Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The End of a 15 Year Era....

2 weeks ago, our church campus (Mariners Ocean Hills) hired a new worship pastor.  He is awesome and a great addition to the Mariners staff.  When he asked if I would lead worship alongside him on his first Sunday, I agreed without hesitation.  I haven't done that at Mariners since Jon's surgery almost 16 months ago.  It was time.  I was so looking forward to it!

So I was shocked when I arrived for sound check, walked on stage, and got a huge lump in my throat.  I started to put my ears in (in-ear monitors, for you non-musical peeps) and had to do one of those "blink really fast so tears don't fall out of your eyeballs" type things.  This crazy flood of emotion came over me that I was not expecting.  You see, Jon usually attaches my in-ear battery pack to the back of my bra strap for me.  We have this "moment" every Sunday where he hooks me up.  ;)  Where was he?  I can't get my pack where I want it!  Wait, am I really crying about my battery pack?  What in the world is going on?!? 


Several months ago, Jon came with me to Hume Lake for a women's conference. I was leading worship and Jon played guitar in the band and sang with me.  This was his first time really playing and singing with a full band since his surgery.  After the Friday night session, we walked off stage and Jon looked at me and sadly said, "I can't do that anymore.  It's all just noise."
Being deaf in one ear has made things very tough for Jon.  Social situations are awkward because he misses about 1/3 of the words in conversations.  Being in loud restaurants are the worst.  He can't hear anything.  When he walks into a room of people and someone yells something out, he has to scan the room to figure out who said it.  He can't tell which direction sound comes from.  However, sleeping has become a new favorite pastime.   He has "trained himself" to put his good ear down into his pillow and he then hears nothing.  He's never had such good sleep in his life!  ;)  

Anyway, a few weekends after that experience at Hume, Jon stood in front of our church and told them that he would not be returning to his position as Worship Pastor.  He just can't physically do it.  He can sing with tracks.  (like when we perform The Prayer)  And he can lead worship with just his guitar.  He can hear fairly well in both of those settings.  But leading worship with a full band (drums, click, vocals, etc..) is just too hard to do on a regular basis.  He can probably get through doing it here and there, but as a full time job?  No.  
So Jon has been working part time (he's still on part time disability) as the pastor of Outreach.  He is loving experiencing a different area of ministry and leading our church in serving our community.  Mariners has been so gracious, so patient, so supportive.  It's been a season of transition and Jon and I have had absolute peace about it.  Well, Jon has.  I thought I did.  Until last Sunday when I almost sobbed over my battery pack.   What was that about??  

For 15 years, Jon and I have led worship side by side.  15 years.  I know when he is going to repeat a chorus or cut out a bridge.  I know when he doesn't know the words and needs me to jump in.  ;)  I lay in bed next to him on Sunday mornings as he sets his alarm extra early and prays over the service for an hour.  I lead worship differently because of what I have learned from him and how he leads.   One of my favorite things to do in life is lead worship alongside Jon.  And as much as I've had peace about what God is doing in and through Jon's life, I hadn't yet grieved the end of an amazing 15 year season of life with my husband.  It is a loss. A big loss.  And even though I had known for awhile that it was coming, the first time walking on the stage to lead worship with Jon's replacement was emotional.  It just made it official.  

Want to know what's amazing?  Jon was totally fine.  Ha!  It wasn't an emotional day for him at all.  He has been processing all of this for months.  Me?  I'm a visual, experiential type person.  I only understand things in theory to an extent.  But once I can see/touch/feel/experience, I can really get it.
Last Sunday, I really got it.  Life is different.  It is good.  But it is different.  And sometimes different means celebrating.  And sometimes different means grieving.  I've done both of those things over the past 16 months.  And I'm doing both of those things in this situation . I grieve what Jon has lost.  What we have lost.  But I celebrate the amazing new things God is doing in Jon's life.  In our lives.  And I celebrate HUGELY that God has brought such an amazing new person to lead our Mariners OH campus into worship.  And I celebrate HUGELY that he invited me to worship alongside him.  What a gift.   

God continues to heal.  Physically.  Emotionally.  He takes away.  And He gives gifts.  He refines.  And blesses.  And sometimes, just sometimes, He uses tears over a battery pack to push us toward greater healing, greater surrender, greater trust.  Two Sundays ago?  Fast blinks.  This past Sunday?  Slow blinks, no lump in my throat.  And from the stage, I had the most beautiful view of a hot, bearded, 30-something year old red head in the 5th row with his arms raised high, worshiping Jesus.  
Cue fast blinks.  ;)  

Monday, January 12, 2015

MRI Results!!!

Friends, THANK YOU for praying....  

Today's appointment with the neurosurgeon revealed that Jon's brain tumor shows NO NEW GROWTH!!!   Praise God!!!!   

The tumor is a little under 1cm, which is still a safe size to not have to operate on or do radiation at this point.  We are THRILLED.  (you can see below... the tumor is on the left side, middle of the screen - the white part.)  

The Doctor then spent time with us, working on a plan for Jon's pain management.  Jon continues to be in extreme eye pain at times and we still haven't found a way to lessen that.  (Well, the neurosurgeon did say that he has had several patients say the ONLY thing that has helped with facial pain is medical marijuana.  But we won't discuss that here.)  ;)

Anyway, THANK YOU for praying.  THANK YOU for pleading.  
God is GOOD.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

MRI Day...

"When my heart is overwhelmed and I cannot hear Your voice
I'll hold on to what is true, though I cannot see.
When the storms of life, they come, and the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith.
I will believe.
I remind myself of all that You've done
And the life I have because of Your son."

If you have our new worship CD, you know this is how the CD starts.  There's no musical introduction.  It's just these words.  Sung by Jon.  The words pierce my soul every single time.

This morning I sing them with a lump in my throat.
Tonight at 7:30pm, Jon has his MRI.
We've waited 6 months for this MRI, although we haven't thought much about the MRI in the past 6 months while waiting.  We try to just "live in the now" and let tomorrow's worries stay there. Tomorrow.  But when tomorrow becomes today, it takes my breath away.

This tumor has grown in the past.  This tumor has also not grown in the past.  It is not predictable nor does it "act as it should," as our surgeon has previously told us.  (However previously operated-on brain tumor's are supposed to act..??)

And so we enter the next 5 days of 'MRI test until MRI results' with the same posture we've tried to take during this whole journey:  Prayerfully open handed.  God, you are sovereign.  God, we trust you.  God, you are faithful.  God, you are good.  God, we ask for healing.  God, we ask for healing.  God, we plead for healing.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Would you join us in that?  Would you worship God with us?  He is SO worthy.  And would you plead for healing with us?  He is SO able.

We will keep you posted on Monday, as we meet with Jon's neurosurgeon at 3pm for the results.

Love you and thank you for journeying with us.  Still.