(In The Life Of The Church)
Five Things I've Learned About Grief (so far)
Everyone grieves differently, and my own grief expressions have taken a variety of forms. When all was said and done, there were 25 of us piled into my oldest sister’s house: my mom, my uncle, my sister’s family (7), my brother’s family (4), my other sister’s family (6), and my family (6). One day I calculated that that was 300 relationships in one house. With that many different personalities, you will see different expressions of grief. I cried a lot the day I found out that dad was going to die. I cried a little less the day I saw him in the hospital. Even less on the Friday he was moved to my sister’s house and put on hospice. I didn’t cry at all in the moments when he passed. I cried less the next day and I cried the last time the day before we buried him. Different moments touched me. When the receptionist at the oncology center came to say goodbye, I was deeply moved. Watching my mom grieve moved my own grief along. The thousands of messages, phone calls, and Facebooks posts also helped me grieve. Some of my family members grieved by talking. Some of them grieved by doing and helping. Some of them grieved quietly in silence. All of those expressions were good and healthy.
People may not remember what you said, but reaching out matters. I’ve gotten lost in the sea of grace that has come in the form of people’s compassion. I’ve gotten messages of care and compassion from people I have not heard from in fifteen years. The accumulation of that care is part of what carries people through these difficult moments. If you are on the fence about sending a kind word, do it. If your relationship with someone is unsettled or maybe even a little rocky, but you’d like to send words of care to them anyway, you should do it. One of the messages that touched me most deeply was this: “I know we don't know each other well, but when my mom died every kind message or thought meant a lot to me. So I try to speak up now in other people's grief; to be present there with them, even though it's awkward. I am so sorry, Josh. And so glad you were there and able to be with him. Peace and light and love to you and your family during this hard time.”
Memories give life. If you write something like, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “Thinking of you,” or “Your family is in our prayers,” those are all wonderful and appropriate messages. Again, what mattered most to me is that people did reach out. I scroll back through my messages to remind myself of who did reach out, and it means the world. That being said, the messages that stood out are those in which someone articulated a memory of my father (however big or small that memory may be) or shared how he impacted them (however big or small that impact was). I think in the immediate aftermath, one’s instinct is to try and establish a narrative full of meaning. One of the ways you can help the grieving do that is by adding bits of data to that meaningful narrative.
I was surprised I laughed. My dad was the first person I ever watched die. He was the first person I ever rode in an ambulance with as he was moved from a hospital to a house for hospice care. He was the first person I observed with organ systems shutting down. And while that whole experience was cause for deep emotional cognitive dissonance, none of it was scary. I had and still do have a feeling that I describe as hollow, but I was surprised by how much my family was able to laugh as my dad was dying. I imagine that the type of relationship you are losing makes a big difference. Had I been losing a child, I don’t think I would have laughed at all. But we reminisced and celebrated my dad’s life together as he lay in the living room dying beside us, and we laughed. That surprised me.
Death is more subjective than I thought. As we watched my dad die, my brother stopped his watch at 3:06 AM. That is the time on my father’s death certificate. My dad died on July 23rd. And yet dying seemed to be happening in my dad for a while. Last year, Lindsay and I watched the movie Still Alice. Julianne Moore won best actress for her role as Alice, an Alzheimer's patient. One thing that painfully emerges in that movie is the long and slow goodbye that Alzheimer’s disease creates. We seem to be a people who can best make sense of the world when we can clearly see it. The problem with death is that often, we are no longer sure what we see. Over these last eleven years, my dad had a pretty remarkable life all things considered. But death took its toll on him. Chemo drugs altered his chemical makeup and emotional responses. In these last few weeks, my mom noticed increased agitation. Sometimes my dad would say things that seemed silly or out of character. Sometimes he would get short with people. On the Wednesday before he died, his blood pressure dropped to dangerously low levels. It never came back up. Because of that, his brain stopped getting the amount of oxygen it needed. Sometimes he seemed lucid, and then he would follow up those moments with a nonsensical statement. The last thing my dad said was directed at me. He told me he loved me. I have no doubt that he knew and meant what he was saying. I’m not sure if he knew where he was or the circumstances in which he was saying it. I’m not sure if he was aware that he was dying. But the reason I know that his statement was true was because of the million moments over the course of my thirty-five year life that he did love me. His words were vindicated by a lifetime of actions. I have spent so many years talking to people about being formed and becoming something. No one told me that death can undo all of that. This brings me to my last point: I did not have to wait for the finality of my father’s death to set in. Truth be told, it still hasn’t. My faith in Jesus Christ and the consequent worldview I have because of it have already made sense of all of this for me. I have been given a narrative and a language to speak sensibly about my father’s death. My father was baptized, got married, preached, and shared communion with the church. He was never his own. He was never even my family’s; we were just entrusted with his care. My dad belonged to the church and is now held in Christ eagerly awaiting for the adoption and redemption of his body. As my dad passed out of time and into eternity, he took with him all of the insecure moments in which I guessed might be my last. Every attempt I made to see his face for the last time, to hear his last breath, to see his coffin one last time. The moment I shuffled down the driveway to extend my view of the hearse. All of those goodbye moments are now held together in the life of God with every precious greeting and hello that my dad and I shared. And God, who is now and always has been perfectly present in every moment we shared together, holds us together in an eternal hello.
Uniforms for CC Middle School
It's been our commitment over nearly the last decade to find ways to support and love the folks that fill this campus from August to May. The care we show these young neighbors is a reflection of our community's belief in the importance that all lives be lived "to the fullest."
To that end:
1) If you have some fashion sense, a child whose school clothes you'll be shopping for anyway, or a heart for youth, you can consider participating in our ongoing uniform drive.
2) If you want to spend an hour a week building a relationship with a student who would benefit from a kind and wise voice in their life, please consider being a mentor to a Cesar Chavez MS student in the coming year.
If you'd like more info about either of these opportunities to serve our young neighbors, please contact email@example.com for more information.
Leadership Team Meeting
We have a leadership team meeting this Sunday evening. Please be in prayer for our team. All of this was covered in the town hall last month, but as a reminder here is what will be covered.
1. Finance Update. We are one month into our new fiscal budget.
2. OAR update. Toph wrote a report before he left to be given at this meeting
3. Discernment Team update.
4. scholarship recipient verification
5. youth group update
6. new leadership team/hr team selection
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Work is Worship
Greeters: Evie & Walters
Coffee Makers: Angel
Mug Cleaners: Leigh & Cooleys
Money Counter: Justin Pond
- Sunday Sermon: "Waiting with Abram and the Saints" Gen 15/Luke 12
- MD Chains Location: Freddy's (by Baylor) last one for the summer
- Youth Group Meeting: We are having a meeting after church this Sunday August 7th for UBCs youth group. Our initial effort will focus on our group of middle school students. If you have a child that this age and have not been contacted please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kindergarten Commission August 28th. If you have a child going into Kindergarten and would like to be part of our commissioning service, please email email@example.com
Do you have an emergency and need to talk to a pastor?
254 413 2611
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair- Kristin Dodson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joy Wineman: email@example.com
Stan Denman: Stan_Denman@baylor.edu
David Wilhite: David_Wilhite@baylor.edu
Bridget Heins: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharyl Loeung: email@example.com
Jon Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
Justin Pond: email@example.com
Anna Tilson: Anna_Tilson@jrbt.com
Doug McNamee: firstname.lastname@example.org
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Maxcey Blaylock: email@example.com
Mathew Crawford: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Engblom: Rob_Engblom@baylor.edu
Ross Van Dyke: Ross_Vandyke@baylor.edu