“Suck It Up, Buttercup!”

buttercup_516

If you haven’t figured this out about me yet- I don’t like to whine. I was raised to not show weakness, to not complain, to “suck it up, Buttercup”, to spit on it, rub dirt on it and walk it off. And frankly, in MANY situations, that approach, while perhaps a bit…”ham-fisted”…has served me well.  

But on the down side, it also simply exacerbated a trait that men typically struggle with anyway- vulnerability. In the environment in which I grew up, vulnerability had NO payout. It was not a good place to be. I learned, early on, to try and hide any sense of that word behind a façade of “all is well and I am tough”.  

But the truth is that adhering too closely to that mantra can REALLY interfere with a lot of things- especially relationships. And so, life has been a struggle at times- a self-made struggle. It also made my earlier years of ministry less than they could have been. But thanks to the love of a good woman…correction- GREAT woman…and the love and persistence of a GREAT God, I have learned to open up and be more and more willing to be vulnerable. It’s hard…for MANY of us. But I have become convinced over the years that it is essential if we are to have true relationships and be better Christian brothers and sisters. 

So, with that as a 3-paragraph backdrop, let me be vulnerable and transparent for a moment- BOY was I right with the timetable I laid out in yesterday’s post about the effects of this week’s chemo! I would LOVE to be able to say I was wrong…but it would be lying! 

As I said in yesterday’s blog, my wife and I planned errands for yesterday morning…ahead of anticipated side effects hitting later in the day. Smart planning! We drove “into town”, had a nice breakfast/brunch, ran our errands and were home by 11:30AM. Easy, peasy, one, two, threesy. And by 12:30PM…I was in bed!  

Nausea is one of the common side effects of chemo. I have dodged that bullet all along…until now. Let’s just say that, right after I got in bed, I got up and moved the trash can nearby…just in case. (Thus far, it’s only been “just in case”, thankfully!) I slept pretty hard, with odd, bizarre dreams, until almost 3:30PM. (That’s a LONG nap for me!) And when I got up, the “body temperature drop” was in full swing. I went to bed in shorts and a t-shirt. I came downstairs after the nap in sweatpants, a long-sleeved t-shirt and slippers! Oh, and I immediately got under a blanket in my chair!  

This go-around is the worst one yet. Imagine a bad case of the flu without the congestion. Body aches, pains and weakness, especially in the legs. No energy. No appetite. Freezing cold. An overall “dullness”. And now, throw the nausea in as an “added bonus”. And what’s amazing to me is the speed and the ferocity at which it hits. It is literally like someone throws a switch. And, if my experience holds true, today will also not be a banner day. Sunday will be a bit better. (I will “cowboy up” for worship, be a part of an important all-church meeting right after our 3 morning worship services are complete and then go home…to bed!) And it will get better, day by day, next week.  

Now, having poured all that out, let me be clear- this is NOT a less than veiled search for sympathy. Instead, see it for what it is intended to be- a willingness to be vulnerable and a way to help you better understand what cancer patients go through. If my journey can help other people either deal with what they are experiencing or what a loved one is going through, then I have done what I feel God is calling me to do in the midst of a cruddy diagnosis. I am NOT intentionally trying to be a hero, a martyr OR a role model. Instead, I am trying to be the servant God seems to want me to be right now. If this is the “thorn in my side” that I was called to bear, I will continue to bear it with all of the courage and humility that I can manage.  

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

“Shhhhhh! Tigger is Sleeping!”

tigger sleeping

Let’s recap- “Major Chemo #3” was on Tuesday. As a part of the “lead-up” to the actual infusion, one of the things they “give” you is an injection of steroids. Then, one Day 2, which would have been Wednesday, you start the day with an oral dose of steroids. Day 3- yesterday- same thing. Day 4- today- not so much! And the steroids have a positive impact on how the chemo impacts you. In other words, you feel good on Days 1-3. But it seems to be Day 4, when the steroids have worn off, that what I have coined as Crud on a Cracker starts in earnest. (A reminder- if you Google “crud on a cracker”, the VERY first reference you will find is Stick With Jesus! Try it- I’ll wait! You back? I’m SO proud! My older son- tongue firmly planted in cheek- suggested we trademark it! I assured him I was not THAT proud!) 

So, theoretically…historically…today begins Crud on a Cracker Days! It seems to start around lunchtime. And since today is a day off for me, my wife and I try to make the most of our time. We are banking on the “starting at lunchtime” plan and going “into town” to go to breakfast and run a couple of errands. Our plan is to be home by noon…because that’s when I will turn into a pumpkin! 

Knowing how these treatments impact me allow us…and, in a way FORCE us…to plan certain things accordingly. For example, my brother contacted me earlier in the week. His daughter and her younger family had some time free this weekend and wondered if they could all come up and visit Saturday into Sunday. And frankly, we would LOVE to see them! They have 3 adorable kids with another on the way. But knowing what this weekend will be like for me, I had to politely, reluctantly decline. It’s disappointing, but sadly, it’s also essential.  

One of the many things this whole experience has taught us is that you HAVE to pay attention and listen to your body. I tend to “push”. I don’t like to slow down. I don’t sit well. I like to go, go, go and do, do, do. I’m like Tigger by nature. But with a compromised immune system and the effects of chemo…and thyroid cancer, esophageal cancer and lung cancer…I simply have to accept the fact that my Tigger days are over. If we take good care of me…and my wife is AWESOME at making that happen…then there are MANY good days to enjoy. If we didn’t…there wouldn’t be. Pretty simple. Pretty basic. 

We are grateful for family, friend and a church family who have been SO understanding about that fact. The support we have had- and continue to have- is amazing. I could easily be on disability, sitting around the house, doing nothing but fading away. But because of all that support and understanding, we are able to continue to maintain a full life. It is admittedly amended from “normal”, but it is still very full. We take NO day for granted. We appreciate each sunrise. We pray regularly. We never fail to laugh and tell each other how much we love each other and how we can’t imagine going through this with anybody else. We remind each other that, in many ways, we are truly blessed. 

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

An Abra-K-Dabra God-Wink

chain-abra-k-dabra-11     Yesterday, I had an amazing thing happen. Some would call it a “coinky-dink”. I would call it a “God wink”. And because, although I am in Day 2 of my current chemo treat round, I felt really good and therefore was able to fully appreciate the moment!
The principal of our local Grade School called me at the church about 11:10AM yesterday. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you sitting down?” Now, you have to understand something- along with being a friend and parishioner, he lives LITERALLY right across the street from us. So, my first thought was, “He’s either going to tell me something really cool…or that my house is on fire!” But he sounded pretty excited in a GOOD way, so I was comfortable to quickly dismiss the “fire” theory. “Yes!” He asked if I remembered mentioned in the sermon from this past Sunday that I had helped open and worked as a magician at a fledging restaurant chain called Abra-K-Dabra that the K-Mart Corporation tried to open in the early 80’s. It was a “theme” restaurant built around live magic- a stage show every half hour.
I, of course, said, “Yes.” He went on to tell me that he was out on the playground with a guy who said to tell me that he was the guy who did the Linking Rings illusion at Abra-K-Dabra. My only response was, “NO WAY!”
I worked with this guy, we’ll call him…”Dennis”…when the restaurant opened. We worked together, off and on, for 2+ years. The “mascot” for the restaurant was a wizard named Abra. Ans SEVERAL times, Dennis and I went out on personal appearances, him as the magician and me as Abra, in full wizard costume, at shopping malls and other locations, promoting the restaurant.
After that, we went our separate ways when the restaurant chain, which was either two or three locations at that time, closed down. (There is a funny story about how a few of us helped “close down” the restaurant by staging the “death of Abra” that I will save for another day!) I ended up in the ministry. We had been at our first church for a few years when, one Sunday, who should walk in but Dennis and his wife! They were church shopping and found us! So, he was a parishioner for a few years, before we moved to a church in central Illinois. From there, we lost touch, except through Facebook. And now, 13 years later, he is sitting in a playground, with a current parishioner. A few blocks from the church!
So, I hustled over there (A staff member was kind enough to let me use their car because our younger son had one of our cars and my wife had the other!) I got to the school and, sure enough, there he was, with his wife and our current parishioner/neighbor/principal, sitting at a table at the edge of the playground, autographing posters promoting a circus that will be in town in a few days that he and his wife are performing with. I didn’t have a ton of time and he was busy signing posters, but I stood with them for about a half an hour, catching up.
I’m always amazed at how God puts people in your path. Obviously, Dennis and I were meant to continue to stay connected in some way. How else could you explain three different things (working with him, pastoring him and then yesterday) that happened in three distinctly different places- two of them not terribly far apart geographically and one of them WELL separated by geography? We live in this VAST world, and yet God finds ways to make it seem not so vast. Those relational connections are what brings us together and holds us together as humans. Embrace the relationships you have a continue to strive to forge new ones. It is from those relationships that we find our peace, our comfort, our own transformation.
We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Perspective is Everything: Take 2

fresh-perspective

Well, yesterday was “Major Chemo #3” day. Checked in about 8:50AM. Got my “bracelet”. We got called in about 8:55AM. The center we go to has, I think 5 infusion rooms- 2 “private, 1-chair” rooms and 3 “group” 3-chair rooms. The private rooms are intended primarily for first-timers…people who are receiving their first infusion. It allows them a better chance to acclimate and it allows the staff to focus better on just them when they are with them- giving them the attention they need and seeing what that specific attention might look like. We have been in both types of rooms more than once, depending on the “work load” the center had that day. And we have been in 3-chair rooms and been the only ones IN that room the whole time while sharing that room at other times.  

But yesterday, we had a new experience. Yesterday was a busy day at the infusion center- almost literally SRO…standing room only. Full house. Packed schedule. So, we were in a 3-chair room that not only had people in the other chairs- it’s had people who were receiving treatment that took less time than mine. So, the chairs, to use restaurant language, “turned over” while we were there. That means that people came and went and other people replaced them.  

And during our about 5 hours there, I was reminded of something powerful. We have spent a LOT of time in the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis. We have spent time at the cancer center at the University of Iowa. We have walked through the Kid’s Cancer Center at the University of Iowa. We have spent a decent amount of time in the chemo center in Bettendorf , Iowa- where I get my treatments. And we have spent time at the radiation oncology center in Davenport, Iowa, where I got my radiation treatments. We have seen a LOT of cancer patients. 

And what we have seen, time and time again, has helped shape the perspective that we live out of. We have seen the that the VAST majority of these folks are either A. Much older or MUCH younger than me and B. much…sicker than me. We have seen countless people who were too weak to walk in under their own power- instead being wheeled in by a loved one, slumped in a wheelchair, obviously weak and in pain. We have seen LITTLE kids, trying to play in the indoor playground at the Kid’s Cancer Center at the University of Iowa Hospital- hairless, dark circles under their eyes, surgical masks on, hardly enough energy to even…play. 

And then…there’s me. I have lived 56 years so far. Do I hope to live MANY more? You bet! But I have lived a LIFETIME compared to those little kids. I walk into the treatment center on my own, with energy to spare, a song in my heart and…”my knapsack on my back”! (OK, Pastor, now you’re just being silly!” “And this surprises you HOW?!”) By comparison…I’m healthy. Do I have a “crud on a cracker” diagnosis? Yep. But right now, I have VERY little to complain about compared to SO many of the other patients we see.  

And the doctors and techs notice that, as well. They seem to look forward to seeing us. And my wife (Remember, the smart one of the pair!) pointed out that, for the most part, what they see on a daily/weekly basis is people with little to no hope- deteriorating, in pain, spirit broken, trying to put one foot in front of the other one more time. Don’t misunderstand- I’m not trying to imply that my situation is SO unique that we are the ONLY ray of sunshine the doctors and staff see. I’m simply NOT that special! BUT…we ARE the minority, to be sure. And it is helpful for my wife and I when we remind each other of that periodically. We had good friends who were also parishioners at the first church we served. Great folks. He went out one morning to play golf, had a completely unexpected and massive health emergency standing at one of the tees- the start of a hole, and was dead before he hit the ground. Tragic. Horrible. Shocking. And my wife and I periodically remind each other that we are SURE his wife would give ANYTHING to have one more day with him, knowing that event on the golf course was coming. She doesn’t have that day.  

But we DO. That’s the gift in the midst of this cruddy situation. We have time. We have NO idea how much time. But we have time. And we have made a pact to NOT waste that time. We have been given…a gift. And the perspective that we gain from ALL of these people mentioned today helps us better understand appreciate the depth and breadth of that gift. We are grateful. 

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

I AM Poseidon!

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Today is “major chemo #3” day. (I’m pretty sure this is one Hallmark hasn’t made a card for…yet!) To recap- 3 “minor chemo” treatments, concurrent with 10 “minor radiation” treatments, followed by “major chemo #1 and #2”. (And let me assure you, the aftermath of the #2 treatment was a WHOLE lot more like…you know…”#2″…than the #1 treatment was…if you catch my drift!)  

So, today is #3. As you read this, I might well be in the ol’ recliner, reading on my iPad and talking to my wife. My wife, by the way, is an amazing human being. She has not missed ONE treatment, appointment or test I have had. Not one. I’ve given her every opportunity to not go, but she has been both insistent and steadfast. She is amazing! (I’m admittedly partial…and correct!) 

There is a dynamic of these treatments that I have shared before but bears revisiting. I call it “putting your Game Face on”. I first experienced this overall mindset when I was studying acting. The university I went to focused predominantly on what’s called the Method approach to acting. The ubiquitous description of that method is “If you are going to PLAY a tree, then BE a tree”! You are to inhabit the character- put yourself inside them, in their world, become them.  

Part of that process is to “get in character”. (An aside, for the Greek tragedy Trojan Women, I played Poseidon- God of the Sea. That was some SERIOUS “get in character” moments! “You ARE a god! You ARE a god!” Even MORE ironic, based on where I ended up, profession-wise!) Getting in character is the same, at least for me, as putting your game face on. So, last night and this morning, I was getting my game face on. Getting into character. Getting psyched up.  

“Why is that?”, you might ask. Thanks for asking. I share this NOT because I’m looking for some pity or “there, there’s”. But like much of what I’ve shared in this space over the past few months, I share it because you either know someone who is going through something like this, you are going through this or one of those things will happen. And I want to help you understand what it’s like- makes it easier to wrap your head around. 

Again, why do I need to get my game face on? Because I know what’s coming. The infusion is simple. The worst thing that happens during the treatment is the IV being put in- no big whoop. In fact, the infusion itself is boring, tedious, lengthy. No, it’s the aftermath of the infusion that requires the game face. 

We know what’s coming. And recent history says that what’s coming will be worse than last time. Don’t misunderstand- after the few days of…crud on a cracker…you get past it at the chemo has a positive effect on the cancer. It’s the crud on a cracker stage that’s hard. And that recent history I mentioned tells me the cracker gets a bit bigger and the…crud…gets a little thicker every time. And yet, you intentionally…willingly let them do it to you. It requires the game face. 

So, you take a big, deep breath. You psych yourself up. You get in character. You put your game face on. You get in the car. You drive to the treatment center. You walk in with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. You treat the staff the way you want them to treat you- the way they DO treat you. And you take it “a big boy”! And, for me, I have the added bonus- the EXTREME joy- of having my awesome wife right there with me, walking every step of the journey at my side. It doesn’t get any better than that! 

We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus! 

Legacy Disguised as Pebbles Flintstone!

Pebbles-Flintstone-Cartoon-Photos     I shared last Saturday that I performed two funerals in about 24 hours- Friday to Saturday. And at the Saturday funeral, I had a revelation. And that revelation was brought to me by a beautiful little toddler girl with Pebbles Flinstone hair!
First off, let me explain the hair, in case you’re not sure what that means. No, she did NOT have a bone in her hair! (That would be…well…weird!) No, she didn’t have that. But she DID have that “top-knot” ponytail that Pebbles has. (Side note- I wonder what the age cut-off is before that type of hairdo stops being cute? We’ve all seen it on little girls. And, other times I’ve seen it, this little girl was adorable with that hairdo. But picture that hairdo on, say, a 16-year old girl. Or a 25-year old woman. Or a 75-year old woman. I know…right?! So, there MUST be some magical cutoff…I just have no idea what that cutoff might be! They don’t let me in on such things!)
Meanwhile, back to today’s story. There is a phrase that I use often at funerals- “In the midst of life, we are faced with death.” It’s a powerful notion that we need to address and consider on days like that. But then, there was this adorable little girl. And at the funeral home, as the family was saying their last good goodbyes to their loved ones at the end of the service, that little girl taught me something- the “other side of the coin” of that phrase of mine.
As the family walked up to the open casket, the deceased wife was holding the little girl. They walked up and stood for a moment. Then, this little girl started waving at her great-grandpa, there in the casket, and saying, “Bye-bye, PawPaw.” Great-grandma then leaned in and this little angel gave her PawPaw a kiss on the forehead. And then…the moment was done. Simple. Incredibly simple. And yet, deeply profound.
As I watched that happen, it dawned on me- yes, in the midst of life, we are faced with death. But also, in the midst of death…we are faced with life. And I watched that play out in real time. I watched the literal passing of the torch. I watched the bestowing of a legacy. The man who passed was, by all accounts, an outstanding human being, a great dad and husband and a genuinely funny guy. And we ALL want to leave a lasting legacy. And often, when we think about that word- legacy- we think of money, property, furniture, houses…stuff. And those can be GREAT things to leave to your loved ones.
But the TRUE legacy we leave is the one I saw as “Pebbles” told her PawPaw goodbye. His legacy is a family who loved him, will carry on his memory, will share who he was and what he stood for with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. That’s good stuff!
I have thought a lot about my legacy. I’m a preacher. My legacy is NOT going to be “stuff”. Money, property and the like don’t tend to be part and parcel with preachers. But that’s OK. My prayer is that my legacy will be rooted in people. I’m incredibly partial, but I have an AWESOME wife and two AMAZING sons. They are fine humans who care about others. They are kind, smart, funny, insightful people who impact the world around them. As far as I can see, that’s a GREAT legacy to leave! And I gained that insight thanks to a beautiful toddler girl with Pebbles Flinstone hair. Ain’t life grand?!
We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time! #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

The Explosion: Stand Up and Be Counted

The Explosion Stand Up and Be Counted

As many of you know, my background is as an actor. I’ve spent most of my life “up in front of people”. And there is this “thing” that actors do. It’s based on the fact that acting gigs are hard to come by. (Did I mention HARD?!) And that thing is this- LIE like a RUG! Seriously, here’s what it looks like. If the director or casting director says, “Do you know how to ride a horse?” You say, “Sure! I was RAISED riding horses!” And then, if you get the acting gig…you immediately go out and learn how to ride a horse! 

Here’s a personal example of that mantra. It was the summer of 1982. I was between my Junior and senior years of college. I had to take incompletes in all of my classes second semester of my Junior year because I had a disc in my lower back rupture right before Easter that year and I had to have surgery. Recovery was over, it was already summer and I needed a job. I saw an ad in the paper for a new theme restaurant that was going to open in the area. The theme of this restaurant was going to be live magic! So, they were advertising for magicians.  

I knew a TINY bit about magic (Did I mention TINY?!), so of course I went down to apply! The manager was sitting at a card table outside the restaurant (the inside was still under construction) taking applications for ALL positions, including “magician”. I stepped up and told him I was applying for one of the magician positions. He immediately got out a deck of TV Magic Cards and showed me a “trick”. (In case you aren’t familiar, TV Magic Cards are “trick decks” of cards that basically do the tricks themselves. They require NO skill whatsoever…and I KNEW that!)  

He did the trick and I pretended to be thoroughly entertained. He then said the words I was fearing he would say. “OK- your turn. Show me a trick!” “Shoot! The wheels might come off the bus before I can even get it out of the garage!” So, I thought on my feet and said, “Oh, the ad didn’t say anything about bringing anything. I left it all at home!” and flashed my most charming smile. The pause that followed was painful. And then he said, “OK, I see on your application that you have a performance background…you’re hired!” Whew! I then ran right out…and started learning about magic! Boldness means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted.  

Today, we continue our current sermon series- The Explosion, based on the New Testament Book of Acts- the history of the early church. We are focusing on how the early church grew. Two weeks ago, we started at the very beginning…a VERY good place to start, and asked, “What are you looking for?” Last week, we moved just a little farther into the book to see miraculous math happening- 3,000 were added to their numbers that day. Today, we jump ahead a couple of chapters. Peter and John have healed a man in the name of Jesus Christ…and the “powers that be” aren’t very happy about it. 

Acts 4:5-21 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So, they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 

The leaders have Peter and John brought before them, demanding an answer and intending to intimidate them into submission. “Who gave you the power and authority to heal people?” Peter, defiant and headstrong, steps right into the fray. “If you’re referring to the fact that we showed kindness to this man, then yes, we did. And it was because of Jesus Christ- you know, the one YOU crucified but God raised from the dead? Yeah, THAT one!- that this man stands before you…healed.” 

But Peter isn’t done. “Jesus, the stone that YOU rejected, is the cornerstone. He is the ONLY way to salvation.” Boom! Mic drop. The leaders were stunned by the boldness of these unschooled, sweaty fishermen. But they couldn’t refute the man standing before them…healed. So, they tell Peter and John to STOP talking about Jesus. “Knock it OFF!”  

Peter and John aren’t going to back down. “Who do you think God wants us to listen to- Him…or YOU? We simply CAN’T help but tell people about what we’ve seen and heard.” And did you catch what the leaders did next? Oh yeah? Well… Well…just watch yourselves!” The leaders were, as my dad would say, cut off at the knees. The people were praising God for what had happened. What could the leaders do to these guys, who were so bold in their faith? 

Peter and John were bold in their faith. They were willing to stand up and be counted. Sounds great…but what does it mean? Boldness means you’re willing to go where you’ve never gone, willing to try what you’ve never tried and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. 

But let me assure you, boldness in your faith doesn’t have to be shouting it from the rooftops. It doesn’t have to be going to exotic and dangerous locations. It doesn’t have to be giving up everything and going into the ministry. It COULD be any of those things…or any number of other possibilities. But it can also be offering to pray with someone who is going through a difficult time. It can be inviting someone to worship, a Bible Study or Wednesday night dinner. It can be volunteering for a ministry that might be a bit out of your comfort zone. Ministry, at its core, takes you out of your comfort zone. 

Next Sunday, we are being asked to step out of our comfort zone. Next Sun day, we have the opportunity to step out and be bold in a big way. Next Sunday, we will have an all-church vote. The outcome of that vote will go a long way in deciding who we are and where we head for the next several years. It’s a huge step, admittedly. It’s daunting. It’s challenging. It’s scary. 

But something struck me this week. This congregation has a long and storied history of stepping out in faith. I mean, look at this building. This building is here because, MANY years ago, a group of people who called themselves the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Aledo stepped WAY out in faith and built it. Look at the Education Wing. That whole addition to the building, which we use to its fullest on a regular basis, exists because decades ago, a group who called themselves the Aledo Methodist Church stepped WAY out in faith and built it. Look at that elevator. We are carrying out ministries now because, 8 years ago, a group who called themselves The Aledo United Methodist Church stepped WAY out in faith and built it.  

We are part of a proud and determined heritage of stepping out in faith, of standing up and being counted. This congregation has been a beacon in this community for more than 100 years. And we have BEEN that beacon because we have been willing to be bold, to step out of our comfort zone, to stand up and be counted.  

Albert Einstein had a powerful definition of insanity- to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. The truth is, to get what you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do what you’ve never done. We are a congregation who has been willing, over the years, to do what we’ve never done. Stepping further out of our comfort zone is who we are, it’s what we’ve done, what we do. I wait with great anticipation to see what we do next Sunday, to where we head next.