Friday, April 16, 2010

Family Ties, Growing Pains and the Facts of Life

My wife is leaving me. Just for a couple of days. It's a good thing. I'll keep telling myself that. 
Our church attendance has been sparse as of late. Mostly, to be honest, due to my chemo and it's wonderful side-effects. But church, for as long as we've been married, and even longer for me, hasn't felt right. 
About the time we were married, Mike Spinelli (the pastor who performed our marriage), left the church Kristin had attended for her whole life. In the long run, for Kristin at least, this was a good thing. I think it's hard to grow spiritually when you've only experienced one church your entire life. It leads to a more narrow impression of God, His will, and the purpose of Jesus' death and resurrection. As other events, which proved to be very emotional for Kristin, and that church, proceeded to unfold, we also left that church. Eventually we followed Mike to his new church just outside of Springfield. 
I should take a moment to mention that Twin Rivers is an excellent church body full of remarkable people who have been, and continue to be, very good to us. I think it was just time for Kristin to move on. It's curious that most of the people encompassing us concluded, and still conclude, that our departing was my decision. It was not. 
The experience at our new church, North Park, has been as much a blessing as a learning experience. While we felt truly loved there and were excited to continue to be pastored by Mike, who is an excellent teacher, I don't think Kristin or I ever felt like a true part of that body. Just something didn't click. As my disease has become worse we also have been more and more unable to contribute to what is a very small but eager body of believers who, pound for pound, have contributed as much, if not more, than any other church in Lane County to the community... and continues to do so. 
After months of hemming and hawing we finally visited a friend's (BobTim... they're not a couple. Bob is happily married and Tim is currently single. Ladies?) church last Sunday. We were overcome with the honesty of each greeting we received. Every, "Hello," seemed to be sincere and not what someone felt they were required to say. The worship style of this church is exactly what Kristin and I have needed all along. Not that we knew what we needed, or were even looking for it... since... again, we didn't know we needed it. 

(That same day, in our absence, Mike gave notice from the pulpit that he and his family would be leaving at the end of June. They're moving to Fresno where his wife, Cheryl, has family also living with cancer. Also, where I'm sure God has huge plans for the Spinelli family. I imagine that this decision was not easy and required earnest prayers and hours of quiet listening. It came as a surprise to Kristin and I, but seemed to confirm what we felt God had shown us that morning.)
Today, a week later, Kristin is comfortable enough (and those who don't know her would be very surprised, based on how open I am, how reserved she can be around new people) to go on their weekend "Women's Retreat". She'll leave tonight after work and return Sunday afternoon. Other than my stay in a Portland hospital I believe this will be the longest we've been apart. It's well worth it for my beautiful wife to get some "girl time" and some time to revive spiritually. 
I hope to have a similar experience. I've been drained as of late and am truly excited to, slowly, become part of this church. It's like I'm The Great Pumpkin and I've finally found what, for me, is the most "sincere" pumpkin patch. Which is weird 'cause normally I identify as Linus, not The Great Pumpkin.

Please don't forget that we've got a fundraiser on Wednesday, June 2nd at Papa's Pizza, ad space is still available on my urn (with funds going to cremation costs, urn cots and remainder to the Aaron M. Jamison Pre-Memorial Foundation), and, if you're a fan of BNL, you might also like this song:

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