Disclaimer: I don’t really believe in luck. I believe in God’s providence. I believe in sowing and reaping, but sometimes I’ll use the word “karma” because it easily expresses much the same idea without sounding so religious. I’ve often said, “I’m a lucky man” while describing my marriage to Gina, but I don’t really believe it was luck. I believe that God was merciful to me and/or answered my parents’ prayers.
No one would look at my life over the last fifteen months and nickname me “Lucky.” I am not articulate enough to describe the journey of horror and sadness we have endured since Allison’s death. In contrast, cancer treatment is relatively easy in the sense that my part is just to follow directions.
Yet I have a lot to celebrate, many reasons to be thankful. We have been hit hard with bad news twice in a little over a year, and both times we have felt surrounded by the love of God mostly through the compassion of his people who are also our people. It helps that we have people who care about us in many places. I have known people who have trouble finding one job that they like, but I have enjoyed two concurrent careers that are bring me much joy and satisfaction.
My family is a delight to me. This spring Gina and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage. She makes the hard times easier to bear, and she makes the good times soar. My mom has lived with us since the fall of last year, and she adds joy and care and sardonic wit to our home. It is hard to believe that our son Andrew turned 29 in December. When I think of him I remember the father and son battlefield scene at the end of “Braveheart.” When my time comes, I will die happy because I have seen the man my son has become. Although Andrew and Rachel are not yet married, we feel as if she has been a welcome addition to our family for years.
As I have become weaker, the strength of the teams at my workplaces has been more valuable than ever. At school, I feel supported by our administration and the students and their parents. I know that they pray for me and are truly concerned about my condition. My reduced schedule is manageable, and it allows me to feel useful without jeopardizing my treatment and recovery.
Walter Straub is my beloved brother in ministry. Walter and Anne were generous and welcoming to Gina and me for years at our last church before we planted Melbourne Community Church in 2002. Since then we have enjoyed a joyful partnership pastoring this congregation. I hear friends in ministry at other places describing the challenges of their roles, and I realize that most of my “staff meetings” over the last 14 years have been fun and easy double-dates. In 2015, we added two younger couples to our pastoral staff team, and that addition seems to have been perfectly timed. Jared and Sarah and Nathan and Heather are devoted to their church, and they all work sacrificially yet cheerfully to help us all respond to God’s call. We also have dedicated ministry leaders, too many to name here, who use their gifts and talents to advance our mission. God has blessed our undertaking, and it feels to me like our church is in good hands even as my involvement has waned. I expect to make a pretty full comeback by the end of the summer, but some of that is out of my hands. I will celebrate God’s goodness to me come what may.