God’s Sense of Humor

God’s Sense of Humor

My kids participated in Wesley Chapel Athletic Association activities for years. I have so many wonderful memories from that period in time, and some not-so-great ones as well. Yet through it all, I know my kids are more well-rounded and better prepared to take on some of life’s challenges as a result of their participation in organized sports.

I will admit the experience did not come without its challenges.For over a decade, I’d make the trip up to Wesley Chapel District Park for either practices or games, sometimes four times per week, oftentimes fueled only by the desire to be a good dad.

The things we do for our kids.

Getting there after work or early on the weekends took a toll on my body and my energy levels, and it was not uncommon for me to take naps in the car during practices. I would admonish the powers that be for the fact there was no place nearby to get a good cup of coffee. More specifically, I’d curse the fact there was no Starbucks near Wesley Chapel District Park.

My daughter is now in college and my son is wrapping up his Junior year in high school. They’re both very removed from participating in WCAA activities, and I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been up that way. So file under delicious irony the email my wife sent me today. In it was a link to WesleyChapelCommunity.com. The headline of the story reads simply: New Starbucks to open soon in Wesley Chapel.

Really? Really, God? Now? Now is when there’s a Starbucks on the way to the district park? After all those years of dozing off at red lights …. now?

Just continued proof God has a great sense of humor.


Build On The Pain

The screams were deafening. The shredding of human tissue insufferable. Body parts washed in lactic acid produced a symphony of sharp, burning pain.

And this was just my biceps.

If there is anything that merits the title of grueling, starting a new exercise regiment at the gym after a few years decade hiatus is one of them. Still, that’s where I find myself this week as my wife and I bit the bullet and signed up for membership at the Health & Wellness Center at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

I know what you’re thinking. A gym at the hospital? I was a bit skeptical at first, too, but the facility is state of the art, and the staff has been nothing short of exceptional. Besides, I’m glad I’m in the same physical structure as an ER just in case I go crazy and push myself too hard.

But the moral of this story is starting over. I will admit it’s been easier, psychologically speaking, mostly because I’m on a bit of a ‘new thing’ high. Lee and I have been waking up early to make 5:30 AM classes (Body Flow kicked my butt, BTW), and we’re motivating each other to start every morning with a fitness routine. But the toll on my body has been tough. Aches, pains, soreness; I know they’re all good and normal for someone like me starting out again, but I look forward to the day months from now when I laugh at myself for having been such a wimp.

Muscle Homer

It turns out that as I kicked off this workout week, my friend Rick Christensen wrote an excellent blog post titled Spiritual Bench Press. It got me to thinking about my recent faith journey, and how five years ago I was a spiritual couch potato in need of working on my faith. Although I always revert to my caveat, “I didn’t have a crisis of faith so much as a crisis of church,” I was very much failing to act like a Christian.

But just as I hope to do so with my physical fitness, I am able to look back now and see how far I’ve come in my spiritual journey. I can see how much stronger I am as a Christ follower, working out my soul by reading the Word and acting on His behalf. I’m not perfect, far from it. I struggle daily with the pitfalls and temptations of life. But I am very proud to see I’m closer to where I want to be than I was this time five short years ago.

And it’s not a destination you reach. It’s a lifelong journey of lifting the weight of your burdens and placing them at God’s feet. It’s a perennial run away from the enemy and towards the light He had provided for us. It’s feeding on the nutrition found in the Bible, the words of life that nourish us from day to day.

The best part is there’s no soreness to deal with or fatigue after a good spiritual workout (i.e. doing good for others). Instead, it’s a feeling of reward that can only be described as exhilarating.

I may never reach my goal weight. My BMI may remain plotted on the ‘unhealthy’ side of the chart. I may forever struggle to do curls with 20 lb dumbbells (seriously …. my upper body strength is so lame), but as long as I keep my spiritual wellness at the top of my priority list, I know I’ll be fine. Besides, God doesn’t care if His soldiers are a little soft around the edges.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Pain and Simple

I think the last time I was in the emergency room of a hospital as a patient, I was about six years old. I had stuck the bomb of one of the model planes I was building so far up my nose, it required medical attention to have it removed. (Don’t judge me …. I was just a kid).

I spent the better part of this past Sunday afternoon in discomfort with a shoulder problem that had been on again, off again for the better part of 18 months. Nothing serious, just a sharp pain in an isolated spot on my shoulder. I historically shrugged it off as having slept on my shoulder incorrectly or having tweaked it while lifting something heavy.

But on Monday, the pain was constant. It aggravated me all day and impacted by ability to be effective at work (I spend 8-10 hours a day at a keyboard). Later that evening, as I dropped my daughter off at her mom’s house following dinner to celebrate her eight grade commencement, I noticed my left had was terribly swollen. What started as isolated pain in my shoulder turned into a sharp, shooting pain in my entire arm. I couldn’t close my hand, and I had virtually no mobility with my arm. My wife agreed and we made the trip to the ER.

The service I received from everyone at Florida Hospital in Wesley Chapel was wonderful, After a sonogram, an x-ray, and a few hours of waiting, we were able to rule out some possible causes. Thankfully, the tests ruled out blood clots – my biggest fear given all the swelling – and bone injury. I was discharged with several prescriptions and sent home.

On Tuesday, too stoned and drowsy from the Flexeril and Vicodin, my wife drove me to an orthopedic doctor who assessed my situation. The diagnosis was severe bursitis and tendinitis in my shoulder. The doctor gave me a Cortisone shot and sent me home with prescriptions for both medicine and physical therapy.

As I sit here typing, I can feel the numbness creeping back into my joints, the fingers on my left hand laboring at times to stroke the keyboard. And all I can think to say is, “Thank you, God.”

Thank you for not letting it be something life threatening like a blood clot.

Thank you for letting it be something that doesn’t require surgery to repair.

Thank you for letting it be my left arm and not my right.

Thank you for letting it be manageable pain.

I have a family member undergoing surgery on Wednesday to remove his thyroid. Then he has to endure radiation treatment to ensure the cancer found in his thyroid doesn’t return. I remember the other patients I saw as they wheeled me from my room in the ER to radiology. They all looked to be in so much pain and anguish. By comparison, the pain in my shoulder was merely a toe stub. Nothing serious. Nothing lingering. Something that will get better with time.

My faith allows me to accept the challenges God puts in my way. His promise to me is love and salvation, and not smooth sailing or coasting through life. It’s in moments like these, where simply putting my hands in my pockets causes me to wince, or typing another paragraph requires a certain amount of mental push, when my faith in God is strengthened and renewed. Because as annoying, aggravating, inconvenient, and – on occasion – tear inducing this pain has been, I see how it could easily have been so much worse.

157/365 Movin’ On Up

Today was Daniel’s progression ceremony from elementary school. As excited I am at the prospect of him moving on to middle school, I do have to take pause when I look back on his educational journey at Double Branch Elementary in Wesley Chapel, FL.

Daniel was part of the first First grade class at DBES. I remember how much of a logistical inconvenience it was when his mother’s house got re-zoned for DBES. So instead of being under 2 miles from his elementary school, Daniel (and Natalie) was now over 5 miles from school. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but when you consider that at the time, the only way from his mother’s house to the new school was one 30 MPH road, the difference went from 5 minutes to 20.

But that all seems so long ago now, yet at the same time like it was only yesterday.

I guess that is the part of parenting that is universal. Time flies and everything moves forward, and we’re left longing for what used to be …. for the time when our kids were smaller, younger, and more innocent. For with every tick of the clock, those little babies are one second closer to adulthood and the scary real world we try so hard from which to protect them.

But for now, I am going to relish my son’s elementary school accomplishments and do all I can to ensure he enjoys his last summer before transitioning into the bigger pond that is middle school.

Kudos to my little man for receiving the Gold Presidential Award for Educational Excellence (and for being such a stylish little devil).