A Blessed Time in Brooklyn Again

Two years ago, I went to Brooklyn, NY to help out with a children’s summer program.  We worked alongside high school youth and somewhat less so with older middle school youth, who were the primary workers for that seven-week period (a new outside team comes every week to help them out).  Though most of our team was not able to spend as much time with the youth as we would have liked, we still enjoyed working with them and hanging out with them.  That was the first time our church went to their “Summer Splash,” and our church sent another team last summer which I was not a part of.  Our English pastor in particular has developed a bond with the youth there, so this year, we tried something new: A youth retreat of sorts.

Our church sent a team of four to run this conference/retreat which was primarily aimed at the youth, though there were a couple of kids who were younger.  It is spring break for them, but spring break in Texas tends to be in March; it came at an awkward time because this is when school kind of picks up with papers and assignments (I had to do one while I was there).  Still, it was a great blessing to come, teach, and get to know these youth more.

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Tulsa: A little late, but I’ll write about it

Like last year, I went to Tulsa, OK to help out at a church’s VBS, teach their youth and college, and train up members of the team that went.  Also, like last year, I am morally obligated as a Longhorn to make jokes about Oklahoma:

“Why did Oklahoma raise the drinking age to 25?  To keep alcohol out of their high schools.”

“How do Oklahoman brain cells die?  Alone.”

“Why do Oklahomans have a hard time dialing 911?  They can’t find the number 11 on phone.”

Now that I have fulfilled my obligation, I can say this: Tulsa was another great experience, even though I was very tired, because the people there were great, hospitable, and encouraging :).

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A Chatty Man and His Dog Through the Eyes of a Major Introvert

A couple of people I know have started a blog where they tell stories about people they encounter.  The website looks slick and they are both fine writers, and it is worth checking out.  However, I jokingly said to one that I would not be a good contributor to such a project because I am… uh, different.  She said she’d still like for me to write an article for the site, so allow me to demonstrate why this would be a bad idea and that they are better off without me ;).  Behold, my experiences with these beings called “people.”

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Tulsa: Going to the Forsaken Land of Oklahoma to Share God’s Word

As a Texas Longhorn, I am obligated to make fun of the state of Oklahoma.  By the way, do you know why Texas doesn’t just float off into the Gulf of Mexico?  Because Oklahoma sucks.

Do you know why birds fly upside down over Oklahoma?  Because there is nothing worth crapping on.

Do you know what you call an educated person in Oklahoma?  A visitor.

Boom.

Now that that is out of my system, let’s move on to the actual trip.

It’s been a few weeks, actually, since the trip, but I’m just now getting around to writing about it since it’s been pretty hectic moving to Fort Worth.  In truth, my jesting about Oklahoma is all in good fun; I don’t have anything against the state, and the people there were a blessing to meet.  I think God really used the trip to not only instill his Word into both children and youth kids but also to build relationships in our group as well as with the people there.

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My Trip to Southern: A Non-Reformed Person’s View of the SBC’s Reformed Headquarters

When I was considering seminaries to apply to, I started to whittle them down by not only location but also their seriousness about Scripture, even though I have a heavy interest in philosophy of religion.  I have no desire to leave Texas right now, so that contributed to me stalling on applying to outside seminaries, which is why I missed Southeastern’s deadline.  However, I was able to apply on time to Southern, which may sound odd to some because I am clearly a critic of Calvinism and Southern is about as Calvinistic as a Southern Baptist seminary can get.  However, on my trip here to meet the faculty and take the entrance exam, all I will say is that I would recommend this seminary with confidence to someone who is looking for a seminary where the professors care about the Bible, scholarship, and the students.

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Reflections On Our College Group’s First Retreat

Our church’s college group’s first ever spring retreat was held last weekend at Camp Copass in Denton/Lewisville, and it was both fun and tiring.  We got back two days ago, and after spending most of yesterday catching up on sleep after a hectic week, I’ll jot down some reflections.

The college group started in the fall of 2010, and we had somewhere around 8-11 students coming regularly to our Wednesday college meetings.  They were mostly all freshman, and I was brand new at the church too.  Now, three and half years later, despite some leadership turnover, God has grown the college group such that it seemed like a good time to finally hold a college retreat.  Some rough ideas started last summer and most of the planning started at the turn of the new year.

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Goodbye, Hercules: Our time with our crazy husky was cut too short

Our family has had at least one dog for over 20 years.  Technically, our first dog was one we had for only a little while before his owner took him back, but the first dog we actually owned was a small dog named Whitey (you can guess what color he was), followed by a toy poodle named Benjie a couple of years later.  In 2007, our family acquired a Siberian husky: Hercules, who was every bit as big and strong as his name suggests and quite a bit larger than the dogs we were used to.  But we loved him, and when our other two dogs died of old age, Hercules became the baby of the family.  He was not young but not super old and he was very healthy, which is why it was such a shocker on Saturday when I received a call that he had passed away just a few weeks before his ninth birthday.  My sister, who was like Hercules’ mother, was crying so much that it was difficult to even hear her.

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The Next Step and How God Answers Prayers in Interesting Ways

With this being my last year in seminary, I knew I wanted to keep going to school to study philosophy.  I had two choices:  Continue on at a seminary or go to a university to focus on philosophical studies.  I did not feel quite ready to go to a Ph.D program at a university due to the fact that I’ve been out of that world for four years, so instead, I applied to the Ph.D program in philosophy here at Southwestern and also at the MA programs at the University of Dallas and the University of Houston, two schools who A) Even had an MA program and B) Had good ones, at least according to some research I did.  I almost applied to Texas A&M but was too busy to meet the deadline… and it’s not like I wanted to go there anyway 😉 (Calm down, I know A&M is a good school).  As I prayed about it during the semester, I felt that God was convicting me to stay around the area and devote at least another year at the college ministry at Arlington Chinese Church.

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Surgery Awaits

My leak closed once, and then it reopened (or another one opened) when I vomited.  Then it closed again, only to come back and this time come back worse.  It was brutal two nights ago, and it slowly got worse.  The best choice was clear:  It’s time to get surgery.  My mother prayed about it and I did, and it seems like this is the right choice (or else I’d have to just sit here more and… wait).  I informed the surgeon yesterday.

The day really didn’t get better.  I wasn’t having pain from just sitting there; I was having pain from coughing.  I’ve been put on an antibacterial regiment for a few days to battle the possibility of pneumonia, and while there hasn’t been any bad signs like a fever, coughing was hurting a ton.  Some combination of cough medicine and pain killers finally put me to sleep.  I was hesitant to take more painkillers, but the nurse insisted I take a small dosage of morphine after taking a small one of hydrocodone just about an hour earlier.

“Isn’t this going to knock me out?”

“Oh no, this is a really small dose.”

Too bad it knocked me almost immediately.  Not only that, I started to feel sick.  I drifted into a very bizarre state where I was more or less out cold but very conscious and even aware of some things happening around me.

As odd as it sounds, I had one of my best prayer sessions with God in a long time as I was “knocked out” for about four hours.  As I eventually fought off the nausea, I repented of some things I had done and thanked God I was alive.  I prayed for my family, my friends, my fellow college leaders, and my church.  It was not exactly the most comfortable thing, but hey, why not pray if I’m plastered to my bed like a corpse.  I kind of think that’s how drunk people feel.

Anyway, I got up and coughed some more until some more cough medicine kicked in again.  Man, it hurt a lot.  The most annoying thing.  Not only that, I feel like the freaking chest tube is not working properly because now I often have to stand up and do awkward poses to try to flush some air out.  I’m sure it’s amusing to look it but it’s pretty exasperating, because I often have to get up when I want to lay down because my head hurts. Continue reading

A Bump in the Road

In my previous post, I mentioned that my leak had closed and that I could be out of here by tomorrow.  Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, I got nauseated.  Nauseated.  I have no idea why.  I tried to fight it off for hours, I took Tylenol and alka seltzer, and it still wouldn’t go away.  In fact, it slowly got worse.  I could barely watch the game or interact with the guests that came to see me.  Eventually, my mom used some Eastern medicine technique, poking both of my thumbs and inducing me to vomit.  So I did, and finally felt some semblance of relief.  Of course, right before I went to bed, I heard a familiar bubbling sound… the leak was back, probably due to the stress of throwing up.  Are you freaking kidding me?  I was sunk.

This morning was brutal.  Since I was off suction, I could slowly feel the pneumothorax growing again.  I tried to force the air out myself through the tube, but it kept hurting.  At like three in the morning, I asked the nurses to put me back on suction, but they said it was okay and that they didn’t have the authority to do so.  By eight in the morning, the pain was killing me so I demanded to be put back on suction again, so they paged the doctor.  Finally, they came back, and amusingly enough, these nurses had no idea how to operate the apparatus (they almost plugged the suction in the wrong place until I told them otherwise).  They eventually got me plugged back in and I slowly started to feel relief again.

It was disappointing, and I was mad.  I felt like God was messing with my head.  I was finally fine, the leak had finally closed… and I get nauseated?  It was infuriating.  I barely even ate anything, and I rarely throw up, ever.  And to think that caused my leak to open up again was all sorts of annoying.  I spent the early part of the day making smart-aleck comments at God in my head (this is not wise, by the way).

As the day progressed, I calmed down and assessed my options.  Surgery was still on the table, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get operated on.  Of course, after several naps, I woke up once and found that the bubbling stopped once again.  Because my morning X-ray looked bad (obviously, I knew it would), one doctor really wants me to get surgery, but the surgeon himself came by recently.  I explained what happened, he saw that I was no longer leaking, he shrugged and was like, “Well, we’ll try again,” and I’m off suction again.  I will not throw up again.  I’d rather stab myself in the head.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’m out Sunday, but I’ll have to keep looking at my surgery options.  My mother thinks that I just need to pray, and while I do not doubt God’s power in keeping my lung intact, I believe he also gave us medicine and doctors, and he expects us to act wisely.  We’ll see.  It was a bump in the road and I had a miserable night and morning, but there may yet to be hope I’m out of this crappy place by this weekend.

I’m celebrating by eating ice cream right now.