The Three Best Decisions I Have Made This Year

1.  I’ve agreed to see a spiritual director once a month.
I actually didn’t have a clue how much I needed this. In fact, the idea was not mine and was initially setup to fulfill a different purpose. But what I realized is that there is a lot going on inside of me that I need to process with someone much further down the road than I am.  And while it has been pretty painful and brutally uncomfortable, it has been and will continue to be enormously helpful in becoming a healthy person who can connect emotionally with people.

2.  I joined a Micah Group.
Let me make a confession: I hate pastor’s luncheons. HATE.  H-A-T-E.  Why? Because they are infrequent, never the same people, and always involves surface level conversations and a “sizing up” of one another that I can simply live without.  But when I was approached to join a smaller, diverse group of pastors that committed to meeting together for the purpose of spiritual formation over the course of 2 years, I was intrigued.  We read the book of Common Prayer together, have times of discussion, watch videos, eat, and pray.  This is one fantastic group of people.  If you’re a pastor and have the opportunity to be a part of one of these where you live, I highly encourage it.

3. I have decided to take a break this summer from the ThM program.
I am a very driven person. When I start a program, I want to work hard, go above and beyond, even do the recommended reading, and finish strong. I get tired over the course of the semester and always want to quit, but two days after the semester I’m refreshed and feel ready to go again. I think I recover very quickly from intellectual fatigue.  After the semester was over, even though I had already decided to take the summer off and have a much needed rest after a few semesters of taxing research, full time pastoring and teaching, recovering from shoulder surgery, and having a second child, i found myself thinking, “I bet I could squeeze in some hours over the summer.

I’ve had to continually remind myself the value of taking a summer off to rest, think, pray, and be with my family.  Needless to say, I don’t “Sabbath” well and need to learn what it means.  Even though I have yet to experience the summer, I KNOW it will be beneficial for me.  This all begins next week with a week away in Richmond, VA.  After writing two sermons this week alone, it’s time to take a deep breath.

22 weeks Post-Op

It’s been a while since I’ve had a therapeutic post-shoulder surgery blog session so what the heck, right?  During the last 8 weeks there have been a lot of ups and downs.  The shoulder was feeling stronger and in less pain so we tried to increase therapy including throwing the baseball lightly.  That proved to be a bad idea as my biceps tendon swelling and pain came back making me unable to continue any kind of strengthening.  The pain has still been pretty constant with small breaks of relief.

Last week however, after fighting this tendon swelling and pain for well over a year I was able to go in a get a cortisone injection in the shoulder.  Initially I felt relief, but quickly the pain came back and it actually felt worse than ever. I was discouraged and fearful the rest of the day.  But when I woke up the next morning I felt like I had a brand new shoulder!  Since then (a little over a week) my shoulder has felt almost entirely free of pain and psychologically it has been a huge relief.  After a year and a half of almost constant pain, it’s overwhelming to feel the lack of it.

This is good news as I was starting (as well as my PT) to be concerned that a “second surgery” may be necessary to cut the tendon and reattach it lower on my shoulder.  It’s not out of the question, but the fact that the shot decreased the inflammation and pain is a great sign that the pain was stemming from that and not a mechanical or structural issue.  Praise God for that!  My shoulder still hikes when I raise it, but the surgeon informed me last week that may simply be the cost of surgery.  He said that my shoulder will never be the same.  In fact, he has had the same surgery and raised his arm and it did the same thing.  Bummer.  But I’m now able to ease back into strengthening and I’m just praying that the inflammation and pain will not return and in the next three months I can get back to normal.  That would be amazing.