Wednesday, April 25, 2018

No muscular dystrophy in heaven

As Jill Kyle and I drove down to Indy this morning to a regular doctors visit at Rileys we were talking about new procedures, advancements, and ideas that doctors may bring up.
Jill said but nothing can stop the muscle deterioration though. Well one thing can.
Kyle said yes I will be healed when I get to heaven.
I wonder and ask has my faith been changed because of Kyle? The answer is obviously yes but the bigger question is it for the good or bad?
Faith is easily shaped by personal experiences and a lens to make things make sense in our own world.
But more importantly thinking through truths that are more solid than just ones experience.
I have no idea how supernatural physical healing works. I do not want to discount it but at the same time not wanting to waste my and Kyle's life away waiting for something miraculous. Years can be wasted with him thinking hes cursed a mistake imperfect and useless because of his disease if all we do is talk and pray for physical healing.
We believe God has intervened and provided Kyle with many medical procedures especially in the last year. Is the disease eventually going to beat him in his body? Yes just like someday I and everyone else is going to die.
In the end each day we view as a blessing. Every morning  when Kyle wakes up and says top of the morning to Ya (not you he corrected me) those are special blessed days. 
Someday in the future we have faith in Kyle being perfect in physical health but in the meantime we live learn and are blessed by him.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Muscular dystrophy didn't win

It was a year ago today that Jill made a very tough decision. Kyle had passed out from coughing and his oxygen level went down he would have died if she hadn't called 911. The hospice nurse was with her at the time and said this is your decision. Jill thought and was pretty determined that this had happened due to one of his medications and could be solved.
After the paramedics put a cpap machine on him he came back to.
For the next few days/weeks after that Kyle was not happy Jill had saved his life. He told us he wanted to die.
Over the months and now year Kyle has told us he saw Jill rubbing his chest calling his name that day. I'm not sure how an out of body experience works but Kyle has described it that way.
We think of that decision and the effect not only on our immediate family but extend circles. We can simply say God has blessed us this past year. It is that simple but so complex in that decision and many other medical ones that we (especially Jill) have made. Being prepared to make a decision like this is something we have thought through.
 I hate thinking about all the medical decisions and try to put them off and hope they'll go away. But these are reality. The trilogy was the best decision that has been made. That has drastically improved Kyle's quality of life since last July.
As we are grateful for this past year we are also hopeful for the future. We go at Kyle's speed which has increased of late. He wants to visit Boston, Florida, Disney, and even go on a cruise.
We have no idea what the next year will hold either good or bad but we enjoy each day God blessed us with him.

Friday, March 16, 2018


When there is a painful, hurting, or crisis situation do we say "if there is anything I can do let me know."
Although this sounds helpful, this may just be token love care and an attempt to reach out.
This comment is taking responsibility off of us and placing it back on the person that is having the crisis. Instead of me thinking of helpful ways of serving, loving, and caring it is saying you in the midst of everything else going on come up with a way I can help you. Usually what is suggested is going to be very different than what we want to do. It is usually tangible and it is beyond token but an actual way to meet a real need.
The idea of going the extra mile is needed but takes much more work than what we are willing to do. Are we willing to serve on others terms or our own? We use phrases like we don't want to enable, for people to become dependent, or use us.
Why is it so easy for life to come back to us? How difficult is this going to be for me and how much am I really willing to give?
What if the mindset changed to I am willing to give until it is no longer a token gesture but a real expression of meeting the need until the crisis is over?
What if that means the rest of their or our lives? With disability, divorce, death of a spouse, unemployment, or any number of issues many don't go away quickly if ever.
But I want to keep my life the way it is. That is the biggest struggle we have to face and overcome if we want to love beyond token
 It is going to cost money, time, emotional energy and it may hurt. But the outcomes can be amazing not just to the person we are giving to but us as well.
We find that our own selfish thoughts, feelings, and attitudes stunt our own growth.
When a fire destroys a company we can say if there is anything you need let us know or you can say we will find a way to pay your employees salaries for a month. These are the kind of situations that take some burdens off of the stressful situations. Yes it takes sacrifice on others but it goes beyond token into a realm of real help.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

the world through our eyes

"Who stands up for them?" Was the question I was asked a few weeks ago. It was posed by a mom whose son was looking to go back into prison for a violation of probation. I could go into my opinions and thoughts of why I agreed or disagreed with the decision of the courts, but in the weeks following I have thought more about the perception and the answer to this moms question.
Why do we fear what we fear? Is it reality? Why are we more afraid of sharks then bees? We have a much greater chance of dying of bee stings than a shark attack. Why are we more afraid of a stranger breaking into our house or our lives and doing savage harm? Reality if something bad were to happen to us it is much more of a likelyhood that it would be someone we know.
So when this mom asked the question of who stands up for them? She was referring to her son who is a convicted sex offender. The answer is basically no one. This is one area of politics and social justice issues that everyone can put their collective anger together on and say these are the bad people of society and even though we cant agree on much we can agree on the punishment and permanent mark against these people.
I am never going to diminish or speak in agreement of what many people have done. There has been many awful things done to people I know, and it is never ok and should never be minimized. This is where our thinking gets extremely difficult. Sex offenders have committed crimes that have violated trust and went strongly against society values. Now what?
Sex offenders bear the brunt of society anger, both just and unjustified. I am not going to paint them as victims or that they don't deserve overt scrutiny because I understand some of it is very just.
But in the end how do we treat sex offenders as people God loves, God created, and God cares for?
One of the biggest frustrations I have with the church is a response I typically get. "Ben I am so glad you have a heart for these people( anyone messy outside of the church) but it isnt for me." I am sorry that is a cop out. I can be as selfish and self centered as anyone else and it is a daily choice to get involved in other peoples drama. I personally dont think as someone who follows Jesus that we can make our own standards of conduct and the lines we draw of who we treat well and who we dont.
Everyone in life I have ever met I disagreed with a decision they have made, including myself. To love care or show Gods grace does not mean I agree or affirm decisions made because I dont, but I dont think that excludes me from showing love and grace to anyone.
So when this mom asked the question of who stands up for her son, can I say I do? I do it with hesitancy and some trepidation. I dont stand up for him because he has made every right decision, I do so because he is created in the image of Christ and just as lepers were treated with distain and even less than human Jesus didnt do that. Jesus could have played the ultimate victim card but he didnt he responded in love and grace to the people who killed him. I know many have faced awful tragedies and pain. But is our response fear based and worry about something else? Or is our response like Jesus and full of humility grace and love?

Monday, December 8, 2014

A story of forgiveness that continues

I looked at him he looked vaguely familiar.  His glasses were taped up and he had some sort of black stocking cap on, he smiled at me and waved. I couldn't place him. As we continued to listen to the prison creed cover band I was wracking my brain trying to figure out who he was. As the chapel service came to a close he approached me. "Are you Ben?" not even trying to pretend I knew who he was I said yes, how do I know you? I am Brandon I was in one of your Plus classes. I wouldn't and didn't recognize him. But I remembered him. I have told his story so many times. It had been over 8 years since I had seen him last. I asked how he was doing? And the answer was a lot has changed in my life. He then went to get some coffee and I was left wondering what had happened in his life over the last many years of his life.
His story I have told many times, and even written about it, but as a refresher he was in the very first class I ever taught. I was teaching the Purpose Driven Life. My expectations were that I would have a guard with a big gun standing next to me as I taught. Reality was that the chaplain who escorted me in left to sit in his office and I was along with over 60 men in the same chapel I was in yesterday afternoon. As I went through the first few chapters of the book, I asked the question "When have you seen God in other people or situations?" Brandon raised his hand, and asked if he could share something?  he stood up next to me and took the mic and shared his story. These were the words I remember like they were yesterday. "I am in here for my part of a murder. I did what I was accused of doing. While I was in county jail waiting for trial, one day I was waiting for some friends to visit and a guard came to my cell. He told me I had a visitor so I went to the visiting room and it was the kind where there are tables separated by glass. I looked down the line and there was no one I recognized. The only open table was this little old lady and I looked at the guard and he shrugged and said she is here to see you. It was better than going back to my cell so I sat down and grabbed the phone and she asked me are you Brandon? I responded yes. She said I'm Timmy's grandmother (the boy you murdered) and I want to tell you I forgive you." Brandon ended his story with saying and that's when I saw God at work.

This story drew me into wanting to be a part of these men's lives. This story gave me hope for personal freedom from guilt, bitterness, and many other emotions that people do to deal with pain. I knew after hearing this story that there was so much I could learn from these men and their situations.

At the time Brandon an Asatru. It is a form of Germanic neopaganism faith. He was friendly but connected and steadfast in his faith.

After he got his coffee yesterday afternoon he came back over and wanted to talk. He gave me a hug, and said "man its been a long time." I agreed and proceeded to tell him that I had told his story so many times. He smiled and through his facial tattoos and his taped up glasses he said my life has changed and that story isn't over. I can't remember all he said as I was caught up in emotion and memories. But two parts stick out. The first being he has become a Christian. He shared between the program I taught and other brothers in the prison, he explored Christianity and God drew him in.
The second thing caught me offguard. Timmy's cousin has since been incarcerated at ISP. I asked him how that went? He at first was very worried and scared because those kind of situations do not usually end well. The vengeance factor of killing a family member usually ends in some kind of payback.
One day this cousin approached Brandon and said hey we are cool. I forgive you. Since then the two have become friends.
As Brandon was leaving he shared one last thing, even though his family forgave me, I still struggled with forgiving myself. But I have started to do that. I feel like I can forgive myself. It may be another 8 years until I see Brandon again, but it was an honor and blessing to hear and see God at work in his life.