Monday, June 9, 2014

Weddings, Funerals, and Joy

Well that was stressful.

May came and went like a hurricane, full of chaos, death, tears, powerful moving currents, surging waves, highs and lows, and then--


I had every intention of blogging all May, keeping you all updated with the events of my month of mayhem, but alas, my mind was elsewhere.

Let's see here.

Last blog, I told you guys about Michael and Amber's wedding. That was the very first week of May, and then I dropped off of the grid for a bit. On May 8th, I got the news that my uncle Marty had been shot while in Afghanistan.

This news was more than devastating: it was confusing and terrifying. Uncle Marty, or CSM Martin Barreras as the internet calls him, was always the family hero. He was the invincible family legend that filled us with pride. If you Google him, you'll find pages and pages of awards, medals, missions, stories, accomplishments, operations that changed the course of human history forever including the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch.

As a child, when my pals and I played soldiers in the street, I pretended to be Uncle Marty.

Five years in the Marines, twenty two years as an Airborne Army Ranger, Uncle Marty was the American standard of "man". He was humble, a lover of peace and family, loyal, but unstoppable in combat. The very idea of him being wounded in combat was somewhat hard to believe. This is the man who removed shrapnel from his own chest with his field knife while sitting in a MASH hospital years back.

I remember asking him once "Tio, why did you switch from the Marines to the Rangers?" to which he replied jokingly, "Because I wanted a challenge."

And then we find out that he died. That was a weird feeling.

Especially because I hadn't seen him since I moved to Nevada. I didn't really get to see him one last time.

It did my heart good to hear that one of the last things he said to the family before he left was "Quit your sniveling: I'll see you soon."

And because Uncle Marty was a follower of Christ, I know that still to be true.

His funeral was to be massive. Hundreds on
hundreds of people whose lives were changed by him.

It was scheduled to be in Tucson on May 24th; the same weekend I was being a groomsman in my friends', Paul and Marie's, wedding.

Flip the stress switch.

After fighting with the airline company for five and a half hours, three of those hours being on hold, and $275 later, I rescheduled my flight to Tucson for the funeral and then back home from Phoenix where the wedding was taking place.

The wedding was simple and lovely. It was a light hearted, fun wedding that definitely captured the essence of Paul and Marie beautifully. My groomsman outfit for this wedding was under $100 compared to the $800 tux I rented for Michael and Amber's wedding.

Good thing I rented.

It was a powerful weekend of tears, laughing, hugs, love, heart break, reuniting with family, and saying goodbye to others. I saw friends and family from forever ago, and saw two of my good friends become one. It was a very moving weekend.

I got back home Monday night and slept for a long long time. Tuesday, Wednesday, and then leave Thursday night to Indianapolis.

I was pretty excited. I had never been that far North. Or East actually. I might sound like a desert rat when I say that I had never seen that much grass and lakes everywhere. My face was stuck to that plane window like a piece of gum under a desk. I was so blown away! And it was so cool there! It was maybe 90 degrees at its hottest, and the sun didn't go down until after 9:00 pm. It was a different world.

Oh and I saw a lightning bug for the first time in my life. Whoa. They really do look like they do in the movies.



The wedding of Charles Levi Whitton Storm and Abigail Ruth [Storm] was a beautiful, classy wedding in a small Indiana town in Miami county called Peru. Sounds exotic, yes?

It was a beautiful little town with grassy hills and wooded highways inhabited by friendly people with cute mid-western drawls that almost tempt you to adopt their accents just by talking to them.

The wedding was traditional and beautiful, and I didn't mess up! Yep, this was the wedding I officiated. I was wearing a borrowed suit coat and other pieces of formal attire I had collected throughout the years, and I didn't look too shabby.

It was definitely a new experience to be standing on stage with the groom during the wedding. I've been a groomsman, a best man, an attendee, but never the one officiating the wedding. The only role I have to do now is be the groom. More on that in a year and eleven days....

Standing on the stage with Chuck as Abbey came down the aisle was more magical than watching the groom as a groomsman. Right before Abbey stood at the head of the aisle, Chuck and I were quietly chatting about how nervous he was, but as soon as Abbey came in to view in her beautiful white dress, I doubt he even knew I was standing there. While they stood on the stage together, holding each others' hands, looking in to each others' eyes, it was so odd watching them communicate without saying a word. As I spoke, I watched them giggle at each other's telepathic jokes and tell each other how good they looked on this wonderful day without even opening their mouths.

It was romantic and friggin' adorable.

And then the long sleepy trip back home to peaceful, warm Las Vegas.

That was a crazy month. Lots of traveling and even more money spent. It had plenty of ups, and definitely a few downs that kept things exciting, and that has the potential to make an emotionally stable person very unstable if allowed.

Emotions are tiring and require self control. the smallest thing can effect them. Many times, its hard to look at a situation and confidently say "Ya, I'm okay. I got this" because we all know that, deep down, we don't got this.

The burden of human limitation magnifies the beauty of the sovereignty of the living almighty God.

At camp, there's a high ropes course.
Nothing fancy: Climb a tree, high wire walk, walk a log, and a trapeze jump. Good, terrifying times. The first year it was put up, I got to be one of the lucky first to try it out. My contact fell out on the log walk, and I cried.

Not ashamed.

The first time I had experienced this terrifying test of nerves and balance, I had little faith in the thick rope connected to the harness that held me tight. It was terrifying thinking about plummeting forty feet to the forest floor to my death. But that rope wasn't going to break, and that harness wasn't going anywhere. I was in the hands of Guy Deckard, the man belaying.

As the years went by, I did the high ropes course more and more until I was skipping across that wire and doing push ups on that log. The rope had never failed me, and I knew that I was in the secure and never-failing grasp of that harness around me.

The God that I worship and serve in Las Vegas is the same God in Indiana, and is the same God in Afghanistan. There is no moment in the history of matter and energy where the Almighty God has not been in absolute control of all things. Even when my knees got weak, and I felt like falling, God was holding me, and had a plan. he knew whether I was going to fall or not, and I was always safely in His hands.

There's a heart condition that describes an unconditional trust in the absolute sovereignty of God.
It's called Joy.

Happiness is an emotion affected by outward circumstances. Happiness is affected by the weather, the outcome of your sports team, the health of your relationship, your success at work.

Joy is a conscious recognition of God's unlimited power and active intervention in your life every single day whether you are at a funeral mourning your hero, or at a best friend's wedding.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
                                      Hebrews 13:8 

Nate T B