Thank You Pastor Karen

I generally do not do research for my personal blog posts, but took a minute (maybe less) for this one to look up the word Pastor.  I had to look it up because I was curious to see if the definition covered being one’s best friend.

The following shows up as the first listing in my extensive research, a Google search on the word Pastor:

pas·tor

/ˈpastər/

noun: pastor; plural noun: pastors
a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation
verb: pastor; 3rd person present: pastors; past tense: pastored; past participle: pastored; gerund or present participle: pastoring
be pastor of (a church or congregation)
Origin

late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French pastour, from Latin pastor ‘shepherd’, from past- ‘fed, grazed’, from the verb pascere .

I really did expect that friend or best friend would possibly be the primary definition. That is what my five year old daughter, Ruth, continues to call Pastor Karen Bruins when she asks if we are going to go see her new church.  The answer is yes we will go see her.

Our Pastor, Pastor Karen Bruins, left The Well in Rosemount, MN and moved on to Lake Harriet Church in the last couple of weeks. Besides being Ruth’s best friend she did fulfill the origin of the word Pastor as my shepherd in rediscovering my own faith, bringing my 11-year old son closer to God and Jesus and I firmly believe in guiding us to preserve the foundation of our family together during some of our rockiest times.

Karen was preaching the day our family decided to start going to church together to help us deal with a difficult time. While I was definitely pessimistic about the impact attending church would have on us at the time, I am thankful every day that we found Karen at the Rosemount United Methodist Church, as it was known then.

The church as a community provided much needed time for reflection at the time. Reflection is something that I do daily now, but without The Well I doubt that I would be doing it at all.

We were barely known at the church and Graham was not sure about the whole youth programming thing and didn’t want to be away from us so he would go to services with us.  He rarely sat with us though and instead would go sit with Karen in the front row, who at first I am sure hardly knew who this kid was.  Graham never referred to Karen as his best friend like Ruth does, but he did wear his Boston Bruins t-shirt to church more often than any other clothing. Karen had to get a picture with him the first time he wore it and I think he would have taken that picture every time he wore it.

Eventually, Graham did start going to youth programming and actually all the way through to not having the option for youth programming on Sundays and having to go to services with Mom and Dad. We don’t make every Sunday, but we made sure we were there on Karen’s last day.

While we had known for some time about Karen moving on, I chose not to tell Ruth until the night before her last service. Ruth as expected started to cry and the first words she said as she cried was, “But she’s my best friend.”  Once she knew Karen would be close enough to visit and that we would be able to see her before she left she fell asleep.

The following day at service the line to hug Karen was long and given the amount of patience that runs in the whole family, relatively little, we decided to find another time to see Karen.  It required pulling Ruth out of preschool and Graham out of middle school for a couple of hours, but we made it happen.

She sat and talked with the kids and my heart smiled while all the memories flowed.

From day one of me being pessimistic about church, to the hours I spent playing with the kids in the church community at Kids Camp to being invited to be part of the Wednesday night senior high programming.

I thought about Karen sharing all the stories of her kids, her dogs, her husband and all the memories of the babies she talked about baptizing.  I could see her clear as day carrying the baby and handing the baby off to a member of the church community as part of the baptism. Then memories of her baptizing Ruth who made the decision to be baptized. Ruth’s baptism also marked the day that Karen reconfirmed my own baptism that to me was the moment I was shepherded back to God.

The memories of the discussion that led to my reconfirmation led to thinking about the time that I had spent with Karen in her office talking about my faith. I fondly recalled the invitation to share my story of my faith journey with the church. Then the memory of the last time we met with me sitting with her to talk about what I wanted to do with my own career when I was presented with some decisions. I was really looking for Karen to shepherd me down the right path, but instead she brought out what she knew was already in me.

I was then brought back around to her drive down to see me in the hospital in Rochester. She sat with Kim and I and prayed with us. She gave me my prayer blankey that I held on to with all my might as I sweat through the pain and didn’t really have any idea what the rest of my life held.

As I came back to the conversation she was having with Ruth and Graham, part of me was only momentarily inclined to be sad. However, I went immediately for being happy for everything that Karen brought to me and our family. I also know Lake Harriet isn’t that far away. Hugs and pictures soon followed and as we parted ways I thanked her for helping me on my journey, a journey that she reminded me was not over.

I headed back home and wrote the following:

Karen,

Thank you for being our Pastor, friend (Ruth’s best friend) and for everything that you did to show us the importance of Faith in our lives.  You were there when we needed you and I know that you moving on only marks that you are needed more by someone else.

I value the time that we had you as our Pastor more than words can ever express.  My life, our lives, have meaning beyond what we could have ever imagined because of your caring and guidance.

I hope our continuing journeys will continue to cross paths,

Until Next Time,

Matt Feyen

Ruth and Graham’s Dad

Kim’s Husband

Follower of Jesus Christ re-established April 9, 2018

 

2017: The Crap Sandwich

Mid-December 2017

I am sitting here today with a back and leg that won’t stop hurting. They are the remnants of a bacterial blood infection that put me in the hospital on my usually favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving.

I feel between numb and nauseous most of the day remnants of the medication to treat the pain and to wipe out the remaining bacteria. Not to forget treatment for the side effects of the medication. Then there’s the medication for my usual ailments; anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and heart burn.

My Craptastic Crap Sandwich 2017

It’s been almost a perfect end to 2017. Let’s review how the year started:

  • A reality TV “star” was sworn in as  President of the United States
  • Cold War WW III flashbacks really have messed with my head and sleep habits

Those feelings continue to persist and the thoughts that come to mind are pretty consistently:

  • How do people fail upward?
  • The philosophy that most people get promoted to their highest level of incompetence.

Then the thing that I look forward to almost every year for what past two years turned to crap too. The youth football season was a complete bust. Even though you, son, and all the kids on the team said they had a fun season, which is most important to me, we finished 0-9.

But while the kids had fun, some of the parents on the team were not happy and I got the worst feedback of any coach in the league. I have four rules. Every one of the kids said we met all the criteria for the rules.

  1. Have fun.
  2. Be positive.
  3. Learn something.
  4. Hug your mom.

The parent feedback was that kids didn’t have fun, that I was not a positive coach, that I failed to teach and worst my number four rule was thrown in my face.

That was the feedback that hurt more than any other. As a member of the team was leaving the field with his mom, I yelled to him to ask if his mom was yelling at him for not working on rule number four. He said no, and I said, “you need to work on it finger tackler.” Apparently finger tackler was a bad thing to call him even though the kid was trying to bring kids down by grabbing a handful of jersey and kept hurting himself. The point of hug your mom was two-fold:

  1. Tackling involves wrapping up like a hug.
  2. You should hug your mom, because you never know when her or any of us won’t be there to hug.

I also had to deal with the fact that we live in a new day and age where we need to shelter kids from, among all things,being told they are fat. In the first week of practice one of the kids said to one of our big boys, “Get out of my way fat ass.”

The fat kid was starting to cry when I said, “So what, he has some fat?  That gives him an advantage that you will be thankful for some day. You need all types of body shapes to be successful in football. I have been fat all my life, it paid for a trimester of college. My little brother still to this day calls me by my grade school nickname, fatty.  You are out here exercising, you are doing you best to be in the best shape you can be. Not everyone can be the perfect body shape, be proud of who you are, even if it means being proud that your fat, but you still need to exercise and eat right.”

Three kids became part of the fat kids club and they were proud of it, but a parent overheard that and thought it was just the most awful thing to do to a child. Interestingly enough, the two other parents besides myself that were the parents of two of the three fat kids felt the season was great and for one of them who was having their fourth year of football he had the greatest season he had and for the other who it was his first year, he is coming back for more.  I also know that all of them were in better shape at the end of the season than they were in the beginning.

So what, some kids carry a little extra weight, genes are a funny thing. You work your ass off and strive to be healthier almost every day I am not going to shame that kid for being fat, I’ll celebrate it as an advantage. That is all I care about and I really just want you to be proud of who you are and that is most important.

Then there was other feedback that I showed up to practice late.

Yep. I was unexpectedly putting in extra hours at work due to a merger, but everyday I sent a practice plan to the assistant coaches and made sure someone was there.

Then there was the fact that I used foul language, but with one exception where I was very concerned about player safety I know I apologized and corrected myself.

Then I used the words shut up with my son and sometimes loud. Even though I received permission to use those words with other kids, I never did.

Then I was not using the positive coaching alliance approaches, except for the fact that I almost followed it by the letter of the law and tried incorporating at least one new thing every week. And, although every player said they had fun, they learned something, that the season was a positive experience and they all left with rule number four which I hope they remember for the rest of their lives.

I won’t go into the details of the mud slide incident, but lets just say what qualified as fun in the 1980’s has a smaller fan base in 2017. It also qualifies a coach as an embarrassment to the program versus being the best coach ever.  I did get that feedback as well.

Enough about all that jazz, I knew midway through the season that I was not going to coach next year.  Which some parents took issue with me sharing that with the kids as well. I only shared it so they knew that I was not taking over the offense because of our record, but because I wanted to focus on one facet of the game and utilize my assistant coaches better so I could watch my son play defense.

Son, I know you will excel in football as you have in hockey with a new voice at the helm. Don’t ever forget the four rules. Especially the fourth rule.

Football is not life and death, for that there is the bad things come in threes country song year-end of 2017:

  • Cheddar (our 16-year-old beagle) died
  • I left my job and got sick the day I got the LLC for my business
  • I was given a 50/50 chance to live and 30% chance of paralyses

A definite topper to the crap sandwich.

Time to Move Forward – January 2018

The year may have been mostly a crap sandwich, but there were so many things that brought me joy last year. Most of them come from the two of you.

Son, you had a great Association Hockey season, the families were a true hockey family and your teammates for the most part helped you grow more than any other teammates you had in the past.  Not to mention you boys took home your fair share of hardware.

The Association season was followed by a great AAA Hockey season and a baseball season that was amazing. You played most of the baseball season with a broken wrist, but you didn’t miss an at bat or any play in the field.  You even hit a home run the first game you played with your cast on.

Then there was  the great part of your football season, I loved to watch you play. You were amazing and my desire to just watch you play was another reason that I will be on the parent sideline next year.

Finally for sports, you ended the year starting another Association season of hockey with a great coach. Your team is truly a team and the hockey family we have is just as amazing as the one you had at the beginning of the year. They have been instrumental in making sure you have had a good season and so generous with their time, money, prayers and love. You also continue to grow as a player and as an individual. When your coach calls you a team leader I light up with pride.

Beyond sports, you continue to perform at a high level academically, you have blown me away with your clarinet playing and you have grown up big time.  You’re maturity scares me at times, because it reminds me how quickly you are growing up. The things you used to need help with that you do on your own make me proud and sad at the same time.

Baby girl, you have grown up so much too. You hit four (going on 40) this year. The world is yours to be ruled by you according to you and if you hit an obstacle you always try to move forward. You began ice skating this year (no hockey plans still) and are skating with kids that are mostly two or three years older than you. You have brought me so many great memories watching you swim, although I am pretty sure by next summer you will not be able to jump off my head as you continue to grow.

As we continue to grow as a family and individuals we have also found a wonderful church. The Well has been a great to us and I hope that we all can continue to grow with our family at the Well to make us better people.

Kids, at the end of the day; you, our family, our hockey family, our church family and our friends and your mom are there for me…and Remi (our new dog) too.  Your mom especially has shown all of her super powers. Your mom is the best role model you can have. Your mom is penultimate professional, nurse, chef, taxi driver, hockey mom, wife, mom and so much more. All of us are lucky to have each other, but without mom, I am not even going to guess.

Family, friends and love will get us through everything, including a crap sandwich of a year.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑