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Pastor Paul's Musings What you see is what you get. Son, brother, husband, lover of Colleen, Dad, pastor @enewheart, Simi PD Chaplain, @pastorforlife

20 December 2012 ~ 2 Comments

A Journey of Outrageous Proportions

It seems like both yesterday and forever ago that I admitted Jonathan to Heritage School on May 2, 2011. I was an emotional wreck! I made the pilgrimage to admit Jonathan at Heritage myself on May 1-2, 2011.

It’s hard to believe it’s already time for him to come home. How the decision came about is long and detailed, but the day is finally here. This too was a trek I was originally going to take alone, as Colleen had work commitments that couldn’t be changed. However, those commitments made changes of their own and the time opened for her to come along. A huge relief. While I had geared myself up for doing this part without her as well, it was awesome to have her be able to join me!

We departed home around 5:00 pm Wednesday night. We made it to St. George, UT around 2:00 am today (3:00 am Utah time). A very brief five hours later, the alarm went off. A quick shower and breakfast and we were back on the road to Provo for our final therapy session at 2:30 and his program completion ceremony at 3:30.

I can’t really find the words to describe how proud we are of Jonathan and what the gathering was like. The meeting is planned by the student completing the program. Jonathan chose three friends and a residential counselor to speak. The words they shared were amazing and deeply moving. We couldn’t hold the tears back. Then it came time for Colleen and I to share as well. Even more difficult to withhold the tears!

We’ve decided to stay in Provo overnight. We’ll start the trek home in the morning, planning to drive halfway (Mesquite, NV). We’ll arrive home on Saturday. Our thanks to so many who have followed and supported our journey! We’ll keep ya’ll posted!

 

12 November 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Decompressing

It’s been four weeks since I finished school. It feels great to be done, but I’m finding it taking longer to decompress than I expected. I figured it’d take some time to gain a sense of “normalcy” (I know…there’s no real “normal”).

I just didn’t figure it would take this long! It’s definitely getting better, but just taking a while. Tonight, Colleen and I went to a movie spontaneously. It’s been a long time since we’ve done anything on the spur of the moment! Felt great!

I’m also trying to reintegrate golf into my life. I just really enjoy being out at a golf course almost anywhere. My favorite is Elkins Ranch. Got to play there Saturday with my brother, who came down from Santa Maria.

Since I wrote last, here are a few key events in our lives:

Colleen & I enjoyed a few days together in Virginia at the beginning of August. It was a mix if work and pleasure as I’ve made a few trips back there this year for some unofficial training.

We enjoyed Jonathan’s second home visit in late August. It went well, he’s making good progress, and we’re looking forward to his next visit at Christmas.

Josh signed up for the US Marines Delayed Entry Program. It allows him a few special privileges, one if them being a weekly workout with Marines and other “poolees”. He already has a Boot Camp date of July 23.

My parents moved back to Simi Valley from Texas in mid-September. It’s been great so far to have them nearby again.

This morning at church, we honored military veterans with a special service. It was very special.

We’re looking forward to hosting both my family & some of Colleen’s family this Thanksgiving. We’re having so many people over that I’m looking for a good size TV to use in our living room. Got any ideas?

What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?

31 July 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Adult Truths

Got these from a friend and found them hilarious! Thought I’d share the humor:

    • I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
    • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
    • I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
    • There is great need for a sarcasm font.
    • How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
    • Was learning cursive really necessary?
    • Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
    • Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
    • I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
    • Bad decisions make good stories.
    • You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
    • Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.
    • I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
    • I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
    • I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
    • I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
    • I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.
    • I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
    • How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?
    • I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
    • Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Jeans? Jeans never get dirty, and you can wear them forever…
    • Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch three consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
    • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey; but I’d bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3-feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
    • People who forward e-mail without deleting the tons of previous recipients should be shot and then tarred and feathered.
    • The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. Ladies quit laughing!

      23 June 2012 ~ 0 Comments

      Have You Considered Adopting?

      Many of you know our story of both of our boys being adopted. The tremendous part is they’re ten months apart. Different biological birthmoms.

      Josh was first. We found out about him when his birthmom was just three months pregnant and walked through the last six months of her pregnancy with her.

      Jonathan came next. We found out about him on THE DAY HE WAS BORN. Turned out his birthmom knew about us and chose us for him. In reality, God chose us for him and him for us.

      I encourage parents to adopt as much as I can. Just came across a fabulous resource for those interested and researching. Check out The Adoption Journey. You’ll find some simple steps that will help you move in the direction of adopting along with free resources.

      The AdoptionJourney Project (www.adoptionjourney.org) is a collective of organizations who want to break down the barriers to adoption. The goal is to foster honest conversations about the adoption process, offer comprehensive yet easily accessible information about domestic and international adoption, and connect those who have already adopted with those who are thinking about it.

      Follow on twitter @AdoptJourney.

      23 June 2012 ~ 0 Comments

      Why Is the Sun Up in the Middle of the Night?

      I’m in Chicago on a couple hour layover. It’s 4:10 am according to my body, but Chicago believes it’s 6:10 am. I left LAX at about 10:45 pm. All this makes for a short night, but I’m sure my body will painfully remind me of that in short order once I arrive in Christiansburg, Virginia. That’s my destination.

      So, enjoy what I can and will. LAX was an absolute zoo. I have no idea what all those people were doing there on a Friday night. Chicago is not near as full, so it’s quite a bit quieter. A good thing for an introvert.

      I’m enjoying a grande triple shot decaf extra hot soy no whip no foam white mocha. A treat, as I haven’t had near as many of these as I am used to. Started laying off in an attempt to get my gut to settle down from where it’s been.

      Gastroparesis still plays its silly games with my stomach and intestines. Every once in a while, and it’s quite a while now, gotta just let it calm down by going with mostly liquids.

      I’m on my way to Christiansburg to invest the next week working with my mentor at a pastor’s retreat center. He’ll work me into counseling situations wherever he can to give me exposure and training. It’s kind of a “domestic” missions trip.

      Some of these pastors, some along with their spouses, will be here for a time of rest or sabbatical, others for a study break and still others for crisis care. So, this is a trip with a definite mission to help pastors and their families regain some perspective and equilibrium toward a healthier season ahead of them.

      Never sure what’s ahead, but it always turns out to be a thing of God. I hope to be back again later this Summer or Fall, and hopefully Colleen can come with me to enjoy the beauty of the area.

      Still working on my Master’s in Human Services with specialization in Marriage & Family through Liberty University. It’s a counseling degree. If I stay on track, I’ll finish mid-October. The classes have been really good, but I’m ready to be done and have some real time again! So is Colleen!

      Wondering what’s happening with Jonathan? Us too! He’s in a bit of a rough patch it seems. Ever since going back to Heritage after his April home visit, he seems to be struggling. He wouldn’t say so. He says he’s fine. But his grades have taken a slight hit (for his standards), he’s stopped calling us between therapy appointments every other Tuesday (next one this coming Tuesday), and for the first time since he’s been there, he lost privileges a few phases backwards for some not so good behavior.

      Many would say this is a bummer. Actually, it’s a good thing to us. Ever since he’s been there (since May 2, 2011, and another 5 weeks prior in Oregon), he’s been on stellar behavior. We’ve always known that anyone can only hold it together drastically as he has for only so long. That seems to be finally unraveling for him a bit. And that’s good, because the pros can finally see more of what they need to work with.

      I miss him. Terribly. Just before I left for the airport a few hours ago, I received a letter in the mail from him. He hasn’t written in AGES. But he sent me a Father’s Day letter. Short. Sweet. Full of my Munchkin.

      • “Sorry for not sending a Father’s Day card, but I’m sure this makes up for it.” (Confident kid, ain’t he?)
      • “Thanks for sending me here to get help” (sniff, sniff, sniff)
      • “Did Mom tell you I want an iPod in Mastery (final phase where they get to have an mp3 player) and I’ll pay for my own songs?” (There’s the Munchkin!!)

      Our next visit with him is scheduled for his school break. We plan to bring him home Aug. 16, go RVing Aug. 17-21, and spend the rest of the week at home with him until he returns to Heritage on Aug. 25 for the next semester.

      Since his home visit in April, I’ve done a bit of traveling.

      New York City first week of May for the EHS Leadership Conference. Great time there reconnecting with friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen for three years due to my illness in 2010 and Jonathan’s departure in 2011.

      Utah in mid-May for the Heritage Parent Conference. They do this twice a year, and it’s always a powerful time of education and insight. Colleen didn’t go on the New York or Utah trip. Jonathan and I spent a lot of time together, including a great spontaneous day of fly fishing Sunday afternoon! I also got to experience some powerful insights and learning about equestrian therapy.

      End of May had Colleen and I in Phoenix, AZ for our annual Foursquare Convention. You can click here for deets on that. It was a great time of connecting with friends ala Foursquare.

      Then, in mid-June, our niece, Kylene, on Colleen’s side, graduated High School. That resulted in some family being down with us for a few days. Had a stellar time with them and always wish it could be longer.

      Josh is working this Summer at a local 9 hole golf course as a Range Assistant. He drives the cart that picks up range balls, cleans them and refills buckets. He’s working lots of hours while trying to finish his Junior year of High School independent study. He plans to start his Senior year back at Simi Valley High School on Aug. 22, but he’s got lots of work to complete this Summer to make it happen.

      Other than that, he still plans to join the Marines after graduation. He’s starting to talk to the local recruiter about how to get in. He’s planning on starting reserves, getting a degree, and then going active as an Officer.

      I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here for now. Onward and upward…..

      15 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

      Great Weekend!

      It’s late Sunday night, and we are officially exhausted! A good exhausted though! An emotional weekend having Jonathan here for his first home visit in over a year is coming to an end.

      He arrived Thursday evening, where we picked him up at LAX. As soon as we got home, Charlie (his/our dog), recognized him immediately. Charlie is NOT a licker, but he just about licked Jonathan’s face right off!! He just went on and on in excitement over their reunion!

      On Friday, we had a home visit with our County Case Manager. She missed meeting with him her last time at Heritage three weeks ago because we had him off campus at our visit there. So, we arranged for her to come in for a meeting while he was here. That seemed to go pretty well.

      Jonathan spent the rest of Friday on a couple of grocery shopping trips with me for the preparation for today’s open house we held for him. We had heavy rain all day Friday (which is a nice break of weather for us), so the time we spent at home was in front of the fireplace. Josh had a few different appointments on and off through the day, so it was a busy day in our household.

      On Saturday, some long time friends of the boys and our family came in from Temecula. We ventured over to the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar. Jonathan is an animal lover and we had never been to this place before. It wasn’t much of a big deal, but was fun to spend an hour or so at anyway. After that, we picked up another close friend of Jonathan’s who we had arranged to come spend Saturday night with us.

      Today, after church this morning, we had the open house from 1:00 until 6:00 pm. BBQ’d burgers and chicken and hosted a slew of friends, family and such. It was so great to see the show of support for Jonathan and our family that has been built over the years. Jonathan seemed to have a genuinely good time seeing everyone.

      Tonight, we’re just tired, but as mentioned, it’s a good tired. Tomorrow, he’ll board the plane to head back for the next season at Heritage. I’ll get to see him again May 17-21, when Heritage has their next Parent Conference. It’ll be a few days of some really good education, as well as some good time spent with Jonathan while I’m there. (Colleen isn’t planning on making this trip due to work and some other upcoming travel.)

      From there, we think his next home visit will be an extended one during his next school break in August. We anticipate that trip will be 7-10 days long. That will be our first real test. This weekend was a test, but it’s intentionally short to minimize stress, re-acquaint him with home, and give an opportunity to see how he functions back in the original, formerly troubled, environment.

      I think we all did well for his first time back. We can see more that needs to take place, but overall, he and we did very well. Our hearts are glad!

      03 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

      Textpectations

      “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

      Those were the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens. What makes it one of the all-time greatest pieces of literature is that he could be talking about ANY place and time, and even topic, in history.

      Therefore, today I propose that he’s talking about TEXTING! Yes, I said that I think Dickens is talking about texting. You did NOT mis-read me.

      Specifically, I think Dickens is addressing textpectations. Don’t go to your dictionary. You won’t find it there. It’s a Kuzma-ism. It means “text expectations”.

      Here are mine, in hopes it may communicate and create some reasonability for those I text, those that text me, and those who may one day be in textversation with me:

      • I text because of how easy it is to drop a question, comment, or care note without having to bother someone with the time-intense necessary pleasantries a phone call draws out. I don’t expect that everyone texts for the same reasons.
      • I converse through text only when invited to do so, whether directly or indirectly, by way of a response that invites longer interaction. Oftentimes, I might ask to transition such textversations to phone calls or face to face meetings.
      • When I text you for the first time and receive a quick response, the bar is set for the future. I tend to expect a response to future texts, but please know that I do NOT expect an immediate response.
      • I expect that your life is busy too; that you’re not waiting around for me to text you so that you can text me back right away. I expect the same understanding if I can’t get back to you right away.

      What are some of your texpectations?

      24 March 2012 ~ 3 Comments

      It’s Always Hard To Leave

      Friday morning, Jonathan and I both got up early. Actually, he always gets up early. The only different is that I got up early. Either way, it was just the two of us for a while. He ate breakfast, I enjoyed watching him, and we both took turns at initiating some good conversation.

      After Colleen and Josh woke up, we walked through the task of packing up from our week and took off for Provo. On the way out of Midway, we stopped at a couple places. One was a cute shop made out of a barn built around 125 years ago, called “All That Stuff In The Barn.” I picked up a couple of neat sign art pieces for my office and the church foyer.

      You see a pic of them here. I love their simple message, surrounded on each side by a butterfly wing, emphasizing the truth of the statement!

      Then, we stopped again at Heber Valley Cheese, remembering that they make their cheeses on Fridays. We watched the process for a few minutes and one of the workers came out to tell us about it and offer some extremely fresh cheddar curds, which tasted like styrofoam at this point in their process. You can see Josh, Jonathan and I here hanging in a block of swiss cheese.

      We also took a snapshot of the Shire house I mentioned the other day as well for you. YOU can live here….not just a movie set. It was just amazing looking!

      From there, we made our way back to Heritage, where we had a good therapy session, dealing with how the week went and what needs to be worked on from here to continue re-building trust and healthier relationships. After that, we took Jonathan out to lunch, window shopped a couple of pet stores and then brought him back to Heritage.

      I gotta say, it’s always hard to leave! He has no emotional issues with it, it seems. He does fine with the departures. I, on the other hand, am a total mess! I did much better this time, but it’s always hard to leave. At the same time, in many ways, I hope it never gets easier.

      We drove about 300 miles back to Mesquite, and this time, we found a great place to stay that I would highly recommend. It’s called Highland Estates Resort, and they’re all 1 bedroom condos. Made for a comfortable, clean, quiet place to stay and rest on the way. It was also only $99 for a weekend night.

      Right as I post this update, we are departing Mesquite, 380 miles and probably about 7 hours from home including stretch breaks. Colleen seems to be doing well with stretch breaks every 2 hours. Not without stiffness, and hopefully, it will at least keep deeper stiffness from settling in like December’s trips.

      See you at home!

      22 March 2012 ~ 1 Comment

      Last Full Day

      We started off a bit earlier today, at least for us! After breakfast, it was on to The Living Planet Aquarium. Not a big one, but definitely an adventure, filled with great fish (the kind for looking, not eating….I don’t do fish!), for both viewing and even touching for some!

      The day warmed up quite nicely, reminding us of home, at a beautiful 70°! We made our way north to Salt Lake City. On the way, we stopped at Ronie’s Love of Birds, a wonderful exotic bird shop that used to sell birds and supplies. Now, after several years of not being able to compete with breeders and seeing how ill-equipped most folks are to really care well for their birds, she no longer sells. She only adopts and then adopts birds out once she has nursed them to health. Jonathan’s love of animals really shines around and about birds of all kinds, so it was a treat and more education for him.

      From there, we meandered through some of Salt Lake City’s side streets, enjoying the depth of some of the older home architecture. We landed for several minutes at Olympic Cauldron Park, the location of the 2002 Winter Olympics cauldron and medals stand. The boys weren’t much impressed, but nicely obliged as Colleen and I ooh’d and ahh’d at some neat history and snapped a few souvenir pictures.

      Next, we found our way to Hogle Zoo. We spent a great couple hours enjoying the animals and basking in the sun. But there was a larger purpose here. Several months ago, after Jonathan had been at Heritage a short time, a friend recommended that I sign up for emails with Groupon and Living Social out of Salt Lake City to see what deals may come our way since we knew trips here were in our future.

      One that I snapped up was a great deal on a one-hour photo shoot on location near Salt Lake City with a professional photographer. It had been several years since we had a family portrait done, and I’ve loved the contemporary on-site shoots I had been seeing many friends have done. We couldn’t get it set for December’s trip, but we were finally able to do it today. Can’t wait to see how they turned out, but I suspect they’ll be great! I’ll post a bunch on my Facebook page when I can!

      After we wrapped up the photo shoot, we stopped for dinner at a place called Cafe Rio. There are several of them throughout the area, and they’re reminiscent of Baja Fresh. We decided they’re even more fresh! The freshest (literally) flour tortillas I’ve ever had, which surely was why they were the tastiest as well. Our taste buds are peeled for an opportunity to indulge there again before we depart Utah!

      Once we landed back in Midway, we hopped on ooVoo and spent some time with may parents in Texas and my sister in Simi Valley. For those unaware, ooVoo is an online video calling  service, and it beats Skype by miles I must say. If you do ANY video calling, ooVoo’s quality surpasses Skype and you can video conference with (theoretically, if you have enough internet speed) up to 12 other people!

      Anyway, we had a great time catching up, and it’s a fantastic way for the rest of the family to spend some time with Jonathan. They obviously don’t get any time with him while he is at Heritage, unless on a home visit.

      Which segues to the final thing I’ll mention for tonight. We’ve had a couple hiccups here and there with Jonathan, but nothing major. While he is very concerned that those hiccups will keep him from being able to do a home visit, we’ve tried to assure him we don’t believe they will. While they are minor hiccups in the large scheme of things, and I won’t go into details here, they are certainly things we will bring to our debrief therapy session tomorrow. These hiccups are the reason families do these visits. It’s kinda like working out the kinks on something that is hopefully being well overhauled.

      That said, we are already planning for Jonathan’s first home visit to happen April 12-16. It will be short on purpose, because they know from experience that especially the first home visit can be overwhelming for the student AND family. It is the next step in the process of “testing” and “working out the kinks”. For those local to us that may want to see him, let me know and we’ll see what we can arrange.

      Until tomorrow….

      21 March 2012 ~ 0 Comments

      Local And Lazy

      This morning, Colleen, Jonathan and I made breakfast together. His favorite: Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Josh slept in quite late, so the three of us ate together and had some really good conversation as well.

      We’re so proud of how far Jonathan has come! At the same time, it’s always hard to know how much of the changes are an effort on his part to just get home, and how much will be real and lasting. In reality, there is NO way to tell for sure before he comes home. And we all realize that.

      Talked a lot about where Jonathan is at, encouraging him to go further in looking at what got him to Heritage, and really receiving all the services they have to offer. He seems more open than ever, and we just encouraged him to really delve into why he got to where he did before he came here so he can learn how to keep from going to those places in his life again in the future. It was really deep, and really good.

      We chose to spend the day together locally. There’s not a whole lot to do here in Midway, but the area is gorgeous. Even when we were here in December, we didn’t take the time to just stay here and look around and enjoy. So we did that today.

      We visited the Homestead Crater, which is located right across the street from our complex. It’s a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone rock that nature has hollowed out and filled with 90° to 96° water. You can actually go swimming and scuba diving in it!

      Then we spent a few hours just driving, walking and browsing Midway. I had seen a sign for a bakery (always a fave for me) that had a Black Forest Cupcake, and knew I had to get there! So we did. You may not know that I am an eclair connoisseur! It’s true! I try them anywhere I find them, as long as they’re filled with Bavarian Cream.

      We browsed a local home decor store and drove the streets to look at houses. Architecture here is pretty eclectic. We had heard and read that the town has Swedish roots. The architecture shows that. But at the same time, while you drive by one house that looks like it came out of Little House on the Prairie or The Walton’s, right next door will be a house that looks like it comes from the future, not even the present! We even saw one house that looked EXACTLY like it could have been from the Shire in Lord of the Rings!

      We also visited a local dairy, though operations were quiet. They only show off on Fridays, so we’re not sure we’ll get to see it in operation. We check out on Friday morning. Maybe on our way out of town.

      The rest of the day was finally catching our season finale of The Walking Dead (don’t ask, it’s really something I do to connect with one of my sons!), reading (homework for me in my new class, Group Dynamics), napping, dinner, ping pong, a little TV here and there, and planning out tomorrow.

      For now, since we’re in Salt Lake City all day tomorrow, I gotta get the assignment due tomorrow night done so it’s not hanging over my head. A great night to you!