Glenda Simpkins Hoffman
My husband Stuart and I took another walk this weekend. Many more leaves were now lying on the wet ground. That’s the amazing thing about fall. Some days are warm, calm, and clear while others are dark with rain and wind leaving the inevitable mess to deal with.
That’s how I feel about the coming leadership transition at VPC. Some days I’m filled with hope, knowing Jesus is the head of the church and will lead us into a good future. But sometimes I’m more aware of winds of change with all the implications and messiness of details to attend to as we let go of one senior pastor and prepare for another. Sometimes I’m looking forward with great expectation for the opportunities ahead, and some days I’m more aware of the personal loss I feel with Pete’s leaving, as he has been a friend in ministry for almost a quarter of my life.
One of the key aspects of change is to recognize the underlying feelings of being in this in-between time, or liminal space when we haven’t fully let go of the old, yet haven’t fully grabbed hold of the new. The uncertainty can bring up anxiety and even feelings of grief. We go through this with every transition whether it is a move, a child leaving the nest, dealing with an illness, or any kind of loss.
It’s important to recognize and name the myriad of feelings as a part of the process of change.
Some of us have been preparing for this transition for years, and now there is more for us as a congregation to process in the months ahead as it actually comes to pass. It’s real, it’s happening.. And we need to be intentional in how we think, pray, and talk about it. It’s sometimes messy and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way to go forward.
Not only are fall and transitions messy, our personal lives can be too. My family knows that all too well right now. This summer my husband Stuart began to experience tremors and then spasms in in his right hand. After multiple MRI’s, scans, and other tests and appointments with a neurologist, oncologist, and neurosurgeon, it was determined that Stuart has a brain tumor in the area that controls his right hand.
Stuart will have surgery on Wednesday, November 4, at 8:30 a.m. Rather than doing just a biopsy, the neurosurgeon’s plan is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while keeping Stuart’s hand as functional as possible. He will likely be in the hospital for several days after the surgery. A post-surgical biopsy will identify the type of tumor and help determine further treatment.
We would appreciate your prayers for all the medical staff who will be caring for Stuart. But pray especially that the neurosurgeon, Dr. Ziu, will be able to remove the tumor with no damage to the function of Stuart’s hand. Pray for peace, calm, and comfort for Stuart, who will be awake during the surgery and for a speedy and complete recovery. Please pray too for our sons Nate and Ian and for me as we journey alongside Stuart in this uncertain time.
We are so grateful that we live in an area with such amazing medical personnel and facilities. We are aware and humbled knowing we have blessings and privileges that many do not. And we are glad we are part of a praying church who helped carry us through a health crisis three years ago when our son Ian was paralyzed, hospitalized, and miraculously healed. We believe God mysteriously and wonderfully uses prayer to do his will, so thank you for partnering with God and coming alongside us.
It has been a blessing for both Stuart and me to be soaking in the ministry of Jesus through our Kingdom Living sermon series and Bible studies. Our Lord is so compassionate. He sees us with our broken hearts, broken bodies, broken lives. More than that, he has the power to heal us and to help us in ways we know and ways we don’t know.
We are very aware that life is messy. We are living with a lot of uncertainty right now, not knowing the outcome of the surgery or what we will be dealing with afterward. While we feel the stress that any health crisis of this magnitude brings, we also have been remarkably calm and at peace through all the tests.
By God’s grace, we have been able to take one day at a time and wait to deal with each new piece of information as it comes. We do not know the future, but we know the one who does. That is enough for now. We are so grateful that our Lord continues to faithfully do for us what we can’t do for ourselves by his grace and power.
For those who are interested in learning the results of the surgery and following Stuart’s health care journey, I will be providing updates in the days ahead using Caring Bridge: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/stuartalanhoffman/journal.