Easter is Coming – A Celebration of Caleb Meakins

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I hate death. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: Death is the enemy.

Sure, we all think that it’s “natural” because it happens to 100% of us. Animals, plants, humans -death is coming for us all. But I believe it’s the enemy. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

Death breeds fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of grief. Fear of pain. All our fear is essentially just a fear of death. Of no longer being “us.” Death is coming for us.

Just a few days ago, an acquaintance of mine died. He was the pastor/leader of the Young Adults group at the International Evangelical Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was the owner of a coffee shop here with plans to open other branches, including one in LA. He led a non-profit focused on entrepreneurship and growing leaders. He once said “At the end of our days, let’s at least say we tried to make a difference.” He did.

His name was Caleb.

I didn’t know him well. I heard him preach one time – it was Biblical and full of grace. I spoke with him on the phone for about 30 minutes. His intelligence, enthusiasm, and love of Jesus was contagious. I’m not qualified to write about him, as we were just acquaintances, but even in the short time I interacted with him, his life affected me. When I heard he passed, I cried.

I cried because he was a great example. He was getting things done. He was glorifying God. He was making a difference. He practiced what he preached.

Caleb cared about people. He invested in them. He cared for them. He loved Jesus. He worshiped Him. He preached Christ and Him crucified. His words and actions affected those around him in a deep and profound way.

Caleb was a great man.

Until death. Traffic accidents, sub-par medical care, viruses – so many places we can try to place the blame because we think “this shouldn’t have happened.” And it shouldn’t have. But the means of death are not the real reason we grieve. Because if he died in some other way or at some other time – even 80 years from now – it’s still not right.

Caleb should not have died. Full stop.

None of us should.

This morning at church, the worship leader said “Hallelujah” a number of times. And I was reminded that in some Christian traditions we don’t say that word during Lent. Lent is 40 days (or 46 if you count the Sunday feasts) of waiting for Easter. Just like Advent for Christmas, when we wait for God to come down to us, Lent is for Easter. We wait for God to come back up from death. Spoiler alert: He does.

I will not say “Hallelujah” that Caleb is gone. The earth is worse without him here. He was standing against the gates of hell, and as Jesus told us, they WILL NOT PREVAIL.

I misspoke earlier. It’s not “His name was Caleb.” It is Caleb. Present tense. Why do I say that?

Because Easter is coming. Jesus is rising. And, while death may come for us, He is coming for death.

And then we will say “Hallelujah.”

He is risen, and we will rise too.

Caleb, we will see you soon.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Valentine

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To my Valentine...

I love you more...

(A short, non-comprehensive list of various comparisons)

...than a Romanian Christmas Faire.

(Technically, this isn't at the faire, but a picture with Santa Craig is awesome)

...than the dog loves food

(Not a picture of him eating, but you can definitely feel him thinking about food in this pic)

...than the girls love ice cream

(Fine, frozen yogurt. But you can't even tell in this pic!)

...even more than I love coffee!

(I also love you so much that I'm willing to post this terrible picture of me.)

...than Mercy loves Karate

(She looks so serious here. Don't get in her way, she'll knock your head off!)

...more than Addy loves Gymnastics

(She sticks the landing of this bar move, first time for her!)

Happy Anniversary of "First Sight"

I love you and hope that this year brings us happiness and lots of love 🙂

The Best Worst Week

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Well, this wasn’t the week I was planning on having. I was supposed to be coordinating with Ethiopia, fundraising here in the States, working on projects for clients on my side-hustle, and just generally being a dad. I guess when you have 5 kids in the house you have a higher chance of getting sick!

I got 2 of these bands with 3 different stickers!

Monday I had a cold-feeling light sore throat. Nothing too bad until it was hard to swallow in the afternoon / evening. I start asking Marie if she thinks its strep – same question for every cold for our entire marriage. It never is. I send her gifs of red with white polka dots and say its my throat. Tuesday is worse – can’t swallow without grunting. In the mirror, my throat is swollen and I send her gifs of a train tunnel collapsing. Wednesday was the worst. Went to the office and had my call, but had to come home because of pain. My wife looks in my mouth and says, go to bed, I’ll take care of it. She wakes me an hour later and sends me to the Dr’s appointment she made me.

Actual image from the inside of my throat on Tuesday evening.

Guess what – I had strep. So, while I felt terrible, I also let my pride pick up a bit! But I also had a peritonsillar abscess, so my Dr sends me to the ER with a post-it note describing the problem. The ER checks me out, gives me fluids, and drains the puss. They send me home with some prescriptions for painkillers and antibiotics and to follow up with an Ear-Nose-Throat Dr. the next day. Problem solved, right?

So that night was atrocious – I lived through Dante’s 4th circle of the Inferno. In the morning I was scared and in excruciating pain. I looked and the abscess had regrown to 2-3 times its original size and was almost closing my airway. We called both ENTs on the referral list and got an appointment for Monday morning. At noon, I went back to the ER, they were great and got me transferred in an ambulance down to Roseville (no lights or siren so basically just an uber where I got to lay down), and that’s when the fun began. Another sleepless night as we had to prep my body for the surgery to do a complete drainage of the abscess.

Friday morning at 630, they roll me into the prep room and I meet my ENT surgeon who happy and great and ready to get to work. He does his thing, along with the anesthesiologist, and just past 8 I’m back in my room recovering.

I explained it like this to one of my friends: Basically the bacteria from Strep that attacks your tonsils can sometimes jump into the interstitial between your tonsil and cheek and start ejecting puss to create a new home for their bacteria buddies. The downside is that eventually that abscess will block your airway and both the host and bacteria all die, so who’s laughing now? Or, the other option is to get a surgeon to go in there like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and kill them all. Which is what my Dr. did.

Still all puffy after they cut the nasties out of there. They even wrote on my face so they’d remember which side to cut on. Too bad it hasn’t washed off yet…

One more – actually restful – night in the hospital for monitoring, extra antibiotics and pain killer and I am home now and resting, abut to sleep in my own bed for the first time without significant pain.

Wednesday morning, when I awoke, I was struck with such fear from the pain that I was weeping. I hate pain and I have a low pain tolerance – I never said I was a tough guy. But the fear surprised me. It didn’t take me long to say “no, I will not be afraid of this.” Either I’m going to live or I’m going to die, but I will not fear. I am sick of fear. Jesus is Lord. He is a good king and I will not fear.

And I received such a feeling of peace.

After that, I realized how much I had to be thankful for. I was not alone in this – I was the only one in pain, but my support system was astounding. My wife – who’s getting too good at single parenting 5 kids – was a rock. One of my very good friends, Dan Getz, gave up his night to stay with me at the hospital. He took copious notes and made sure that drugged-up Christian didn’t miss anything important and that Marie was up-to-date around-the-clock.

On top of that, I wanted to give a shout out to all the medical staff. My PCP, Chapa-De were really quick an efficient and got me to get to the ER ASAP. Sutter Faith Auburn’s ER room was great – Kirk, Dave, Julie, and the Dr. who I *thought* was an ENT but just an awesome ER doctor who drained it the first time and then got me on an ambulance down to Roseville. Shane and Hazel, my EMTs – Hazel was adopted in Singapore, so we had some good conversations about adoption! Ryan, Rankesh, Kristine, Alison, Trent, Aimee, Kisha, and Dr. Dixit and Dr. Henderson and all the others I’ve forgotten! The team in both hospitals were AMAZING and I can’t recommend them enough!

Trent, Diana, and Me just as I was leaving. “Is there anything else I can help with” “Actually, can we take a selfie?!”

Finally, I was really happy to be back to hear my kids giggle as Addy had a little neighborhood birthday party. I’ve been too tired to participate much, but being home is a blessing. This is not the week I wanted nor planned, but it’s the one I got, and I’m thankful for it, because I looked fear in the face this week and I feel like I won. Not because I’m some great person but because I have a great Christ. I won before I was healed. Because even in death, Jesus is Lord.

At home this afternoon, grateful, watching the girls do some legos.