I Do NOT Accept the Terms and Conditions -4 Years Later Part 2

(On November 21, 2012 my mother, Angela Griego passed away. She had a long fought battle with breast cancer. These posts are reflections and honest emotions that I have felt over the past 4 years.)

Denial was my friend, my badge, my shield when my mom first got sick. I knew the situation was serious but accepting and knowing are two different things. In my mind there would always be “another treatment method” for her to go with. I could not imagine losing her so soon, it had to be in a far off distant future. So for me denial was the pace I lived. I would pray and I would hope that she would get better, but at the same time the reality facing her was something I refused to accept.

I still do not know how to accept this reality. I have learned to live in it, but I do not want to accept it. How does someone accept that a person they loved so much, a person that was so close to them, that they would call almost everyday was no longer there. How do you accept that your mother is going to get ravaged by a disgusting disease that will not stop and that who’s only medicine is a poison yourself to try to poison it. How do you cope with such pain, such reality?

I knew the “christian” answer, and understood, at least, the concept that God is sovereign and in control. How does one though accept the reality that this is “His will” for someone you love so much? How do you not want to yell, scream and fight against this reality?

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked God to remove this cup of suffering, the pain, agony and darkness He was about to face. He did say “not my will, but yours”, and he went, he died, he knew why, he knew the outcome, and he had a resurrection. My mom prayed similarly, and she died, she will have a resurrection and we wait, but to what purpose was her death. Jesus died for sin, my mom? She died for….

Maybe the answer is not to accept, but to hope defiantly against the darkness. Maybe we are not supposed to just click the “I accept the terms and conditions” button on life’s sufferings, Perhaps we are to rage, to shout into the darkness, to yell that we do not get it, but we wait. Not because we want to know now, but because we hurt now.

I know the reality, that my mom is not here now with us. That I cannot call her and ask her so many normal everyday questions I have. I know that Angelina will not meet her here and now, and that for my other kids Nana is a memory becoming more distant by the day. I know she died and breathed her last, I was there when she did. I do not accept this though, I do not welcome this, I yell in the darkness saying , this is not how it will end, this is not how the story goes. I yell my confusion, my pain, my anguish at times, and in that yelling, there is hope. Hope that this is not the end, this is not how the story goes, that this is just intermission for her, for us, and one day we will see the ending, and it will be something not just to accept, but to embrace.

4 Years of Questions, Prayers and More Questions

On November 20th, 2012 my mother passed away after a long fight with breast cancer. This fight had been her second go around against cancer. She originally was diagnosed with it in 1999. After several rounds of chemo the cancer had gone into remission. In 2009 it had returned, only this time it spread to many areas of her body. In the summer of 2012 after many treatments along with ups and downs it was determined that the we had run out of treatment options. 5 months later my mother passed away.

4 years seems like a long time. 4 years seems like a blink of an eye. All of it depends on perspective.

I have faced darkness, depression, pain, questions, suffocating doubt and anger. I have felt joy, comfort, relief and hope. There are no stages to this type of grief, well if there are stages I have really messed them up.

So in an effort to talk about this, and maybe help someone going through anything similar, I want to share some of my journey. It will be raw, it will be honest, and a times may seem really sad, but that is what these past four years have felt like. There is also hope, but hope, I realize, only exists because pain, darkness and despair do too.

I remember about a month after my mom past away I told people “It does not get better, it is just a new normal”,  so what I will be writing this month will be a bit of a look into some of the realities of this “new normal”.

 

Monday (On Tuesday) Mind Dump 8.16.16

Each week I share random thoughts about the previous week and previous Sunday at Redemption Church. This is a way to help me think through, learn and reflect as I continue to seek to grow as a man, husband, father and pastor.

 

  • I started sermon prep last week thinking I would preach all of Romans 10, that changed quick.
  • I have learned it is better to be OK with cutting one sermon into two rather than cramming it all in one.
  • This week I wanted people to see the beauty of God’s Grace in His love and attainment of Righteousness for us in Christ.
  • It is amazing how, while reading Romans, so many of the parables of Jesus come to mind.
  • I am really, really excited for this week’s sermon, it is all about gospel and mission. Understanding Paul’s missional heart will be crucial for this week.
  • 1st week of school is upon us, I cannot believe I have a 5th grader! All the kids are growing so fast, reminds me of the importance of being present and enjoying every moment with them.
  • Just finished Lecrae’s book “Unashamed”. It was such a great read. While i am not a rapper, or musically talented, I could really relate to his story of wandering, striving for acceptance and God’s grace.
  • I am hooked on the Olympics. The US Swimmers were so impressive and dominate, especially Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps. Such a joy to watch great athletes compete and leave it all out there.

 

Monday Mind Dump 8.8.16

Each week I try to share thoughts about the previous Sunday/Week in life of ministry and walking with Christ. This is more a brainstorming, so the thoughts are quick and may seem random.

 

  • It felt great to be back in the pulpit and preaching again.
  • Romans 9 is such a deep and beautiful chapter.
  • Never noticed how important the first few verses are to understanding the chapter as a whole.
  • Seeing Paul’s heart and sorry for his people, seeing the “anguish” is crucial because this chapter can be seen as just a theological treatise.
  • Romans 9 is a chapter that at the end of it should leave us in awe of the bigness of our infinite God.
  • We had visitors from our BBQ at the park, it was awesome to see the church love and welcome them in.
  • Always amazed at the level of talent and gifting that our little church as musically, yesterday’s time of worship was amazing and moving, Jared does a great job!
  • Always great to use technology to God’s glory, like being able to Skype part of our church family who are on the other side of the planet.
  • Excited to talk about Romans 10 this week and the call for us, as Christians, to be on mission, to be evangelists.
  • God is amazing and in his sovereignty of his perfect plan, he calls us to come along, to proclaim the gospel and watch him work.
  • We miss out on so much when we do not do this, we miss out on seeing the glory and awesome transforming power of our God.
  • Praying this Sunday is impactful on our church to share the gospel more and more.

 

 

Monday Mind Dump…

I want to start giving thoughts regarding the previous week, and really the previous Sunday at Redemption Church here. I am inspired to do this via other pastor’s blogs and figured this was a good way to start this blog back up…

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  • Saturday was Lauren and I’s 11 year anniversary.
  • It has been an amazing 11 years, with ups and downs, good and bad, life and death and above all God’s grace going before us.
  • We tried new ABQ Cheesecake Factory, it was packed and it was delicious, also our anniversary falls on “National Cheesecake Day”, so 1/2 priced cheesecakes too!
  • Sunday was Redemption Church’s “Bar-B-Que in the Park” (Picture Above)
  • It was a huge success, a better turnout than I honestly was expecting.
  • Met many people from neighborhood who ate with us.
  • Kickball was fun and got competitive, I have a feeling a rematch will be taking place soon.
  • Sunday also marked the final of 3 guest preachers we had at Redemption Church.
  • These preachers came from North Church, and all of them did a great job on Romans 8.
  • I was sad to not preach through Romans 8 but was excited to give these guys an opportunity to test, refine and grow gifts in preaching.
  • Thankful for North Church and all they have meant for Redemption.
  • Time away from pulpit was refreshing and helped me refocus on my call, passion and excitement for Redemption Church.
  • I am very excited to be back preaching on Sunday in Romans 9 and for the next month at Redemption Church.
  • I told the church yesterday that we serve a Big God who is and I believe will use our small church in great ways in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and beyond.

We Are New Mexico

I love New Mexico. I am a proud New Mexican. My family, both sides, have been in New Mexico for centuries. New Mexico is my home and New Mexicans are my family. I have read the stories, I have seen the rankings, I realize that New Mexico is seen as a poor state, a state that is dangerous and a state that is often an afterthought by most Americans. I see the news that talks almost everyday about another murder, violent crime or other bad news. However I also see a New Mexico that was witnessed these past few days, a New Mexico that sometimes if not seen but that I think speaks to the heart of NM more than any bad news there is.

Last week there were 2 events that shook the state, in particular the city of Albuquerque. The first was a 4-year-old little girl, Lilly Garcia, who lost her life in a tragic, senseless instance of road rage. Another was the next day when a beloved officer, Daniel Webster, for the Albuquerque Police Department was shot and left in critical condition. It could be easy to leave the story there of 2 awful events that left families and a community shaken and hurting. It could be easy to talk about how dark a place New Mexico is, how crime ridden it is. I am sure that those events will lead New Mexico to making another “bad list” or ranking. However, that is not where the story is, nor is it what New Mexico would allow to be defined by.

Instead what came from the ashes of these events was a community that gathered that said, “this would not define us”. A GoFundMe account was started for Lilly’s family with the hopes of raising $10,000 to help with funeral costs. As of writing this post the fund has raised over $79,500! Along with that money there were local businesses that stepped up to take care of all expenses for Lilly’s funeral.  For Officer Webster who is still in the hospital , not out of the woods yet (Update: Officer Webster passed away on Oct. 29), there was an offer by Papa John’s to donate all profits from yesterday’s business to Officer Webster to help cover costs. What happened? New Mexicans had lots of pizza yesterday, that is what happened. I waited 4 hours for 2 pizzas that would normally take 30 minutes to be ready. It was not because Papa John’s was not ready, they had a full staff on hand at the store I went to in Rio Rancho. That was not the only Papa John’s to be filled with orders and people, as I scanned Twitter Is saw pictures of crowds, crowds that seemed more fitting to be waiting for a new iPhone than a pepperoni pizza. By the end of the day $6,000 was raised for Officer Webster.  This, how New Mexicans, respond to tragedy is what I see is at the heart of New Mexico.

I have been blessed to serve as a manager, video coordinator and now chaplain for the University of New Mexico Men’s Basketball team for the past 16 years. I can tell you there is nothing like a loud, crazy game in The Pit. However, I can also tell you that being a Lobo goes deeper than a basketball team. I love the Lobos, as many others do, because I love New Mexico. Being a Lobo is about being a New Mexican, about being proud of what New Mexico is. When the Lobos win, New Mexico wins, a state people often forget about, a state I love, is seen in a positive light, in a way I see my state. That is what drives 10,000 Lobo fans to Las Vegas in March to cheer on the Lobos in the Mountain West Tournament. It is not just the chance to see the Lobos cut the nets once again, it is about representing and being proud of the state we love.

I planted a church in New Mexico not because it was simply where I lived, or it was strategic to plant in NM, but because it is the place I truly love. I want to see, what I believe to be, the greatest news in human history, the gospel of Jesus Christ, take root in the people I love, the people here in New Mexico.

We are a family in New Mexico. We love one another and the state we call home. New Mexico is when locals are excited to talk about the beauty of the Balloon Fiesta or the deliciousness that is green chile (and only green chile from New Mexico, sorry Colorado but no). New Mexico is when we as a community celebrate our heritage, our history and the potential of our future.

New Mexico is when a community does not let pain, crime, trials, or tragedy define us.  Rather New Mexico is when a community rises up, unites and loves one another as a family. That is the New Mexico I know and love and why I am proud to say, we are New Mexico.

“Speak” By Nish Weiseth Review

“Story draws us together, hands and voices and memories. It bridges the distances we’ve created, because we thought the distance would keep us safe. It doesn’t. It only keeps us lonely.”

Story is something that is universally uniting and in many ways it is something we as a sound bite generation have forgotten. We are more interested in Facebook posts, blog comments and judging someone based on 140 characters or less. What this has led to is more online fighting and less actual conversations and discussions. Maybe part of the reason for all of this is because in losing the importance of story in each of our lives we have ended up dehumanizing each other. In “Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World”, Nish Weiseth places story once again at the heart not just of humanity but how people and cultures change.

Nish, who is a blogger, speaker and author, shares her own journey, her own story. In it she also shares the stories of those people whom she has met and known. Through her storytelling ability Nish shows how the power of story can deconstruct our assumptions about others.  Nish offers humor along with heart in giving the reader a glimpse into what the heart of story is about, finding the humanity, the image of God, in one another

Nish’s book was a joy to read. In pastoral ministry it can be easy to get caught up in systematics, definitions and theology that is removed from daily experience. Nish reminded me, as I read, that there is a beautiful grace God gives us when share our own story. In a world that seems so cruel, often on social media, the uniting factor of story, of where we came from, what shaped us, what our dreams and hopes are is powerful. Sharing our story is not easy though, it is something that makes us vulnerable, it is something at opens up who we are to others. In a world where hiding behind an online persona, where we only post what we want, truly sharing your story means allowing others to peek behind the mask.

Nish speaks of story of all of us. She does not say that story only matters for those who reached fame, political success or anything of the like. Rather what Nish urges the reader to do, is to see their ordinary lives as an amazing story when living faithfully in the normal things for God. I encourage you, especially those who spend time in the social media world, to read this book, to be reminded of the importance of your story and the story of those you know.

You can buy “Speak” on Amazon here.