Monthly Archives: March 2007

A Matter of Perspective(s)

My kids (at least the two older ones) have told me for years that I am OLD! “Da-a-ad, you’re SO old!” (You know they’re really trying to make a point of their message when a three letter word gets four or five syllables).

Well, now I guess I’m really getting there… I now have bifocals. My eye doctor talked about the way my eyes get ‘locked’ in at the close range focus (like the distance from my eyes to my computer screen or my Palm Treo… yet I need to be able to see clearly a bit further away (like for driving or seeing the words on the wall during our congregation’s contemporary worship service every Sunday night. SO i have bifocals.

They’re the progressivce kind, so you can’t really tell by looking at me, but from the inside looking out I truly have a new perspective on life. The entire top of the lens is for far away focus. The bottom is, bit by bit, sort of like an inverted pyramid for the varying degrees of close work. The crazy part is that the edges (particularly on the bottom half of the lens) is mostly just distortion… which is how they pull off that pyramid thing I guess.

So I have to not only lift or lower my chin to look out of the appropriate half of my glasses, but I also have to remember to ‘point my nose’ towards whatever I’m trying to look at… cause looking out of the edges is just freaky.

I got these on thuirsday afternoon, and spent the rest of the day almost nauseous. Yesterday was pretty good, but I took both rails on the hospital stairs as I went up and down when doing rounds.

Oh well, aging isn’t really that bad I guess. After all, what other option is there?

It is my GOAL to get old! (So far, it’s the one goal I am most successful at accomplishing!)

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Kudzu

One of my absolute favorite comic strips is KUDZU by Doug Marlette. In it, a teenaged boy in the South named Kudzu, learns about the world around him. There are different characters one might meet in a Southern small town, but my favorite is Rev. Will B. Dunn. Every so often he begins a prayer to the Almighty as “It’s me, Lord, Thy Will B. Dunn…” I love it!

Our local newspaper doesn’t carry this comic strip, so I subscribe online by email. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE GO COMICS SITE AND SUBSCRIBE.

This southern pastor is Kudzu’s confidante, coachs the church league sports teams, writes an advice-style “Ask the Preacher” column for his local paper, and he preaches, buries, marries, and counsels the variety of people in the town.

In any case, this is today’s strip and here are a couple of others that are favorites of mine.


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Seminar on Sexual Wholeness

This past week has been a series of appointments (medical… mine) and funerals (both officiating & attending… all for other people). And because of my newfound ability to sleep, I actually have A LOT more energy! (Although I am still learning to sleep through the night with this CPAP machine… I have awakened a couple of times in the morning to find that I took the mask off somewhere during the night).
IN ANY CASE… I successfully finished quite a few odds & ends that have been waiting for attention. One of those projects was a news story to be submitted to our United Methodist conference newspaper about a seminar I went to a couple of weeks ago. I have no idea if it’ll be published or not, so I thought I’d publish it as a post!

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“I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.”
—Jesus, John 10:10, Contemporary English Version

With the call of Christ to a full and whole life as a goal, some 150 pastors and lay people from various churches and outreach ministries gathered at the Bakerstown United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 24th to learn of ways they could minister to those who come to them with issues of sexual brokenness.

Recognizing that people of all walks of life have found pain and, at times, even abuse in their sexual lives, the seminar sought to present ways that the church can reach out to those who are hurting… whether it be from personal choices, from actions that others have done to them, or from confusion or struggles with their own sexual understanding. Presenters and speakers were specifically charged with the task of helping attendees understand the pain that many experience because of pornography, sexual abuse, incest, same-sex attractions, and sexual addictions so that they might minister with compassion rather than criticism or judgmentalism.

Grove City College psychologist, Dr. Warren Throckmorton, talked of those who desire to walk away from the same-sex attractions they feel. With an emphasis on the pain involved in dealing with these struggles, Throckmorton repeatedly spoke of the ways that many in the church have erroneously treated same-sex attraction as some kind of unforgiveable sin. Our priority, he asserted, is not whether one feels this way or that, but rather how do we follow Jesus’ teachings of chastity for the single and faithfulness for the married. That, he stressed, is not a same-sex issue, but a human issue. To treat it otherwise is to become distracted from Christ’s emphasis.

For those who have been hurt in this struggle, there is hope according to Throckmorton. Some people who have experienced same-sex attractions have been able to reorient their lives around heterosexual behavior. Throckmorton spoke of ways that the church can be a support to those with such desires, and yet still be compassionate with brothers and sisters who do not desire that kind of change.

The afternoon speaker, Victoria Kepler Didato, addressed the ways the church has, and ought, to reach out to those who have been victims of abuse. Again, the message was one of compassion and Christ-like love as we reach out to these victims. Didato has a heart for seeing the church become a safe and healing community for all who have been sexually wounded.

Individual workshops focused on specific areas of ministry, such as reaching those who struggle with pornography addictions, how to address sexuality in Biblically faithful ways without just sounding like a condemnation of this or that, and the ways that sexual trauma impacts the brain and can lead to further brokenness down the road.

Over lunch, a panel of representatives from various outreach ministries for the sexually broken were able to give brief overviews of their particular healing thrust. Tim Geiger of Harvest USA spoke of local churches being equipped to minister to sexual strugglers. John Impavido, a Pittsburgh sex therapist, spoke of the power support groups like Everyman’s Battle and SA, Sex Anonymous groups to help those addicted to pornography. Dan Cush shared about his ministry Such as Were Some of You that meets in Oaklan and provides support for those who struggle with same sex attraction.

Tracy Merrick, a member of the Western Pa. Conference Dialogue Team, also addressed those gathered over lunch regarding the differing views even in our Annual Conference regarding the specific area of same-sex attractions. Stressing compassion and grace, Merrick affirmed the need for ministries that reach out to those who have been sexually traumatized, but cautioned that “same-sex attractions do not belong in the same list.” Specifically, Merrick cited the vast number of homosexuals who are not looking for ‘healing’ or ‘reorientation.’ Merrick encouraged the listeners, “Grace and acceptance is the better ministry to gays in this larger category.”

Following the event, one of the UMC pastors who attended wrote: “Yesterday without an appointment a woman came into my office and for 90 minutes I listened. I heard terms like “I feel like I’m drowning.” “I feel lost.” “I’m scared.” I want you to know I was so much better equipped to minister to her today because of Saturday.” Dr John Seth, pastor of the First UMC of Murrysville responded, “Just multiply that times 150 others and who knows how all and who all God is going to impact and bring healing to in the coming weeks because of the seminar.”

While planned and sponsored by United Methodists, participants came from a variety of denominations and theological backgrounds.

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Sleeping…

I slept last night.

Seriously, I REALLY slept well!

You see, last Thursday I went to my doctor and asked him to set me up for a sleep study… I didn’t really want to do it, but my wife was insistant. The next available appointment with the sleep disorder/pulmonary specialist was MID-MAY! UNLESS I was available right then, because there had been three different cancellations that very morning.

I went and they set me up for this past Wednesday for an initial sleep study… but because of other cancellations, I ended up going for the initial study on Sunday night and the followup study with the settings adjustment on Tuesday night. And a full diagnosis of sleep apnea. Essentially, I stop breathing at night, so my brain wakes me up so that I take a breath… which keeps me alive, but I never get the deep REM sleep that allows you to rest.

And so yesterday, I ended up with a CPAP machine (continuous positive air pressure). My setting is really high (18 out of a possible 20). When I went to bed, I went to sleep. I slept from about 10:30 to about 3:30 and I feel WONDERFUL!!! (I woke up because the humidifier unit wasn’t completely filled when I went to bed and apparently it ran out of water… ’cause I woke at 3:30 with the dryest mouth and dryest throat I’ve ever had… so much so that it hurt. Gay was still asleep and Josh had crawled in between us sometime during the night, so I just got up when I woke up, rather than trying to turn on a light and learn how to refill the water unit).

I can’t tell you how good I feel! I feel alert and have NO headache!! I should have tried sleeping years ago!

Try it!

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The Health Saga Continues…

OK… I realize there are a few people who follow this blog from some of the far away places where we used to live just to keep up with the Mix family health situation.

(to view ALL health updates PLUS this one, click HERE)

What an update we have today!

Gay is fine.

Michele is fine.

Sarah is fine.

Josh is fine.

I, on the other hand, have several things going on.

Sunday night I did a sleep study. I went to the hospital and they put wires and cables and monitors on me and watched (and listened and recorded) me sleeping. Turns out that I have a pretty severe sleep apnea condition… helps explain the falling asleep accident last month and all of the headaches and yawning and feeling tired that I’ve had for such a long time. Tonight I go back to be calibrated for settings on a CPAP machine (continuous positive air pressure). That should help a lot I’m told.

A month ago my local urologist called and wanted me to have a biopsy done on my kidney. He was concerned that the Pittsburgh hospital had not repeated the ultrasound that had caused the DuBois hospital to suspect kidney cancer to start with. SO… they did a CT guided needle biopsy on Feb. 7th. Took quite a while to get test results back, because the limited amount of tissue in the needle biopsy wasn’t quite enough to be definite about a diagnosis… So they shipped the slides off to Pittsburgh to UPMC for a second opinion. Three different people there came back with three different opinions. One was that the alleged cysts were actually an oncocytoma (a benign tumor). The other two opinions were both kidney cancer. What was certain, though, is that what had appeared to be cysts were solid and you can’t just watch them forever.

At this point, the plans started to change… you see, research is now showing that most kidney cancers start as benign tumors… so the recommended treatment for ANY of the possibilities is removal of the mass/tumor/cancer. I went today to Allegheny General Hospital and met with the urology surgeon I met with before and he agreed.

SO… once Easter is over, and I have time to do the pre-op stuff that needs to be done, I’ll be having my left kidney removed.

WELL… I have about 5 minutes left before I have to head for the hospital for this followup sleep study. Sometime I’ll share what a miracle it has been (or agnostics might say what an amazing set of 5 coincidences all in a row).

gotta go!

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Daddy’s Cross

After church today, Gay went to get a frying pan out of the cupboard and Josh noticed a cross-shaped cake pan. He couldn’t think of anything else… not even lunch! He kept saying “Make Cake with Daddy’s Cross!”

Even as lunch was cooking, he helped mommy mix up the ingrediants. AND wanted it green!

SO… We had green food coloring and mint flavoring added into the mix and WOW what a wonderful tasting treat.

As you can see by the picture, the cross went through a bit of a traumatic transition as it was tipped out of the baking pan and they went to frost it.

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Irish Eyes Are Smiling…

“I arise today Through a mighty strength: God’s power to guide me, God’s might to uphold me,
“I arise today Through a mighty strength: God’s power to guide me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to teach me, God’s eyes to watch over me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s Word to give me speech, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to shelter me, God’s host to secure me: Against the snares of devils, Against the seductions of vices, Against the lusts of nature, Against everyone who shall wish me ill, Whether far or near, many or few.”
—St. Patrick of Ireland, in The One Year Book of Personal Prayer, May 21st entry, (Tyndale:1991)

When I was growing up, I loved St. Patrick’s Day because I could truthfully tell people that my family is Irish… or at least one strand of it is.

I used to love hearing my Great-Grandma Haynes tell how her Grandma Meacham had come from Ireland as a child. Nancy Ann Foy was 12 years old when an older sister and her husband, a man named O’Donald, finally decided to emigrate to the United States. When another sister backed out of the journey, Nancy Ann was tapped to make the journey, and the move, with them.

Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Mrs. O’Donald fell ill and died. Some other Irish immigrants, named Sullivan and Cavanaugh, took Nancy Ann under their wing for the rest of the voyage. When they arrived in New York, the grief-stricken husband returned home to Ireland. Nancy Ann stayed in America with her new found “family” and moved with them to Potter County. She worked as a “domestic,” eventually married Franklin Meacham, raised a family, and was known as a “hard-working, witty, sharp-tongued, lovable Irishwoman.” She died in 1893 at age 51.

As we observe Lent more than a century later, I find myself looking to this branch of my family tree and still find it bearing “fruit” today.

First of all, even though she found herself alone by age 12 in a far off land, her faith was strong. Her upbringing in the Catholic Church in Ireland was deeply rooted, and family records tell how she, in a non-Catholic area, ended up getting every one of her ten children baptized in her faith. She was described as a “staunch Catholic” who was not easily dissuaded in her faith. In contrast, how often do we now-a-days look for any excuse to leave our “religion” behind? Any reason to get out of church seems to suffice.

Secondly, Grandma Meacham, once she set her mind on her goal, even as a young child, didn’t look back. Like the Biblical Daniel and Joseph, she didn’t set out to be left all alone in a foreign land and yet, like those two teens from the Bible, she didn’t pine away for what was lost or what “could-have-been.” Instead, she set her face towards the future and began to create a new chapter in her life. She lived almost 40 years after arriving here, yet, best as we can tell, she never reconnected with her former life across the sea. How often do we spend so much time looking backwards at our past and the glorious moments of yesteryear, that we stop moving forward towards the future?

As we continue celebrating Lent throughout this month, we are confronted with the same kind of questions and choices my Grandma Meacham faced.

  • First, will our faith in Christ be something left for church and religious times only… or will He be a constant guide and companion in whatever circumstances we face?
  • Second, can we move beyond our past into the present reality and look towards the future?

Our answers affect our future, in our daily lives and in our faith walk, as much as they did for my Grandma Meacham.

—from my pastor’s letter in the SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, FUMC, Reynoldsville, PA March 2007

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From Caterpillar To Butterfly

My three year old son Joshua received a package in the mail the other day from our district superintendent. I didn’t think this too odd, since she has made a habit of sending birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day cards with small gifts to all three of our kids. However, Josh was the only one to receive a package this time… and I couldn’t think of what the occasion might be.

Turns out, it was a visual aid learning devise to help small children understand Lent & Easter! Titled “From Caterpillar To Butterfly,” it is a magnetic caterpillar made up of a head (labelled JOY), four body parts (labelled PEACE, LOVE, HOPE, & FAITH), and a tail (labelled PRAYER).

Along with the caterpillar comes a child friendly prayer card with an explanation and a prayer for each week.

On Easter Day, you rearrange the pieces of the caterpillar and get a butterfly! What a GREAT explanation of Lent & Easter!

Josh, who absolutely LOVES magnets to start with is enthralled with this gift! He arranges and rearranges it several times a day… In fact, to walk into our kitchen and look at our fridge is almost to see the little caterpillar move around the fridge. (And when he gets ‘out-of-shape’ I’ve noticed the older girls reconnecting him back into his all-together caterpillar shape!)

I’m not sure where she got this wonderful product, but the copyright says ABBEY PRESS.

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The Master’s Cup

A few days ago, my wife Gay received her diploma from IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) awarding her a Master’s degree in Community Counseling.

She actually graduated and was hooded in December, but I guess IUP sends its diplomas by mail AFTER they double check your grades and stuff. I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since the ceremony but, as you’ve read in other blogs, I’ve been a bit distracted (and almost overwhelmed) just doing the “gotta” stuff of my life in the last two months.
I’m pretty proud of Gay. You see, I endured my graduate program (United Theological Seminary, Master’s of Divinity, 1999) mostly because I was required to have the M.Div. degree in order to be recognized as having the requisite qualifications for valid ministry as an elder in the United Methodist Church. I didn’t want to go to seminary, but had to. So I endured it. (YES… there was much that I did appreciate and even, at times, enjoy, but mostly I just endured it).
Gay, on the other hand, chose to go back to school for a masters degree. She chose which degree she wanted. And she enjoyed it! She worked hard and did well. In fact, she graduated summa cum laud! THAT’s something to be proud of! She was even inducted into the counseling honor fraternity, Chi Sigma Iota, last spring.
Not only did she work hard for the benefit of her grades, but she also served as a great role model for our high school girls on the work involved to do your best academically.
It’s been a tough couple of years… lots of driving from DuBois to Indiana, lots of missed family times, still trying to be a support to her pastor-husband while she was in school, and several health related family concerns with our extended family (her side and my side). There were times that our kids had to settle for Daddy instead of Mommy (and this daddy is not as good as mommy is in a whole bunch of areas!), but it was worth it all to see her hooded (and now to see that diploma on her office wall). A mere three days passed before she went from former student to employed counselor! (And that was because she stood her ground and deliberately took off three days between graduate school and employment).

Here in the Mix house, we’re celebrating a job well done!

By the way, the title of this post comes from one of Gay’s graduation gifts, a large coffee cup from her Alma Mater, chosen because of our love for sitting and drinking coffee and talking together.
Thus… the Master’s Cup!

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