A Bad Country Western Song

Many years ago I was in my office, nose to the grind stone, when I got a call, “Pastor Hogenson your mother is in the Emergency Room and you had better come”.  This is the kind of call that no one wants and always induces fear.  When I got to the Emergency Room, I greeted my mother by saying “Hi mom. How are you doing”?  My mother, who loved to shock people and could be very graphic, said, “I am in a thunderstorm of poop John that’s how I am doing” (I have changed what she actually said).  The comment got a chuckle from everyone.

Long ago I asked my youngest daughter Kate to explain something that she had done and that I was having a hard time understanding. She began by saying, “In the story of my imagination”.  In the story of my imagination, when one has a small health crisis (like a malignant brain tumor and a stroke), the rest of the world goes on “pause” so that you and your family can focus on the issue at hand.  I have learned that such is not the case. I wish it was as easy as, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

Life goes on.  Let me illustrate.  On a recent Saturday morning we woke up to find that one of our dogs had a digestive issue.  Our new refrigerator had once again started to freeze everything inside causing something to shatter and created a huge mess. Three plus hours of cleaning and time to call the repair man for the fourth time!  Our new dishwasher did not work -time to call the repair person for the second time!  A longtime friend who is also a great Pastor texted me asking “How you doing?  Feeling a bit vulnerable” I replied, “I need a Pastor”. Great friend that he is he responded immediately telling me, “Call you in an hour or so”- he forgot.  We were getting ready to visit a relative who had just been released from the hospital and moved to transitional care to get strong enough for surgery. However, we could not see her because our van had a flat tire.

Some might call this being under attack. To me it seems like a bad country western song. In the midst of all this, it was pointed out to me that I had missed the fact that another close relative will soon have surgery. I left out the little part about the Social Security Administration wanting to see all of our medical records on very short notice.  When I was telling a friend about all of the fun things going on in our life, he reminded me of my mother’s comment about a “thunderstorm of poop”.  We both laughed. I would like to say that everything is back to normal now, but the truth is that nothing feels normal anymore.  Ruth likes to refer to our situation as the “new abnormal”.

What do you do when life seems overwhelming?  Turn to the one who died so that you might live and tell yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Paul said, “All things”. This also includes a thunderstorm of whatever is raining down in your life.  Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life abundantly”. I have learned that you can live an abundant life even when you are in a wheelchair and the dog is sick.  I cling to the Bible verse that I have selected as my guide verse for the year from Philippians three, “This one thing I do, forgetting what is behind I press on”.

I am a fortunate man.  I have a God who loves me, a Savior who died for me (so do you), an amazing wife, family, church family and wonderful friends who have been there through our entire journey. It is impossible to list all of you that I am thankful for.  I am also fortunate that I have much to look forward to such as preaching at my former church – St. Andrew’s Lutheran on October 9th and at Mount Olivet’s West campus on January 1st.  Friends are putting together a team in my honor to run/walk a 5K and raise money for ABTA.org for brain tumor research.  Join the team! (Hogenson’s Brain Trust) I am looking forward to the Mount Olivet Gala on October 18th. I will be speaking at a meeting of Presbyterian Homes employees in November.  I am beginning to believe that I just may live long enough to experience all these things. In addition, my first video message will be ready shortly.

I did not goon my usual bike ride on Wednesday because the appliance repair man and the repair man for our indoor recumbent bike came. I was able to attend part of a Gustavus Board meeting for the first time in a year and a half (It felt wonderful to be back), and to worship at our Mount Olivet West campus this morning.  The highlight of my week was once again snuggling with grandson Connor.

The longer this unexpected chapter in my families’ life continues, the more your prayers are needed and appreciated.  Thank you for your prayers, your support and encouragement, your prayers make a difference.  Thank you for sharing your struggles,challenges and prayer requests with me. Together let us keep the faith, “Look upward, travel onward and be not afraid”.

Blessings toyou,

Pastor John Hogenson    


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