Heart Restart

May 19, 2020 at 8:47 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

On Friday morning, I woke up before 6am and could not fall back asleep, so after a while, I went downstairs. I got a drink and sat down to work on my computer in my recliner. At 6:40 I started feeling intense pains in my chest. It was an 8 out of 10 to start and really the only other time I have had that much pain was after a knee surgery where the anesthesiologist did not do a block on my leg where they had snapped by bone.

I text my wife Jessica right away to let her know I was having chest pains. She was downstairs just minutes later. I was laying on the floor by that time. 

I am the one to handle medical things in our house. I grew up with a dad who was an EMT and in the volunteer fire department. I had spent much of my childhood there and learned a lot through drills too. All my years as a pastor along with 7 surgeries between 30 and 40 and I had become quite comfortable with medical stuff. I have always done well in crisis. When the kids are hurt or sick, I play doctor. Blood, broken arms, no problem, Vomit, now that is a different story. Jessica and my daughter Abby will both tell you they don’t do so well with medical stuff. So, when Jessica got downstairs, she asked me, ‘what do I do.’ I responded saying, ‘nothing right now, but if I pass out, call 911 right away.’ I would later think to reminder her where the wills were located…

Of course, Jessica got right on the old interwebs to find out what was wrong. At least she got on Mayo and didn’t google it. I knew something was wrong, I was just trying to figure out how big it was. I don’t go to the hospital unless I am sure I have to, especially considering we are in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic. After 40 minutes of intense pain with only 5 second breaks here and there I knew it was time to get a second opinion. Moving and changing position made no change, so I asked Jessica to call my doctor. At this point, talking and breathing were harder and the pain moved into my shoulder, neck and arm. 

After asking a series of questions, my doctors office told us to call 911. Not to be outdone, I asked if we could just have Jessica drop me off. I was trying to figure out still if I really needed to go and if it would be better for my health and wallet if I were to go via ambulance or have Jessica drop me off. They said she could take me if we left right away. 

After Jessica got off the phone I decided that I should take my blood pressure. My apple watch was showing my heart rate at this point to be in the 190-210 range. I was not sure how accurate it was (turns out, 100% accurate). I laid down to do my blood pressure while Jessica used the restroom. Multiple attempts, battery changes, both arms and all I got was an error message. No bueno. 

I got dressed and prepared for a trip. I went downstairs to sit in my recliner to wait for Jessica. Micah had gotten back out of bed (he had been on the couch and moved upstairs due to my screaming). Jessica came down. I looked at her and as if I was ordering a pizza said, ‘its time to call 911.’

Jessica does not do well with medical stuff.

She stayed on the line with 911 and Micah went out to meet the ambulance. Abby was still asleep as it was before 8 and that was best because she would be a mess. Jessica did wake her up after the ambulance got there.

The medics arrived and the 3 of them came in and hooked me up to the heart monitor to get an EKG right away. When the three of them looked at the print out, their faces said it all. Something was not right. 

They were fantastic and one of them eventually said, ‘hey, don’t I know you?’ Story of my life.

My heart rate was 210. They started the IV right there and tried to get it down using a variety of exercises. Nothing. 

I thought for a moment, ‘hey, this might be it.’ I gave Jesus a shoutout in my head to let him know that this was not my preferred timing. Not even massive chest pain stops me from having an opinion!

Jessica went up to wake up Abby and the head medic stepped out to call the issue in. The other medics explained that they were going to give me a medicine and it was going to hurt bad. It would likely stop my breath. It was a medicine that would instantly restart my heart, much like rebooting a computer. They said it was needed to reset the electrical system. I’m always up for an adventure but was annoyed that at the time in my adult life when I was the healthiest physically minus about 15-20 pounds that this was happening. We decided not to explain all this to Jessica. The third medic did not hear that and would later explain it to her and the kids. I later told Micah he missed out on pushing the button for the restart. Thats how he and I roll. 

The pushed the med through the IV. That was an experience to say the least. I felt every moment of it as it moved up my arm, across the shoulder and down into my heart. Each step had a very different feeling. Quite and experience. There was no doubt when it hit my heart. I told my best friend it was like having someone inside my heart firing a nail gun at random. I could not scream, that would have sent Jessica and Abby into a meltdown. I have never felt anything like it for sure. Within second of hitting my heart I was back to feeling almost normal (*normal for me!). Just a little soreness. It dropped my heart rate down to 140 instantly. 

I walked out to the driveway to get on the stretcher to take my trip to the hospital where I would spend 6 hours getting tests and it took 5 hours to get any food or drink! I saw the cardiologist who explained the condition and that it was somewhat a fluke thing. No damage. No heart attack. No structural issues. An electrical issue. My heart decided to take a different path for its electrical than the normal path. If that does not scream #onlyYouMarcus, I am not sure what does.

Since then I have been mostly fine. Taking half of a low dose med and have some ‘just to be safe’ tests later this week. It may never happen again. It may happen again. If it happens a lot more, it means a minor surgery. In the meantime, minus being tired for 3 days and sore for a day and a half, its back to life as normal. 

An hour after getting home I was on my usual 3.5 mile walk. Jessica came with me to babysit since she was convinced I would drop dead, a fact that Micah and I still like to make jokes about. #onlyYouMarcus #Genetics

I am thankful for access to medical care, the great medical team with the ambulance and at Parkview Regional. At no point did I feel fear. In all this transition of job, life, Covid-19 and more, I have had my moments, but since mid February, I have found for 90% of the time, a peace that passes all understanding. I of course want to drink at my grandkids wedding, but I also live without any regrets knowing that I have done all I can to make the most of this thing called life. It was just another opportunity to be thankful for my family, my close friends, my church and this amazing life I get to lead. 

Just another adventure.

Yet another story.

It will make great sermon material and a few more #onlyYouMarcus posts.

YouTube Channel

April 14, 2020 at 12:42 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

I am excited to announce that I now have a YouTube channel. You can check it out here!

Disney Parks

January 17, 2020 at 10:24 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

I love Disney! Over the years I have had more of a chance to travel to Disney, especially since we became vacation club members. I have visited all of the US Disney parks except one water park and below is my list of my favorite parks (minus water parks) in order of most favorite to least favorite. These ratings are different than what most people would say, but they are mine!

  1. Epcot. This has always been my favorite since first going. The culture and the science make it so much fun.
  2. Holywood Studios.  This one recently moved up. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Galaxies Edge alone makes this a great one.
  3. California Aventure.  Cars Land. That is all.
  4. Magic Kingdom. A classic for sure. Was #2 for me for a long time. Its number 1 for many, but not for me.
  5. Animal Kingdom. I love animals. Plus, Flights of Passage may be one of the best rides ever made.
  6. Disneyland. Granted, I have not been there since they added Star Wars, but it just does not measure up for me in comparison to the rest. 

Whats Next?!

December 21, 2019 at 11:42 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

The New Year brings new changes for Marcus!

In October, I resigned as Senior Pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Auburn, IN. It was a painful decision, but the right one. My last official day is December 31, 2019. My last day in the office is December 29, 2019. I resigned as it was the best decision for my own health and well being as well as for the health and well being of my family.

After making this decision it became clear that whatever was next would require me to use my gifts in a bigger and broader sense. It also became clear that whatever I need, I needed to make sure I was continuing to help the revitalization of chruches, pour into pastors and have some connection to building the international church. This ultimately left two options, taking the non-profit I had hoped to slowly build to do part time full time or to take on another ministry role in an organization where I could do this. I decided that I needed to focus on building up the non-profit full time so that I could use my gifts in this way and have the greatest impact on the church.

The new non-profit is called Preparing for Amazement Ministries. Our mission is to revitalize and build the global church. We want to build up the church across the globe and to help chruches who are plateaued or dying and want revitalization to revitalize.

Our vision is to be the impetus in the revitalization and rebirth of the global church through training, resourcing and intentional learning experiences for Christian, empowering them to serve their communities around the world. Our ministry includes three primary elements:

  • To provide training for churches, pastors and leaders in areas around the world where poverty prevents them from receiving quality training.
  • To create international internships and learning experiences for churches and their leaders to learn from others around the globe.
  • To provide resources and training to assist churches in revitalization.

Please be praying for me in this new adventure and we encourage you to check out the ministry (www.amazed15.org) and follow us on social media.

Ultimately, my only real goals in life are to love Jesus and my family, make as big of a difference as I can while I am alive and find a way to pay the bills while doing those things.

You can check out the video below to see my announcement. Exciting things ahead!

Much Love,

Marcus

Announcement Video

Next Season

November 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm • Posted in Uncategorized3 Comments

It is a season of change and transition for me, one that is clearly from God. 

On October 10, I submitted my resignation as Senior Pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Auburn, IN. It was a painful decision, but the right one.

Since arriving at St. Mark’s, our commitment has been that we would not move before the kids graduate. We are keeping that commitment and not moving. While our hope was for me to be I that role for 10-25 years, we also knew that God ultimately was calling me to something broader. The question has been for the last couple years, what that is, when it is to be and whether or not that is in addition to or instead of my role at St. Mark’s.

As for a rationale for my decision and its timing, here is what I shared with the church: ‘The council has asked me to be fully transparent about the rationale for my decision and I want to honor that request. While there have been a number of problematic things over the last 6-8 months, ultimately, I decided to resign because I was not able to get the tangible support that I needed in the way and timing in which it was needed for me to continue here and honor my own well being and the well being of my family. It is not the outcome I had hoped for, but it is the right decision for us. Please know that there is no controversy and for me there is no anger or blame at all, simply sadness, hurt and certainly some fear. I love this church and you, its people, sincerely. We have many people here who will be our friends for the rest of our lives and who have been a source of comfort, support and love.’

My last official day is January 15, 2020 and my last day in the office will be Sunday January 12, 2020.

Ultimately this decision was the decision that was best for my health and the health and well being of my family. God speaks to us in a variety of ways; through the scriptures, through others, through suffering, through circumstances and more. In all my life, never have I heard God speak more clearly before, during and in hindsight than I have on this decision. It’s been laughable in many ways. I have also had a ton of support from family and friends. Jessica and I have seen a dramatic drop in blood pressure, positive change in the disposition of our kids and more interest in faith from both kids than we have seen in at least two years. 

Certainly there is some sadness and grief and a little bit of fear as well. That said, we also have some excitement and most importantly a great sense of peace. We remain thankful and ask for your prayers for our family as we trust God and seek clarity out what is next.

As to whats next, stay tuned for more about that soon. Exciting things ahead!

Much Love,

Marcus

Band Dad

September 16, 2019 at 6:57 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

We are currently in the midst of marching band season. While my son has been in the high school marching band for 2 previous years, now both of my kids are in the marching band this year for the first time. My daughter is in 7th grade and plays the flute and my son is in 9th grade and plays the trombone. It is so much fun watching them do something they love, finding a great community of friends and learning commitment. Add to that the gift of the arts and some good physical activity and it truly is a gift. I am thankful that this year, with both of them in the marching band that I can get more involved.

Back to Work

August 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

After a wonderful 9 week sabbatical, I returned to work on August 1. It was quite an adjustment even though I like what I do and love the people of the church I serve, St. Mark’s. To be with family was such a gift and it was great to get to sleep in and work on the house. Needless to say, I do not think I will have any trouble retiring when finances allow!

Sabbatical!

May 28, 2019 at 6:07 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

On May 29 at 2pm, I begin sabbatical. It is the first of my career and something I have been waiting for and looking forward to for a long time. I need it. I deserve it. I have earned it. I will be gone 9 weeks total, 6 weeks of those sabbatical, 2 of them continuing education and 1 vacation. 

The point of sabbatical is to experience renewal. There are a variety of ways that people approach and complete their sabbatical. My approach was shaped most by the great need I have, which is rest and renewal. It was also shaped by not being awarded a sabbatical grant that I sought out. My hope is to deepen my relationship with Jesus and my family who have sacrificed so much for my ministry. Trying to turn a church around is not easy and it certainly has taken its toll on me. Its time to do something selfish for a season and take care of me and get healthier so that I can also move forward in greater health.

For my sabbatical, I will be traveling some, spending a week in Colorado with my family and 4 days in Kentucky with my wife Jessica. The rest of the time will be at home in the area, with maybe some day or overnight trips. In addition to time to rest and reflect, I intend to do a significant amount of reading and will work on projects that give me life. Some projects will be on my property while others will be on the house, cars or a variety of other projects. The most important part will be the change of pace for a season. 

During this time I will not be working and will do all I can to not think about work. My work email will be off and I am turning my cell phone over to my wife so that I do not even so much as see a text message. I will not be in the office or checking office voicemails. I will only be checking my personal email once a week. I will also not be checking social media or social media messages, though I may post from a third party app from time to time. I am teaching one class, so I will check that email more often and work on that a little. I will have a second phone with a private email that I can be reached by my office in an exceptionally significant emergency. I will also be using this email and phone to keep up with my family and friends. We will be avoiding town except to be with friends and if the kids have something. We just know that we will bump into someone and they will not be able to not talk about work. This no contact time will not be easy, but it is important.

The concept of sabbatical is so important given the work and sacrifice of a pastor. The constant demands, the criticism, competing consumeristic interests and the vicarious trauma takes a toll. I am so thankful that I get to do this. 

I am looking forward to how the Holy Spirit ministers to me in this very important season. 

The 50 States

March 28, 2019 at 6:45 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

One of the items on my bucket list is to visit all 50 states in my adult life time. So far I have completed 41 of the 50 States in the United States (AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY).

The states that remain are: Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Today while driving through several states on our way home from Spring Break, my wife jessica asked me about my favorite and least favorite states. I could not name a favorite, so I came with three favorites in no particular order: Colorado, Oregon, California.

Now as for the three states I like the least, that was much easier. They are in order of least favorite first: Ohio, Texas, Kansas.

So there you have it.

Buffet Life

November 19, 2018 at 11:25 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

One of my friends and colleagues in Colorado once said, “Some people have a full plate, Marcus has a buffet.” It was one of the truest statements ever. As the cliche goes, ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person.’ The reality is that I love the many things that I get to do and be a part of. As I think about my buffet, I could not wish for much of a better life. When people ask how I am doing, I often say, ‘other than wanting a skinnier waist line and a fatter bank account, I could not complain.’ While my life is not perfect, conflict free or without mistake, I truly am deeply blessed to get to live the life I get to live. As I think about my ‘buffet’ and the hats I get to wear, the following list comes to mind:

  • Follower of Jesus
  • Father
  • Husband
  • Pastor
  • Professor
  • Speaker
  • Social Scientist
  • Author
  • Consultant
  • Theologian
  • Community Volunteer

The titles would never matter to me and I never want to be defined by my work. That said, I am so blessed to be able to serve the greater good in so many ways. I wouldn’t trade my buffet for the world.