Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012: I guess I'm ready...


Sorry for no post last week.  I was traveling to Phoenix for rehearsal for our upcoming reunion / benefit concert, and I was just too tired Sunday night.  Things are going great with the concert.  My band is getting along great, and everyone has done a great job of putting aside their differences to make this show work.  I'm really grateful for the patience and presence each guy (there are SIX of us) is exhibiting.  Putting together a reunion show is dicey... sounds great in concept, but then you all spend 8 hours in a practice room together, and you very quickly remember all the reasons why you don't speak to each other anymore!  LOL.  There has been a lot of "past" to wade through to get everyone firing on the same cylinder.  I told everyone, "Please leave all that baggage at the practice room door.  You are free to pick it up when you leave, but please don't bring it into the [rehearsal] space."  Sure enough, everyone not only did this, but after practice, we all went out as a band... and promptly closed not one but two bars that night! LOL.  That was really great to see - all the guys hitting on all cylinders in the practice room and out!  A band is a delicate mix... I always explain it like this.  There are three major hurdles you have to overcome just to put a band together...

1.  You have to like what the other guy or gal does musically
2.  You have to like them when their not playing their instrument as well since you have to spend the other 23 hours a day off stage with them on the road.
3.  Even if both of these are the case, you have to both be unconnected to any existing projects at the same time.
4. Only then, can you even begin the real work of creating art together.

It's why being a solo artist can seem so appealing!

Anyhow, that's why I missed Sunday's post.  But lemme tell you about Tuesday... which is the meat of the post...

but before I do even that, I have to tell you about another absolute angel I ran into at our Time to Fly Run in June.  Well, there were several, but right now, I want you to know about Tona Crooker.  Ang and I did the best we could for Bella because, well, we gave birth to her, but Tona is voluntarily adopting a child with EB from an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  Like the Delgados, Tona has been called to rescue a child from a similar situation and she is listening to that calling.  That just fills my heart with the deepest amount of hope for our world.  It shows me the potential for human being.  People have said very kind things about how Ang and I have dealt with everything we went through, but we are in it, and as such, simply can't 'see it,' the way anyone else can.  However, I can look out and 'see' Tona.  I had the good fortune of meeting her at the race, and I remember this quiet power/confidence/self assuredness that was present, but also, grounded...  a lot like Ang!  Anyhow, earlier this week, she reached out to me and asked if I would share about their journey with all of you, and I immediately replied it would be an honor and pleasure.  Please CLICK HERE to go to her campaign page.  It is so totally inspiring.


Here it goes.

I'll just start writing the events as they happened.

On Tuesday, I was at the hospital doing my thing.  I was feeling a little lonely at lunch, so out of the blue, I decided to drop by the Chaplain office to see if anyone still needed/wanted to grab lunch.  Mind you, I had already passed their office, but felt called to double back.  It had been like a year since I had dropped into their office, and it was a good 30 minutes later than I might have dropped in for lunch in the past, but I figured, why not?

Well, it was a party!  Everyone was there, and as soon as I walked in, one of the Chaplains said, "OH good, Tim.  I need your help.  Can you play a memorial today?"

"Is it here on campus?" I asked.

"Yes, at 2."  She replied.  It was 1:10pm.

"Sure, do I have time to get lunch?" I responded.  I wasn't going anywhere other than the cafeteria next!

"Yes, I'll text you when we are getting ready.  You should know, the patient is 2.  He was hit by a car.  The parents were having a BBQ in the back yard and had been drinking.  Somehow, the child got out and wandered into the street.  He is still on life support, but he was declared brain dead this morning.  We are going to do the memorial, and then they are going to take him off life support."





And off to lunch I went.

What happened during that pause was this... I thought about how God works.  I still trust Him completely.  I may still be a little pissed at Him, and frustrated because I don't know "how to pray" anymore, but I love Him, I know He loves me, and I trust how He works.  He didn't have me "drop in" to the Chaplain's office only to throw me under the bus.  It was His way of letting me know I was ready if I was willing to trust Him again.

So... after lunch, I got 'the text,' and headed up to the room.  I walked into the unit, and quickly realized something... although we are an adult hospital, we have a Level III Trauma Unit for pediatrics.  Last year, I treated a 5 year old who suffered a traumatic brain injury after also being hit by a car.  (Incidentally, that little boy got on the school bus this fall all by himself and has made a miraculous recovery).  I had forgotten about him until I was back on this unit, since I hadn't been back since.  Anyway, as I walked in, the Chaplain says, "Can you play Jesus Loves the Little Children?  Then, maybe 'Yes Jesus Loves Me?"  To which I answer, "No I can't, but give me 5 minutes with my iPad and the answer will be YES."  This is where I give thanks and praise again to my iPad.  I was able to pull up chords and lyrics to both songs within 2 minutes, and I had the Chaplain sing Jesus Love the Little Children as I played the chords, and BOOM, we had it.

As the family started entering the room, I looked through the sliding glass doors, and had a brief freak out moment.  The air blanket Bella had over her to keep her warm?  Present.  A cute quilt to hold it down?  Check.  Stickers and drawings on the walls?  Yup.  Little child with a blanket draped around the top of his head, with a breathing tube coming out of his mouth?  Check.

Holy ____ it was almost an IDENTICAL scene.

That's when I literally looked up at God through the ceiling panels and pointed my finger at Him and said, "Now, I am NOT going to freak out, because I trust You, but I got my eye on you!"  I mean, really?  all the way down to the quilt over the air blanket??? I did NOT see THAT coming.

I walked in, set up my iPad, and we began.  I sang with joy, reverence, peace, and calm... all things that result from my Faith.  Most importantly, I could just 'be' with the child and his family.  I'd been there myself.  God gave me all my experiences, and gave me the opportunity to put those experiences in a bank, where they could be drawn on in the future for the betterment of others, and here I was, just under two years later, drawing on my account.  After the conclusion of the service, I didn't want silence for the family, so I played, "His Love Is Everlasting."  Then, it was time for me to leave.  I went to the mom, put my hand on her shoulder, and whispered, "There are no words.  I just want to give you some love," and I just held her shoulder for a few mindful seconds.  Then, I walked around the bed, and stopped at the foot of the bed and beheld the child.  I did not want to hide from him.  I wanted to be with him, fully, so I squared my body to his without anything between us, and I held him in my smile.  I thought about Bella walking him to heaven, saying, "That was my daddy playing for you.  He's good like that."

Last, I sidled up to the dad.  I said the same thing to him as mom, but instead of just a hand, I reached my arm around his back and gripped his upper arm and gave him a one handed side bear hug.  This latino man was in a room of grieving women, and while trying to be strong, he was struggling.

I remember two particular hugs from Minnesota.

They were from other men.

They gave me the strength I needed; the strength that I was providing my family.

I thought of those two men in that moment, and was so filled with gratitude to 'pass it on.'

Then, I walked out of the room, beaming.  Drained, but beaming.

The Chaplains were concerned about whether I was okay, to which I told them exactly what I said to God earlier about trusting Him to not throw me under the bus.  He didn't have me 'drop in' for any other reason than to give me the occasion to witness my own growth and healing.  It's like He was saying, "How fast will you ever know yourself to be if you don't ever bust into a full sprint?  How strong will you ever know yourself to be if you don't push past what you thought was possible?"  Does that make sense?  I hope it does, because it is so important.  You have to trust something or someone to ever really 'go for it,' whether it be yourself, God, your spouse, whatever.  In order to truly go for it, you have to let go and let it rip.  You have to be a little bit 'out of control,' otherwise, you never reach new ground.  I'm speaking in some vague metaphor language here and I hope it's not coming off preachy; it's just that I don't think I woke up on Tuesday morning and said to myself, "Hmm... I think I'm ready to play a memorial for a child pretty much in Bella's exact situation."  It just didn't go that way, but now that it was offered to me, I took it.  I took it, again, because I had Faith.  Faith that inside this (or any) situation was the seeds of growth and blessings.  Faith that God lays those blessings out before me for me to find, like an Easter egg hunt.  Sometimes those blessings are easy to find, sometimes it takes a little more work to uncover... but they are always there!

That's my story.

God night.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 9, 2012: "I'd like to sign you..."


(Sorry for no photos... my iphoto decided to stop seeing my memory card tonight.  Think my drive is bursting at the seams!)

Well, another busy week under the belt.  Julian walks and talks and listens and continues to understand more and more each week.  It's so much fun to behold.  I just can't believe sometimes we got another chance at this.  We are so lucky, and so blessed by God to have another shot at raising a healthy baby.  He just brings us so much joy... we don't take a minute of it for granted.

Julian entertains us, but he also entertains himself!  He is a full on toddler now, walking and babbling, interacting with everything within reach, and able to play by himself for long periods of time while only asking for the occasional giggle or book to be read to him...

...actually, that's like all the time.  The kid is infatuated with books!  He's got two sounds, "buh" for books and "Bah" for balls.  He loves playing with balls and having anyone read him books.  He will bring the book to you, stuff it in your hand, and say, "Buh!"  (Right now, he is pointing the remote at the TV and pressing buttons, wondering why it isn't obeying him)

He's also interacting with Ali just wonderfully.  Two nights ago, he grabbed her brush and reached up and started brushing her hair!  Yesterday morning, when Ali and I were talking about how cute it was, she, rather matter of factly, mentioned that she was crying the day before, and he got her a tissue!  Neither mommy nor I saw this take place, but it points to the connection he is developing with Ali, which is really tender and sweet.

The reason for the post title was because this morning, I hear these words for the first time in my life.  See, as a recording artist during my 20's and early 30's, and then author in my later 30's, these were the words I wanted to hear so badly.  It would be a record label or publishing house, and it would mean that my dreams would have finally come true.  This never came to pass, and as of today, I am still an unsigned artist and author.

However, I am not an unsigned athlete!

In the sports world, players "sign with" professional teams, and professional teams "sign" players to play for their team.  Well, that's what happened this morning!

It was the humblest of scenes. It was a community soccer field in a suburban development in Orange County.  A bunch of guys over 35 still playing soccer in a league called "Coast Soccer League."  I found "The LA Strikers"  through a search of the teams on last year's schedule and contact the teams that came in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.  Strikers finished 2nd last year, and the manager was the nicest of the three I reached out to regarding trying out for their team this fall.  I played 2 pre-season matches with the team.  The season starts next weekend.  After the beating we gave the other team today, the manager took me aside for "the talk."

"Tim, can I talk to you a minute?"  he said.  Last time I heard a coach say that, I was 18, and the coach of the soccer team at my new college was cutting me in the following moments, and I remembered that moment instantly.  The manager looked at me very seriously and said, "We've got a good team this year, with A LOT of guys, but I'd like to sign you to our team."

You know what?  That was the coolest thing I had heard on a soccer field in a l-o-n-g time.

When I told a friend today the news, he said, "So what does that mean?"  To which I replied, " Oh, all that means is I have to pay him a bunch of money to play with team going forward.  LOL!"  It's nothing major, but it still feels good.  The team is very good, with a lot of really skilled players, but most importantly, they are just the nicest guys, on and off the pitch.  Feels good to be fit at forty and playing club level soccer.  I have a lot of confidence that my 40's are going to go well, given the sculpting and baking in the kiln of life that took place in my 30's.

There is still so much LIFE to experience!  I am so grateful for the chance to experience it.  Between my work with cancer patients and our journey with Bella, I recognize that 40 isn't a given.  Nothing is, including tomorrow.  If I've learned one thing, it's that tomorrow doesn't necessarily follow today, so don't put "it" off.  You may not get the chance to come back to "it."

What is the "it" you are no longer going to put off?

God night.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 2, 2012: Forty, and Loving it...


Life moves on!  Just another super busy week over here.  Thank you to all who donated to my Giving Up My Birthday campaign.  As you can see, $570 was donated to PUCK, which will be doubled thanks again to the generous challenge grant by EBMRF and JGSF to total $1,140!  I'm really excited to share the at the beginning of the year, JGSF and EBMRF put a $450,000 commitment to the work Dr. Tolar is doing at the U of M, and here we are in September, and there is only about $123,000 left on the table!  $10, $20, $50, $100 at a time, we inch our way closer to our goal.  Thanks, everyone, for standing with us!  After all, I'm pretty sure all my online friends weren't planning on sending me $570 worth of gifts for my 40th birthday! :-)

Ang and I got - ready for this? - TWO date nights in a row this week!  Friday night was my birthday, so grandma and grandpa watched the kids while we had dinner and a movie out.  Last night, we got a babysitter and attended our friends Steve and Susan's wedding in their home.  I was honored to generate a reading called, "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.  It is a wonderful poem and here it is:

The Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!  I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

I relished the opportunity to generate this - not recite this - because I have lived so much of this poem over the past three years.  It is REAL, not just rhetoric.  Here's the video Ang shot of it...

Getting two nights together was just a joy.  We love our kids, but I loved Ang long before we had kids, and it's VITAL to keep that initial connection alive, and after two nights together, I just grew more and more smitten with my beautiful wife.  She is just so amazing.  Super smart, sharp, gorgeous, funny, laid back, and devoted.  All in one.  

Today, Grandma and Grandpa threw me a small get together at their place along with Ang's brother and his family.  We gobbled some yummy pizza and an awesome donut-shaped cake.  Fun with family!

I just want to finish up with something very powerful I took away from my friend Steve and Susan's wedding.  They created their own vows, and they weren't mirrors of each other's.  They each generated their own vows, and before they did, the officiant, an old friend Flora Shule, explained that they were requesting that we listen to them going forward as these vows.  It got me thinking, "How easy is it to forget to generate my (or anyone's) vows?"  I mean, can you remember your vows off hand?  And if so, are you present to not only generating them on your own, but listening to your spouse as their vows?  When I think of my vows, I realize that I do a decent job generating them. However, when I think about and imagine Ang generating her vows my way, it TICKLES ME!  It makes me giddy to just think about the woman I love so much, loving me that much right back.  I realize that sometimes I just take our love for each other for granted, like it's on auto-pilot and auto-sustain.  However, there is NO FEELING MORE POWERFUL in this world than the confidence I feel in myself when I really get present to the woman I love, loving me just as much.  I feel INVINCIBLE!  I love being married.
I love being married to Ang.  Life is good!

God night.