I am now the proud owner of a Handicapped Placard (sign). This is not something I ever thought I would need, or at least I was not planning on having one at age 48. I resisted getting the Handicapped Placard for a long time. Nancy was watching me have a hard time walking around and suggested I get one. I am not sure how I responded to her suggestion. I am sure I had to apologize for some part of my response. There was something about this step that I did not like. It makes sense. There is no need for me to “waste” my limited energy walking from the parking lot. It was the right thing to do but it was not easy to admit that I needed the extra help.
Later in the day April came by my office to ask for help with one of her school projects. April left JAM Daycare this fall and headed off to kindergarten. The teacher gave the students a special project. April had to chose a friend or relative to help her, she chose me! I am now the proud guardian of “Flat Stanley”. I have to take some pictures of myself and “Flat Stanley” on different adventures. I am looking forward to this project. I hope to get a picture of “Flat Stanley” and a few of my friends from New York when we travel there this weekend for the wedding of Emily Camp & Bryan Gonzalez.
When I got home there was a card from a long time friend. Andrea was in youth group when I was the youth pastor of Maplewood Baptist Church (1990-1995). It seems like a lifetime ago. We had lots of fun at Maplewood. The youth group was a special group of students and leaders who had a great time as we explored what a deeper relationship with God looked like. I will never forget the “Jello Bowl”. It was a Jr. High game night where every game used Jello. We ate Jello, threw Jello, molded Jello…you name it we did it with Jello. It was a great night. The energy in the room was amazing. We only had to wash the floor five or six times to get the sticky Jello residue off the floor. It was a time when my energy seemed boundless…today is a very different day. The inside of Andrea’s card read, “Your blog is amazing! Thinking of getting a tattoo that reads ‘God is Good All the Time’, Do you think Margie (her mom) will love it?” I am not so sure about Margie…but I love it! I think it is a great idea. I told Nancy I was going to talk to my oncologist about whether I would be allowed to get a Tattoo. Nancy shot me a dirty look. I do not think she approves. Which makes it all the more exciting and desirable. I am not sure Andrea would think it “cool” if we had similar tattoos but I do like her idea.
Signs. Sitting with Father Rogers, talking about our community and partnering in ministry I saw signs of what could be. It was exciting. Looking at my handicapped placard I was not thrilled. When I pulled up to CVS and parked right in front of the store and cut my walk in and out of the store in half I saw signs of how this could be helpful. If I can learn to get over my ego and embrace the different avenues for support and assistance I could navigate this “new normal” in a very healthy way. Working with April on her school project is exciting. I want to see her and other children like her find a place at FBC where they can encounter God in life changing ways. It starts with good relationships. It excites me that April would chose her pastor to help with this school project. Our community needs to continue to develop special relationships where we can speak life, hope and truth into young lives. Hearing from Andrea made me smile. Andrea and I had a special relationship. I could tell you stories. Stories left best untold…for fear she would start telling stories about me. Her card was “classic Andrea” It served as a sign that relationships from years ago are still strong. We may not see each other much or talk often but the bonds that were formed are not easily broken.