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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Sweetest Duet Ever

Yesterday was my birthday. It has been a birthday tradition since my childhood that my parents would sing Happy Birthday to me on that morning. And yes, still to this day. My birthday isn't official until I get that phone call and they sing to me.

Yesterday was the last duet.

Move over Celine and Andrea, BeBe and CeCe and anyone else you can think of. There can be no greater sound than the beautiful duet from the heart of my parents yesterday. And I'm absolutely certain that my mom sang with more volume, love and joy in her heart this time than any of the previous birthdays.

And there have been a lot of them.

I was both dreading and anticipating this duet for the past couple weeks. I knew it was coming, and I wanted to be able to listen to it and savor every note and every syllable. I also wanted to get through it without crying. I actually did!

I thank God that He gave me one more duet from them. It truly was the sweetest duet of all time, and I'll remember it the rest of my life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brief Departure

I don't know about you, but I need a little bit of a change of pace. I'm afraid my recent posts are going to drive someone to drink. Namely, me.

With that, I want to shift gears and let you know that things are getting crazy fun for Man Cave Ministries. This Saturday, we are going to be doing our first ever live video podcast. We got connected recently with an amazing organization called Operation Worship. These guys are amazing. Check out their website (after you're done reading this) to see what they're all about.

Anyway, they have an incredible media center in their headquarters right here in Rocklin. They invited Gary and I to come over on Tuesday, and our eyes lit up like Paris Hilton at Fort Knox. Then, they basically shoved the idea of doing a live video podcast right down our collective throats. So, not being ones to back down from playing with gadgets and technology, we accepted. So they set up a cool background, some sound effects, and let Gary take it from there. Below is the outcome of the insanity that is Gary Zelesky in front of television cameras.

So now, I hustled up and put together a You Tube page for Man Cave Ministries, (www.youtube.com/mancaveministries), and even a Twitter account, (www.twitter.com/themancave). Check it out!



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Turning Point

There are moments in our lives which serve as turning points. We may or may not recognize them at the time, but eventually we look back and see the significance in those moments.

I want to share one of my turning points with you here. It was Valentine's Day about 16 years ago.

My church was having a Valentine's Day dinner. Of course, it was mostly for couples, but it was open to everyone. I went, despite the fact that I was neither married or even dating. At one point in the evening, they opened up the microphone for people to get up and offer some words about the person who meant the most to them. Husbands got up and waxed-poetic about their wives, and vice versa.

For me, it was an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the love I had for my parents.

I clearly had love for my parents, so that's not what this is about. Until that time, I had been trying to run out from under their identity. I had always been "Ed and Sarah's son". I had done many things, gone to many places, had many great triumphs in my life. But it always bugged me that no matter where I went, they weren't "Corey's parents", but I was lost in their idenity.

But it was this night that I really began to embrace the honor that it was to be identified with this extraordinary couple. I don't recall the things I said. I am probably the only one who remembers that I even spoke that night. I just remember that that particular evening was a turning point in my life, and my relationship with my parents. We've never been the same since.

In the final days of my mom's life, I am thankful that it's not some mad scramble to think of all the things left unsaid. This isn't a time of clearing the conscience. It's a time of togetherness. The bond we've built over the past 16 years has made this time what it should be. A time of thankfulness. A time of reflection. A celebration of life. An appreciation for a life well lived.

As a soon-to-be 44 year old man, I am honored to be Ed and Sarah's son. Long after they've both left this world, and even after I have, it's my dream to be remembered and thought of as being the product of these two amazing people. I have been so blessed to know them, much less be their son.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Should Heroes Go Out?

When we think of heroes dying the way they should, we think of soldiers dying on the battlefield, firemen rushing into burning buildings, policemen in a gunfight with lawbreakers.

What about gentle heroes?

My mom is a hero to me, and to so many. She is a prayer warrior, a loving caretaker, a gracious hostess, a selfless mother. What is the fitting way to leave this world for someone such as her?

I have no idea.

Despite having no clue as to what would be appropriate, the way she is leaving this world is certainly not how I would have chosen. She has been in constant pain and physical limitations for the past 15 years. Now, in her final days, she is being consumed by cancer.

Monday was a "good day" by her standards. I suspect her best days would be ones you and I would complain about. But her definition of a good day is definitely much more refined and mature than mine. It's humbling.

We spent Monday talking about memories. I love hearing about her life in her own words. We spent part of the day discussing very difficult topics, as well. I'm sure these topics will end up in blog posts at some point as I continue to self-medicate by writing.

I don't know how someone of my mom's stature should go out. It's against my instincts to pray she go sooner rather than later, but that would be ultimately best for her. The longer she hangs in, the likelihood of her having a painful and torturous ending are significant. I don't want that for my mother.

So, I pray the unthinkable. I am in no hurry for my hero to leave me. But, in following her example, I need to lay aside my own agenda and want what is truly best for her.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stage 4

That was the word from the oncologist. I knew already that there were only four stages of cancer severity, but for a few moments, I somehow lapsed into a world of denial in which the scale topped out at ten.

No, still only four.

My dad wasn't at the hospital at the time the word came. In a stunning case of role reversal, being that he was the one to inform me Mom had cancer in the first place, I was the one who broke the updated news to him. This time, it was he who stopped in his tracks.

I'm realizing that my focus needs to shift now from my mom to my dad. It's a bit of an unfamiliar place. My dad and I have a wonderful relationship, but it's never been one in which we got all warm and fuzzy about our feelings. Mom has always been the go-to person on that level. But she is quickly approaching the end of her journey here, and it will be my dad and I left behind.

If I had a gun held to my head asking me which of my parents I'd choose to "go home" first, almost without hesitation, I'd say my dad. Not because I don't love him. I do, with all my heart. I just always thought she would have the tougher time being alone than he would. Maybe that's true. We'll never know. But I'm seeing that her absence in his life will devastate him to a degree I never imagined.

My dad is a former San Francisco police inspector. He's a former United States Marine. He is a man's man. As a cop, Dad had developed the necessary skill of detaching himself from the emotion and horror of human tragedy. He could talk about the events of his days as if he were talking about the plot of a movie. My dad would have made a great poker player.

Now he is beginning to wear his heart on his sleeve. It's something I'm not used to or prepared for, but it is encouraging at the same time. I'm encouraged that he has someone, me, who he can go to and be honest with, emotionally. I'm encouraged that he won't bottle it in. In the days ahead, we're going to need each other in ways we never have in our lives.

I'm seeing some wonderful things in him and their relationship, but at the same time, it's putting my heart through the paper shredder. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is to begin to say goodbye to the other half of yourself. I can't begin to imagine the significance of cherishing every single syllable that comes from the other's mouth because you just don't know how much longer you'll hear their voice.

I don't know if I'll ever be blessed enough to be married. I hope so. But I'm telling you now, I'm seeing the most profound love story play itself out to a very emotional end.

I want what they have.

But for now, Dad and I have each other. We still have Mom, and we're going to be taking mental movies of every moment we have left as a complete family.

OK, I need to end this now and deal with it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Women Drivers and the Human Condition

OK, before you watch this, I just want to offer this disclaimer to the women. This video was given to me by a woman. In fact, without outing her to the female community, she is a woman with some power at my church...and no, she's not related to any of the pastors.

(quit trying to guess)

So with that, I offer you this hilarious video. We showed this in the Man Cave Wednesday night, and I don't know what was funnier...the video, or the reactions of 200 men!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oxymoron of the Day; Friendly Fire


I have learned through my years something which probably won't come as any great revelation to you. I don't share it here because I expect it is, but sometimes I think we forget this truth, and it's worth remembering.

A sure fire barometer for me that I'm zeroing in on spiritual significance and being in the center of God's will is sniper fire from the enemy. Snipers tend to choose spots in strategic locations, and are adept at concealing their position through camouflage. Most people hit by sniper fire never knew what hit them, or from which direction it came.

I take it as a good sign that bullets are flying my way because it tells me that I'm a threat. If I'm no threat, the enemy will simply let me wander aimlessly without a peep. Why risk getting me upset at the enemy and getting back on track when my course is so off that I'm doing him a favor as it is.

In the past week or so, I've found myself blindsided a couple different times. The interesting thing is, it has been by people I never would have expected.

Camouflage.

The enemy knows exactly where I'm vulnerable. I'm not going to be swayed by drugs. I'm not going to be swayed by gambling. Where I'm vulnerable is in the area of relationships. Any kind of relationships. I hate broken relationships. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings rip me up. I can hardly focus on the tasks before me when there is friction with someone I care about. And with that goes reputation. One misunderstanding that gets spread around by gossip can absolutely devastate a reputation and credibility.

I had a conversation just last week with a new friend of mine. Within the last year, his world has been rocked by betrayal in the most significant relationship two people can have. Through this, some of his other relationships took a serious hit because people didn't want to get in the middle, or they perceived there were bigger issues than they were equipped to handle...or whatever their reasoning was. In the meantime, lives were damaged, and relationships injured almost to the point of being irreconcilable.

It's sad that people turn against others with whom they had previously been so close. I've never been married, so I can't speak from personal experience, but I have seen so many divorcees whose exes have gone so far out of their way to make life miserable for their former spouses. Whether it's withholding financial obligations, fighting over material possessions, custody, or just any other trump card one holds over the other. I've never been able to wrap my brain around that, and I don't expect I ever will.

I am so thankful for the series we're currently going through in the Man Cave. Just this week, Gary laid out five actions within the Man Cave:
  • We don't bury our wounded in the Man Cave (Galatians 6:1)
  • We don't ignore, but carry one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • We never make it all about us in the Man Cave (Galatians 6:3)
  • We never judge another in the Man Cave (Galations 6:4)
  • We do all the work in the Man Cave (Galatians 6:5)
One particular quote from last Wednesday night's message that has stuck with me was the following:

"We don't stab each other in the back in the Man Cave. We have each other's backs!"

I have to tell you, that is a comforting thought. I don't expect that 100% of the guys will be perfect on these issues, but the standard has been set. Not by any man, but by God. None of us are perfect, and none of us can cast the first stone. Each of us have needed grace in our lives, and just as much, we need to extend it.

There is no such thing as "friendly fire" in the church.

update: I want to be sure it's clear that the two things I referred to this week as being "blindsided" are all resolved with some direct communication. All is well. It was just unneeded drama that was taken care of my much-needed communication.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things That Have Happened Since My Last Trip To Disneyland


I have not been to Disneyland since 1996. If I sound bitter...I am. In considering that time span, I began to recollect some of the significant things that happened in 1996, and since I last visited The Happiest Place On Earth. I submit to you my incomplete list. Feel free to add to it.

This is cheap therapy.
  1. Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole for the Presidency in 1996
  2. Not one, or even two...but now THREE Presidents have occupied the Oval Office.
  3. The Sands Hotel in Vegas is wiped out to make room for The Venetian
  4. JonBenet Ramsey is kidnapped and murdered in 1996
  5. California Adventure didn't yet exist
  6. The Hacienda Hotel in Vegas is wiped out to make way for Mandalay Bay
  7. Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merge in 1997 (that didn't work out very well)
  8. The Unabomber was arrested in 1996
  9. Ella Fitzgerald, George Burns, Gene Kelly and Tupac Shakur each died in 1996
  10. Big movies in 1996: The English Patient, Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Independence Day, Twister, and The Rock
  11. The Summer Olympics were in Atlanta, GA
  12. Children born the day I last went to Disneyland are now in 7th or 8th grade
  13. Average cost of a home in 1996: $118, 200
  14. Gallon of gas: $1.22
  15. Postage stamp: $0.32
  16. Prince Charles and his wife, Diana, divorced in 1996
  17. DVDs launched in 1996...in Japan. It would be awhile before they reached the U.S.
  18. Windows NT 4.0 was the latest OS by Microsoft in 1996
  19. Internet Explorer 3.0 was the latest browser in 1996
  20. eBay started in 1996
  21. MSNBC cable news is launched in 1996
  22. The high Dow Jones mark was 6,500
  23. The low Dow Jones mark was 5,200
  24. I'm now living in my third different city since 1996
  25. I've had 8 different jobs since 1996
  26. I've lived in 4 different homes since 1996
  27. My parents lived in Costa Rica

Well, that's my list for now. Feel free to add your 2 cents. What's happened to YOU since 1996?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Life; Feast or Famine

In the course of my life, it seems that the patterns have taken pretty much one extreme or the other. Sometimes I go through seasons of feast or famine, and sometimes the events of a week can have feast and famine.

What happened to a happy medium?

Right now, my week is comprised of feast and famine. As I wrote yesterday, Sunday through Wednesdays are very full days. From morning until night, life is pretty frenetic. And you know what? I'm enjoying it! The thing is, when I'm not working or having some kind of obligation, I don't really have much of a life. And even if I did, who has the money or energy to live it?

I'm being a little facetious, but more so than not, it's how I feel. I've had seasons like this in my life, and it's very fulfilling on one side of the ledger, and kind of empty on the other. I'm thankful for the side of the ledger which reflects that my efforts and abilities are making a difference.

I just hope that at some point, my personal life will have a little more to show for it. That's not bad, is it?

Monday, February 9, 2009

The New Revised Calendar

Ever since I took on this new job, and even before that, moving to Rocklin, my calendar has a distinctly new look. It's like everything shifted one day to the left. I mean, we're not Seventh Day Adventists, so we still have church on Sundays, but that's now become something of a work day for me. Monday through Thursday in the office, and Friday is more or less a day off. Well, as much of a day off as it gets. Saturdays can be quiet too, though we've got some Saturday events coming soon.

It really is strange how my Thursday feels so much like a Friday that I have to concentrate to remind myself that everyone else has to work the next day, and that it's not really Saturday. The church office is closed, so I typically work from home on Fridays...which feels like a day off.

My roller coaster week peaks on Wednesdays, then begins its rapid decent Thursdays. Fridays are the days I get reacquainted with my home, and even enjoy the rare meal put together in my own kitchen. It's the day I try to catch up on some of my favorite televisions shows I've DVR'd through the week.

If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. I am very happy and fulfilled doing what I'm doing. I'm a single guy with no kids, so it's not really taking me away from those priorities. The thing is, I don't really want to stay single, so this lifestyle can be prohibitive in finding prospective dates. I mean, I'm eyebrow deep in Men's Ministry, helllllllloooooooooo.

So, it's the morning of my Tuesday (your Monday). Fortunately, my meal calendar is pretty much the same. I'm hungry for breakfast.

Have a great day!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Common Sense; Not So Common Anymore

What happened to common sense? At what point in time did it go the way of the dodo? The rotary phone? The "30 minutes or less or your pizza is free"?

For that matter, where did good customer service go? I get so chapped when I go into a store and the cashier is yucking it up with a co-worker, and doesn't even look at me. They're so engrossed in their other conversation, that I feel as if I'm inconveniencing them.

I used to think my first name was pretty unusual. I mean, it's not Mike or John, but it's also not some funky made up artsy fartsy name that celebrities like to saddle onto their kids. By the way,
what is the motivation for that? Do they have their own awards show or something?

And now, the nominees for Most Unique Name for a male born to an A-List Celebrity:
Salamander Jolie-Pitt
Toe Jam Ritchie-Madden
Lemonade Garner-Affleck
Mitt Romney, Jr.

Anyway, I digress. My name is not that unusual. It is commonly misspelled, but it's typically done so the same way each time. My name is correctly spelled C-O-R-E-Y. Many people spell it C-O-R-Y. In the past, I've had it spelled C-O-R-R-Y, C-O-R-R-I-E, or any of those variations with a K as the starting letter. What I find amusing, and insulting at the same time, is when someone responds to a letter I've written them, which includes my correctly spelled name, and they still spell my name wrong. Sometimes, as in an email I received this week, my name was spelled two different ways in the same email, and neither one was correct. I can understand if they were contacting me for the first time, but they were responding to an email I sent them with my name clearly written in the signature. Another person owed me a check, and they put it in an envelope. On the outside of the envelope, my name was spelled correctly. On the check, incorrectly. Do people really have that short of attention spans? What makes matters worse is that these letters are from people in business. Owners, presidents, executives, managers. You would think that at some level, they would understand the value in respecting someone's name.

Anyway, just venting. I've played those games when you try to guess if certain celebrities are alive or dead. You know, Abe Vigoda, dead or alive? Ernest Borgnine, dead or alive.

I had no idea common sense died.

I sure miss it.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Mom Is Home

It seems like the last week has been filled with little teases of good news, but only to be let down by some unexpected letdown. But finally, after an 11th hour concern over the infection in my mom's arm, the doctors felt like my dad could take her home and treat the infection outside the hospital.

There are still many tests ahead this week, but they're all things that can be done as an outpatient. The tests will help answer a lot of questions, but probably the biggest is the type and stage of my mom's cancer. We are also concerned to see if it's spread, and if so, how much and where.

I am discovering the value in finding great joy in even the slightest victories. I know there are going to be some good days and many bad days ahead. Just the fact that she's now home and resting in her own bed is comforting. She still is very sick, but it blesses my heart that she's back home with my dad, and in a place where she is most comfortable.

I have no idea what the week ahead holds. I have responsibilities and obligations to meet. The world doesn't stop just because I've got important things on my mind. I just pray for grace for today. Strength to make it through this day.

Then tomorrow, do it again.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Favorite Commercials

OK, here are mine. What were yours? (by the way...what was the deal with the Jack in the Box commercial in which Jack gets run over by a bus? That was a little disturbing)

Doritos: Crystal Ball


Pepsi Max: I'm good


Monster.com: Moose