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Making a BIG, but somewhat hurtful, decision...

A few years ago I was presented with the opportunity to come back to Stratford, Iowa, to First Baptist church, as their pastor; for those of you who have followed this blog for some time, FBC in Stratford was my first pastorate. Let's just say I prayed about it as I was jumping at the opportunity. The church has a parsonage, so I could live there and not have to worry about a houe payment; and I needed to slow down, and this was a part time position (which, as a side note, allowed for me to get a greater disability from the VA than when I was working full time with St. Croix Hospice...) We love Stratford, and absolutely love the church; the people are wonderful and accepted us, again, with open arms. This was, for me, the perfect position: I get to pastor a church I LOVE, I get to do life with people I LOVE, and I have already had the opportunity to do weddings and baptism services for kids (adults now) that I have known their entire lives. IT IS GREAT. The longer I have been here,
Recent posts

Sometimes "firsts" are suck...but not always!

This February my wife and I did something that we have wanted to do for a long time, but since my stroke we did not know how I would handle it. No, we did not go sky-diving or jet-skiing. We went on our first cruise! Now, admittedly, that seems very peaceful, reflective, and, for lack of a better word, fun...and it was, but there was always a sense of worry since my stroke: how will I handle the flight there, how will I do being in an area with so many people, how will I do on the ocean if the ship starts to sway, what if there are areas with a lot of sensory input like strobe lights, what if there is loud music? Those are all questions that stroke survivors have to ask themselves on, nearly, a daily basis. I think sometimes a lot of people, even our closest cargivers, forget that our brain has suffere a severe trauma and many, like myself, have actually had part of their brain removed because of the dead tissue. Because of that we have to assess every interaction, every potential outi

Blood pressure problems...again, scratch that, always!

I'll be honest (side note, why do pastor's always feel compelled to start a personal story with "I'll be honest", how often are we not? Anyway, I digress), I have not made a habit of taking my blood pressure as often as I should, but I started again, recently, and to my horror my blood pressure was pretty consistently 150-160/80-90 at night. Normally it is pretty good in the morning, because I take my blood pressure medicine in the moring. I messaged my doctor and he reminded me that my blood pressure will fluctuate during the day, depending on activity, stress level, time of day, how tired I am, etc. I understand all that, but I get worried because the one thing Dr. Piper stressed above all else is make sure my blood pressue is under control, because I only have one vetebral artery left and I don't want that one to blow! I don't think I need to be on different blood pressue medicine, as these seem to work, in general. My question is, for those who have ha

A stroke survivor's memory is tricky sometimes...

Tomorrow I will preach the funeral for a dear friend of mine. He was the definition of a selfless person. I truly appreciated all that he did, but, when I was meeting with the family on Wednesday a memory came to me suddenly and I was suddenly overcome with emotion. Let me back up a little bit: After my stroke in December, 2008 my license was revoked for obvious reasons and it took me some time and practice before I was able to drive again. I finally got my license back in February, 2009. But, shortly after I got my license back the reality of the severity of my stroke became evident: my stroke had seriously impacted the PONS area of my brain stem, and therefore, a lot of my nerves were negatively impacted. One of the nerves that was damaged was the nerve that controls my eye movements; my left eye would would twitch, at times almost uncontrollably, and that made it really difficult to drive, particularly at night. That brings me to the memory that left me so emotional. Fast forwar

Some things I'm still not used to...

You would think that after 13+ years I would have learned not to do some things...apparently learning is not something that I excel at in this "stroke thing". For instance, sometimes when I get into bed at night I will be on my right side and decide that I am going to roll all the way over to my left side. BIG MISTAKE. Apparently my brain does not know tha after 13 years I should be able to deal with things. My brain is still in the "let me have the whole room spin for a minute, make you dizzy, cause you to close your eyes and get back over to the right side" mode. I will never get used to my knees buckling when I'm at the store. It is always an adventure when I preach on Sunday mornings when I maneuver the stairs on the platform. I try not to complain much but, hey, how many people have had to explain to the office administrator why they just drooled on their desk. Yes, it's been 13 years; yes, I am thankful for where I am now compared to where I was, and

I'm going to re-share a post from April 6, 2016...God has been good to me.

I was sitting in Knoxville, outside of the Knoxville Dance Academy, waiting for my girls to finish up with their dance classes when I had just a little bit of time to reflect on the last 7+ years since me stroke and all that has happened in my life. My stroke has taken my ability to play basketball as well as I used to (which was not very good...) My stroke has taken my ability to play football as well as I used to (see the above statement...) My stroke has taken much of my energy to be able continue as full time Senior pastor, My stroke has made me take medicine to control eye movements, My stroke has made me start taking medicine at night to help me sleep, My stroke has made me much more of an emotional wreck than I ever was before, My stroke has made it so I laugh, nearly uncontrollably, at the wrong moments, My stroke has made me lose the ability to answer people appropriately at time, My stroke has made me nearly choke on water or tea because of swallowing problems, My stroke has

It's been a long time...but here I am back in Stratford

It has been nearly 6 years since I have updated this blog; my apologies. For those that had been following for some time, since I last posted: I stepped down as Senior Pastor at New Covenant church in Knoxville, I moved to Ankeny, Iowa, started a new ministry with St. Croix hospice as Chaplain. I was chaplain with St. Croix for about 4 1/2 years, then in 2020 I moved back to Stratford to pastor First Baptist church. It was a big change going from chaplain work back to the pastorate.  I must confess, when I first came (back) to Stratford I was ready to pastor again! I love preaching; I love the ministry of being a pastor, and I love interacting with people long-term. (Being a chaplain is great, but you only interact with a family for a week or so, for some a little longer, but there was a constant upheaval of people and it was exhausting at times...) But, one thing that I have noticed since my stroke is that I get my feeling hurt easily. For instance, people leave the church all the tim