Monday, April 02, 2007

Holy Week?

I got an e-mail from my sister (the designer) this morning giving me the latest news she had on grandmother (97 years old and the sharpest mind in the family). Grandmother had to go in the hospital last week because the pain she experiences on a regular basis increased to the point that she had to have some additional relief. I talked to her on Saturday and we're hopeful that they've been able to help. She never talks about her pain and I've never seen her let it show to me (but I live a 7-hour drive away and don't get to see her but a couple of times a year). She still lives on her own, but has help that comes daily and Mom and Uncle Bob both either look in on her or call her daily as well. Every time I think about her I marvel at how remarkable she is and how blessed I am to have her in my family. Words fail.

My sister's e-mail subject was "Happy Holy Week", and I responded that this year Holy Week feels anything but. Every morning last week was our local YMCA Youth Prayer Breakfast (29th annual), which we host in our Family Life Center. It's a great program that brings inspirational Christian speakers in every morning to speak to middle-school and high-school students. I'm responsible for making sure the sound and video stuff happens the way it's supposed to, and I didn't succeed in delegating in this year. While I love messing with A/V stuff, it would have been better for me if I had handed off that responsibility to someone else.

On top of that (or underneath it, I can't tell which) was a yard sale (at our house) to help raise funds for our Acteens (led by my wife) to go to the National Acteens Convention this summer. I hauled 12 tables (heavy, 3/4" plywood jobs) from the church to the house to have room to put everything out that had been donated ... then from the house back to the church so that we were sure to have enough tables for our 4th annual Biker Sunday Weekend event ... which unexpectedly added another helping to my plate.

The band that was going to provide worship leadership on Saturday night and for the Sunday morning Biker Service (we shifted our traditional service to 8:30 for Biker Sunday) cancelled. Our college class's Sunday School leader (who works at the college and also works with Campus Outreach at the college) saved the day by putting together a hot student band to stand in the gap. They did an incredible job, but unlike the band that cancelled, they needed someone to set-up sound support for what they did. That meant a Tuesday night rehearsal, time on Friday working on their set-up, a Saturday afternoon rehearsal (I was able to hand off running sound for the Saturday evening event (thanks Brett, you're my hero) so that I could go home and grill the steaks for my mother-in-law's birthday celebration), and some time on Sunday afternoon getting it set back up for the youth group weekly Sunday evening worship time (which I had to get done before my wife's piano studio recital.

After I took stickboy to school this morning (he's in middle school, the lovely wife takes the toothpick to HS), I had about an hour's worth of have-to's to get done at the office. I didn't even bother to shower ... I just went and knocked out the essential tasks, then went home and crashed from about 9:00 to 10:30 or 10:45. I had to, or I would have imploded.

It's Holy Week already, and I'm still working on personnel to do everything that we are hoping to do for Easter morning. Trying to figure out what to do at Easter (and Christmas) continues to be one of the biggest challenges of ministry in a multiple worship style situation (or at least it is in this one). We thought it might be simpler to do the same thing in each of our morning services, but it hasn't turned out that way this year ... at least not yet. It is becoming more and more difficult to find a pre-published package that will bridge the gap between our congregational style-preferences. This year we're putting together something of our own, and we will probably still be working out the details until Saturday.

This has been a rather difficult season of life for me. I am finding it difficult to keep work from taking things from me that really belong to my wife and children. I am desperate to find some balance in life.

I replied to my sister and, without going into the kind of detail I did above, told her that this year Holy Week feels anything but holy. She responded back with words that I found very encouraging. She likes writing in all lower case (saves time, I suppose, but I just can't do it), and here's what she wrote:

praying for your this week. for realistic expectations of yourself ... and backbone to address those who have unrealistic expectations for you. you are God's vessel ... not his children's doormat.

[As I thought about what I had published earlier, I decided I needed to rewrite the last paragraph. If you read the earlier version, this one is more accurate ... or better for public consumption ... or more comfortable for me to have others read. At any rate, it's what I really want to say.]

What an encouragement ... thanks, sis. Now, hear me carefully on this one: my current fatigue does not have its source in being treated like a doormat, but rather in being too much like Bilbo described himself in the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring: "not enough butter over too much bread." I know I have friends in the ministry who read my blog from time to time, and who sometimes experience the same thing. To them, and to all others who read this I say, "Be encouraged. I pray you find ways to experience God's peace this Holy Week ... and I covet your prayers for the same." That's enough to think about for now.

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