my friend, Rachel, shared a link from 2010…
Christmas Flash Mob by Journey of Faith at South Bay Galleria – official video
i was naively sitting down to get some work done, go through emails, do normal things and i watched the video and came undone. there is something about this flash mob erupting in worship in this mall, amidst people, naively going about their holiday preparations, their shopping, their trudging, their joking, their stressing, their relationships and they are caught unawares. it really defined Christmas for me. when i step into a church i carry all my expectations and desires to be moved, to see my God, to listen, to be transformed. and sometimes that all works out and other times I am left with just more of myself, my aggravations, my decisions, my agendas (or my dubious parenting in pulling a chair out from under Eli to crash him to the floor to teach him to stay standing when the congregation is standing). but this moment where they, where i, am caught unawares is when I am torn from MY world where I reign and i am drawn to my knees by the irresistible pull of my King. i am not a big fan of holidays since they are the harbinger of breakdown for me. so it is sunlight and sustenance to drop my baggage, my shopping, my lists, and savor my Savior… to feel my lips curving unbidden around the magnificent truths in each word of those songs… to remember what real joy is as the Presence of my God touching earth, touching my mundane days, touching me transforms it all.
we are good. mike is good. he continues to plug away at daily exercises which keep him more flexible and keep his muscles in tune toward bearing his weight. he still tries standing and taking some steps. it is always hard for me to gauge or convey a sense of progress because he is not “doing” something new. he cannot take more steps than before necessarily. some days he can do less than the day before but then it comes back later in the week. i believe that not regressing still counts as progress in our house. a bright light of autumn was Mike’s opportunity to do the opening prayer for our local Young Life banquet. the experience was a wild card because mike can easily become fatigued from being in his wheelchair and insist on reclining or leaving or become permanently distracted by his discomfort. or he can simply weary and become inaudible. so i warned him earlier in the day that in case something is going wrong (like he is whispering and the microphone isn’t registering his voice) i might try to take the microphone to fix it so please do not fight me for microphone control. he asked if that was in case he said something inappropriate. i laughed and said, “yes, that would be another reason i will wrestle the microphone away from you!” but mike did a wonderful job and if i hadn’t been on wrestling patrol i may have thought of videoing it. he opened with the Jerry Macguire line of “Show me the money” since it was a fundraiser but then reconsidered starting a prayer that way and continued on to beautifully offer up the evening and its fruit to the Lord.
maybe that is what ties all this together. maybe it is the very fragility of these lives we meander through, these moments that can go either way, good or bad, that get unmasked at Christmas and reveal our weaknesses, our weariness, our wishes and all of this- all of this– we ludicrously pile at the feet of this infant–this infant that reflects our vulnerabilities in his very helplessness and yet absorbs it all with the densely packaged might of God come down.
so, Emmanuel. Praise and Hallelujah!
not limited or partial : entire, unqualified . 2. : not cautious or reticent : frank, open. 3. : not set aside for special use.
I have had a lot of thoughts jostling in my head like caged animals lately and didn’t get the chance to let them out until now.
First, I have been thinking about the word unreserved and how it seems to describe Mike to me in a lot of ways. I looked up the definition to be sure it really did pertain to him. And it certainly does in ways I might be quick to judge negatively and am learning to discover as strengths as well. Mike has always been a devoted worker, a motivating boss and pretty intentional about his home projects as well. He has seemed unreserved in the way he tackles all of these areas head-on without much break. Sometimes, as an employee of his I wished he would be a bit more reserved in what he expected of me as maybe my coworkers felt as well. At home, I wished he would maybe wait until we really had enough time to fully devote to a project before ripping out a wall. But you couldn’t really hold Mike back. He was… unreserved.
Mike is still pretty unreserved in some ways. Over these years since his brain bleed he has been unreserved in his conversations with others. Sometimes that has taken the form of a prying kind of interest in your sin life, a counselor’s stance on your life choices, or the Holy Spirit’s urging of conviction for your spiritual goals. Not that this can’t be helpful to some, but I was not a fan even on the sidelines of how little Mike was willing to reserve in these conversations with others. But I couldn’t really hold Mike back.
The other area Mike’s unreserved nature shines is in his prayer life. You have not seen Mike if you have not prayed with him for his total, unreserved healing. He would never let you escape even with your commitment to pray for him daily for the rest of your life. He demands you pray with him right then and there for all he is asking of God–his total miraculous, restorative healing. Sometimes this bothers me too. It feels like he should have some reserve.
Personally, I kind of like reservations. Who wants to wait around hungry for seats in a restaurant? I plan things reservedly. I don’t make promises I am not sure I can keep. I don’t tell my kids our plans until they are truly in motion. I avoid disappointment by not counting on things too early. It is a protective habit. I feel safer that way. But this man I married flouts all that. He lives like he knows what is coming.
Now, before you give him too much credit, know that I am usually right more often than him. The benefit of not saying something is happening before it does is you get close to 100% accuracy. But for whatever reason lately I am sensing a benefit to Mike’s abandon.
Here is my sense from God, I think. Mike doesn’t concern himself with being right. So he is wrong a lot. But he doesn’t concern himself with that either, really. When he makes a prediction that he will be healed in 5 days (and we have gone through that countless times over the years) he doesn’t revisit that mistake. If pushed then he might acknowledge that he must have misunderstood God. So what DOES Mike concern himself with? Unreserved prayer. Unreserved faith. He honestly abandons any misgivings and puts all his hopes and desires and belief in the sovereignty and compassion of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And whether his timeframe is off or not, there is something pretty beautiful about the way Mike has spent a lifetime practicing his unreservedness before God.
It is something that has even begun to tempt me.
May you get a glimpse of Mike’s view of God– his shameless, amplified, bold view of the One who holds Mike and me, and you, in his hands.
One little extra tangent… Mike’s 40 days of birthday visitors has been an unreserved success! It has been such a delight to him to reconnect with old friends and Young Life club kids from Ohio and Illinois, to be surprised by the mystery guest of the day, to joke, to reminisce, to pray and mutually encourage. It has been his favorite gift of a lifetime. Thanks to all of you who slotted yourselves into the schedule to make it work and don’t feel confined to this finite event as a means for a visit. If you weren’t able to maneuver a day within the month, then plot another time to connect with Mike by Skype or phone or even in person. He will probably be going through withdrawal as soon as our schedule ends its course and you could be the one that delights his day. And if this broke the ice with you then certainly visit again! Either way, thank you for the care and joy you share with our family! It has been an unreserved blessing!
AND I should probably be setting this into a separate post but I am no professional at this so I will tack it on here. We have been utterly STUNNED at how God has used so many to fund our caregiver goal for covering the next 2 years. (If this is new to you, the January 2012 video on the right of the homepage can explain more).
Over $47,000 thus far has come in. In addition, Mike and I were able to consolidate some existing family funds into the trust which turned out to be about $15,000. All in all, the medical trust is now at $62,000! This provides a sizeable window to think through the next stage of Mike’s recovery. Thank you all so very much for your concern and generosity.
If you have not given and would still like to, please know that it is still important and helpful. If the 2 years of care can be stretched to 3, it simply adds time to plan and for Mike to recover before additional decisions are needed.
To give to the trust, make checks payable to “Trustee of Zegarski Gift Trust” and send to Dan Zegarski; 7522 Wetherfield Dr; Maineville, OH 45039.
THANK YOU! THANK GOD!
I should be better at seeing it coming but I am not. I still get caught off guard, knocked down, wondering what I should do.
It has happened a few times over the last couple of years and I do practice figuring out warning signs so I can be better prepared, less decimated the next time. But I have yet to feel prepared.
Counselor types have told me it sounds like “emotional flooding”. That sounds about right. Basically, I may have been working more than average and things start to pile up, throw some unusual circumstances in like a holiday (especially holidays) or a trip and all of a sudden one day I find myself crying and unable to think of anything but bed. Sometimes I have been driving and gotten lost. Sometimes I have gone mute, unable to will myself to speak to anyone. Every time there is the uncontrolled sobbing. And the sleep. And the mix of feelings from anger, to sadness to blame to guilt to hopelessness.
I spoke to my sister and she referred to the dangerous illusion that I might think I have things under control. That this is what happens when I realize I don’t. That didn’t seem accurate to me. I am well aware how little I control. I think I work hard at accepting my lack of control and then work just as hard at making the most of my response to the uncontrolled.
Isaiah 64:6 came to me…
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
This I could relate to. I feel like I am working hard at my responsibilities and making the best of my circumstances, caring for those around me as well as I can. And it suddenly dawns on me that all I am holding is filthy rags. It is not enough. It is never enough. My efforts to gather these filthy rags take a lot out of me and all of a sudden I am worn out and finally notice that I have used what precious little I had to procure these filthy rags. And so I break apart with the knowledge of my need.
There is nothing to do but curl up with my rags and wait for Jesus to find me. I despise how incapable I am to get up and function but I cannot deny the fact.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
This pursuit of righteousness can never succeed apart from the Holy Spirit at work within me. My efforts will always turn out to be rags compared to what is needed–the King’s robes to wrap me and surround me as I approach all responsibility, all care for others, all efforts at anything as service to my Lord, empowered by my King.
But today is another day to be flooded, first by tears, then by His peace. When I run out, He fills up.
TOP SECRET! Mike Zegarski is turning 40 this coming March 23, 2012! While Mike loves so many friends, a party is a hard way for him to best enjoy the relationships he has invested in over these years. I would like to invite you to participate in a gift I am sure will delight him. I would like to reserve a daily visitor for Mike for over the 40 days following his birthday. He is most engaged and engaging when he is able to hear and be heard in a quieter setting with a few people. I believe he will feel immensely loved and cared for with these more personalized visits than any other gift or party we could dream up. So from far or near, if you are able to sign up for a visit day between March 23 through May 1, please choose a date or a few options that I can confirm with you! An email to me at michelle@YLChicago.com would be the easiest and quickest for me to reply to! (If you are out of town but would like to participate, reserve a phone call date!)
Visits can be short or long–whatever works for you (and him). Mike is out of bed daily between 5 and 7 pm for sure (if you want to see him out of bed) or you might catch him in bed at other times of the day which is just fine. Visits are harder after 8 pm as he begins getting ready for bed. So plan a time between 9:30 am and 8:00 pm and be a part of his 40 day surprise party! (Feel free to coordinate a visit with a friend or two but not too many at a time!) Feel free to pass this along to invite anyone you believe might be interested to contact me for a visit!
I hope to also capture a minute of video with each visitor saying what Mike has meant to them just so that it can be an encouragement to him to listen to through the years. We will see how successful I am at this part of my plan! (No pressure, I believe the volume will be as compelling as the individual pieces.)
So, THANK YOU for your part in our lives, and shhhh! Don’t tell our plans! May this be a sweet surprise for all of us in showcasing God’s hand in Mike’s life!
The Video January 2012 link in the blogroll to the right (on the Home Page) is part of an effort to cover Mike’s care expenses to keep him at home and update our friends far and wide. After sharing it with friends on Facebook recently I am stunned to describe how an old friend called to offer an opportunity of a matching gift up to $20,000. So for every dollar anyone gives, he will match it so we could end up with $40,000 toward our goal of $60,000. Please help us spread the word and opportunity to double any gifts given through the end of February (now extending through March)!
We tried to compile an email list to send evites for a special gathering to update Z-friends generally on how things are going and to also provide a more complete picture of the financial challenge that we are currently facing involving Mike’s care. If this get together is something you would like to be a part of on March 21st, and we missed including your email, please let me know and I will get you the info.
“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16
if you were directed here and are interested in giving, we have changed the destination for gifts to go to the medical trust in order to streamline how we pay bills for mike. please check that update and information by clicking on the DONATIONS menu button above… and thank you! more updates soon!
what more looks like tonight
i am sitting writing a couple thank yous late at night when everyone else is tucked in. thank yous sit in a pile and haunt me most of my life. there is pretty much always a fresh list of people to acknowledge for something special. honestly, i don’t run to write thank yous. but it is not completely accurate to say i avoid it as a chore. after sitting here a while i realize i avoid it because it is a weighty and emotionally charged thing for me to sit and translate all i receive in terms of support, encouragement, community, faith-inflating, stamina, relationship, truth from all which this body of Christ has been giving to our family. I cry while writing. I pray and praise while writing. I thank God for these instruments he uses to infiltrate our hardened, hopeless moments, to shock us with his wealth, his compassion, his blessing. a note will never be enough for people to grasp how God uses them in my family’s life. so while i write i pray that heaven will show them how God used them so very well with us.
so one thank you i wrote is a repeat. to someone who is a birthday and Christmas giver. her regularity almost makes it underappreciated. until my memory tries to summarize who she is with my picture of her every Christmas as the one in my pile of relatives who cuts into the traditions. Our lifelong habit is to have one person in a room of 25 or so open a present at a time and the wait will kill a 5 year old. my mind’s picture is her yelling, “open, another!” with the permission only an elder can grant to dig in, relish it, and taste what more is. so the paper flies and everyone gets the occasional freebie where we all dig in at once in a deluge of more than we deserve, more than we need.
i know i update so rarely many may not even ever visit back to find these words. but i am in a place tonight of wanting to describe more. more is often what keeps me from updating. on one hand, if i don’t have new novel progress with mike to report i don’t know what to update about. so i am waiting, paralyzed for more. mike waits too, paralyzed for more, still begging for more prayer from each person he rubs shoulders with in life. still dictating his ideas for a job he no longer has. still planning his life for the day after he walks out of that room in the middle of the night, awoken by the miraculous restoration he is sure God has promised. it is hard to feel like describing that tired desire for more as an update.
but more is also mckaela crawling up on daddy’s lap during church today and staying put. mike’s wheelchair was reclined and every once in a while, not that often, she claims his lap for her own. she is 8 and the size of her only fits if he stays reclined (which is his preferred position anyhow). but when it was time to sit him up to roll out after the ended worship service, mckaela was unwilling to leave. so we chatted and distracted ourselves– sure she would move soon enough. we probably stayed an extra 20 minutes at least. because mckaela wanted more. and if i ever doubt why this might be the extent God has given mike back what he seeks, i think this feels like more than enough today. this is way more.
christmas was only slightly easier this year compared to the last couple. i have trained myself to expect little in terms of it all going according to my dreams. the truth is mike is most content at home as much as possible even if it means missing out on family celebrations. and i am unwilling to miss out on family celebrations. it was hard to admit that we were best apart for these holidays like thanksgiving and christmas eve. and then we spent christmas day all together at home. but that tries my patience as mike and i disagree on what each moment should look like in terms of how he combats discomfort and engages with family. the truth is i wanted more. so God showed me what that looked like christmas night with family friends who have delivered themselves along with christmas dinner the last few years. they brought conversation, forgiveness, laughter, patience, honesty into our strained holiday and it was better than ever, more than i expected or hoped. so much more as every member of our little family sat or wheeled up to the kitchen table to eat and talk and play games together with their family. it ended up feeling like more than enough.
wanting and experiencing more is an idea i know i will continue to dwell on as i wonder what God intends for mike and for our family. thank you for keeping with us in these years of our journey. and praise God that he so often caps our complaint for more with more than enough.