Oh Good, Just a Sinus Infection!

augmentin     I went to the family doctor yesterday. I had enough symptoms that I thought I had a sinus infection. I have been walking around like this longer than I EVER would re-cancer. More congestion than usual in the throat. (I have had SOME since before the diagnosis.) Headaches. Nasal cavities hurt. Drainage. But I kept attributing it to the chemo. (As I said in a recent blog, it’s easy to want to blame EVERYTHING on the chemo and/or the cancer.)  

      So again, the bottom line is that I let it go longer than I normally would have. What finally made me think that maybe it wasn’t related to the cancer or the chemo but was, in fact, as simple as a sinus infection. And I figured that out when I realized that, when I started to feel the sinuses (especially the left one) hurt or the headache coming, if I closed off the left side nostril (pressing a finger against it) and breathing through my mouth, I could get rid of the pain relatively quickly. 

     So, I went to the doctor. He had a student studying to be a P.A. trailing him. He introduced me to her and said she attended the same University as our youngest son does., That immediately gave us that common ground that I look for when I meet new people! (A quick aside- I said to the nurse who came in first that I wasn’t trying to self-diagnose as much as I was trying to give the doctor a potential starting place. She said, “It’s OK- everybody else does it!” then she grinned!) 

     The doctor asked me lots of questions. He examined me. He pointed some things out to the P.A. student. And then he said that he, too, thought I had a sinus infection. One prescription for generic Augmentin and an over-the-counter extra-strength allergy med later, I was out the door! I picked up the prescription as soon as I could so I could get started on it. Then, I came home and took my nap! When I got up, my wife and I both joked that I already felt better- the meds had been in my system an entire 3 hours or so! 

      I’m sure the sinus infection is somewhat influenced by how badly compromised my immune system is from the chemo. But it’s almost a relief to have a simple sinus infection-something that can, usually, be treated easily. Here’s praying that it clears up quickly- I start chemo back on Monday! 

     #TheGlovedAvenger #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! 

One-Take Charlie Strikes Out!

one take     As an actor, I sort of pride myself in being able to get something filmed or recorded in one take. You know- you get in front of the camera or behind the microphone and you get it right in one try. In fact, I joke with my wife that I am One-Take Charlie. Whether it’s filming the weekly Announcement Video for church or recording my Thought For the Day for the local radio station, probably 99 out of 100 times, I AM One Take Charlie. 

     Last night, however, was that 1 in a 100 moment! I was in my office, about 7:30PM, and was ready to film. (Usually, I film on Thursday mornings, but today is a little busy, so I did it last night!) I got the lights set up, shut the door to my office (the “studio” is set up in my office because it’s the only space in the church where I can leave it up and not have to setup and tear down every week!) turned off the overhead lights and went to the closet in my office to get my “costume. (I do a series of recurring characters for these videos so I leave them in my office closet.) Shirt- off. Dress shirt- on. Tie- on and tied. Suit coat- on. (The character I did this week was Wink Dinkerson, and TV newscaster- “Talking Head”. So, the jeans I had on were fine- the finished product doesn’t show anything below about lid-torso.) 

     I had the cue sheet taped to the handle of the tripod, which was set up, with my iPhone on it, on the front corner of my desk. I made sure everything looked good in the frame, hit “record”, stepped back and got in place and then recorded my part. When I was done, I stopped the camera from recording, changed my clothes, put the lighting back to normal, opened my office door and then sat down at the computer to get what I had filmed into the software I use and integrate it into the shell I had set up. It was then I realized something was wrong! Instead of one file that was about 2½ minutes long, I had two files- one was about 1 minute long and the other was about 4 minutes long! And NEITHER of them was the video I wanted…needed!  

     After a little pondering, I figured out what happened. When I mounted the iPhone to the tripod, I accidentally hit “record”. Then, when I got in front of the camera, ready to record, I hit the button, thinking I was telling it to record. Instead, I was telling it to STOP recording! Then, AFTER I had filmed the entire piece, in ONE take, mind you, I went to tell it to STOP recording. Instead, I was telling it to start recording. I took it off the tripod, set it on my desk, put the lighting back to normal, changed my clothes back and went to my desk. As I plugged the phone/camera into the computer, I got out of the camera app, stopping he recording! The end result? The minute or so BEFORE I started actually doing the character and about 4 minutes immediately FOLLOWING that time! Well…crud! 

     So, I had to set the tripod, lighting and green screen back into the configuration I needed, gets the costume back one, record the piece again, them put it all back to normal AGAIN! One Take Charlie ran into the one in 100 scenario all right! 

     The moral of the story? Measure twice, cut once. Make sure you got what you need before you put everything away. In other words, trust God and lean NOT on your own understanding. Be confident in the gifts gave you…but don’t be cocky about them. Led God guide you as you make full use of those gifts to serve Him by serving others! 

     #TheGlovedAvenger #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! 

A Hidden Gem in Colordao

wild animal sanctuary     Last night, I saw a Facebook post from a friend who is going with her family to the Denver/Estes Park area of Colorado on vacation. They have never been and she was looking for suggestions of things to do that weren’t the normal “touristy” things. Well, I have been to that area I think 7 times- all told. We LOVE Colorado. The Rocky Mountains are perhaps my favorite geographic place in the United States. So, my mind IMMEDIATELY jumped to one place! 

     About 45 minutes north-ish (perhaps a bit northeast) of Denver is a place called The Wild Animal Sanctuary. On one of the trips my wife and I made out there, we stumbled upon by looking through the brochures the hotel we were staying in had. It looked like something that would be right up our alley so we set aside a day to give it a shot.  

     We drove out to the Sanctuary. It sits out in the middle of nowhere- as you will understand once you hear about it. You end up outside of any town, driving down a road that looks like it belongs alongside a cornfield in Illinois. You pull up in front of a very unassuming building in the middle of a LOT of open space and LOTS a really tall fences. 

     Once you get in the building, you are in the gift shop. It’s also where you arrange to tour the facility. As I recall, they have a “set fee” to get in that they refer to as a donation to the sanctuary. You pay and move forward. Once you leave the building, you immediately go up onto a LONG, raised walkway. (When I say “raised”, it ends up being probably thirty feet in the air.  

     The first thing you see is a rather small structure that serves as the hub or several pens that surround it. These pens contain the newest residents of the sanctuary. The purpose of this sanctuary is to rescue large predators- lions, tigers, bears (oh my!) and wolves from unhealthy environments and rehabilitate them. This first stop on the tour is the new animals who are beginning the process of being released into a large habitat with others of their kind. This step is often a slow process. 

Then, you continue on the raised walkway. Over the next mile or so, you walk this walkway, seeing Jurassic Park-like “pods were the different species live. Each pod is huge- LOTS of space for these animals to thrive in. The envirment in all of the habitats is the same- kind of an open “prairie” with both nature and man-made shelters for the animals to be under or in the be shaded.  

     There, you will see packs of lions…or tigers…or bears…or wolves. You can ALWAYS see animals; sometimes they will be farther out and sometimes they are very near the base of the raised walkway. Either way, you don’t find yourself saying, “Where are the animals. As I recall, scattered along the way are mounted binoculars to help you see them better. Taking your own would NOT be a bad idea!  

     Along, the way, you hit a couple of covered buildings that the walkway runs through. One of them includes a place where you can get food while the other one provides you with an overhead view of assimilated tigers who need special attention (a pregnant one), tigers who have passed the first round of assimilation but aren’t quite ready to be fully released in the pod or simply an indoor space for the tigers to go. When you get to the end, unless they have completed to walkway since I was there last time), you turn around and retrace your steps- ergo a pretty fair amount of walking! 

     It is so cool to see these magnificent animals being rescued and living in these LARGE natural habitats. (The first time we visited there, the wolves happened to get fed while we were there. The pack climbed onto top of the den that was near the gate where the truck came to bring the food…and howled! They KNEW what the truck meant!! 

     I don’t usually use this space to promote a business, but this one is A. non-profit, B. such a unique place to see these animals and C. we are HUGE animal lovers in our family! If you ever visit the Denver area dna are looking for something new- a hidden gem- to visit, I highly recommend the Wild Animal Sanctuary! Here is a link to their website- https://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/ 

     #TheGlovedAvenger #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! 

A Major Memorial Day Headache

headache-man-senior (002)     You just never know what a day will bring. Although I was tired when I went to bed on Sunday (It was, after all, Sunday!), I felt pretty good. Overnight, however, I developed a massive headache. The end result was that I didn’t sleep well at all. I finally got up about 5AM and went downstairs to try “my chair” in the living room, to see if that helped any. The answer? Nope! 

     So, I spent Memorial Day morning sitting like a vegetable, trying not to move much. I made my head worse. Then, about lunchtime, I announced that I was going to bed. I simply didn’t want to eat lunch. I have shared in this space before that I OFTEN sleep in a lift chair. I have for several months now. But laying my head against the head rest when the chair was reclined seemed to make everything worse, so I decide to try the bed again instead. I hadn’t been in a bed at all since late March- our trip to Chicago. Other than that, it had been SEVERAL months.  

     I found that, if I laid on my back in the bed, I had the same problem as I did in the chair- it put pressure on my head and maade my headache worse. But if I rolled over on my side, something that is relatively hard to do in a lift chair, it didn’t seem to make anything worse. So, I rolled over, went to sleep aand didn’t wake up for about 3½ hours. 

     When I got up, it took a few minutes to wake up enough to assess how I was feeling. I decided that, even though I felt better than I had before I went to bed, the headache was not gone. Shoot! But, over the next 15-20 minutes, the headache seems to life and, for the first time all day, I was feeling better. Huzzah! 

     So, was the headache chemo- or cancer-related? Quien sabe. I have found that it is easy to blame EVERYTHING on the cancer and/or the chemo. But the truth of the matter is that really is NO way to know. It’s not like normally, healthy, cancer-free folk don’t have headaches.  

       It is funny, however, that I tend to assume the chemo caused whatever I might be feeling. Headache? Chemo. Runny nose? Chemo. Cough? Chemo. And that’s one of the biggest “side effects” of chemo, I think. Before I started chemo, if I had any of those happen, I would say, “Meh- these things just happen.” Now, I automatically say, ”The chemo makes my nose run/gave me a headache/etc.”. does it cause all of that? Probably not. We all know that sometimes those things DO just happen. 

      We continue to adjust. We try not to overthink everything, but instead take things as they come- day by day, hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute. There is a consant “new norm” and some days the best you can do is hang on and ride the wave! 

     #TheGlovedAvenger #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! 

A Powerful Memorial Day Observance

MemorialDayFlag     (This is a “greatest hits” post. Yesterday was a long, full day!) Yesterday was an important and powerful day in the life of the church we currently serve. Let me “back up” as I explain why. At both of the first two churches we have served, the congregations honored those who had died in the past year on All Saints Day. Technically, that is November 1- the day after Halloween. But the observance would be on the Sunday closest. When we arrived at this church, we found that they did it instead on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

At first, I wanted to change that because, for me, Memorial Day is “reserved” for honoring those military men and women who had died. But the more I thought it through, I decided that WHEN they did it was much less important than THAT they did it. So, rather than rock the boat, I decided to embrace the tradition.

The way we honor the day is two-fold. Early, in the service, we focus on those who have died since last Memorial Day. On the altar, candles are placed- one for each name on the list. A name card is created, marking each candle as being for a specific person. In alphabetic order, each name is read aloud as it appears on the screen. Their candle is lit and a bell is tolled for them.

The list always includes a. church members/folks who attended the church who died, b. folks connected to the church who dies and c. folks who had no connection to the church but I officiated at their funeral. (My thinking on “c.” is that those are people I didn’t know, who did not have a church home. And I feel that, since they don’t have a church family remembering them, it is our responsibility to take on that mantle.)

Then, late in the service, we remember ALL the people we have lost in our lives. Everybody is invited to head to the back of the sanctuary. There, they get a small, lit votive candle in a glass holder- 1/person. (Logistics always have to be considered and well-thought through.)

The lit candles are brought “down front” to the area near the Prayer Rail. There, a custom-made “stair step” display is placed, waiting for the candles. They are placed on the display in memory of the people we all have lost in our lives. Soft, pre-recorded music is played while this happens so that everyone- musicians and tech folks included- can participate. (At the middle service, where we take Communion weekly, placing your candle on the display was immediately followed by taking Communion. Again, logistics have to be considered.)

By the time we are ready to close the service, a LOT of candles are lit up front. It is a beautiful, moving display. The services are both powerful and emotional. And, remembering how many times I used the word “logistics” and how important proper prior planning is to us, much thought went into how we carry out these services.

I LOVE the fact that we can gather together and share our lives with each other like this. I believe strongly that a church should truly be an extended family. We should be glad to see each other. We should be able to share our joys AND our concerns with each other. And we should be able to feel comfortable to share our deeper emotions with each other. I am honored to be a part of such a group of people and truly feel like they are “family”!

     #TheGlovedAvenger #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! 

Unsung Heroes of the Bible: Tabitha

Unsung Heroes Tabitha     After church, Johnny tells his parents he has to go and talk to the minister right away. They agree and the pastor greets the family. “Pastor,” Johnny says, “I heard you say today that our

bodies came from the dust.” “That’s right, Johnny, I did.” “And I heard you say that when we die, our bodies go back to dust.” “Yes, I’m glad you were listening. Why do you ask?” “Well you better come over to our house right away and look under my bed ’cause there’s someone either comin’ or goin’!”

Great heroes, both men and women of faith, have been recorded throughout the Bible. However, there are many Biblical characters who can be easily overlooked and yet should be regarded as heroes, not necessarily because of their extraordinary feats but because they simply chose to align themselves with God. Week 1, we started with Old Testament unsung hero Rahab of Jericho. Week 2, we looked at another Old Testament unsung hero- Jethro. Week 3, we considered yet one more Old Testament character who had the courage to say, “If only”- Naaman’s Wife’s Maid. Last week, we moved into the New Testament and we considered the Thief on the Cross. Today, we stay in the New Testament and look at a dedicated disciple who dies…and comes back.

Acts 9:36-42 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

So, we have this disciple named Tabitha- which is her Hebrew name. We are told that, in Greek, her name was Dorcas. And trust me- I get it. Dorcas is a funny name in our day and ago. But in the Ancient Near Eastern world, Dorcas was a perfectly acceptable name. But because of that different, 21st Century connotation, we’ll call her by her Hebrew name- Tabitha- to try and avoid the snickers every time I say “Dorcas”!

Tabitha is an unsung hero. She’s a great example of what a Christian should be. The Bible tells us that “she was always doing good and helping the poor”. The original Greek text describes her as “mathetria”, which translates to a female disciple. It is the ONLY time the New Testament uses this word. So that tells is that she was a well-known woman of good reputation.

Sadly, she gets sick and dies. It was the women’s task to prepare a dead body for burial. So, they washed the body and trimmed her hair and nails. Then her body would have been gently wiped down with a mixture of spices and wrapped in linen strips. While this was being done, prayers from what we now know as the Old Testament would have been chanted.

Notice where they put the body- in an upper room. It may or may not be THE Upper Room. Either way, however, why is that mentioned? Well, first off, upper rooms have special significance in the Christian story. The Last Supper took place in an upper room and the Holy Spirit’s visit at Pentecost took place in an upper room. It was historically a space that was somewhat removed from the hustle and bustle of the ground-floor courtyard and public rooms. It was a relatively quiet place where contact with God might be easier.

Once the body was laid out in that upper room, ritual mourning would have followed. All of her friends would want to show their respect and affection by openly grieving. Mourning was not a restrained activity in the ancient Middle East. People showed their grief by wailing, crying, and tearing the upper part of their woven garment. The more noise, the more it showed that the dead person was loved.

Then, somebody has an idea. The people gathered to pay their respects to Tabitha, also described as ‘disciples’, had hear that Peter was in nearby Lydda. They send a group to go and get him. Peter is taken to Tabitha’s body, laid out in the upper room. Her friends are gathered around her body. They show Peter the garments she made for the poor- the evidence of a well-lived life is there for all to see.

Peter is moved by their grief. He has everybody leave the room, making it very peaceful and quiet. He is now alone with Tabitha’s body- prepared for burial. He kneels and prays. But did you notice? He so faces AWAY from the body. Why? Maybe he wanted to make sure he was focusing entirely on God. Then, he turns TOWARD her body. And, drawing on the same power that Jesus had, he commands her to get up. And…she DOES! She opens her eyes, sees Peter, and sits up. He offers his hand raises her into a standing position. Then he calls her friends back in from outside- they can now see with their own eyes what’s happened. she is restored to life and she is returned to her friends and her community!

Why is the raising of Tabitha so important? And what makes her an unsung hero? This story is a pivotal moment in Peter’s life. It establishes him as a miracle-worker who’s been empowered by Jesus- one worthy to lead the emerging Christian church. Early Christians were inspired and heartened by her story. And the fledgling Christian Church spread and grew because of the miracle of Tabitha being brought back from the dead.

Tabitha was a model of good sense, modest behavior, care for those less fortunate, and courage in the face of adversity. She was a model to the Christian community, admired for her dedication to helping others- for her good works. And her story is part of the dynamic growth that followed Pentecost. More people believed in God because of Tabitha’s miracle.

It’s somewhat odd that Tabitha’s death led to Peter being the leader of the Church and a general renewal of growing faith in the early Christian church. But think that through. She was known for her strong faith and good works. That knowledge led to MANY people gather in an upper room, openly mourning her death. That led to them fetch Peter, who was touched by her death and the grief of those gathered there. He restored her to life. And the Church grew, in faith AND in numbers, because of all that.

Notice it all hinges on Tabitha’s faith and her work with the poor and those in need. Most of us couldn’t have said WHO Tabitha was when we started this morning. But, in her own way, her impact is still felt today.

As we recognize lost loved ones this Memorial Day weekend, it can be very hard to do, very emotional. And there is NOTHING wrong or inappropriate with the grief you might be feeling. But have you looked for the silver lining in that loss? And I don’t mean “God needed one more angel” or anything trite like that. For example, as terrible as it was to lose my mom, it brought me and my dad closer than we ever were. As terrible as it was to lose my wife’s dad, he suffers no longer and left behind a strong legacy. As horrific as it is when a child dies, that life and death often touches many other lives. And many groups, foundations and organizations have been founded because of the tragic death of a child and many of them have gone on to do amazing things. This Memorial Day, remember to men and women who gave their lives in service to their country- to us. Remember those loved ones we have lost who had such and impact. And remember the saints who have gone before us- folks we never knew- unsung heroes whose lives impact us to this day. Tabitha teaches us that faith leads to good works and God’s blessing.

Sing It, Alice!

alice-cooper-014(This is a “greatest hits” blog, re-printed from several years ago.) “School’s out for summer. School’s out forever. School’s been blown to pieces. No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks.” If that rings a bell, then you are old enough to remember School’s Out by rock legend Alice Cooper. If you DON’T know the song or the artist…Alice Cooper’s a dude!
Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier) is a rock and roll singer, songwriter, and musician whose career spans more than four decades. He wrote this now-classic song in response to a question someone asked him. “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?”. Cooper replied: “There’s two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, when you’re just getting ready to open the presents. The greed factor is right there. The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning. I said, ‘If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it’s going to be so big.’”
School’s Out became the 1972 title track of Cooper’s 5th album. It was his 1st major hit single, reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart and propelling the album to #2 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. My older son knows the song because he heard it on our classic rock radio station as a kid. My younger son knows it because we have a…ready?…animatronic guinea pig in a cap and gown that sings it while dancing if you squeeze his hand! (I’m fairly certain that is one of the signs of the apocalypse!)
School IS out, or almost out. where I live. And I have noticed, over my 22 years in the ministry, that the fact that school is out seems to mean that church is out, too! I’m amazed at how many people simply take the summer off from church. They readily admit it and see no problem with it. My response is always the same- “How would you feel if God took the summer off…from YOU?” “Well, not too good, I suppose.” “Exactly! Then why is it OK to take time off from Him?” We need to be in church regularly, refueling our spiritual batteries and lifting each other up in prayer and encouragement. And NONE of those happen when we decide to take the summer off from church. This summer, commit to being in church every Sunday. If you go on vacation, attend a church for the week wherever you are. But (unless you have a MUCH better job than me) you are not away from home on vacation from June 1 – August 31!
One last thought- one of my favorite lines EVER in a song comes from School’s Out. “Well we got no class, and we got no principles, and we got no innocence. We can’t even think of a word that rhymes!” An AWFUL lot of sing writers experience that- Cooper is one of the very few who is wiling to admit it so freely!

#TheGlovedAvenger #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!