Lessons from the ER

Sunday night I found myself at the hospital with Anna again. Her feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger have been uncontrollable. She was at the point where she did not trust herself to not hurt herself again and wanted to go to the hospital. I went with her. I was there with her until Monday evening. It took that long to find an open placement for her. But against the odds she got one.

What a way to spend Memorial day weekend right? But I learned a lot over that 21 hour wait:
Again I learned what a privilege it is to be with Anna and to advocate for her and stand with her when she is weak.
I learned that I can still do all-fighters and/or function on very little sleep.
I learned that being there with Anna meant everything to her.
I learned that when I am punch-drunk tired, I can be very funny.
I learned that you can be both amazingly strong and beautiful and extremely fragile and broken at the same time.
I learned that the prayers of friends and family are effective and necessary to keep me going.
I learned that Anna loves to play with hospital bed controls… especially if they are yours and not hers.
I learned that I do love being her dad. =)
And I learned that right now I can’t be in formal pastoral ministry. Family needs me too much. I can’t give the kind of time and energy to Anna and the rest of my family and also look after a congregation. I need to focus on them right now, and for the foreseeable future. So I have decided to switch gears and stay at Two Guys Smoke Shop and not consider fulltime ministry positions at this time. I will still take advantage of speaking and preaching opportunities, and I will still write and post on my blog here.

Ironically, twenty years ago today, I graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. I was set to go from there into a lifetime of pastoral ministry. Now it looks like I may never go back. When I decided to go to seminary, I went with the attitude that there was no downside to it. At best, I would have the necessary academic credentials to pursue my calling into pastoral ministry. At worst (if you an say worst) I would be well educated in my faith and that would set me up to excel in my own faith and in practice as a husband, father, and worker in Christ’s kingdom.

You see, there is no not being a worker in His kingdom. I don’t see myself as having been demoted or benched. In some ways I feel promoted! We sometimes are guilty of thinking that pastors and missionaries are the ultimate Christians. That, my friends, is not at all the case. In truth the most influential Christian leader, mentor, and spiritual father I have ever met was an insurance salesman! That man loved Jesus better than anyone I know… and that includes all the pastors I know. Never confuse a degree or a title or a position as necessary things to possess in order to do “real” work in the Father’s kingdom. Most kingdom work happens in the everyday, common, and normal places of life where none of those things really come into play… like spending 21 hours in an ER with your anxious and hurting daughter.



  1. Thanks for sharing Dan. Looks like God has you on a learning curve! I love this post! Youare so right about the degree thing. e have a couple in our church in their 80’s that I would put up against the greatest evangelists when it comes to being in touch with God. You and your family have been in my thoughts. Hope your house is behaving now!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well written and quite beautiful.

    That is really frustrating, maddening. We all want our kids well don’t we, thriving? And yet sometimes we don’t get that, sometimes the Lord directs us down a different road. As to ministry, they are our first ministry right? They are who we must serve first. Just know that you are not alone, I am stuck here at home, caregiving two grown children and my mom, on leave from work. And sometimes I’ve even been known to yell at the Lord and demand to know if He actually just hates me.

    I encourage you to take heart, to trust that the Lord opens doors where we can’t see any doors to open. I’ve gone from screaming in frustration to writing, blogging,and having time for praise and worship in ways I never used to. Something is shifting in my life and it is good, it is not what I imagined,not what I wanted,but it is much better than I expected.

    I too have spent a few nights in the ER. It’s taught me how to stand on a stool and start preaching like the prophets of old. Whatever you do,keep your sense of humor and trust that the Lord has you right where He wants you.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow! What a comment! Thank you so much IB. You definitely know where I am. And I am glad for your company in this place. It is certainly unexpected, and not at all what I wanted, but you are quite correct… What we need if not not found in what we want is it? Do keep in touch. I need that.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “I don’t see myself as having been demoted or benched. In some ways I feel promoted!” Wow, Dan. Thanks is not enough to say for sharing this part of your heart with us. And as you said to IB, I am glad for your company in this place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dan, this post’s a(nother) keeper! I appreciate your candor in publicly sharing your family challenges . . . surely many readers’ lives are touched by what they read here. You wrote: “And I learned that right now I can’t be in formal pastoral ministry. Family needs me too much. I can’t give the kind of time and energy to Anna and the rest of my family and also look after a congregation.” Actually, your family IS a congregation and you are pastoring them as you tend to their needs. . . not in the “formal” sense of public Sunday worship, but in the sacrificial 24/7 sense. Batman couldn’t handle your life . . . don’t be like Batman . . . he needs to be like YOU 😀

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  5. Dan, most Christian ministry is outside of the four walls of a church building. Anna and the rest of your family appreciate you making them your primary ministry. Who knows what each one of them will do with their lives because of your sacrificial love? Also there is ministry in the smoke shop. Abundant blessings to you!

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  6. Thank you, so much, Dan, for sharing your heart. I truly appreciate your decision to focus on shepherding your family. I was “out” of “formal” shepherding ministry for 10 years before that door was opened again. But in those 10 years I shepheded (a word?) my wife, my daughters, their close friends and teammates–and perhaps many more as you have been and are doing. May the Lord Jesus continue to bless the fruit of your hands as you humbly serve Him in deep Love and compassion. Shalom, my brother.

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  7. When I read this sentence, “I was set to go from there into a lifetime of pastoral ministry,” I misread “pastoral” as “personal” ministry. I thought that was really neat. I noticed I had read wrong, but I think you have gone into personal ministry – that’s what “pastoring” really needs to be. Congratulations on your personal ministry! I know of many pastors who major much more on administering than they do on pastoring. Someone told me one time, that she had a great pastor. I asked how big her church was and she said they had about four thousand people. I said, “Then you have a great administrator, not a great pastor.” I might be wrong. I believe when God said he would give us pastors after his own heart, he wasn’t talking about pastors who do not even know their people. (Jer. 3:15)

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    1. Wow! What a great thought! I think you are right, pastoring is often used synonymously with administration and corporate leadership. Very true. Thanks for your encouragement! 👌👌👌

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lots of wisdom here Dan, and I thank you. My prayers are with you and your family. I know you all hurt with Anna. I pray God gives you both comfort and strength. For in holding on, you will be held! Lots of love from Italy, Sheila

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  9. Many years ago it was my mother who was in the hospital. Her life was extended by God from 1969 until 1996. I also was kept from full time ministry when my son and his mother disowned me. God chose instead to lead me into ministry as an electronics technician,EEO counselor,guitarist/arranger and a Bible teacher. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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  10. I have been thinking about you and your family… now I know why God put you on my heart. I am praying for you and your family. Remember, God is never stagnant. He is always at work in our lives… and wants us to move with Him. Having graduated from nursing school over 30 years ago, I would have never thought that I would have become an author and started a ministry. What God has in store for you extents way beyond the 4 walls of a church or limited to a congregation. God wants to show you something through all of this that will change your life and the lives of your family… while giving Him all the glory. All in His timing!! Hope we can talk soon Much Love and ((hugs)) to you all!

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  11. Amen-Amein Brother in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Dan!! God Bless you Brother in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Dan and Your Family members and Friends!!

    Please Pray for our Judeo-Christian Nation United States of America and Israel-Yisrael Everyday!! “Pray Without Ceasing.” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV )!!

    I will Pray for you and your family members and Friends!!

    I Love you all Everyone through Jesus-Yeshua Christ, because HE LOVED 💕 EVERYONE FIRST!!

    Love 💕 Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

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