The adventure continues… somewhere else.

I have really struggled with this blog over the last few months, and decided that it was time to move on. I have felt like my thoughts were taking my “blogging life” in a direction that doesn’t suit LIFEadventure. With that in mind, I have started a new blog, where I will be posting (hopefully) more regularly.

I won’t go into too much detail here, as I do so in the first post of my new blog:

http://www.whereisthechurchofjesus.wordpress.com

See you there!

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Memories made and lessons learned

It’s been a long weekend; a long week, in fact. Actually, it’s been a long month! I like for my summers to be calm and relaxing, but so far, this summer has been anything but calm and relaxing. It seems that everything that could possibly be going on in our lives is all happening at the same time! But I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

This weekend was sort of the culmination of a period of time that was extraordinarily busy; one might even call it über-busy! Here is the rundown:

Meetings – many meetings. Work meetings, church meetings, Project X meetings, and more church meetings (it seems like June was the month that church meetings were multiplied). And then there were potlucks – I think we have had a potluck at least once a week, every week this month. There was youth baseball, youth meetings to prepare for a service trip to Denver, baptism celebrations, and graduation festivities. There were visitors from near, and visitors from afar (the Philippines, to be exact). And there was the wedding of an old (and ever greater) friend. Oh yea, last but not least, there was a visit from my brother who lives in Mexico, whom I had not seen in four years. I mentioned that it was a busy month, right?

All of these things needed to be processed in the scope of my life. It was not an easy task. Somewhere in between all of these things, I had to make time for my wife and our life together. Now that things are beginning to slow down, I think I have some making up to do. I have a feeling that Nettie and I will be spending a lot more time together in the coming weeks – I look forward to this!

Although it has been extremely busy, I cannot come away from this without having learned a thing or two.

First, I learned that when we give so much of ourselves, it is easy to forget that we need to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, there will be nothing left to give, as our own life disintegrates. I need to take care of myself in three ways: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Physically:

Sleep is important. I used to think that I could function normally on limited sleep. I was wrong. I am a night person by nature, but I am realizing how much more productive I am if I can get a solid nights’ sleep on a regular basis.

Emotionally:

Sometimes I need to vent. Sometimes I become so overwhelmed with all the things happening in my life that the pressure builds to a point where I can’t contain it anymore. I need to learn to let things out in small amounts. It’s better for everyone involved.

Spiritually:

I need God. Without beginning my day with a healthy dose of God’s presence, things are amiss. God’s presence is always there, but when things get busy, I sometimes fail to acknowledge it. I need to work consistent “God-time” into my daily schedule.

I also learned that true love can be inspiring. As I mentioned earlier, we had visitors from the Philippines. Dann and Joji Pantoja are our witness partners with MC Canada. They are touring North America and this weekend they were in Leamington. We first met them in the Philippines a few months ago, and it was impossible not to love them. It was great to see them again and to visit with them, although our time together was far too short. Dann and Joji have been married for thirty-three years, and still seem like newly weds… it was very refreshing and inspiring. I hope that Nettie and I can pick up a few pointers that they live by example.

Lastly, I learned that although sacrifice is not easy, it is sometimes necessary. Some members of our youth group had their high school graduation ceremony today, and we had to miss it. I have to admit that we could have attended, but then we would have missed a day spent with my family, which included my oldest brother – I hadn’t seen him in four years, and today was his birthday. Family is important. It was created by God, and can be an amazing blessing. But we have to make an effort. We cannot rely on family to just happen on its’ own. With that being said, I am confident that we made the right decision. We love our grade twelve’s, and we wish we could have been at their graduation ceremony to show our support. Sacrifice is painful, but in this case, we have the opportunity to find a way to make it up to them. I look forward to that.

So the week ends with many memories – family, friends, tornado warnings, and earth quakes. Wait… earthquakes? Yes. But that’s the topic of one of my future “earth-shattering” blogs. Memories made and lessons learned. It’s already past midnight, which means it is officially Monday morning of a new week. What’s on my schedule? Work, Cedar Point with youth, work, and a long weekend that will consist of a LOT of lounging and digging into my “to read” pile of books – it’s getting quite high. Can’t wait!

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Calm After The Storm

When it rains, it pours. That’s what they say. I don’t know who “they” are, but they certainly got it right. When things happen, they seem to happen all at once. It seems like there is something going on every single day of the week. I can’t remember the last time Nettie and I had a day without a single obligation. And the sad thing is, I can’t see one coming up any time soon. Whether it’s work, family, church, social, school, community; the list could go on. Throw on top of that some landscaping, refinishing the deck, being the best man in a wedding, having visitors from two different parts of the world on the same day – twist it together with a violent tornado destroying a large part of town, people’s lives left in chaos, planning a major event that’s just a few months away, wondering if I’ll even be here for the start of that event, and taking on an internship at church on top of my day job… and you have yourself a little glimpse into my mind these days.

It’s a mess. I feel like that tornado actually penetrated my mind, doing to it what it did to Leamington. It would look something like this:

 

With so much going on, my thoughts are strewn all over the place. I can’t see where I’m going. I need to do something to change this. I need some time to just mellow out and refocus. The storm must end at some point, right?

I’m going to start by looking to God… He’ll help me work it out.

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Holy Confusion, Batman!

Finally! After about a week of looking for a way to change the name of my blog from the mundane “Frankfroese’s blog” to something more catchy, and even relevant, like “LIFEadventure”, I finally figured it out! And you want to know the frustrating part? It was right there under my nose the whole time. All week I kept thinking, “Why does WordPress have to be so confusing? Why can’t this just be simple? It should be right there at the top of the ‘settings’ page!” Well, guess where I found it… that’s right, at the top of the ‘settings’ page.

When I began this blog, it didn’t really have a direction. I was simply looking for an outlet to post some random thoughts, and flex my creative writing skills. Over time, however, it seems that this blog has taken shape. I cannot yet define that shape, but it is a shape, nonetheless. It’s about life. And it’s about adventure. So the new title sums it up pretty well, I think.

But this agonizing ordeal of changing the title of my blog, and the subsequent confusion, got me thinking about much more than just a title. It got me thinking about my identity. And it makes sense, as this blog is an extension of my identity. Before we continue: no, I am not questioning my identity. I know who I am, and I am at peace with who I am.

The questions that keep coming up are, “Do others know who I am? Do the people around me know what I am about? Or am I leaving everyone in confusion, hearing one thing, and seeing another?”

Maybe I have some work to do. It should not have to take people a week or more to figure me out. My daily life needs to reflect that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is something that I need to put at the top of my “settings” page.

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The New Normal

One day, everything is normal. You’re going about your day, doing whatever your normal day consists of. Then suddenly something happens that breaks the monotony of normal. It may be something quite simple, but it leads to a new normal. Take for example the following situation:

Last week, a good friend of ours had her day interrupted by a nose bleed. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it? It became a big deal though. That simple nose bleed led to the discovery of cancer. Talk about a life changing moment!

We have to put this in context though; it is a form of cancer that is less life threatening than some. But that doesn’t change the fact that it has now created a completely new “normal” for her and for her family. Now she has to undergo chemo therapy treatment. Her husband has to be strong for both of them. And her daughters have to watch this happen to their mother. Positivity in thought helps; it’s healthy, even. And the end result should be eradication of the cancer. That is good news. But it doesn’t change the present. It doesn’t change the fact that now this family’s “normal” is significantly different than it was a week ago.

In times of crisis, when our “normal” is disrupted, we turn to God. He has promised to always be there for us, right? But can our turn to God lead us to see a situation such as this in a way that makes us feel any better?

I have a proposal. Take, for your consideration, a verse I found in the book of James this morning: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Can cancer be considered a “good and perfect gift”? We would hardly think so. But upon closer inspection, do you think this crisis can bring a family together (or closer together)? Can cancer lead to a good and perfect gift?

I am not trying to diminish what this might mean for the family who has to go through it. But I take heart in this verse. God, “…who does not change like shifting shadows…”, is a constant; He can turn even the scariest situation into a “good and perfect gift”.

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Church and Crash Test Dummies

I grew up believing that God answers prayers. I also grew up believing that his answers are not always the answer we are looking for when we pray. It is one thing to acknowledge and accept this concept, but it’s another thing altogether when it happens in a way that has a major impact on your life. Let me explain:

Nettie and I joined our church about seven years ago. In the time that we’ve been there things have changed very dramatically. We have an entirely new pastoral team; we have ten times as many small children; and by the end of the year, we will have a brand new education facility. These are all good things, as far as I’m concerned. But there is still something about our church that I am a bit uncomfortable with. We are an old church; as in, the church has been around for a long time. Over the many years, things have become established. Establishment can be a good thing; it comes along with a sense of stability. But sometimes establishment leads to institutionalism. There are certainly many churches in the world that are far more institutional than ours, I have no doubt. But sometimes I feel like we are getting dangerously close. This is the part that makes me uncomfortable.

If we allow ourselves to be so established that we become an institution, we are essentially digging our heels into the ground. This is dangerous. Church is the body of Jesus Christ, manifested through the bodies of his believers. It is not somewhere we go, but something we do. Or at least, that is what it should be. If we dig in our heels and become an established institution, then church becomes somewhere we go.

I have seen commercials where they use the “crash test dummy” approach to advertise the safety of their cars. They send a car speeding down the track towards a solid wall, and when it hits, everything in the car – the dummy in the driver seat, the dummy in the passenger seat, the dummy in the back seat, the dummy in the baby seat, the purse, the cell phone – it all goes flying towards the front of the car and crashes into (and sometimes through) the windshield before coming to a dead stop. This is a sobering picture of the church when we dig in our heels and become an established institution. We stop, and we all go crashing into the windshield – you know, that thing between us and the rest of the world – and we are bound to get hurt in the process.

I believe that church (true church) was intended to be a fluid motion of believers, permeating into the cracks and crevices of society; constantly moving forward.

With that being said, I think that there are a number of people in our church that realize and understand that we need to prevent ourselves from becoming an established institution and that we need to continue being in motion. I believe that we are on the cusp of a movement. This is something that I have been praying about for a long time, and now my prayer is being answered. However, it is not being answered in the way I would have expected. My prayer always included a request for leaders who would lead our church into this movement. Never once did I include myself in the prayer.

God has put this on my heart. He has chosen to “burden” me with this longing to move forward. I am intelligent enough to know that the only way that we as a church will move forward is if someone takes the first step. I am also intelligent enough to know that I am not the only person whom God has chosen to reveal this to.

We need to find each other. We need to come together and step together. I have a sneaking suspicion that when we come together we will be many more than just a few.

But a word of caution:

If we step together in the direction that Jesus Christ is leading us, we will be uncomfortable. Are we prepared for this?

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I am seeing my own shadow again…

This is always a funny time of year for me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spring. I enjoy the gradual approach of summer filled with vibrant colours as the grass comes in and the flowers bloom. But spring brings a shadow. I am reintroduced to this shadow every year, and every year as spring leaves, I forget about it. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…

It was twelve years ago this spring that I lost my best friend Johnny in a car wreck. The day began like any other. I went to school, probably counting down the days until my high school graduation. Johnny had dropped out of school, but was very happy for me and had every intention of celebrating my upcoming graduation with me; it’s what best friends do, right? The day dragged, as did every day in school. As I exited the back door of the school to walk to work, my nephew (who was only two grades behind me) came running up to me with a disturbing look on his face. He should be at the front of the school to catch his bus… what was he doing here? To this day, I don’t know where he got the news from, but he told me that Johnny had been in an accident earlier that day. He didn’t make it.

At this point, I should say something like “my world came crashing down around me”. But it didn’t; not yet. I walked to work, not sure of what to make of this situation. My best friend had died that day. Johnny had been a replacement brother to me since the age of eleven when I lost my real brother in a car wreck. As the rest of my siblings were quite a bit older than me, it was Johnny who became my family. And now he was dead. I didn’t cry; I just walked to work, feeling blank. That is the last thing I remember until the day of the funeral.

The day of the funeral arrived, and I spent the morning in my room, drawing a picture. This is what I did when I didn’t want to deal with things; I buried myself in my art. As a result, I got quite good at it. This was the day that it hit me. Looking back on it, this is where my world came crashing down around me. I spent the next seven years carrying this around with me. It weighed me down. I was depressed. I went through different groups of friends, never really connecting in a significant way with anyone else. The first person I was able to connect with was the woman I would eventually marry, but this part of my life didn’t come to the surface until after we were married. And even then, it was only when it became obvious that I was struggling with something that had become far bigger than it needed to be. It affected our life together. I had to deal with it.

It took another two years, but I did deal with it. Now, I can talk about it. Now, I can understand the affect it had on my life. In many ways, it has shaped the person that I have become. It was through the process of dealing with Johnny’s death that I began to search for God; I mean really search for God. This was no easy thing to do. I realized that I didn’t have to search too hard, but this meant that I would have to open myself up to let God in. He was there the whole time; I just refused to acknowledge him.

In a round-about way, Johnny’s death led me to God.

I don’t claim to understand God’s ways. Nobody will ever understand God’s ways. But I have come to be thankful for His ways. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thankful that my best friend died. But I am thankful that out of his death has arisen a new life – my life. Strange how that works.

Last night Nettie and I were watching TV, and there was a character on a particular show who was dealing with the death of a loved one. The timing of this show is very coincidental. Her world had crashed down around her. I know how she felt. I could identify very strongly with that feeling. I have been there.

Every year in spring (a time of new life, nonetheless), I am in this shadow. I have come to understand that this shadow is mine. I can’t quite let it go. But I don’t want to, either. I may not particularly enjoy living in this shadow of my past, but I believe I need it. I need it to remind me of just how far I’ve come. I need it to remind me of the resurrection of Jesus Christ – from death comes new life.

It’s a dark, gloomy, rainy day outside, and I am seeing my own shadow.

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