I wrote the following as a response in a discussion that was held on this blog back in 2009 (where has the time gone?)
What if instead of worrying about creating culture, the church focused on actions that reflect God’s holiness? Couldn’t culture then be a by-product of that reflection?
There is a phrase that I read in a book by Jim Henderson and Matt Caspar (Jim and Caspar go to church) that I liked. “Non-manipulative Intentionality”. They used it to describe the relationships that we should have with those people who don’t hold to the Christian belief. I think it may hold to many forms of worship. What I mean is this… what if we were intentional about our reflection of God and our love for one another without a desire to create a reaction in someone else? That way our motivations would be about God and not accomplishing our desires and calling that God’s work.
I would use this example. If I want to show people that I love my wife, the easiest way to do that is to love her in the manner that makes her understand and accept my love. IF, on the other hand, I try to love her the way someone else thinks is an appropriate or acceptable way, I run the risk of making her angry with me which will in turn cause those people who I had hoped to impact wonder what it is that I was about in the first place.
If I just love her and our relationship grows and matures, people will recognize that and may even celebrate the union that I enjoy with her.
I like the word that David used above… peripheral. I think we run the danger of focusing on the peripherals when we should have been focusing on God all along. Its a great discussion because I don’t know that there is an easy answer especially when there is not one set way of worshiping God.
Isn’t it fun to dig up the past and relive something you said there? no sarcasm intended…
The thing that stuck out when I read this was the phrase non-manipulative intentionality. I ran across the phrase, as mentioned in the quote above, while reading a book a few years back and it still sticks with me.
If I had to define non-manipulative intentionality in a positive light it would be – love or charity. If I had to define the greatest form of this phrase it would be grace.
Sometimes I struggle with living/being in a state of grace because I struggle with intentionality without manipulation. I find myself second guessing the motivations behind my actions – am I doing this because I get something out of it?
What are your thoughts? Why do you do the things that you do?
After spending some time listening to this group on YouTube, I decided to buy their album from iTunes.
I can say categorically that I like every song on the cd. There is something about the bluegrass sound and the lead singer’s voice that connects with me. Now for those of you who got scared away because I mentioned bluegrass – don’t. Give it a listen. Find a song or two on YouTube and see if it doesn’t grow on you.
I would suggest Sigh No More or Thistles and Weeds…. maybe Liar. You can even find a post where they sing ‘Come Thou Fount’.
I am always up for suggestions on new music to take a listen to… so feel free to give me your suggestions.
Recently I posted the following to Twitter:
Is the tension in earning salvation vs receiving it bourne from desire 2 invent a god based on how we feel? Is God a manifestation of piety?
I didn’t receive any feedback on that question… probably because I forgot to mention what I was eating or some menial task that I was carrying out at the time.
So for any of the astute readers who may still wander by here from time to time even though I haven’t been around for quite some time, here is your opportunity to astound future readers with your thoughts on my question.
Do we invent God from a sense of our own piety? Do we believe He exists when we feel ‘close’ to Him based on how well we are doing in earning His graces through our own religiosity? Does He cease to exist when we decide to control the ebb and flow of own lives irregardless of what we perceive would please Him?
Does God exist only for the Good Christian?
Back in January I went through a period of dealing with kidney stones. Docs had me try to pass it naturally the first couple of weeks and eventually went after it via surgery and couldn’t see it. I spent 5 days on the mend only to find out that it went back to the same place it was stuck before the surgery. I switched doctors and tried some new medicines and it eventually passed. I have to tell you that those were three long weeks that I hope to never repeat.
Since then I have been trying to catch up with life – work, family, and other responsibilities. It seems I have very little time to write anymore but I am trying to work on that. I am hoping by summer to have more freedom in my ‘non-work’ hours.
Some fun things to mention:
- My wife and I have started a small study group on Sunday nights and we are working through the book of Ruth. What a great study. I had begun a similar study about 18 months back but didn’t get to finish it so I am looking forward to getting through the whole book this go around.
- I have been working with the youth pastor of the church we have been attending since September to try to start a youth study on Sunday mornings. Could use your prayers over this as starting anything new can take time.
- I continue to meet with a group of men on Wednesday evenings. It is such an encouragement to see where some of the guys are now compared to where they were just a year ago. God is at work and having the ability to look back and see what He has been accomplishing is such a blessing.
So.. be patient with me as I get my feet under me from a time standpoint and I will finish the series about my daughter’s birth and move on to some other fun things to discuss.
For those of you who have been returning to read the final entries on the birth of our daughter, Lauren, I will finish them soon. I have been working though some issues with kidney stones over the past week which has kept me from finishing those posts.
As soon as everything is clear on that front, I will finalize the series.
Rumors have it that we will be going home today or tomorrow. Heather has only had a couple of small contractions over the last couple of days. She has been allowed to lay flat on her bed and has been on a liquid diet since Thursday night. The nurses have hinted that she just needs to get back to eating a solid diet and have a portable pump set up so that she can have the magnesium sulfate administered at home.
I am all for going home. I haven’t spent a night in a hospital since my own birth until this little escapade. I have learned that hospitals are bearable at best, and this is only when you are in desperate need of attention, but quickly become a form of prison when one is in a ‘wait-and-see’ situation. That’s where we are at, “Let’s wait and see what the doctor says when he looks over your charts”. It was only three days ago that we began this journey but in hospital time that is just this side of eternity.
My thoughts are interrupted as a nurse walks into the room, “Ok, dad, let’s get you trained on how to use the Terbutaline Pump!”
“Great, what do I have to do?”
The nurse is busy unwrapping a small device, tubing, and what looks like a small first aid kit. She doesn’t pause to answer me, “It is pretty simple. There is a pump that will inject a maintenance level of medication into mommy to keep her from going into contractions. The pump is connected to a pad that has a needle which is placed on the thigh. Your job will be to clean and place the needle when it needs changed. ”
“Uh, I have to stick a needle into her?” I have to admit that the thought of inserting a needle into my wife gives me the heebie-jeebies. I have no problem with blood or needles. I have actually slaughtered my share of chickens, cleaned fish, and even given myself stitches with a needle and sewing thread. But for some reason, purposely sticking a needle into another human being just gives me the creeps.
The nurse seems entertained by my question, and light-heartedly answers, “Well, she can’t do it herself. She has to remain lying down even if she goes home. You’re a big boy.”
Heather joins in with the nurse, “Yeah, Tony, it’s just a little needle. You can do it.”
The nurse has been swabbing a spot on my wife’s thigh with alcohol in preparation for the needle to be inserted while I have been going over what it is that I will have to do. I don’t get much more time to think on it before the nurse waves me over.
“Ok, put these gloves on,” she hands me a pair of latex gloves which I slip on my hands.
“Good, now hold the needle pad in your right hand like this”, she has it clasped between her thumb, index, and middle fingers much like you would do if you were holding an egg up for inspection. I take the needle pad into my hand mimicking the way the nurse had held it.
“Now for the easy part. Just stick it into your wife’s leg right here where I have already swabbed it. One quick motion and it will stop when the pad touches the skin.” She moves her hand through the air in the motion that I should copy. It is just an easy swing of the hand towards the target – nothing too forceful.
I think about it for a second trying to build up the nerve. “C’mon, Tony. Just do it.” My wife encourages me. I think she likes the fact that I am not enjoying this procedure. I decide that I have to get this over with so I take the needle, and copying the nurse’s technique, I stick it into my wife’s leg. It felt ‘gritty’ and it causes me to jump back and bounce around the room. I start shaking my hands trying to make them forget what that felt like.
“That is so gross!!”
Both the nurse and my wife enjoy a laugh at my expense.
We really were ready to go home on that Friday evening so many years ago. And, yes, I did get the heebie-jeebies and dance around the room after sticking a needle into my wife’s leg. I still remember what it felt like and I still don’t like it.
Friday was a quiet day. Things almost seemed ‘normal’ besides the fact of being in the hospital. We would experience that type of day many times over while raising Lauren. And like that Friday, many of those days would be the quiet before the storm.
Tomorrow I will take you through the day that Lauren was born. I may have to do it in two installments… in actuality, I could probably write a book on that day alone, but I will keep it short for this purpose.
Dr. Chaparro has just stepped into the room. Again, it is early morning. It is starting to seem like everything either happens very early or very late in the day so that rest is always far away and not enough. Heather is still being pumped full of magnesium sulfate and the contractions seem to be under control. As the doctor takes a seat next to my wife’s bed, I remember back to when we had first met him.
My wife and I had already ran the gamut of genetic specialists for first, second, and even third opinions looking for hope. They had all confirmed the results and prognosis of the ultra sound and so it was with no enthusiasm that we kept the appointment that had been made for us with a neurosurgeon at the Childrens hospital in Dayton, Ohio. We had already been told that in vitro surgery was not an option for our child. Technology just wasn’t far enough along for the delicate procedure that would be necessary to make any difference in our situation. So why were we here? Maybe somewhere deeply veiled by all the pain and despair, a small spark of hope was waiting to be fanned.
As we walked into his office that morning, we didn’t see what we had expected. Dr. Chapparo was a young man, maybe early 30’s, dressed in a shirt that contained bright purple colors and around his neck was a bolo tie. He bounced out of his seat and introduced himself as he ushered us to chairs on the other side of his desk. Once he returned to his chair he seemed to continue to bounce as he wiggled back and forth in his seat. This guy had a lot of energy. My wife and I shared a quizzical look as we both tried to figure out what it was we were supposed to be getting from this hack.
He immediately fell into doctor speak as he regurgitated all of the same fancy medical terms we had heard a dozen times since December 23rd.
“Myelomeningocele…. yada yada yada… hydrocephalus…. more yadas. Microcephalic…. shunts…”
The messenger may have been different, but the message seemed to be moving along the same lines that we now knew by rote. But, then Dr. Chapparo said something that caught our attention.
“Science is great but it doesn’t know everything. I think we should wait and see what happens.”
Was that hope? Had he really seen the same things that everyone else had when they held the images up against the x-ray lights? Was he just as a crazy as he appeared to be as he sat there and bounced in his chair?
Thinking back to that meeting, it was easy to see a change had occurred in how my wife viewed the pregnancy. She had stopped talking to the baby in her belly after we had been given the news following the ultra sound. We no longer had late night discussions about what to name our future child or how to finish decorating the nursery. In short, the spark had gone out of her where the baby was concerned. But after that meeting with Dr. Chapparo, some of the spark had returned – it was very guarded – but it was there none-the-less.
And here he was for our second meeting with him. This time he had come to see us in our ‘office’ though neither of us was doing any bouncing.
“How you guys holding up?”
How do you answer a question like that in the middle of the situation that we found ourselves?
“Uh, ok, I guess.”
“I hear it has been an exciting couple of days but you guys are in the best hands. I stopped by because I wanted to let you know that we have a team prepared to respond as soon as anything changes. You guys have opted for the C-section, right?”
We answered, yes, that was the case.
“That’s important. We will need to keep the baby’s back as sterile as possible until we can close it up. Once you deliver, we will transport your child to Childrens where we can treat the opening in her back and take pressure off her ventricles by draining the excess fluid that is building in her head. Have you decided on a name for you daughter?”
My wife answered that question, “We chose the name Lauren Alexis.” I followed quickly on her answer, “But we are going to call her Alex.” We had decided on that combination before we even knew what sex the baby was going to be.
“OK, then the next time I see you all, we will be taking care of Alex.”
And with that, Dr. Chapparo was standing up and heading towards the door. My farewell followed him out, “I hope its not too soon, doc.”
That was the beginning of day 3 in the hospital. I still hadn’t left to get a shower or change out of my work clothes since we had shown up on Tuesday, so Heather’s mother was going to stop by and give me a break to take care of that and to get some things from home for my wife. Thursday was a day to settle down and wonder how long a haul we were in for. The longer that our daughter stayed in my wife’s womb, the more time her body would mature and be able to survive outside of my wife’s uterus. However, each day that passed was also more time for the Hydrocephalus to continue to destroy brain function. Were we supposed to hope for a premature birth that would put her on a path to treatment for her medical condition but could most likely kill her because her body was too frail? Or were we supposed to hope she remained where she was while her medical condition robbed us even more of the chance of having a child with some mental function but increased her odds of physically surviving?
18 years ago on January 21st we had officially entered some strange form of limbo. It was only apropos that one of the things that I would bring back with me from home was a book that I borrowed from my brother by an author that I had never read before. I opened the pages of The Stand by Stephen King that evening in the hospital. I don’t know why I figure you would care about that detail but that is one of the things that I remember from that day long ago.