God is grieving, too. This was NOT His will.

In response to the tragic shootings, my dad, a pastor in Northern Indiana, wrote and read the following at the beginnings of his services over the weekend. This is the theology foundation I grew up on, and the only kind I can continue to live life upon.  If you have a moment, read it. It’s greatly helped our conversations with our children at home

I wrote the following statement to read at the start of Worship.
The prayer at the end I did not write but borrowed from Pastor Rob Fuquey of St Luke’s UMC in Indy:

We cannot Worship this morning and ignore the events of the past few days. We cannot Worship as if nothing has happened. As we do every Sunday, we Worship today in the context of the world we live in; and this morning that includes the unthinkable shootings in a school in Connecticut. You and I have experienced our reactions and moments of horror – moments that leave us wondering, “where is God in all this?”

This is not the first time – and it will not be the last time we bring this question to our mind. Evil is among us, evil has happened and it will happen again. The study of the question of God and the existence of evil is called Theodicy; and it has been at least a part time study of my own for more than twenty years. I have gone to seminars – and have read many books on the subject. And I can tell you that any answer, any conclusion given on the question of where God is at a time like this – the answer is never sufficient.

And so, at times like this, we make things up. We try to defend God and we say things like, “It must be God’s Will”. Or we say God has a plan in all this. If I thought for a single second that God had anything at all to do with the shootings in Connecticut I would be reading to you my resignation today. This horror was not God’s Will and it certainly was not his plan for these young victims.

Furthermore, as much as we wish for something to say or something to do to make sense of this, or to be of some kind of help; it will not help to crusade for more gun control or the return of prayer in schools or any of several other good and bad ideas that come to our minds.

As your pastor I can tell you one fact that I know for sure; and if I were not certain of this fact I would be avoiding this subject altogether today. This is the fact I am certain of: God in Heaven is grieving with the families of those 26 victims today. Tears, real tears are being shed in Heaven today. I know that. I believe that. I trust that.

And what it says to me is that this is not a time for explanations, this is not a time for action, this is a time for tears, and silence. Today is not a day to proclaim Christ; today is a day to be like Christ and suffer with those who are suffering. So, no matter what else we do this morning in our Worship; we will identify with all those who mourn, who cry, their tears will be our tears; their prayers – our prayers. Let us pray now together……..

Dear God,

You saw your people in captivity and delivered them as slaves in Egypt. You heard the cries of mothers whose children were slaughtered by the order of Herod who learned a king (our Lord) had been born in his territory. You see the works of violence in our world and weep. Relieve the suffering of the people in Newtown, Connecticut. Grant all the families and friends of these victims the comfort and help they need to get them through this seemingly unbearable tragedy. Protect us all from the violence of others. Keep us safe from those who promote hate; we pray for the day when evil will no more be among us but will be in chains forever. Restore us now to tranquility and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Rick Pettys, Pastor with the United Methodist Church


Because we ARE dying

There are well meaning people, who love me like crazy,  and who think I am over zealous to be doing what I am doing.  What am I doing?  Living.  Okay, so it’s not that simple really, but when you come right down to it – that’s what it is… living.  I’m not dead, I’m not dying, and on top of that, these “good days” honestly change on me daily, sometimes.  But I’m not ready to stop or slow up for a minute…

Clouds,  Zach Sobiech,  Living…. Dying….  I’d never heard of this brave 17 year old kid just hours ago and yet somehow I’m “beyond words” affected by him.  Suddenly I can put into words the swirling emotions of the last 6 weeks and my intense feelings of the coming days ahead…  a strange thing to say after having said I’m beyond words, I know.

Truthfully?  At some point the good health will go back to a downward turn and things will get harder once more.  I don’t say this because I’m pessimistic.  I’m trying to be truthful with myself.  After having read up on this Chiari thing, it’s the nature of it.  That said – there will be these wonderful periods of time where things are really good.  I’ve decided to celebrate the good times and make them count.  I am by no means all rosy and great – and weather can really makes me remember the blasted reason the medicines are necessary – but I’m doing it!  I’m getting out and I’m living life again!  I’m more me than I’ve been in not just months, but what feels like maybe years.  Probably because I’ve given myself permission to…

Permission?  Yep.

I’ve begun to see a therapist.  For many, that has negative connotations.  But I was becoming angry.  I have many reasons to see her, I wont go into those mostly, but one main reason is simply to give myself permission to live life, as it comes, in whatever form it comes in, and to not apologize for whatever stage or form it comes in.  My health has been a huge obstacle for me to wrap my mind around.  It crippled me mentally this last year.  I let it.  The truth is it WAS crippling this last year – and it was what it was.  But when I began to give it permission to rule my living, my happiness, my reason for getting up each day, and my dreams…  well, it was time to do something.

I had stopped dreaming.  I figured if I couldn’t commit to a lunch date weeks in advance, what was there to dream about?  There would be nothing but just getting through the days…  nothing to look forward to with my whole being.  It should be enough to just want to wake up and be a mom to my kids and wife to my husband.  I felt and do feel intensely guilty that it’s not enough for me.  I want it to be…  but I was created to dream.  I was created with a passion to create, to hope, to feel alive and to dream dreams that seem silly and ridiculous.  I cant help it – because it’s just who I am… it’s me.  It’s who I’ve been since I was a girl.  And I am a better Mom and wife when I acknowledge all this and do something about it.

I come back to it over and over – and I’ve heard the lack of understanding in a blank tone after sharing how the audition and the play this Christmas, “Saved my life.”  I know it’s one more time I’ve essentially become a drama queen about my life.  But the truth is that it HAS saved me.  I’m a girl again.  I have my spunk back.  I’m happy.  I’m not bogged down with the family crises of the moment – nor my own issues.  I’m just me.

It’s healthy to have a chance to put down your pack of heavy burdens and lay them at the door for a while, stride across a room into a place where you can be happy and dream a little, and pick it all up a few hours later.  It’s not ignoring reality, it’s taking a break.  I am SUCH a better mom and wife when I do it, there’s no comparing it.  I’m far more patient and loving when I’ve had a break.  The kids even ask me nightly if I have rehearsal tonight.  They get it too.

A friend posted a link to a video today and the world ground to a hault.  It’s amazing – it’s inspirational – it’s full of hope, and yet keenly tragic.  It makes me want to live out loud all the more.  Zach’s 17 and he’s got more moxy and umph in his short living he’s left with than I’ve done in all my 38 years.  Again, it makes me want to go strap on a pair of new boots and go kick some life-ass.

I am sorry if my taking things too fast, or living too headlong into the moment right now is worrisome or stressful.  I hear the concerns.  I do.  But I cant stop.  If it’s not this, I will find something else to dive into that makes me come alive and pop.  I want to learn guitar, I want to write another book, I want to strap on some new kicking high heeled boots and waltz down the sidewalk with my head held high while my body lets me.  I want to spend my next downtime reliving my joys, whether it’s just a hour, a day, or a month.  I want no regrets or minutes missed because I wanted to be cautious.

The bad days come no matter what I do.  It doesn’t matter if i do everything perfect.  It’s all random.  It is what it is.  But I have a obligation to live like there were no tomorrows, to live like I was dying… because some people are.  They’d give anything to have mine.  I owe it to them to live them out loud and with gusto.

My aunt just received a clean MRI from her neurosurgeon.  It was her one year anniversary scan from the brain tumor and resulting surgery she had.  Last year we were thrilled to have her pull through that scary surgery and be with us still, and this year we get to say THANK GOD for the continued blessings…

Tomorrow is never a given.  Even when you don’t have tumors or cancer.  The reality is that we ALL are dying.  We just don’t have an “END” date.  So don’t waste it.  Live like you ARE dying.  Because….  well….  because if for no other reason…  Zach deserves your tomorrows be lived with purpose.

Clouds by Zach Sobiech

It really IS A “Wonderful Life”

A while back I took a chance and sucked up all the courage I didn’t have and set out to do something completely insane.  I auditioned for a play down at the community theater.  I know.  I obviously had lost my mind.  But it has been the best crazy moments I’ve had in at least 2+ years.  It’s given me my life back. A life I had forgotten I even had.

Before Charlie had his Angels, George Bailey had us.  With "Mary" and "Violet".

Before Charlie had his Angels, George Bailey had us. With “Mary” and “Violet”.

For those of you who read often, read the following as, “Blah blah blah, and tolerate the repetitive onslaught of conversation about to come at you in hyper drive sequences.  If I apologize now, I am in the clear for your future yawns or statements to your computer screen of, “I know all this, get on with it already, Campbell!”

That officially said – Here’s the thing…  I thought I was getting along pretty okay, and holding my own.  I was gradually getting stronger and decreasing the meds I hated so much.  I worked my way through a tough detox back last May of some pretty intense drugs that had been prescribed and didn’t work for me… (and frankly never should have been prescribed.)  It’s taken just shy of 2 years for the host of doctors and techs to look at my films, get test results, order more tests, trial runs of meds, finding I’m allergic or just ODD and cant take the normal versions of meds, and finally, FINALLY, settling in on a set of drugs that will work together and keep me seemingly normal.

Bert and George  ?lovingly? wring my neck.  I didn't do anything.  I swear!

Bert and George ?lovingly? wring my neck. I didn’t do anything. I swear!

YES – I know the word normal and Christi do NOT, in fact, make sense to insert into a common sentence.  Will you stop getting distracted and just work with me here??  Good heavens.

Long story short – I have a set of medicines that are working to keep my life in a somewhat workable balance.  I have days that are off.  Today is one of them.  I’m a tad fuzzy and the weather is reminding me of all the reasons I take these blasted medicines are all too real.  I suppose it keeps me from getting smug and cocky, declaring myself well and healed, and doing something stupid like jumping off the cocktails I loathe so much.

Me and "Mary" - and my audition Buddy.  I hardly remember what I did before I had this amazing girlfriend!

Me and “Mary” – and my audition Buddy. I hardly remember what I did before I had this amazing girlfriend!

But regardless – here I am, shocking myself, and happier than I have been in ages.  I am finding that the girl I once was is still very much alive.  I really did wonder if she was still tucked inside somewhere, or if I’d lost her.  But she survived the battle back.  A big FYI –  watch out world – this is only the beginning.

After “waking up” and finding what it is to live ALIVE – I just cant stand to go back to living dead inside again.  I have to do what makes me tick.  And this is one of those things.  I find it no ironic coincidence that the play that brings me back to life is none other than “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Hope you’ll enjoy a few of the snapshots from the behind the scenes insanity of our opening night.  It was splendidly fun.  I had forgotten how positively electric it is.  The energy is zinging and popping all over the place.  I swear there was a glow to the cast long after the lights went to blackout.

If you are around here the next two weekends, come on by for the show!  We have 6 more shows to go!