fibroid tumors (softball sized) in her uterus.  We knew that she was going to have to have a hysterectomy to get them all out so we scheduled a surgery for the middle of February, 2015.  Well, that didn’t last long because about a month before her scheduled surgery, she started bleeding uncontrollably.  It was bad. Her hemoglobin went from a 13 to a 6.

In the ER, they gave her a spinal injection and heavy meds to stop the bleeding for a week so we could expedite the scheduled hysterectomy.  She then went in for a normal hysterectomy.  They were hoping to do it all laproscopicly but her uterus was just too big.  They said that a normal size uterus is 60 grams and hers was almost 700! So, they performed C-section, took out uterus and sewed her back up.

We thought everything was normal until we got home and she started to have incredible amounts of pain – I mean, excruciating. We thought this was normal side affects of the surgery, but when her temperature spiked one night, we called the doctor and they recommended that we come to the ER.

Once in in the ER, we discovered that during the surgery, the surgeon had accidentally severed her left ureter (the urine tube that connects your kidney to your bladder).  So, for about a week, the pain that she was feeling was her body (inside) filling up with urine.  Toxic urine.  She became septic (hence the high temperature) and they had to drain her abdomen and try several attempts to reconnect the plumbing – to no avail.

So, they sent her home with two tubes.  One abdomen tube to drain excess fluid (kept for 5 days) and kidney bag (kept for 6 weeks) to capture any urine that was being produced through the left kidney.  This was done to allow the area to heal so they can reattach the ureter back to the bladder.

And that’s where we are now.  On Thursday of this week, she goes back in for a ureter reimplantation surgery.  This will be another 6-week recovery and hopefully, by the middle of May, she’ll get a clean bill of health.

Frances has been amazing through this whole deal.  I’ve seen her grow closer to the Lord in ways that shock me.  Her perspective on this situation has been incredible.  She teaches me how to handle adversity with grace everyday.

We have been blessed beyond belief with a steady supply of meals that friends and family have provided during this time.  My extra 10 pounds I’m carrying around is a daily reminder of how blessed we are!

In all seriousness, we’re so grateful that this happened during the football offseason.  February and March are the two slowest months of the year.  I’ve been able to serve my bride in a way that I never could have if it were any other 10 months out of the year.  For that, I’m grateful.

I’ll update this blog with the latest news as it’s the easiest to update everyone at once instead of my uncanny ability to give a delayed text response ;-)

Here’s our prayer requests:

  1. Successful surgery
  2. Emotional stability (attitude, perspective, grace)
  3. We can be a blessing to the doctors and nurses (last surgery we had 1 nurse visit church)
  4. We would learn the lessons from this season instead of miss them

Are you a Fighter or Flighter? How to have a Crucial Conversation

Have you ever avoided a conversation that you NEEDED to have but ran from it because you know it was going to be difficult? Have you ever argued with your spouse over something that was was really no big deal, but it turned into World War III?  Do you get defensive easily?  All these questions and more are addressed in this week’s interview.

We discus how to have a Crucial Conversation.  I highly recommend this book.  It’s a must read for anyone who works in a business, is in a family, attends a church or is breathing (I’m pretty sure that includes everyone).

Also, you can download the book summary that my good friend Pam Turner (aka “The Paminator”) put together by following this link… crucial-conversations-study (hope you enjoy all these resources!).