Sunday, August 30, 2009

Testing my Faith

It has been a week of sober exercise. After my first week of physical therapy, we went to my orthopedic surgeon's office Monday for an exam. I came out disappointed, discouraged.

After a short examination, he declared that I was not progressing as he had hoped. Dr. Dorizas is direct and candid, and this exam was no exception.

The previous week had been hard going to physical therapy every day and feeling the sharp pains of stretching and wrenching. But overall we felt that progress was being made. The physical therapist was serious, but encouraging about the prospects. Even he was surprised by Dr. Dorizas' prognosis.

Now we are at the end of the second week, and the physical therapist gave me Sunday off, or rather he gave himself Sunday off. I'm doing my exercises, and hoping for the best. The shoulder is a complicated joint, and once it has been damaged or messed up, it seems to have a mind of its own as it struggles to function in its myriad moves.
Meanwhile, ten cool things I did this week.

1. Chatted with Jim Drexler and Andrew Kane Sunday evening during the Methodist church fire. Neighborly chats are always cool.

2. Spent Tuesday through Thursday entertaining Beth's brother, Dick, and his wife Suzy, and two teen-aged daughters.

3. Exercised every day to strengthen my shoulder.

4. Had a brief grave side service at the National cemetery for Dad. Katie and fam, Dick and fam, Mom and Beth.

5. Ate dinner with Knutson's and Moore's at Lupi's.

6. Made pancakes from scratch Sunday night.

7. Went to Mt. Canaan Baptist Church Sunday morning. Music was great. Piano, acoustic drums, and bass, along with choir and praise team. James Elder is the musician, and maintains a low profile at the keys. I would love to talk to him about how his choir is so healthy and happy.

8. Walked with Beth in the mornings.

9. Monday afternoon, finished the vocals on In the Stable. Buddy Greene comes through this Wednesday to add chromatic harmonica.

10. Watched a cute movie about an 80s rock star and his love child played by Charlotte Church.
Dick brought it. It's called "I'll be there."
11. Assembled a jigsaw puzzle of the world. It was relaxing cool. We bought another one of a Disney artwork, but haven't made much progress.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Ten cool things I did this week.
1. Monday was the day that Mary, Nikki and I met with a small group of Bryan College worship leaders and their coordinator, Jessi. It was cool to sing with them, talk with them about diversity, and then go to lunch at Herman's. They loved the women on my staff. I got great people I'm privileged to work with!
2. Then I finally called Aaron Messner, chaplain of Covenant College, and he agreed for our music department to plan and direct Friday chapels this year. Cool! This means that we will be paid to diversify Covenant's worship life. It also means a more structured return to a Gospel Club at Covenant. And it means a little extra money for Mary and Nikki.
3. Andrew Russell was still in town Monday, and we had coffee at Pasha. For three hours I asked him questions and shared with him the vision for musical development at NCF. He is very focussed on music as a career path, and his personality and vocal chops, combined with basic piano chording, just might push him in the right direction. He left town pumped and ready to come back in December to a half-time postition.
4. Truly one of the coolest things I did this week is to have a manipulation of my adhesive capsulitis under anesthesia. OK, this is not fun or painless. But the result of this surgical procedure is to put me on the path of healing and restoration. I have been optimistic and upbeat all week because of it! I'm also going to physical therapy every day, including today, the Lord's Day.
This week I started building a calendar at Google Apps. A google calendar means independence from a Daytimer, as more information is stored in the cloud. Cool.
5. Through the convenience of Comcast On Demand channel, I've been watching the first season episodes of "Mad Men." The media has suddenly jumped all over this series that is available on AMC. This is superficial cool.

6. The Distribution is a band that several of my NCF friends have formed. Carl Cadwell is the keyboardist, and he has sent me several .mp3s of potential songs for them. This week I worked on "Mama Don't Cry" and it's taking nice shape.

7. We went to Books-a Million on Saturday evening, and bought 2 jigsaw puzzles. Beth's brother, his wife, and 2 teen-aged daughters are coming to visit his mother next week, and we're gambling on puzzles for the girls. After we bought them, we immediately set about assembling the one that is a map of the world. We're still working on it Sunday morning!

8. I'm reading a book called "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church." D.A. Carson has written a critical review of the latest trendy effort at retooling the modern, or post-modern church. Danny Mitchell, our new associate pastor for youth, has taken some courses on Emerging, so he's going to show me some other books that may be more sympathetic.

9. We went to North Shore Fellowship's 11:00 service, which is in a larger building up the hill on Tremont St. Dave Hess, a former jazz piano student, plays there and is on part time staff. David and Ellie are also serving in the praise team.

10. We went to Mud Pie for coffee and to read the paper after PT on Sunday before going to church. What an unusual experience.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nairobi revisited

In 2007 I was part of a missions trip to Nairobi. When the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance, having heard about Kenya and its charms from several friends who had gone. They said that the music there was unforgettable, dynamic, mesmerizing, worshipful, and never ending. Our church's historic commitment to cross-cultural mission has always been hand in hand with a special love of Africa.

Well, the trip was led by Brian McKeon and he finalized the team as a music missions team. There would be 6 singers, 3 musicians including myself, and Brian as team leader. We would be going as a music praise team, with the additional component of music education and daytime assistance with Saint Lazarus School in Kibera and the Overcomers by Grace ministry to handicapped Muslims. As I corresponded with Meta, the music director at NCF Nairobi, it sounded like a full schedule of schools, seminars, and churches. When I asked about tech support Meta said via email that they had good equipment and a semi-pro sound person in their church who would assist us.

The last time we had taken a music missions trip was 10 years prior when MTW missionary Hugh Wessel sponsored a tour of southern France and we took 13 NCF singers and musicians to Europe. It had been a dream tour. The travel, housing, sound, and repertoire was coordinated by us with support from the European team, including a French sound company that preceded us to each venue. We laughed and sang and saw the romantic beauty of southern France from Aix-en-Provence to Paris even. With this as a background, we anticipated a more strenuous experience in Kenya, a third world country, but we were optimistic that our music and our people would be loved and joyful.

The trip was longer, though, and Beth and I did not look forward to a 2 and a half week separation. We also were not agreed on the effectiveness or even value of short term missions trips.
Well, I digress. My point today is that Beth and I sat down and went through all the pictures, the itinerary, and the souvenirs I brought back. As we sat and went through each day, I put the photos in order-- ones taken by me, David, and Brian. As I looked at the memory of this unforgettable time, I told stories and described the people we had met, and the ways we had been used by God.

This was not the first time we have talked about the trip, but Beth said this afternoon that she had never gotten the whole picture of the Kenya trip. There was a palpable change in her appreciation of the last missions trip I have taken, with the good and bad.

Because I'm on sabbatical this week, we are able to peel back layers of our lives and fill in important missing pieces in the puzzle of our lives together. I'm thankful for the blessing of this 3 month leave!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It is fantastic to be taking some time off work, and in the process dealing with some of my physical constraints! I haven't felt this hopeful, this relieved, this healthy in a long time.
The month of July has been fun at work-- Anthony and Mykayla were good, cheerful workers, the Hope singing was energetic and authentic, and the two fly dates I took were encouraging to the max.
But the weakness in my knees, wrists, and shoulders, and even my neck, made me feel like a prisoner in my own body.
My left shoulder has been diagnosed as having adhesive capsulitis or "frozen shoulder." It began in February 2008 with throbbing pain, soreness, stiffness, and night pain. The doctor told me what it was and that it usually took 2 years to get over. The scond phase was a diminishing of the pain, but continuing stiffness and limited range of motion. The third and final phase is a return to a normal condition. However, the range of motion may lessen if not treated.
This Tuesday I had a "manipulation under anesthesia" by a new doctor whom we are really loving named Jed Dorizas, an orthopedic surgeon. After a pain block was injected, I was put under and when I came to, my shoulder had been stretched far enough to break the tissue that was freezing it, like scar tissue.
Today I started my physical therapy and the therapist was very encouraging, and I was elated. After all kinds of dire warnings about pain and recovery, the session went very well, and it did not include what I would call bad pain.
After suffering discomfort and sharp limitations at work and at night, we are finally bringing this thing to a positive end.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sabbatical Leave

My church, my employer, has offered me a 3 month sabbatical. Since I have worked there 7 years, they figured I needed the time off. It is a great relief not to have to worry about schedules, people, and songs for 14 more weeks!

Unfortunately, I have been having some pain in my hands, legs, and shoulders that has precipitated some medical necessities this fall during the first several weeks of my leave. Although I would rather not have to do this during these precious days, it's better than having the weight of the job plus the recovery from frozen shoulder manipulation.

But enough of that. Here's ten cool things I haved done during this first full week.

1. I called an asphalt company to patch our driveway. No conclusions yet, but, hey, I had room in my mind.

2. I went to Greyfriars' coffee, sat down, and drank a coffee out of a real cup while reading a novel and listening to Bach's Violin Concerti.

3. I went to a movie on Thursday night with Beth. Julie and Julia.

4. I read the first chapter of D.A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. I even highlighted some.

5. I purchased Rock with You by Rod Tempterton at Musicnotes, and created a new 2 page chart that is perfect for weddings.

6. I got an MRI on my neck. This is cool, only because it is part of treating my maladies. Otherwise, it was claustrophobic.

7. I played a wedding and the reception for Hannah DeMoss and Merrell Johnson. This was a test, since Merrell's family is black, and a lot of the music was soul music.

8. I walked every morning with Beth.

9. I sat on the deck and had lunch with Beth.

10. I went to Belk and bought two pairs of cargo shorts.

I hope to blog more during these months, so get ready for more cool things!

About Me

My photo
I am a person who is perceived as youthful, although I am in my late 50s. I play and sing music, and it tends to keep me in the culture, like a lot of young people do. I am a "high I" on the DISC Behavioral Test, which means I'm optimistic, enthusiastic, a team player, and I motivate others toward goals. I don't like exercise, but I have a high metabolism, so I don't tend to be overweight at this time in my life! I have recently been doing moderate exercise and physical therapy for a shoulder condition.