It’s NOT in my HEAD!

SO… it’s not in my head you say!

Well, yesterday I got the report from a morning of testing with the new program that I have been privileged to be a part of at the Watson Centre Society for Brain Health (check them out here: https://watsonbrainhealth.com). I mentioned the testing in a video l put out on Facebook and Twitter in which I said I would do a shout out about the results but unfortunately last night we got some sad news. My cousin who was like another brother growing up who was two years older than me passed away at some point on the weekend in his home. He had his own battles with a traumatic brain injury and in later years with that challenging disease known as Parkinson’s. He had become a real support to me through Facebook over the months of dealing with this journey. He helped me to understand the challenges, the struggles, the difficulties that come with dealing with recovering from damage to the brain. So, with respect to him and his family I did not want to post anything last night and so I deferred to today.

I did post a video on the results on Facebook and Twitter but for those who won’t necessarily take the time to watch a short video I thought I would write a quick blog on the results and what comes next.

So, after a thorough set of testing the end result in a nutshell is that both of my hemispheres (left and right) of my brain are working at a normal capacity. The challenge is the neuropathways that connect the two are broken, damaged and mostly unrepairable. However, because of the neuroplasticity of the brain these pathways can be re-created, developed over again and that is where the good news comes in! The team at the Watson Centre are excited about the ability of this three-month program to assist in the recreating of these pathways and so am I.

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Also personally, I am excited to find out that there is actually something wrong with the brain that can be detected through the right series of testing. You see, honestly sometimes in this journey I have wondered (even sometimes out loud) if all this was simply in my head. I have wondered if all the symptoms and pain were just a figment of my imagination and that there is really nothing wrong at all. It’s funny but I have heard that others have had these kinds of challenges emotionally and intellectually.

But today, because of the results of the testing I am excited to know that it’s NOT in my head but it IS in my head!

The most amazing thing about all of this is the great team at the Watson Centre has already put together a plan of action that is tailored specifically to my own personal needs as I recover from this injury that occurred 8 months ago today! I started down that pathway today and look forward to what the future days, weeks, and months have in store as I continue in the journey I never saw coming!

Thanks for all the support, the prayers, and the love!

Rev Trev

R.I.P. Rick Stearns you will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing you!

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FIRST DAY!

Do you remember the first day of school? First day of kindergarten? First day of elementary school? First day of high school? First day of college? First day of University?

You know, the reality is the first day of anything new can come with all kinds of mixed emotions. There is excitement for all things new! There is apprehension for all things new! There is fear for all things new! The experience of emotions can range from fear to excitement to insecurity to simple apathy even.

Well today I am reflecting on this as I begin a new journey in this season of life I didn’t see coming. Today, bright and early I started my commute to Burnaby which will be my daily routine four days a week for the next three months. From Monday to Thursday I will be investing my time with the Watson Centre Society for Brain Health in an effort to continue to heal and recover from a double concussion I suffered nearly 8 months ago (just 2 days shy of that marker).

As I began this day, I have to admit it was with the fullness of emotions that I already mentioned above. There was fear that this new journey might not end up with the kind of recovery that I so desperately hope for! There was the insecurity of going into something new and having to deal with all kinds of new situations, new people, new paradigms. There was the excitement (which is awesome) of the HOPE that this could really be the final phase of the healing process which would mean a return to life as I once knew it!

You know, FIRSTS in all kinds of things can be really intimidating and daunting. And the most important thing that we can do in order to set ourselves up for success in the process is to manage our attitudes. Sometimes it seems it can be so easy to be negative (or maybe/perhaps it is just me) and we can allow those negative feelings and attitudes to taint what could otherwise be a really amazing thing or adventure. Which is WHY we need to manage our attitudes towards the things that come our way in this thing called life. Actually, every day presents new opportunities and new possibilities and often the determining factor between a positive outcome or a negative outcome is our attitude that we adopt along the way.

I love what hall of famer Wade Boggs of the Boston Red Sox has to say about our attitudes in life, he writes:

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The reality simple is this, the way we approach FIRSTS in our lives our attitudes will often determine the long-term outcomes and the results of the opportunities that come our way. As for me, I am doing all I can over this next 3 months to approach this opportunity with as much positive belief and faith that I can muster and trusting God for the rest! My hope and prayer is that you will do the same with whatever opportunities or challenges that come your way in this amazing thing called the journey of life and faith!

Here’s to all the FIRSTS that life brings our way!

Rev Trev

HOPE renewed!

SO… it’s Saturday morning after a very long yet often fulfilling week!

You know how some weeks are just long and draining? Well, this week was a long week for a few reasons but ultimately it was a very fulfilling week and a momentous week for me personally in this journey I never saw coming.

You see, this past week I was invited back once again to the Watson Centre Society for Brain Health (check them out at https://watsonbrainhealth.com). As some of you may recall early on in the journey, I went through a two-day trial with this group that has done so much for research and recovery from brain injuries of all kinds. Unfortunately, at that time in the stage of recovery where I was at, the program was just not going to be the right fit, so I was not invited to participate. To be honest with you it was a tough drive home that day last fall. I was so desperate for healing and a return to some sense of normality that it seemed like a real big blow!

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However, often in life and in faith our timing is very different from God’s timing and a few weeks ago the Executive Director Josh Poirier got in contact with me to touch base on where I was currently in the journey of recovery. I have to admit I was completely shocked to know that I was still even being considered for acceptance into this program. But as we chatted about the journey to this point it became increasingly obvious that another two-day trial would be a great idea. Honestly, as I left his office a few weeks ago I was both excited and a bit anxious. It’s that feeling that many of us have experienced in life, where you are excited for the opportunity (whatever that may be) and anxious at the same time because what “if” the results were the same again this time! What “if” the fit would not be right once again? Personally, the idea of that would be pretty devastating in that we would have to look for another direction for help and healing and that in and of itself is a difficult process.

Well, on Tuesday I jumped back into another two-day trial with a day off on Wednesday. It was back to the rigors of testing the brain through a series of options (I will need to ask in the future IF I can explain them) over a 3-hour timeframe. Now, I know that for some of you that may not seem like much but for where I am at personally in my recovery it is like spending an entire day studying for finals! The exercises though relatively simple in nature are taxing and challenging to the broken pathways in my brain. Not to mention, that the exercises are often timed and push my competitive nature to the maximum! Personally, after the first day of testing I was really glad to have a day of rest (which wasn’t exactly restful but more on that in another blog) to allow my brain a bit of a break.

On Thursday I was back at it with a little less time in the actual program because it was predetermined that we would meet together in the last hour to discuss the results of the two days of the trial. To be very honest, I have to admit that my nerves were very on edge as Barb and I met with Josh and Katryna one of the cognitive instructors I primarily worked with during my time there. All of those crazy thoughts were flowing through my mind as we began to talk about what they thought about the results of the trial:

“Would I get rejected again?” “Would I ever get better?” “Would this be the moment where the journey would change forever?”

Can you relate? Have you ever been in that kind of situation in life’s journey? Personally, I believe that IF you have lived for any length of time on this planet and are alive to read these words you can relate to these kinds of questions at some point in your own life. Well, as we began to talk and discuss it became apparent that this time things would be different. This time the answer would not be “NO” but a resounding:

“Yes we think you would be a good fit for the program now and we are pretty confident that you will make good progress!”

As I continued to listen to their feedback I have to admit (sorry Josh and Katryna) that my mind drifted from our conversation. Why? Because for the first time in what seems like a very long time a feeling of HOPE flooded over my heart and mind! HOPE that there might just be some light at the end of the tunnel in this journey I never say coming! HOPE that there might be a time in the future where my thoughts and abilities might return to what was normal or even beyond that!

HOPE! What an amazing prospect! What an amazing feeling! Every one of us need to have HOPE in order to live out this crazy thing we call the journey of life and faith! And as I sat in the office on that relatively sunny Thursday afternoon, HOPE engaged my world in a real and tangible way.

SO… that is where this journey is taking me next! I start this Monday and will be full-time in the program 4 days a week. The trial is for three months which will take me one month shy of the one-year anniversary of the accident that changed my life forever! If you think about me next week, I appreciate all the prayers and positive thoughts that you can direct my way. It’s not going to be an easy journey and I already know there will be some tough moments (just ask my family about how hard I crashed on Thursday afternoon).

My hope is I will be able to blog my way through this 3-month journey with a focus on providing hope for all who may be struggling with a difficult situation or circumstance in their lives!

Pressing on in the journey,

Rev Trev

 

 

HOPE in a sermon!

WELL, it has been a very long time since I wrote anything about this journey that I never saw coming so I thought this afternoon that I would provide a little update.

For those who have followed along with my sporadic posts you will know that as we approach Christmas day that I just passed the 5-month mark since the day of my brain injury. WOW, 5 months! I can hardly begin to explain to you what it feels like to write that. It has been 5 months since hitting my head in what seemed like a very simple but not horrific by any means accident. I remember even joking about my clumsiness involved in what anyone would say was a freak accident.

But nevertheless, 5 months it has been and as I write this the latest update has me at 80% physically recovered (that is all the neck and upper back injury… the head impact area healed within days). That means that much of the injury that causes the constant headaches is pretty much healed (although I am currently on day 10 of a constant headache) but there is still 20% to go!

And here is the kicker, that 20% is in everyone’s opinion (those on the medical side of my recovery) is the hardest part of the recovery journey. You see, this 20% involves more of the actual mental recovery, memory, recall, comprehension, and intellectual engagement. For those who have been with me on this journey, one of the most challenging aspects of this trek has been the confusion and frustration that has come from my inability to engage these things along the way. You see, as a pastor, much of my world involves engaging deep thinking and reflection. Over the last few months, since early November especially, I have been attempting to place myself in situations and opportunities where I have to engage more deeply. The challenge is I find myself often becoming frustrated and discouraged by how much some of the simplest tasks in this arena and area still take out of my life. The reality is, some simple conversations can set me back for hours physically and mentally still today. I can find myself with deeper headaches and feeling physically ill in ways that are difficult to explain (light-headedness and dizziness are my constant companions).

And come to think of it, that is probably “WHY” the gap in posting anything recently on this blog site. You see, in those moments when I have engaged more actively it wears me out to the point where even thinking about writing anything meaningful is the last thing I want to attempt to do. Well, maybe it would be better to say it is the last thing I am able to do (honestly, I would love to be able to).

But here’s the amazing thing! This past week, I’ve had to put some thought to a series of very challenging and difficult meetings. Honestly, these are sometimes more difficult to engage than any computer work or course work that I have attempted to continue to do over the past few months. However, prior to the third meeting (and quite possibly the most difficult meeting I have ever had personally) I had some time to sit and engage God’s Word at a local Starbucks. As I dug deeply into my study of the New Testament book of Acts something incredible happened! The Spirit of God began to inspire me to start to write my first sermon in months! Now, anyone who has had the opportunity to speak publicly in any format knows how important it is to engage deeply in the topic they are attempting to proclaim. As I sat in the corner of that coffee shop with people coming and going constantly the words seemed to flow with ease and an incredible amount of clarity. When I was done, I not only had the biggest smile on my face, I also had tears streaming from my eyes (I think to anyone around me I must have looked like a juxtaposition of realities).

You see, as I stared at the pages in front of me not only did I see a sermon (which I cannot wait to preach one day), I saw a turning point in this unbelievable journey that I have been on!

For the first time in a very long time, my brain was showing signs of returning to where it was prior to  the accident. For the first time, I was able to see signs of engagement and deep thinking that simply put brought a glimmer of HOPE into my world! Which ironically, is interesting considering the time of year that we are all involved in as I write this. You see, the Christmas story is about HOPE. The story of the birth of the baby in the manger is about God’s answer to the HOPE that we whether we see it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, we all long for! The reality is, the Christmas season is all about HOPE! The HOPE that can only be found as pastor Dr. Paul David Tripp reminds us:

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So, it is with a renewed sense of HOPE that I want to wish you and yours the very merriest of Christmas’ and all the best in the year to come!

Rev Trev

 

Long time no WRITE!

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WELL… it has been a very long time to have not kept anyone in the loop on this journey that I had once thought I would write about every day. The REASON? Basically, the long and short of it all is simply I have been very sick over the past few weeks because of a change of in medication and treatment.

You see, at the end of October the specialist found out that I had “DOUBLE TROUBLE” which is basically two concussions not just the original one at the site of the impact that day on the boat. The challenge is, the second one that was left undetected for almost 3 months required a change in medication and treatment. The first two weeks of that change in medications was like having the worst flu ever. In addition to this, was the worst upset stomach from what the doctor described as the equivalent of dumping a bottle of aspirin into an empty stomach every morning.

Because of this it was all I felt like I could do to just make my way through each day. The idea of writing a blog was honestly the last thing from my mind. And to be truthful you probably would have gotten really sick of all the whining.

Today, I am on the front end of week four of a six-week plan that the concussion specialist put together at the end of October. Along with the weekly physio appointments, multiple chiropractor appointments, twice weekly neurofeedback sessions, weekly counselling sessions, and daily flexibility exercises it has been a real journey to say the least.

Tomorrow, I have my follow-up appointment with the concussion specialist (which was supposed to be at the end of week 6 but there was a mix-up between medical offices) and I will find out “WHAT” the future holds. Honestly, I do not know what that even will look like which is a bit unsettling to say the least. A future of unknowns to a person who likes to be ‘in control’ has been one of the great learning curves of this entire journey. A future that has no clear direction can be troubling, but it has also led me to back to the ONE who holds the future in His hands.

Jesus reminds us of this reality in a passage of scripture that has come to be a refuge in the ups and downs of this season I never saw coming:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”                                                                     -Matthew 6:25-34 New Living Translation

Till tomorrow,

Rev Trev

No CONTROL!

As someone who has always been more of a person who is used to pushing through life’s situations and circumstances this journey has been very challenging.

The reality is, I have always been a person who prided themselves on “DOING” rather than simply waiting around or letting life and its inevitable challenges simply come my way as it may! Now, the challenge with finding one’s pride or identity even in being an initiator or self-starter is it is easy to find ourselves slipping down the slippery slope known as CONTROL!

Dictionary.com defines “CONTROL” as a noun this way:

“The act or power of controlling; regulation; domination or command

Now, a great way to think of the kind of CONTROL that can be a slippery slope in our lives is to phrase it this way… “Who’s in CONTROL here?”

So, why do I describe this as a slippery slope? Well, that’s because the reality is, we are NEVER fully in CONTROL of anything in life and I think from a faith perspective we were NEVER intended to be!

You know, the truth is many of us spend an extraordinary amount of time trying to CONTROL the things that come at us or that come our way in this thing called the journey of life and faith. However, what happens for many of us who find ourselves in this realm what we find out is that despite our best efforts and sometimes intentions (which is another topic for another day) we still wind up facing the stuff we spend so much time, energy and focus trying to avoid.

You see, what often happens to us when despite our best efforts we still get hit with the stuff that comes with life as we know it, we wind up becoming bitter, angry, frustrated, resentful, discouraged, and even depressed! We wind up feeling like we failed somehow because we couldn’t CONTROL every aspect or detail of our lives to the point that we were capable of avoiding the more negative realities of this life’s journey!

God knows, that I have found myself in many of these places in the past and sometimes in this latest journey with this brain injury I have found myself there once again. The reality is, it is hard not to try and CONTROL the outcomes of the UNKNOWN but once again we were never intended to take on that responsibility. Over and over again in the Bible we are reminded that God is the ONE who is in CONTROL of this world and our lives in ways we will probably (most likely) NEVER understand.

In the Old Testament (may be OLD but it’s full of lots of good stuff for our lives) book of Psalms there is a verse that reminds us of this reality and it occurs in Psalms 46:10 where the author writes:

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Now, the point of this simple verse could be presented possibly in a better light “IF” we simply turned it around and read it this way:

“I am God so therefore be still!”

In other words, as the late great theologian and pastor Jonathan Edwards put it: “As He is God an absolutely and infinitely perfect being. As he is God, he is so great, that he is infinitely above all comprehension. As he is God, all things are his own. In that he is God, he is worthy to be sovereign over all things. In that he is God, he will be sovereign, and will act as such. In that he is God, he is able to avenge himself on those who oppose his sovereignty. Therefore be still.”

You know, for years this verse has haunted the “DOER” in me and that is because I couldn’t always relate to the phrase “BE STILL”! STILLNESS has always seemed like such a huge waste of time, money, and momentum. But recently I came across this verse in another translation of the Bible (let me just say in order to gain a fuller perspective on God’ Word I recommend you read out of more than one translation your whole life) where in the NASB (North American Standard Bible) the translators translate the psalmist words this way:

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Now, when I read it from this perspective it HIT me like a ton of bricks! Cease STRIVING… Cease trying to CONTROL… Cease trying to be GOD!

Instead allow God to be God… allow God to be sovereign over the things that you seek to attempt so feebly to CONTROL and TRUST Him to walk with you through the storms and trials you face as well as the victories and triumphs along the way!

The truth is, all the STRIVING we attempt on our own can NEVER match what God can accomplish in and through our lives when we learn to LEAN on Him and TRUST Him in the journey!

Seeking to KNOW and NOT CONTROL…

Rev Trev

IF you don’t!

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The words in the quote above are pretty well-known for many of us who are older in nature (in other words just old). They are words that many of us heard from our parents, our teachers, those who had influence in our lives.

BUT unfortunately they are often credited to the wrong source. Many people attribute them to the author Margaret Atwood who put them to paper in her book ‘Lady Oracle’. However, there are many sources that would say she summarized them from the words of Alice Roosevelt Longworth who was the daughter of President Teddy Roosevelt and a long-time Washington socialite. She was often heard to say:

 

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit next to me. If you can’t say something good about someone, sit here by me.”

 

Now, either way these are definitely wise words or statement of wisdom when it comes to our interpersonal relationships. The reality is, I have found it much easier to spew unhealthy and judgemental words over the years than it is to find things to say that are uplifting and enriching. I think “IF” many of us are honest enough, we all can relate to the challenges of living life by the advice of either of these women! So often in life’s journey it is much easier to speak without thinking of the repercussions of our words. Jesus’ half-brother James, who came to believe the TRUTH concerning his brother after the resurrection had this to say about the challenges of our words:

 

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The REALITY is, it is a difficult thing to keep our thoughts and attitudes from spewing forth in our words, but it is important for us to take our thoughts captive as we seek to live together as God desires. Which honestly, is exactly ‘WHY’ there hasn’t been a post from me over the past few days. The past week has been one of the most difficult weeks of this entire journey mostly because of a change in direction in treatment of the double concussion I suffered back in the late summer. The medication turned my stomach into a churning pit and anyone who has had that happen knows just how much it can influence our lives. Recent research has also shown that there is a direct connection between our ‘gut health’ and the functioning of our brains (when healthy not just when injured).

SO, I consciously chose to follow the wisdom of the words that are quoted here and refrain from writing. Today, life is returning to normal (normal for where I am at with this brain injury) slowly and I hope to be able to write more consistently in the upcoming days and weeks.

Until then I pray that you are not just surviving but thriving in the journey we are all on together!

Rev Trev