What a contrast? A year ago I was just getting released from the Grossman Burn Center for the first time in 12 days of hospitalization. I had a Wound Vac attached to my head like a suction cup and many more surgeries awaited me. I am writing this one year anniversary note from the island of Lanai. Yes a contrast. Much of my thinking in the last week has been directed toward thankfulness. Thankful for life, the raw gift of life. Thankful for my great family. Thankful to God for sparing me. Thankful to Jim who had the awareness to grab me from falling off the roof. Thankful for all that God has taught me in this injury trial. Life is a gift. Each day is a gift. Almost loosing my life and being among the 5% who would survive such a shock makes me overwhelmed with gratitude. Radical Gratitude. (this is the name of a book I am reading and thought this catchy phrase would be appropriate about right now)
This year has taught me so many things. Many of which you may have read about in my blog like thankfulness, gratitude, thoughts and awareness of entitlement, thoughts and realization of my theology toward loss and pain, being a survivor and not a victim, the overall increased awareness of being part of the family of God and the long and high and wide and deep love that God has for you and me! Talk about a run-on sentence!
Before We took off as a family to Maui for the Week and then ditching the kids for a celebration of Heather and I being married for 25 years, I spent the week in Ensanada Mexico participating in Westmont’s Potter’s Clay. As you may remember I was hurt while on this trip last year. It was a great reunion and great time being there. Jim and I were again a contractor team working with Westmont students building for and loving the less fortunate in this great town. We got a good laugh when we showed up to our building site. Not only were there no overhead wires, there was no power at all! I thought the PC construction staff was playing a joke on me! We did struggle with the power issue all week but managed a long cord from a neighbor and a gas generator supplementing our needs. These struggles, however, were a blessing compared to the “struggles” I had last year with electrical power! ha.
A couple of highlights:
On Wed our team went to a church service at Grand Commission, a church we went to last year and the year before. This church is full of Energy and Life. I always learn so much when I go there. The Zeal for the Lord is great and humbling at the same time. How come I don’t embrace the Lord like this? We had a multicultural party unto the Lord. At the beginning of the service Jim noticed our Pastor from last year was preparing to speak to all of us. I wish I could remember his name right now ( Lalo comes to mind.) Through interpretation we started to realize this pastor started recounting the story of my injury. Prior to my injury it turns out that this church has been going through some struggles. I did not hear this last year but part of the church we built on had burned down. The pastor was greatly discouraged and wondered if he should continue. Despite this hardship the pastor felt like God was telling him to continue with the church and that He would bring a miracle to their church. Some time after the fire, PC decided to build the second story to the church. The pastor and congregation were overjoyed and wondered if this was the miracle that God was giving them? Fast forward to Thursday March 19th 2009. As the pastor pulled up to the church and seeing all the medical vehicles and hearing what happened, he was greatly distressed and wondered what God was doing? Lord, what about the miracle? After some time had passed and the pastor learned that I was going to be Ok and after he learned that 95% of those shocked by 13,200 volts would not have survived such an ordeal, it dawned on the pastor that this was the Miracle. My life being spared was the miracle God was giving to this church. This church in turn has been encouraged by this. Their faith has grown and this church is still going today. God does work in mysterious ways, dosen’t He? I was touched by the Certificate of Recognition given to me that night and when many pastors there laid hands on me and prayed for me, it was an incredible experience. One I will never forget.
The second event I want to share about was about a house that burned while we were there. Actually our team could see the smoke and some saw the flames. Not a quarter mile away a young girl was cooking with some oil on a stove and things got our of hand. Trying to extinguish an oil fire with water actually increased the flames and soon the roof caught fire. Almost the entire roof was lost along with just about everything they owned. Thankfully no one was hurt and the walls stood the test of fire being made with masonry. We were finishing our little 20x30 foot home with time to spare so the thought came up; what if we could fix the roof for these people? The fire happened on a Tuesday. Wednesday some brothers from the Grand Commission and some members from our team ( Go Hanna! ) came in and removed all the charred framing and debris. Thursday morning we had lumber dropped off and now started the mad dash to frame this 30x30 foot roof in one day. For those of you who have a weird relationship with math and facts may have realized that this particular Thursday was exactly 52 Thursdays from the day of my accident. The rest of you are getting it for the first time.(Friday was the real anniversary) As the day poured on we had many visitors. The mayor of Ensanada and his wife Lucia came by for a visit. In the frantic pace I had the privilege to meet Lucia and was greeted with enthusiasm, hugs and yes, even a kiss on the cheek! Lucia had known about my accident and was happy to see me working there again. We charged on throughout the day. Some other teams had extra time as well and when 2 more contractors showed up I felt like we might get this thing done. What an incredible blessing this day was. Exactly 52 weeks ago I was shocked and burned. 52 weeks later I am rebuilding a roof that was burned. I was down for the count 52 weeks ago and on this day I am rebuilding a home destroyed by fire. If I wasn’t so busy I might have just sat there and shed tears of thankfulness and gratitude. By days end my co-contractor and friend Bobby, Westmont students and I were covered in dirt, soot and sweat. We were tired from a day of going up and down ladders. Tired from the battle of out of level and out of square walls. Despite these little thoughts, at days end Bobby and I had one of the best days of our lives. When we got back to camp with a completed roof under our belts and a hot shower waiting for us I asked Bobby if he will remember this day? He said “yes I will remember it” and I said, “me too, for the rest of my life”. Despite our human rationalizing of wanting comfort and serving ourselves, God has made us to serve one another, in that, He is given Glory when we do this and we are blessed in special ways when we dare to serve. No, I am not trying to make myself out to be some kind of saint, what I am trying say is that if we serve Him, he will make the grubbiest jobs seem like a day on Lanai but only better. Sitting here in the lap of luxury is nice but I long for that Satisfaction the the Lord dispenses on us when we dare to not make life about ourselves.
The Lord has been good to me. He has taught me more about Himself. His character. His ways. The Lord is also hard to figure out sometimes. Why did he spare me? Why did he allow it to happen? These are questions we will be asking until we are with Him. I can not second guess God, blame God or be angry at God. These feelings produce bitterness and emptiness. One thing I do know about God is that He is trustworthy!
I will never forget the day my mother died. We were all right there together when she passed. Moments after her death my father spoke some words from the book of Job. “The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.” I am with my dad on this, yes, Blessed Be The Name Of The LORD!
Though the December 19th 2009 passing of my mom has been really hard, we remain thankful. Jackie was an awesome, wonderful, joyful, fun mom that I was blessed to have for 46 years. Christmas was tough this year without her and really every gathering we have reminds us of losing her but Gramme would not want all of us to to sit around feeling sorry for her or us and anyone else. She would want us to push on. Keep meeting, keep loving, keep enjoying each other. Mom was so good at those things and many others. She never complained and always drew the attention away from herself. Here she would be so sick in bed and having just thrown up but would quickly start asking me how I was doing, how my head was doing and what I was up to. Saying that it was a priviledge to have her for my mom is an understatement. We are so happy that she in in the loving arms of Jesus. Home with Him, no more pain and suffering.
This year has had its challenges but we remain in Him, Trusting Him with all of our lives. The Good ( Life ) the bad, ( losing loved ones ) and the ugly, ( my head...ha )
Don’t forget to press on. Do forget about yourself. Don’t be afraid to do so. Do have a wonderful day and love Him in and through all things!