Thursday, March 28, 2013


luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

luke 23:46 "Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands i commit my spirit."

twenty-four hours of prayer...that's how i think of good friday...or, how i had always thought of good friday...  growing up in our little church the members signed up for 30-minute prayer shifts to cover 12 a.m. on friday to 12 a.m. on saturday.  i watched my dad pass the clipboard on early in the process, initially wondering why until i saw his name on the spots no one else wanted...2:30 a.m., 4:00 a.m. 11:30 p.m....filling in wherever there were holes, making sure someone was always there, praying.  i remember when i was finally old enough to take a time of my own...i, of course, took some totally normal time like 2:00 p.m. when it was daylight and it was convenient...i remember walking into the silent church, a building i'd been in thousands of times, alone even on multiple occasions because that's where i went to really play the piano...i passed through the sanctuary and entered the parlor - which incidentally served as my high school sunday school room - and chose a corner of the couch to spend my time.  i remember initially having a hard time getting centered, not focusing well and just generally feeling out of touch...but then something changed and i remembered the things i had learned year after year about that very day.  it was in those moments i realized exactly why my dad had no problem taking the crappy shifts...why he didn't mind sitting in this room alone...why we make such an effort to make sure the church has someone in it for 24 hours one day a year...and i felt humbled to be a part of it.

trust.  humility.  sacrifice.  He asked that God grant Him mercy...begged for it even.  He spent hours in prayer...knowing it was His job to fulfill the prophecy...His job to die a horrific, humilitating death for people who may never know...may never understand the significance.  God walking among us...the Holy Spirit here on the know feel what we live and love and hurt just as we do...and then to make the greatest sacrifice known to man...i've been a christian my entire life and i still have a  hard time wrapping my mind around that.  He could have walked...could have said "no"...could have lied when the soldiers said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth...but He didn't.  He carried a cross to the top of the Skull - Calvary - and was crucified - nails driven into his hands and feet, a crown of thorns around his head...for six long hours he hung there and at 3 p.m. he took his final breath, leaving our world and joining His father in heaven, opening the door for each of us who, through His grace, are granted that same opportunity.

i only participated in the prayer vigil a few times...i can't honestly say why, only that i didn't make time for it i suppose.  i am always mindful of what day it heart a bit heavier thinking of the sacrifice that was made for me - someone undeserving for sure.  i walk past our chapel at the hospital mulitple times a day...i've peeked in a time or two, mostly out of curiosity and on one occasion to investigate the sound of hymns coming from within. i found an older gentleman playing the piano and singing to himself - perhaps one of the most unique and beautiful things i've seen.  but, tomorrow i will make a point to go in because getting to church just isn't going to happen...i will go in and find a spot and sit...likely working hard to still my mind long enough to open my heart and allow myself to feel hear Him.  it's something i've been waiting to do...i know that sounds strange because of course i could go in at any time, but i don't and i have no real reason.  i have much on my heart right now...but have been reminded that any sacrifice i make in my life is nothing compared to the one made for my life...humbling words for this all-to-human heart.

so...i guess my words for you are these...believer or not...take a few moments tomorrow to just imagine if the words are put yourself at the foot of the cross, witnessing what His mother saw....and give yourself over to Him if only for a second.   

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


one man.  one man with more stories in his 62 years than i could ever imagine in 100...many of which i wouldn't want to imagine, but still.  today we took a man to lunch because he is retiring on friday and he has been a lifesaver to us on many occasions and we just wanted him to know how valuable he is and how very much he will be missed.  over the course of an hour we sat and talked and per usual i asked questions...lots and lots of questions of a man who under most circumstances is quiet and unassuming with little to say unless it has to do with work.  but today, today he answered all my questions and told us story after story...some of which surprised me, some made me a little sad, some made me wish i had known him much longer, some made me want to know more...and some...some touched me enough that i've thought about little since then and have wanted nothing more than to sit here and share a little of him with you...

he has lived most of his life in and around kansas city, and those he didn't he spent in the military in the early to mid-seventies on some of the more dangerous missions in vietnam and traveling throughout much of the world.  from the way it sounded, his life was never easy yet for the most part simple.  he spoke of walking the streets at night as a kid - saying he's always been more of a night owl and needing next to no sleep..."in vietnam you maybe got an hour, but that was with one eye open so it didn't really count."  he is tough in every way you can imagine, yet carries within him a heart of gold.  he spent 21 years as a KCMO cop never taking a partner, always on the toughest streets and never sitting still.  he refused to take a promotion to sergeant because he said it was "hard enough keeping myself alive, i don't want to be responsible for 13 others.  plus, i wasn't made for paperwork.  i liked the movement of the streets."  he has been shot five times, stabbed four and beaten up more times than he can count.  "twice i spent time in the ICU...the last time i got shot was the worst - going after a man robbing a payday loan store.  he snuck around on me - and, you know, i was all alone so when he shot me in the back (the bullet missed his heart by a quarter of an inch), i was left to die.  thank goodness it was winter so my blood didn't drain so quickly as i was lying in the cold snow waiting for them to come get me."  father of ten, the first born when he was only 15 - the only question i never asked was how many wives...he only mentioned one, but that was during the time he was working undercover as a member of a hippie commune here in KC "i had to be real when i was there.  you couldn't fake it...i had the long hair and we lived in the park and in this old house someone found.  there were drugs and sex and everything else you can imagine...and i couldn't fake it."  he lived in that commune for over two years only going home to see his wife and kids once a month...i'm not surprised that marriage didn't stand the test of time.  the man works harder than anyone i know.  his body is full of metal and at one point was told he would never walk again...after a year in a wheelchair and a will to live his life, his way, he proved them wrong.  we asked him how he gets around so well, how he does everthing he does (he is responsible for setting up every single meeting and event in the hospital as well as moving anything and everything - often single-handedly) and his response was that he likes to keep moving...that he does hurt, that when he gets home he lays in his recliner with the heating pad all evening and sometimes can barely stand up straight for a couple days.  he credits his time in the military for his innate ability to push the pain aside, stating that in that time he learned to put it out of his mind and focus on other things - something which has served him well in all the years since.  he has no problem admitting he lives alone, that it's just him...says it has given him the flexibility to be available anytime he's been needed at work...."most of the other guys are married so they don't have that."  he doesn't really see much of his children...for reasons we didn't get into.  his life of late is apartment close to work...he travels to visit friends and sometimes to see the lights and shows in vegas...he wakes naturally at 3:30 a.m. and spends time drinking coffee, watching the news and caring for a little stray cat who seems to have found a home with him.  often while he was talking he got a faraway look in his eyes...almost like he found himself back within whatever story he was telling us.  on occasion he became wistful...his eyes looking away as he paused to find the right words.  and, once or twice, he grinned...the same eyes shining a little brighter as he recalled something funny....mostly about how he feels he's cheated death enough, that he's like a cat who has likely used up his nine lives and he better not push his luck because "luck does run out."  he hopes that he has seen the worst of his life already, that it is smooth sailing ahead of him.  i pray he is right.  gentle and kind, helpful beyond measure and gracious on top of it all...he is quick with a thank you and expects little from anyone, showing clear surprise when something thoughtful is done for him.  his is a story full of life...he has met and protected every president from ford through clinton, had many a movie star do ride-alongs in his police car...he's faced death on more than one occasion and fought hard for his place in the world...he has loved and lost and given much to many...and while he is closing one chapter he is looking forward to another where he can do as he pleases.  i asked him if there was anything he still wants to do, anywhere he still wants to go...he easily said "no, not really.  maybe i would like to see russia, but i've been everywhere else." 

i took much from this conversation and am thankful for the short amount of time i've gotten to know him.  i truly hope there is nothing ahead of him but good.  he's no saint, but what of that?  he has lived...for 62 years he has lived with everything he has...given more than was asked in many situations and likely dealing with his own demons over the instances where he hasn't.  i walked away from lunch looking at my small and insignificant it is...wondering just what i've done with my 35, soon to be 36, years...and coming up with little in the way of answers.  i feel my heart being pulled lately...i'm not sure how else to describe it.  as always there are things i want for my life, but mostly for it to mean matter to someone....i'm always afraid i'm missing something, that if i don't hurry i will miss out on something and my one chance (at whatever) will be over.  i have no idea what makes me think this way, but i do.  it's like time is mocking me and out of inability to focus on what really matters i sit still and do nothing or waste time worrying about stuff or people who don't.  so...once is short.  live it.  tell people what they mean to you, even if you risk not hearing the same in return.  give...give more than you think you can, more than you have and ask for nothing in return.  open yourself up even when it hurts, even when it's scary.  surround yourself with people who make you happy, who help you be the best you can be., honestly and without reservation or hesitation.        

Thursday, March 14, 2013


one of my projects at work is to promote an upcoming event called "speaks4me" in, if something happens to me and i can no longer make medical decisions for myself, i have chosen this person to speak for me; or in other words, to make sure doctors and medical staff know exactly what my wishes are in regards to advanced directives, life support, organ donation, etc...

i started working on this about a month ago...i spent time researching what a durable power of attorney for healthcare means...learned that when you have one written you appoint what they refer to as an agent (a very cold word for a very intimate responsibility in my opinion)...and then thought long and hard about the fact i do not have one of these, nor do i know who i would ask to serve me in this role.

for the most part, every decision i make at this point in my life is based upon how my actions would affect m.  as you can imagine, this particular decision...or, ultimately, set of decisions...carries with it consequences i find beyond difficult to put into words.  my biggest fear is the thought of her growing up without me...not me missing out on my life, or her's even...but her dealing with losing her mom.  i want to know that if something tragic were to happen to me, every possible effort will be made to save me...for her.

the thing is, right now, i don't know who i would trust with this task.  the weight of the conversation alone is more than i typically care to endure yet it is one everyone should have with someone.  it's no secret life throws us surprises we are unprepared some point in our lives each of us has been, or will be, faced with making life or death decisions for someone we love.  we will be face to face with their mortality and i can't help but believe if we knew in advace what they ultimately want our job would be even the slightest bit easier. 

i've spent quite a bit of time thinking about all of this...i've had no real choice since a folder full of smiles and sunshine also known as "speaks4me" currently resides on my desk.  at our last meeting i was point-blank asked if i have a durable power of attorney...if i've made these decisions for myself and i had to say no.  to which the table full of attorneys, social workers and nurses - each of which hear painful, gut-wrenching, stories from families facing this very thing all the time - told me it was time i had it done...making it almost sound like it should be as simple as signing any other contract.  i wasn't sure how to tell them that while i most certainly understand the weight of the issue...having faced one of those painful, gut-wrenching situations myself a few years ago...i just don't know who i want to have that conversation with...whose name i would want on that piece of paper. 

here are the things i know:  i believe strongly in organ donation, i would want any and all of mine donated possible...i don't want to be kept alive if they know there is no way i'm going to wake up and live a productive life...i never want to be a burden to anyone...but, if there is any hope i can live and be the mom m deserves, then i want everything done possible to make that happen.  those are vague and when it comes to advanced directives there are many more specific decisions to be made, but those are the big ones.  so...i guess what i'm hoping is that if something happens to me, someone will know me well enough to take these suggestions and pray about it and let God guide their heart to make the best decisions possible for me...for m. 

it is a selfless represent someone you love like put their wishes above your own.  i mean, who wouldn't want to save someone they love no matter what?  that's part of what makes all of this so give something so great to someone else you must be willing to put your needs, your hurt, your hopes aside and let go so they can live...or they choose.  i've had a version of this conversation with a very dear friend on more than one occasion.  i know his general wants and even what he wants done if he were to die.  i feel honored to even know these very personal things, to have the knowledge of what lies in his heart and to be trusted with the ability to act on his behalf if necessary.  there have been no papers signed, no witnesses, no notary...just a simple conversation between friends that, to me, is every bit as valued as anything we could sign or file in a drawer somewhere. 

i don't like thinking about this stuff.  it makes me very uncomfortable.  but...i'm actually kind of thankful to be forced to weigh all of this out.  i'm always the first to say "life is short"...and i think it's important to at least try and have some say in how your life plays out.  there are so many variables we don't get control over so it's kind of nice to think we could possibly be heard in our most vulnerable, yet most silent moments.