I know it is not the Thanksgiving Season, but Cindy’s recent auto accident (T-boned by ¾ ton truck that ran a red light) has me counting my blessings. It could have been much worse than “just” four broken ribs and one broken vertebrae in her neck. A week following the accident she is healing, over the worst of the pain (I hope), and should be OK in time. She is not enjoying the attractive neck brace, but at least there doesn’t appear to be any spinal column damage.
Playing nurse this past week and watching her wince in pain (and cry out on occasion) when trying to stand, sit down, lay down, get up, cough, choke on water (Have you ever tried to drink out of a straw with one of those neck braces on?) has increased my awareness of how blessed the two of us are. I am SO grateful for family and friends.
One of the challenges of being the head nurse was informing and keeping people updated on her status. After word leaked out about the accident, my phone lit up with texts and calls. I know there were more who wanted to check on her and offer support but knew I probably had my hands full. I could feel your support, too. Thank heavens for Facebook (I never thought I would write those words) as a way to keep large groups of people informed. On one Facebook status update I posted that Cindy must be THE MOST LOVED PERSON IN THE WORLD because of how many reactions and comments people made.
Family and friends sure make the agonies and pains of life more manageable. You make the good times better, too, but my reflection right now is how family and friends get us through the rough spots of life. I cannot tell you how much your expressions of concern have meant to us.
A number of you have asked me how I’m doing. Since you are wondering: I’ve got this pain in my right hip, and I’m frustrated because I didn’t get a thing done on my “To Do” list this past week. Seriously, I’m doing well. It truly is a privilege to care for someone who has made my life so rich and full. Thank you for asking.
I’ve sought to pace myself and not let calendar expectations usurp my better judgment. Honestly, if I have to choose between taking care of Cindy and doing a ministry assignment, Cindy wins! No contest. One of the things I’ve sought to do in ministry is to make my family a priority. I’ve seen too many cases where pastors put ministry ahead of their family. Though my sense of responsibility made me want to find a way to attend the important meetings and appointments on my calendar this past week, I realized that taking care of Cindy was where I needed to be. Calendar events can be rescheduled or others can cover them. Feel free to reference this if you find yourself struggling to balance family and ministry. If you are going to cheat one of them, cheat the ministry. (See Choosing to Cheat: What Happens When Family And Work Collide? by Andy Stanley).
How do you spell encouragement? F-A-M-I-L-Y and F-R-I-E-N-D-S. Your encouragement has given us both so much strength this past week. From people understanding why I needed to cancel appointments and meetings to a couple of pastors covering a consultation for me (Thank you, Harold Ferraro and Bruce Colbert.), you’ve made it easy for me to stay home and focus on Cindy. Thank you Paul Strozier and Jeff Matas (I won’t reprimand him for breaking his sabbatical!) for coming up to the Emergency Room to pray with us. And thanks to people for bringing food over last week and this week. (I’ve eaten well, and Cindy’s appetite is picking up.) Cindy would have gotten tired of eggs and rice after a few days. (No, not together, silly.)
Being cared about by others is an incredible source of encouragement. It is one of the greatest gifts of being part of the body of Christ. I think it is part of the church’s A game. When people remember us as we go through life’s tough spots, our spirits are lifted. The load isn’t quite as heavy. We feel value and cherished. EVERYONE NEEDS THAT!
This past week I’ve found myself wondering what people do who don’t have Jesus and a church family to love and encourage them through life’s rough spots. This is another reason for us to pray for people who are far from God and to reach out to them with unconditional love. Encouragement is one of those things that WE ALL NEED. So let’s be generous with it. Remember: the more you give it, the more good it does. And you will NEVER run out of encouragement because God gives back many times over.
Thank you for letting me be the state pastor of Indiana. Thank you for your love, support, and ENCOURAGEMENT! The staff of Indiana Ministries and I love you!