Saturday, November 7, 2015

Terror in the Mountain

     We were able to swing a trip to Disneyland on the cheap in September... where I faced a life-long fear. In the 70's, a commercial aired advertising that something had gotten in to the Matterhorn at Disneyland. The announcer had an eerie voice and the shot was as if you were on a bobsled slowly approaching something that had glowing red eyes. Then, a roar emitted from the TV. It was captivating in a terrifying way (at least to me as a kid). I had never been on the Bobsled ride at Disneyland since the only time I had been to the park up to that point was when I was 4.
     I finally returned to Disneyland when I was 16. I never forgot that commercial. As I faced the mountain, I was reminded that "something had gotten in to the Matterhorn." With a little trepidation, I boarded a bobsled with a girl from my youth group. I warned her I was probably going to scream and I made good on my promise. I was anticipating the Yeti and it had me spooked. We flew past some glowing red eyes that flashed on accompanied by a roar which freaked me out. Then, there he was in all his towering and frightful glory. And right in Jenny's ear, I bellowed like a banshee. She didn't appreciate that.
     Fast forward 30 years and I was facing the mountain again, this time with my 12 year old daughter. I hadn't been on the Matterhorn in several visits, lines too long, kids too young, me without my Depends undergarments... but it was time to face the Yeti again. I had never been on this ride at night, and that added to my anxiety. Plus, I was in the front car with my daughter right behind me. Facing the pitch black cave, I was freaking. And for 2015, they upped the terror factor. Now, as you ascend, behind a wall of ice alongside,  Harold (that's the creatures unofficial name), follows you. So  I'm tripping as we climb and I'm being stalked. We began our descent, and all I could focus on was the heart attack that was awaiting. I started calling out, "He's coming! He's coming!" as if that would prepare me better. We shot past him and I yelped. But, thank you Disneyland Imagineers, because they designed this ride so a guest passes Harold twice. And I knew that, and the second pass was worst than the first. I screamed and jumped, and then all I could hear afterwards was the uproarious laughter of my daughter in back of me. And more thanks to the Imagineers, because now upgraded Harold lunges at you. Julia says he doesn't. He does. The experience is worse than ever.
     I blame the whole thing on that commercial that always stayed with me. And I have to just give one more shout out to those Imagineers. Thank you for allowing me to leave such a rock solid manly impression on my 12 year old daughter. Curse you, Harold. And I'll see you next time (there's something seriously wrong with me).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Chairs On the Freeway


    I am a counselor. My office is a safe place for the people who come for help. They are free to share from the depths of their soul. Sometimes that sharing weighs heavy on my heart. I hurt because they hurt. And then there are the victories, the breakthroughs, the transformations I get to witness because of my line of work. The last couple weeks has been a mix of both with a funeral included for a dear lady who basically watched me grow up as a pastor. Which brings us to Saturday. A good hot soak in the tub with a thought provoking book is cherished down time. It's happened many times before, but this day was to be a different experience. Later, as I was shaving, I was chatting with my wife, normal stuff going on, when suddenly I found myself bracing myself against the bathroom door jam. "I don't feel well," I said to Marty. I became increasingly light-headed, the room was swirling, and my hearing became muffled. I sat down and wondered how long was this going to continue. And if I'm completely honest, there was a little fear as to what could come next. After a few minutes, things started to return to normal and a call to an advice nurse determined that I had more than likely experienced a drop in blood pressure from the hot bath. "Have a sports drink next time to increase your salt intake." Relieved by the prognosis, but having never experienced something like that before, it caused me to be very reflective. I thought about clients I had seen earlier in the week, one in particular that had some huge personal breakthroughs and some miraculous news to report in our last session. I resolved that I still needed to be around to help others write the next chapter of their personal story, the success chapter. I still have work to do.
     The next morning, I hit the road with my son in the early hours of the morning to head to Pleasant Hill as I am filling in as an interim worship pastor at my friend's church. We had just pulled off of Lawrence Expressway to get on Hi 237 when a chair appeared abruptly in the middle of the freeway. The sun just started to peek over the hills, so the road was still very dark. The unexpected sight of the piece of furniture in my lane caused me to swerve and let out a "Whoa!"I immediately called 911 to report it so no one else would be in danger of colliding with the foreign object in the road.
     I shared the story with the church that morning before leading the first song which states. "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your Name." Needless to say, I had a little extra gratitude to be able to sing those lyrics that morning.
     After the first of two services, a lady came up to me and shared that she had been praying for me that morning that I would get to church safely and that she had never prayed a prayer like that for me before. Did I say I was reflective after the low blood pressure incident? Double that.
     The roller coaster of empathizing and rejoicing with clients, the funeral, the health scare, the near accident, the prayers for my safety that very morning... All these things have added up to make me very aware that this coming week and beyond has great purpose, and I want to live to serve that purpose. And that is true for all of us. It doesn't have to take a near death experience or facing our mortality to realize our lives have meaning and our existence affects others.
     Maybe you came across this blog and forgot how purposeful your life is. If that is the case, let me assure you, you matter, and you don't need a chair popping up in the middle of the freeway to prove it.