Friday, January 15, 2010

Out of sadness, something positive...

On Saturday, I was at a meeting with about 30 people. As the meeting ended and people were leaving one of our members was seen to fall heavily in the parking lot. Carl was obviously in distress and injured in the fall. Several people went to help him, and someone called 911.

Within minutes, Jacksonville FRD was there. Several pieces of equipment and at least 10 firefighters were working hard to help Carl. Aggressive treatment started at once, and as soon as possible, he was transported to the Shands Jacksonville emergency room, only a couple miles away from the meeting site.

I contacted Carl's wife at their home near St. Augustine, and after confirming that their son would bring her to the hospital, I went to the ER. I observed at least 10 people in an intricate dance around Carl, working hard to save his life. The fall had been caused by a heart arrhythmia, and he was not responding to resuscitation attempts. Sadly, Carl died, despite the best efforts of everyone involved.

What is positive in this? I saw first-hand the skill and dedication of the people on the front lines of rescue and medical treatment in Jacksonville. I saw dedication. I saw compassion. I saw enough to know that if I or anyone I love has a medical emergency, I can be confident in the quality of the response.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Catching your breath...

is sometimes hard to do at this time of the year. There are always places to go and things to do, but the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's seems to be even more crowded with "must do" things. Plus, our increasingly connected world puts hundreds of our closest friends in our shirt pockets.

As much as we love the holiday season, and as much as we love our friends, it is sometimes a good thing to disconnect a bit - step back and relax, and decompress. In the Screwtape Letters, Lewis makes reference to the constant noise and confusion of hell. There is probably more truth than poetic metaphor there. I may even try a radical experiment; turn off the cell, the ringer on the office phone, and unplug the Ethernet cable from the computer. That way I can still work on many things that need doing, but not be tempted by email, Twitter and Facebook.

Radical, indeed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Noticer - a book by Andy Andrews

There are some things you encounter that seem so simple, so obvious, that there is no surprise in them. Wonder and admiration perhaps, but no surprise. A lever is simple and obvious, but when applied in the right place and at the right time, can apply tremendous force, moving the seemingly immovable.

This book is about a human lever. Jones, just Jones, seems to turn up at pivotal times and "notice" things and offer a fresh "perspective" - simple things that have been overlooked but offer hope and inspiration to people who need both. Telling the truth in love, Jones opens eyes and hearts and changes lives.

Simple is sometimes dismissed as trivial. The observations and advice Jones gives are as simple and compelling as the parables of Jesus, which are anything but trivial. But simple and compelling in concept aren't always simple in execution. Knowing what makes sense for us and then actually doing it seem to be disconnected for so many of us. But, knowing the right path is the first, indispensable ingredient.

I enjoyed this book. It can be a quick read, easy to pick up and put down, or you may prefer linger over and savor it. You likely will end up doing both.

Disclosure of material interest.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I read somewhere recently that when you say to God, "Use me" you better expect to be stretched. It happened to me.

Years ago, when we were fairly new to the church, Rick and Donna were also just arrived. Rick invited people who were interested to join the music ministry. Betty, who is a good singer and who had been in church choirs before, decided to overcome her natural shyness and talk to Rick after worship. I, who is the kid who was told to stand in the back row and hum all through school, tagged along. She spoke to Rick, who was very gracious and invited her to come to the next rehearsal and sit in. Donna walked up just about the time he turned to me and asked what voice I sing. I explained my musical shortcomings and while I would love to serve, I was so bad it would embarrass me and the church both to have me sing. He understood. But then Donna smiled (she is always smiling- a real gift) and said, "Then why don't you help out and watch the choir kids for us?"

Trapped! Like a rat! Here I was, the words "I would be happy to help but..." still echoing off the back wall and several eyes on me. What to say? How to wiggle out? "Well, I am not very good with kids." (True that, by the way- just ask my daughter.)

"I am sure you will do just fine," said Donna, still smiling. I suspect it was because her own kids were old enough they didn't need to be watched during rehearsal, but regardless, I was the new choir kid wrangler.

Here I was, the guy whose idea of childcare involved duct tape, watching anywhere from 3 to 8 or 9 kids in the early elementary age range. Strange thing is, I was reasonably good at it, drew no blood, and came to enjoy it. I got acquainted with several parents I might not otherwise have met, and learned a couple valuable lessons: God has a sense of humor; service takes all shapes; when a job needs to be done, you ought to be open to the need rather than your comfort zone; try it, you may like it.