Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I have relocated my blog to Word Press. Please join me over there - just click HERE to go to it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Are we the best of choices?

Reflecting on church attendance while I lay on my couch getting IV antibiotics, and of course, ironically, missing church....
Maybe I was spoiled. I was raised in a Southern Baptist family that made Sunday morning church attendance mandatory. We had a fun youth group at University Baptist, and SS was usually tolerable, church maybe not so much but we knew we had to go, so we did. Like many, I used college to escape from such obligations, but getting married and having children brought me back.
Thank goodness my wife is an Episcopalian, and while the story of how we made it back to the Episcopal church is one for another time, I can say that we were spoiled. Why? Because at St. Peter's by the Lake we found a church that was just, well, awesome. As I learned what it meant to be an Episcopalian, I was fortunate to be formed by the founding Rector of that church, Arnold Bush, who showed me and my Baptist heart that Episcopal Priests (and people!) could be evangelists! And I was shown by his successor, Barry Cotter, that Episcopal Priests could be excellent preachers. But more than that, I was shown by a community of faith what it meant to be the body of Christ, people who cared and prayed and worshipped and partied and laughed and grieved and fed and showed up for each other.
I am not sure I can say when the change happened for us, but eventually Jennifer and I became those people who showed up every time the doors opened - but not ever out of some sense of obligation, or feeling that if we didn't "do this" no one else would, but rather simply because it was the best of choices for us and our kids. We chose church on Sunday mornings over soccer or tennis, we chose special services over the myriad of other options, we chose work days over sleeping in and we chose renewal weekends over parties and we chose great times on the reservoir party boat with other church folks over, well, over anything else. It wasn't just about God and the Spirit, it was about community. And it was about living into the idea that doing for others is actually not just rewarding but fun, and working "inside" the church was not just important but life-giving. Cursillo renewal helped me in that, I think, teaching me so much about joy and service and the Spirit, perhaps we need more of that. But all that just kind of evolved over time, looking back I can see it, but in the midst of it, it really felt like the best choice was not a choice at all, but something we were joyously led to by the Holy Spirit.

I want that for our folks. I want us to be the "best choice". Because the truth is, it is all about choices. Sometimes we are overwhelmed, bombarded by options, or fall into the trap of the "obvious because this is what everyone does" kind of choice. But in the end, a worshipping community of caring people, dedicated to serving Christ in others, I believe, is the "best choice".
It's not perfect every Sunday. We don't always hit it out of the park. That's because we are human. But in the end, the first step is choosing to show up and see where the Spirit leads - new ideas of ministry, ways to form our children in the faith (is there anything more important?), ancient prayers and wonderful sacraments and great music. Saying by our presence - this really IS the best choice, and I too will commit time and talent and treasure to make it so for all of us.
Are you looking for a place like that? If so, I hope we can grow into just that, together. For those already along for the ride - God bless you for helping us live into being the best choice.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Slow Recovery

It seems like the only blog posts I make, and even those rarely, regard health issues for me or my family. But once again I am writing about such, but with a promise of more posts to come that won't be simply updates on our struggles.
Last week I had surgery again on my achilles tendon. I had developed an infection that did not respond to oral antibiotics, so had no choice but to go in, de-bride the wound, and start IV antibiotic treatments. Ended up spending 6 days in the hospital following some complications and waiting for cultures to grow so could determine the exact mix of treatments. We got home lat Sunday night and started the at home IV antibiotics Monday evening. Thanks be to God my LW is such a wonderful caretaker, and an RN, and I am in great hands. Pray for my recovery to be complete and soon, and please pray for Jennifer, who has suffered from her own nightmare of illness this past year and who also had double-knee scopes done right after Christmas, she is hobbling around here taking care of both of us and I am so grateful for her.
I am sentenced to home for at least another week, when I will get the cast off of my leg and find out what is next. I am bound and determined to just accept and obey whatever courses of action the docs decide for me, pushing this recovery did nothing but make things worse before this last operation. The church is rising up to take care of "bidness" in my physical absence and I have complete trust in our leadership to handle things well.
Meanwhile, with my sabbatical looming, 2011 is our year to get healthy! It is meet and right so to do. And now with time on my hands while recovering, look for much more frequent blog posts, about things more interesting than infections and surgeries.
Just keep praying - it does make a difference.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Great Job St. Pat's!

Yesterday (Nov 14) we held our annual Time, Talent, and Treasure auction/fundraiser for our building fund. This was a traditional event at St Patrick's prior to Katrina, and we brought it back last year in our new building.
The proceeds go towards payments on our building debt, which is quite burdensome on our budget. We had a lovely evening, the auction committee was AMAZING, worked so hard and so well together. Local vendors donated dinner, appetizers, desserts, and beverages and we had over 100 auction items. I don't have an official tally yet but looks like we will make even more than we did last year, considering these economic times that is fantastic news. I am so proud of our hard working and dedicated folks, and so thankful for everyone who contributed and bought items. Great fun, great food, great spirit, great entertainment!
On another note, went to see my surgeon today for an infection check - the incision has had some infection which we've been watching closely and treating with antibiotics. He was very pleased with how it looks and even gave us the green light to actually wash my leg with soap and water! OK, maybe that's TMI, but a shower without wearing a garbage bag over my boot will be so sweet. It does remind me of how blessed my life is and all the advantages I have compared to so many people throughout the world and in our own community. I give thanks to God, to my LW who is the most patient and skilled nurse on earth, and for all those who continue to pray for me and my family (and I ask you continue to pray for my wife, whose health has been better of late but still struggles on some days).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Deja Vu all over again

Those not in the Knight circle of information (in other words, not Facebook friends with my wife) probably don't know that I have done it again! Yep - three weeks ago I tore the achilles tendon on my left leg. Once again I was playing tennis and it snapped (it was the right leg in Feb of 2009). It's such a weird feeling, that now unfortunately I am too familiar with, but it really feels like someone has SLAMMED your calf with a baseball bat. Of course, you have that feeling as you are falling, unable to walk (the achilles is what allows you to raise up on your toes when walking and running - it's by far the largest tendon in the body and is under great tension, so when it ruptures completely (tears in half), the torque it's under causes the feeling of being hit in the calf as it retracts up into your calf muscle). On the way down I thought "Who hit me?", then "did I run into a fence?" then "have I been shot?" then "oh crud I know what THIS means - lots of pain here I come!".
And I was right.
So here I sit, leg in a boot, non-weight bearing for at least 6 more weeks, post-op two weeks. UGH!
Surgery was in Hattiesburg at the most excellent Southern Bone and Joint (my ortho from 09, like many other fine doctors on the Coast, has left for other pastures). We go back first of next week to get stitches out and hopefully enjoy at least a few moments boot free (while a boot is better than a cast, for at least the time being I am not allowed to remove the boot EVER! I begged Jennifer a few days ago to take it off just for a bit, as over activity was swelling the foot and I was in agony. Being the good nurse, she refused).
Pain management is working out ok and I almost never take any prescription meds now for it. Getting-around management is another story. Crutches are just SO MUCH FUN, making every activity we take for granted a pain in the &*^%. .
The LW bull dogged the insurance company and doctor's office and got me a knee walker thing couple days ago - WAY better than crutches. Ideal for rolling around the house or church, frees up a hand and even has a little basket! Great invention! Can't do stairs with it but other than that it's great. You kneel on it with the bad leg and propel with the good one.
Meanwhile, many other things to talk about and I think this down time will allow me some blogging time so look for much more frequent posts, if anyone is still out there. I hope to begin rehab in December, so listen for the screams!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Five Year Thoughts

All week we've been flooded with images - special reports each night on the news, the obligatory "before and after" shots, the interviews (often with the tears and shock of 5 years ago coupled with either "we're back" or "we are still struggling"). A great editorial on our local channel, WLOX, read it HERE , calling the President out for helping the nation to, as usual, focus on New Orleans and manage to ignore what happened over here, reminds us of our struggle just to stay in the mindset of people.
I don't even know where to begin, in reflecting on these five years. Do I talk, again, about those early days? The horror of riding that storm out, how it FELT, SOUNDED, SMELLED? The incessant howling (SCREAMING) of the wind, the nauseating feeling in my gut, the way the very low pressure made our ears hurt, the terror of watching a roof peel off behind you and wondering if you've put your family in harms way, grateful so much for the friends who sheltered us and took loving care of us for weeks after, the miracle of our own home surviving when so much was destroyed, the church flattened, finally being able to make phone calls - randomly and not often - finding my oldest daughter with the mentally handicapped people she evacuated from the group home she worked in, evacuated to Lord-knows where, took us 3 days to find her and see her and know she was ok, the utter despair and destruction, the mountains of debris (tens of millions of yards, trust me it is incomprehensible), the "Dorothy houses" sitting in the middle of roads they were deposited on, the unbelievable flooding of every stream, river, bayou, bay, creek and drainage canal, helicopters and National Guard trucks, and people simply undone.
Remembering the blur of day after day, waking up wondering, crying out to God - "What am I supposed to do today?" Here I was a person who actually prefers a little structure, a plan, something to attack and measure, and each day brought complete chaos with no plan and way too much to tackle, too many people with such great need, too much destroyed to even imagine it rebuilt, so we just got up, early, Jennifer and I and headed to the relief center, helping the volunteers who came by the hundreds to setup and unload, to tend to medical needs in the miracle of a medical clinic run and managed by my wife, to begin the clean up and removal, to hold a hand and say a prayer. How many times I followed someone out to their car, helping them with their load of water and food and clothes and diapers, heard their story, slipped them a hundred dollar bill from the checks I had cashed which had been given to us to help, cashed on road trips to Alabama since we had no banks, helped this one woman who loaded her old beatup Dodge Caravan with supplies, who then broke down crying on my shoulder, this worried and burdened woman who told me she had six family members sleeping in that car, nowhere to go, and I went with her and took more stuff and some sleeping bags and a tent and prayed for them and with them, never to find them again, hoping they moved to a shelter. Being so proud and teary as some teens from my church came and helped us at Camp Coast Care, they laughed and worked and played with kids that came in, all these teens also had lost THEIR homes, were staying with others, as so many families were, if you had a house standing you had other people in there with you, recalling my son, about 8 months into this thing asking, not in a mean way, but just in a curious-will-normal-ever-come way, "Dad will we ever have a night where someone I don't know is staying with us?', and Dad has no answer. We were blessed, very much so, so it was no big deal.
Do I move on or talk about the woman who almost died in her home, water to her neck, neither she nor her daughter could swim, how a neighbor rescued them out of a window and lashed them inside a boat tied to a tree, where they watched it all play out, tornadoes and wind and water and prayed the tree held, watched her home and car wash away, knowing her story was just one story of so many JUST LIKE THAT. Do I step away or talk about the friend in Hattiesburg who is a Chevy dealer who loaned me a pickup truck that I would fill up with supplies and drive around to all the tent "villages", especially in the Bay, and hand out what I had and money if I had it too, and then go back for more supplies and do it all over again. What a gift that truck proved to be, just in the nick of time. So much came to us just in the nick of time, over and over again God provided, in the triple digit heat and the dust and the great despair, God kept showing up, looking different every time, but present and there always. Always.

Should I talk about that or let you browse the archives of 2005 from this blog and see the images yourself in the media reports. Going there, just a little, just in writing this, is hard. So this must do for me, I can't go there too much, still.
Do I reflect on that 1st anniversary service, down at our outdoor chapel, looking towards our former church where the green tentacles of nature have taken over, where we sang and prayed and anointed and shared Christ and baptized two of our own, reclaiming water as a creative and cleansing force instead of a threatening and destroying one. If nothing else, go HERE and read friend Bruce Colville's account of that service, his prose capturing the moment beautifully. Please read it...
2nd anniversary, no big production, did a treadmill stress test and wept in my car as I looked at the picture of my seminary class, sent to my from the death bed of a dear classmate, letting all that sweep over me, the terror and loss and despair, sometimes it can creep up and tug on my sleeve, if I let it, and that moment in the lonely parking lot of a still-rebuilding hospital I had my time with crushing sadness and grief. Why did it take so long? I have no idea. Read more about it right HERE.
Three more years of rebuilding, of watching people come and go, of praying for direction, of traveling the country, of meeting so many people whose hearts were changed because Jesus said GO and they did, not looking back, and so what was once despair turned to joy, oh how I prayed Psalm 126 over and over, declared it for us, made it our own personal promise from God - "WHEN the Lord restored Zion, THEN we were like those who dream, our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of JOY. The Lord has done great things for us, and we ARE filled with joy". And then 45 months after the storm-that-must-not-be-named, we moved in, into our new home, our own holy space, missing still our volunteer friends, we claimed holy ground and sang with joy, we said yes that night to laughter, we said yes, oh yes, to joy.
There is such a big gap, so much more to say, people to thank, stories to recall, trips to remember, victories and frustrations, so much more. The archives of this blog have some, my heart has so much more. But this has been long enough. 5 years we will mark on Sunday. We won't look back much, or even dwell too long in sadness. We have a new playground to bless, new stations of the cross to dedicate, new (to us) vestments to pray over. We will give thanks to the army, God's army, that have given time, money, prayers, support, their very selves, to help us. We will count those blessings and many others, share a meal together, and proclaim that the Lord has restored our fortunes, though we may still have far to go we too will fill our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy. For this is what the people of God, supported and loved and helped and made whole by our brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what we do. May God be pleased.

Monday, May 03, 2010

So we wait and watch....again

It's really hard to describe to folks who are not from here, haven't been through the post-Katrina years. In August we will pass the 5 year mark since the storm-who-must-not-be-named. And here we sit, anxious and worried, confused and angry, puzzled and pretty helpless as oil pours into the Gulf of Mexico and drifts our way, bringing with it the great unknowns - do they have a CLUE how to stop the leak? Do they know what the environmental impact will even be? How will our poor fishermen, shrimpers and others, ever survive this hit?
What have we done? Why isn't more done? How could this happen? WHY IS THIS FAIR?
I kind of lost it a bit with someone the other day, someone who doesn't live here, who hasn't even seen "here", other than the news reports that would, on occasion, wander over from New Orleans to show where Katrina actually made landfall. His comment was something about "can you believe this oil spill mess? I mean, people just don't understand what it will mean to our nation and our economy and how much it's going to cost me in seafood price increases and gasoline price increases".
Really? That's the concern? It might impact the pocketbook and bank account of people far away, who only get their news in the sound bites they are fed and who for the most part are shocked to learn just how ravaged the coast of Mississippi was by that DAMN HURRICANE?
I was not kind in my response....

I am not one to panic. I know that there is much to be done and much I don't understand about how this stuff works. I don't think anyone knows enough to scream that this is the end of the world as we know it - it's all guesswork. But common sense tells us, even if they stop the leak tomorrow, there are ramifications on both fishing and tourism industries that absolutely cannot take such a hit. And they really don't know if they can stop it, which is what the little voice in my head keeps reminding me. But I refuse to panic without more information, and I am (recognizing I am in the minority here) not going to scream at the Feds or BP for their "slow" response. I think, like Katrina, this is something no one had really prepared for (although in this case THAT is inexcusable). And while they try many, many approaches to both stop the leak and contain the spill, some of those will fail, fail hugely, but that's ok - keep trying. We live in a world where we expect our government to snap it's huge, money-printing fingers and fix all our ills overnight, friends that's just not reality.
Meanwhile, as usual, there is another side, another story that has been told. Thousands of people have already signed up to volunteer to help with cleanup. Many, many local folks already have gone through training on beach and animal cleanup procedures, many more from all over are waiting on the chance to come and help. As I told my parishioners Sunday - don't forget you are incredibly resilient - you KNOW you ARE. You CAN get through this. God is with us, in the faces and voices and hands and feet of our neighbors. We can pray and we can dig in when it's time. And we will, of that I have no doubt.
In someways the anxiety and the "it's so unfair-ness" is more distressing than the smell of oil or the images we watch. It triggers something in folks who have been here, it weighs on us, it haunts us. This is the part I pray would go away, and the part I don't think anyone else really understands. A friend called it a "tipping point". Perhaps that is the best way to describe it. Friends - pray we don't tip. That may be the best thing you can do for us, for now, as we wait and watch again.