Monday, May 28, 2007

Long post of a great day

5/28/07 Monday
Yeah I know, I wrote a short book.

It is a rough morning. Running a little slow, about a five on the bob scale, and have a headache on top of that. Yesterday was a wonderful day, very much in keeping with the pivotal time in life I referred to in Saturday’s post.

It started with us accepting Eric’s invitation to visit his church, First Baptist of Midland. We had arranged to meet him in the foyer at 9:35 but were late getting there because Cherie’s timing was off regarding how long it took her to get beautiful and I had to shave my neck after seeing how hairy it was when I put a dress shirt on. I got upset, as I am prone to do when rushed, as I drove through downtown looking for Louisiana Avenue. None of the lights are timed like they are in Toledo so I hit a red light at every corner. But we got there without me running anyone over. Found a parking spot right in front of the church.

We weren’t late for the church service, just to meet Eric because he was running one of the camera’s. I’m not sure but they may televise their service. What surprised us was a greeter who approached and asked “Are you the Westbrooks?”. When we said yes he greeted us warmly, telling us Eric asked him to guide us when we arrived. Then another man also came up and greeted us by name. They pointed to where Eric was running the camera and he waved. The greeters let us know that Eric would find us after the service and take us to his Sunday school class. It appears Eric has filled them in on us and some of my issues’. This is a good thing.

The service was more contemporary and upbeat than what we experienced at First Baptist in Stanton. That is no put down of the Stanton service. Seems that Midlands First Baptist has three services each Sunday. The first one is traditional and geared more for the older population, giving them what they grew up with. Stanton’s church has a high percentage of older folks, as the entire town does for that matter, so that is appropriate. The second service is the one we attended and appeals more to our age group I suppose but there were lots of senior citizens there. I think I was told that the third service is geared for the young crowd. That would make sense and it is commendable, to me, that a church the size of First Baptist of Midland would do this to reach out to everyone, especially the young ones.

Just an aside here, I think there must be thousands of “First Baptist” churches. I would love to find a third or five hundred sixty fifth Baptist church. Yeah, I know, I’m a smart aleck but it can be confusing. Kind of like the name “Bob”. You can go into a crowd and yell “Hey Bob” and get a dozen responses.

So back to church. It is memorial weekend and there was a great video shown at the start to honor veterans. It was asked that all the veterans stand up. While I am a Vietnam era veteran I am uncomfortable taking any kind of accolades because I was there because a judge told me “prison or service” and wasn’t a model serviceman by any means. Besides that, no one shot at me and I know too many vets who went through hell over there and feel completely unworthy to be included in those ranks. But I stood up anyway and regardless of all that still felt some pride I could.

After the service we went over to meet Eric. He is a great guy and happy to see us. I don’t remember what we talked about as he led us to his Sunday school class but not remembering I unfortunately do well whether I want to or not. There were warm greetings there and folks took a genuine interest in who we are, where we’re from, and where we are. Both Cherie and I were engaged in separate conversations as introductions led to them. I’m not sure I’m putting the sentences together right but you know what I mean.

The class taught on 2 Peter chapter three. It was a good lesson taught by a woman we later learned was a lawyer I think. I was able to have some input though was careful to say things that edified. They touched on the evolution vs. creation debate that has and will go on forever. Though I personally believe in evolution I didn’t voice that. It doesn’t mean God didn’t create the universe, I just don’t think He was in a hurry and don’t accept that the universe is 6,000 years old. I did say that God always has been and always will be, that He has no beginning and end but we know the universe does. So time means nothing to God and “How many universes has God created?” I asked. That seemed to be acceptable. So here is a thought, while I am expounding on this. If you go to the deepest jungles of, say New Guinea, how would you explain to the natives your radio and how it works? You’d have to put it in simple terms they might be able to fathom. Perhaps the creation story in Genesis was something like that. I don’t know. All I know is that I live and breath and my life is a gift.

Personally I don’t know for a fact there is God and desperately search for Him. This kind of honesty could well alienate me from some (only some) who do “know” there is a God. The paradox of this is that their doing so would reinforce my doubts. But on the other side of the coin are those who are fine examples of their faith, who practice what they believe. The Eric’s, Janie’s, Amy’s, Steve’s, and others who have come out of the blue and showed love and compassion, helping us with pure hearts that expect nothing in return. I suppose that the only way I can “see” God is in the lives of those who follow him. Sure I am confused but despite that I am honest and will not pretend. There is much I don’t understand but much I seek to believe. Forgive me if this bothers you but if I don’t ask questions I’ll get no answers.

So now that I have bared part of my soul lets get on with the wonderful day yesterday was. As I write my mind is clearing, illustrated by my fingers starting to dance on this keyboard.

After Sunday school Eric and his wife treated us to lunch at a great restaurant called Johnny Carino’s. (had to ask Cherie like always) It was more like dinner. I had shrimp scampi and Cherie had something with chicken. We talked and I think a better word to use would be “fellowshipped”. It was great for both of us and a fine reprieve for the isolation we have felt. Maybe isolation is too strong of a word but I can’t find another one right now. Regardless this has been evolving for weeks now so this time is another step in us finding a community and friends that accepts and welcomes us. I seem to be unable to write without offending someone and hope this does not come across as a condemnation of others.

Eric transferred the video’s we made with Cherie’s camera on to DVD. I mostly look forward to viewing the one we made with Minnie Lee. (my grandmother who’s farm we inherited) I had forgotten to give him the tape we got from ABC of the “Toledo’s John Doe” story they ran on me that brought Cherie and I back together after seventeen years so I brought it with me. I also brought the tape I got from my former secretary of the story channel 11 ran on one of my companies back around 1992. Perhaps I’ll be able to post them on the blog for y’all to see.

After this wonderful time we called up Steve and Janie as previously agreed. I forgot to bring the number so just started dialing the numbers recorded on my cell phone because I knew one of them was their’s. Got lucky on the second number. So it was off to Lowe’s where we were to meet them. We went back to where the counter tops were and picked out the style that Steve had incidentally thought was the best. He’s got a great eye for color where I find it difficult to match my clothes. Now it gets better. Steve has decided to purchase cabinetry to install our stove oven combo.

There was a time I would have been ashamed and embarrassed to accept gifts such as this but we are grateful now. I suppose the last seven years have amended the pride I once flaunted. Steve wanted us to make some decisions regarding colors and finishes as well as how to make the existing cabinetry match. I had a hard time with that as I didn’t grasp the concepts well and kept talking about how I could veneer surfaces and do all kinds of stuff that in retrospect would have been difficult and may never happen. Sticking stubbornly to a train of thought and having a hard time seeing other concepts is an issue that is not uncommon with brain injuries. Cherie was able to help me see things better as we drove to sit down at a restaurant with them. Just takes me a little time to process. Steve’s ideas are the wisest ones here.

We enjoyed some more food and fellowship. Keep this up and I’ll regain all the weight I was glad to lose. Steve and Janie’s younger son was with there as well. He seems like a great down to earth kid though he was quiet. One of the things I found Steve and Janie attentive to was an understanding of some of the problems that come with my brain injury. They asked me how I was doing on the “bob scale”. Janie gets a kick out of that. I was sharp as a rock almost all day yesterday, well above average. They were also careful to find a place that was quiet and not too active, finding a seat near the back of the restaurant. This time it was Cheddar’s. Another great place. I just had the baked potato soup and was easily talked into the apple pie alamode that I “just happened” to mention. I was wearing out and starting to slow down just a little towards the end though I doubt anyone could notice. I know Janie was tired as well but she seems to go at a hundred miles an hour all the time as it is.

We came home and you saw the post I made for yesterday. I went to bed. Zonk, I was out. Three of four hours later Janie or Steve called, can’t remember which one, and said they needed to drop by to take some measurements. We talked again about colors and how to do things and Steve figured out more things. When it came to colors I let him and Cherie take the ball, glad to step out of that picture. The emotion of all this is strong. Cherie cries or chokes back crying a lot with this generosity and love shown by people who didn’t know us yet have…I guess adopted us would fit here. I haven’t been far from crying a few times either. It is amazing and overwhelming to us. As Eric said, they are the Church at work. All I pray every day is for God to show Himself to me so I can believe in spirit and truth like the bible says. Perhaps this is it. Perhaps I am just blind. I still seek to know, I still look for answers to questions, but I’m beginning to see more.


Eric said...

Bob, we enjoyed our time with you and Cherie, and I'm happy to hear that you found the worship service and Bible study to your liking. But I want to clear up one possible misconception, associated with this comment you made: It appears Eric has filled them in on us and some of my issues.

Nope. I didn't mention anything to anyone in our Bible study group about you guys, other than that you were from Stanton but had moved here from Ohio. Any reactions you got were spontaneous and in response to their meeting you for the first time, not from any preconceived notions.

Bob said...

Thanks Eric. Misconceptions are common with me which is one of the reasons I crave communication as it keeps me on the right track. Regardless we were blessed. Telling folks of some of the problems I have is fine with me. I really don't hide anything as it is.

Tricia said...

I grew up in FBC Midland! In fact, I played in the orchestra there through most of high school. That sanctuary is truly just that to me. I'm glad you had such a nice time there.

Those questions and doubts you raise about God, creation vs. evolution, etc. are all so valid, and any good Christian wouldn't be afraid to admit that they have, or have had those same exact questions. And boy, are you on the right track. While God isn't someone you can reach out and touch, His existence is so evident once you open your eyes to see it. Not only through those incredible people your life has been blessed with, but also in the beautiful world He's given us to enjoy. Maybe not so much in West Texas...

While I desperately miss Texas, I have come to appreciate what Michigan has to offer as well. There are actually seasons! I can see how much God loves the people He's created every spring when all the trees blossom with such beautiful colors, and again in the fall when they light up again, but with a completely different set of colors. (And let's face it...the Permian Basin doesn't have much to offer along these lines!) He has given us sweet, delicious, healthy food that grows right up from the ground. And there ain't one person anywhere around who can tell me that He didn't give us cattle for another example of some good eatin'!

Keep searching...for your answers, and for a church that offers you a comfortable fit.