30 March 2007

Update on Timothy's surgery

Tim’s back home, and without casts!! We started about 0800 this (Friday) morning in St Louis. His casts were removed and they sent us for a couple of x-rays. Dr. Shoenecker checked his wounds and pronounced him healed! They even decided to work him in to take out the two small pins that were put in back in January in the original surgery. It was a little tough on him, waiting until almost noon for surgery, because he couldn’t have anything to eat or drink, but the alternative was to come back next week, so we decided to go ahead and do it today. Originally, they were saying it would be late this afternoon before they got to him, and I just couldn’t see making him (or me!) go that long without food, not to mention getting home after midnight! But they worked him into the middle of the day’s schedule.

He has been fitted with AFOs; plastic fitted braces that help hold his feet in their corrected place. Having been off his feet for more than two months, he will now have to learn to walk all over again! Geocaching as therapy, how does that grab you?! Can I deduct my GPS?

This trip went much smoother than the last one I made with him! On 6 February, he and I went up for an appointment first thing the morning of the 7th. His surgery in mid-January had gone well, and the first follow-up visit in late January was uneventful. [my now-ex-wife] had done her time with him, so I offered to go up this time. He gets combative when he comes out of anesthesia, and he’s almost as big as she is, so she kind of takes a beating. I’m big enough to stop him from hitting me or himself!

When they came out of the cast change, they told me he had developed an infection in the incisions along the arch of both feet, and we’d have to be there for “a couple of days.” His casts would be changed and the wounds cleaned each morning. Meanwhile, he’d be on IV antibiotics. Now remember, Tim has CP, he doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he knows how to pull an IV out! So virtually 24 hours a day, he had to be supervised, or he’d yank his tube out. Even with me and the nurses watching him, he managed to do it twice! He’s a fast little bugger! Of course, we had only packed for a day and a half trip, so [my now-ex-wife] had to hop in the van and bring me clothes and other essentials for an extended stay in the hospital. Now, the Shriner’s perform the surgery and follow-up care at no cost to us, which is an amazing blessing, but that trip, its hotel stay, and his services at the local Children’s Hospital, plus 9 days worth of hospital food for me, came out of our pockets! The hospital has laundry facilities, so I had to do several loads over the next 9 days to keep us in clean clothes! During that time, I left his room for only an hour or two each day. I had [my now-ex-wife]’s laptop with me, but to get internet access, I had to walk two blocks to the public library and use their wireless access point! Fortunately, there was a Starbucks a couple of doors down from the library, so I multi-tasked those trips! Halfway through the stay, though, St. Louis got 6 inches of snow!! So a couple of those trips were walking in ankle deep snow in 15 degree temps! Thank God, I had worn my boots that first day, and not my sneakers!

After 6 days, they cut “windows” in the casts to change the sterile dressings each day, and I got my first look at the wounds. Three inches long, and inch wide, and half an inch deep! Squeamish? Look away for a second: picture a hot dog left in the microwave too long…how they split open…got it? That’s what they looked like. Finally after nine days, they let us come home, albeit with a $118 antibiotic, and sterile dressing changes twice a day for a month! The dressing changes were to allow the wounds to heal naturally, growing from the inside out, while peeling away the dead top layer each time. The self-repairing capabilities of the human body are amazing! We are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
So to say that this trip was less eventful is truly an understatement! We go back in two months, if nothing goes wrong. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for and encouraged us through this whole ordeal. Once he’s able to walk again, without pain, it will all be worth it!

29 March 2007

Greetings from St Louis!

Sitting in a hotel room in St. Louis, it occurs to me that some do not know the story of my oldest and heir apparent to the Spencersb throne, "Poppa's Boy." First, how he got his name: "Poppa" is my dad, who died in 1998. He and Tim were big Buds! Tim could do no wrong! I'm grateful that Tim at least got to know him. I never knew either of my grandfathers.

Timothy was our first child. [my now-ex-wife] and I were married on 30 October 1992, and on Christmas morning she gave me a "present." She crawled back into bed and told me "that sucker is so pink it ain't even funny!" Took me a few seconds to figure out what she was talking about!

The pregnancy went normally, until [my now-ex-wife]'s water broke at 11:30 at night! She would be in labor for almost 24 hours! At one point during that time, Tim's heart rate dropped. We didn't think anything about it at the time, but when he was six months old and still couldn't turn over, we started to believe something was wrong. He was diagnosed with Hypotonia (weak muscles, a mild form of Cerebral Palsy) and "developmental delay."

Part of Tim's condition is poor motor skills, which causes him to walk on the outsides of his feet. He may have also had a congenital predisposition to "clubfoot," so in the past couple of years, his feet have gotten progressively deformed. It was getting very painful for him to walk any sort of distance at all. So last year, my lovely and indispensible wife [my now-ex-wife] took the bull by the horns and got us approved for treatment at the Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis.

In January, they operated on both feet to straighten and flatten them. The surgery went fine, but at the second followup visit, they discovered a raging infection in the inside incisions of both feet! Tim and I ended up in the hospital in St. Louis for nine days!! Even once we got sent home, [my now-ex-wife] and I have had to change the sterile dressing on his feet twice a day, allowing the incisions to heal from the inside out.

So that's where Tim and I are now, in a Holiday Inn in St. Louis. He has an 8:30 appointment tomorrow morning. I'll post an update when we get back home (which I hope will be tomorrow night, and not ten days from now!

28 March 2007

Bellevue Baptist Church

This is long, but anyone who knows me knows I have a big mouth, so it should come as no surprise to anyone.

I’m sure we have all heard the term “agree to disagree.” Perhaps you have heard it further modified to say “agree to disagree agreeably.” In a nut shell, this means that although we disagree on a particular issue, we can still maintain a civility and cordiality that decent folks take for granted. There’s no need for name-calling, derogatory comments, or accusations that impugn the intelligence or integrity of the other party. We simply see the issue differently, and that’s okay. We’re adults; we’re allowed to do that.

Some folks insist on disagreeing disagreeably. “If you do not agree with my position, it must be because you are blind, stupid, and/or lying. Since I am obviously right, and I have “proof,” apparently, (to borrow a line from Col. Jessup) ‘you can’t handle the truth!’” Rational reasoning is pointless, appeals to simply move on to more important matters fall upon deaf ears. One of my favorite people to quote is Sir Winston Churchill, who opined “A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” These are the folks that gave rise to my previous comments about teaching an orangutan to use post-hole diggers. They have neither the skills nor the inclination to use the tools provided for them.

Recently, however, I have encountered a third class of people: those with whom I “agree disagreeably.” These are people who may have a legitimate gripe, an issue of some import that deserves to be discussed with due diligence. But, for one reason or another, they are so abrasive in the way in which they present themselves or their argument, you find yourself not wanting to agree with them!

It is here that I will begin the first of my public comments regarding one of the controversies I mentioned in my opening post: the current situation at my home church, Bellevue Baptist.

First, a little background: I’ve been through this before. Our old church, Leawood Baptist, went through a similar experience where a new pastor came in on the heels of a 30+ year spiritual “legend.” Tommy Vinson arrived at Leawood from Brandon, MS to try to fill the shoes of Dr. Jerry Glisson, Leawood’s pastor for, at the time I think it was 32 years. Adding to the difficulty for Bro. Tommy, Dr. Glisson wasn’t leaving! He was retiring, but staying in the church that had been home for almost half his life!

The transition between these two men of God was remarkably smooth. Oh, we had some issues, but for the most part, the church weathered them without any major disputes, declines, or calls for a split. I attribute this to, of course the Grace of God, but also to BOTH Dr. Glisson and Bro. Tommy. Think about it. Bro. Tommy could have ridden into Leawood on a white horse, saying “I don’t care how you’ve done it for 32 years, there’s a new sheriff in town!” People would have ridden him out of town on a rail! Conversely, Dr. Glisson could have simply and quietly let it be known that he didn’t necessarily like the “changes” (and change is inevitable), and people would have ridden Bro. Tommy out of town on a rail! Neither thing happened because of the graciousness of these two men. Shortly before he left (after 8 years) for First Baptist Church in Winter Park, FL, [my now-ex-wife] and I had Bro. Tommy and his lovely wife Rose over to our house for dinner. I mentioned my theory to him, and he told me that the greatest gift Dr. Glisson gave him was that he never disagreed with him in public. There were a few times when Dr. Glisson pulled him aside and gave Bro. Tommy his opinion, but publicly, he always made it clear that Tommy Vinson was HIS pastor, too, and he supported him as God’s man for that time.

Like Leawood, Bellevue saw the change of leadership from a 35 year tenure to a new man. Like Leawood, Dr. Adrian Rogers was, until his death in November 2005, still a member of Bellevue. By the accounts I have heard, Dr. Steve Gaines was Dr. Rogers’ own preference for his successor. After a trial sermon in view of a call, Dr. Gaines was asked to accept the pastorate of Bellevue, just its 4th pastor in 80+ years. As is standard practice in Southern Baptist churches, once the pulpit committee presents a candidate, it’s pretty well a done deal. If they didn’t like him, he wouldn’t make it that far!

As I said before, change is inevitable, and change accompanied Steve Gaines to Bellevue. I can’t imagine it is much different than the change that accompanied Adrian Pierce Rogers’ arrival from Merritt Island, FL. I love the picture on Bellevue’s History page of the two elder statesmen pastors, Dr. R. G. Lee, and Dr. Ramsey Pollard, looking very dapper and conservative in their suits, along with a “long haired” young dude in a plaid suit, quite fashionable in the early 1970s!

But as I said, change did come, and not everyone was thrilled with the changes. I myself didn’t care much for the move toward a more “contemporary” worship style and music. Oh, I listen to contemporary Christian music; I just prefer the old hymns at church. I know, I’m a stodgy old dinosaur, what can I say? About this time, however, my world collapsed. That’s one of those “intimate controversies” that I won’t talk about here, but suffice to say, I wasn’t much concerned about Jamie Parker’s song selection for Sunday morning.

But along the way, there began to be some rumblings, and to be quite honest, I have to admit that I believe Dr. Gaines could have handled things a bit better. I’ve met him in person; he’s quite unassuming. But under what I believe was a desire to be a “strong leader,” he rubbed some people with legitimate concerns the wrong way.

But here’s where I start to agree disagreeably. SOME, not all, but some of the issues raised were, I believe, legitimate concerns. But they never got addressed in a proper manner. Newspaper articles started appearing with people who aren’t much more involved in the issues that I am! Television news stations started showing interviews. And suddenly, Bellevue is on CNN about to split! Websites and (GASP!) blogs start bandying about accusations and demands, mostly behind a thin veil of anonymity, which makes it far easier to be “bold.” Bluster and bombast quickly replaced calm logic, and it became much easier, for both sides, to dismiss the other as raving lunatics and messengers of Satan, than to engage in calm, reasonable dialogue. It has degenerated into a game of maneuver and counter, and does nothing to either resolve the conflict or further the cause of Christ.

Then we have the revelation of a staff member’s sexual abuse of his own son some 17 years ago. Apparently, and I’m not “in the know” here, Dr. Gaines was told last summer about what had happened, and apparently was led to believe that it was all dealt with and in the past. Yes, he should have done some more digging to find out if that indeed was the case, but he didn’t. Again, even Dr. Gaines has admitted that things could have been handled better. But now we have pedophiles on staff (in varying numbers depending upon who you talk to), and gasoline has been dumped on a smoldering flame. No way to keep that one out of the newspapers! I liken this to my opinion of police car chases that end in wrecks; yes, maybe the police could have been more careful, and yes, it’s a terrible tragedy, but the wreck was caused by ONE MAN, the criminal who was running! Blame for this terrible incident lies at the feet of one man, the molester. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. If I can figure out how to bottle it, I’ll quit work and write blogs all day!

But none of this changes the fact that Bellevue, and any other God-worshiping, Bible-preaching, people-loving church exists for only one reason: to spread the Gospel. Is what you are doing in your blog or website or conversations with friends or the media, furthering that aim?

“Someone died and went to spend eternity in Hell yesterday. Did YOU do anything to warn them?”

“Well, no, but I sure got a good dig in on my blog at ole Gaines and his cronies!”

25 March 2007

Kicking and Screaming...

is the way I am draggin myself into the 20th century. Yes, I know this is the 21st century, one at a time, one at a time.

First, I am REALLY new at this. I've read a few blogs, but I've never even posted to one, let alone hosted one.

Second, I am a very good speller. I am also a TERRIBLE typist! So any poor spelling can probably be attributed to clumsy fingers.

Third, I am not intolerant of dissenting opinions, but arguing with some people is like trying to teach an orangutan to use post hole diggers. This is MY space. If you want to get into nasty personal derogatory comments, start your own blog, I don't owe anyone anything. Someone posted a few weeks ago in a different venue that I "get along with almost everyone [I] meet." I consider that one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever given me. It would be even better if it were true!

Anyway, if you're one of the first few in here, it's because I invited you, welcome! If I didn't invite you, don't be offended, I couldn't invite everyone!

Lastly, I have three kids. One has cerebral palsy. I'm typing this sitting in my living room on my wife's laptop. She works weekend nights, and sometimes week nights. If I'm not working, I've probably got all three kids. So I don't have time to make this a constant stream of consciousness. If I don't respond immediately, I'm not ignoring you. Well, not necessarily. I might be, but maybe I'm just busy! That said, I'm one of those people who checks his email umpteen times a day, and can't understand people who go two or three days without checking it!

I've got several controversies going on right now, some I'm intimately involved in, some I'm heavily involved in, and some I'm only peripherally involved in. Don't expect much comment on the intimate ones. I've spoken to a few personally about that issue, and I appreciate those folks prayers more that they know. I'll occasionally comment on the others.

One comment about my comments: I'm right about everything. Seriously, if I take a position, it's because I think I'm right! I mean, what idiot takes a position that they themselves do not believe in?! However, I try to always be reasonable. If you can convince me with a logical argument that I am in error, I'll alter my position. I have actually argued myself out of my own position before, because while defending it, I convinced myself I that I couldn't defend it! But don't expect me to believe your "truth" simply because YOU do!

Enough of this for now. I have laundry to do. If you drop by, at least say hi! And if you have blog experience, feel free to share any advice!

To Jesus Christ be the glory,