Saturday, June 9, 2018

Radioactive


Last night, after we had gone to bed, I asked my wife to turn off the light. She told me that light wasn’t on, but that I was glowing. Let me explain.

Before qualifying for a kidney transplant, one must undergo a series of medical tests to make sure one is healthy enough for a transplant. As I have mentioned before, they want to sure you are not going to die of something else – especially under their care. They don’t want your death to be a black mark on their record. Heaven forbid. My donor has also undergone extensive testing to see if he is healthy enough for surgery and stands little chance of contracting kidney disease later in life.

The bottom line is, we are both extremely healthy. That was pretty much a surprise to both of us. He is, of course, in much better shape than I, and we are both pretty good looking (I must say.) but neither of us has been asked to pose for any beefcake picture calendars. I have had my GI track (Top and bottom.) tested, my teeth checked, my blood tested a couple of dozen times, my lungs X-rayed twice, several EKGs, an echo cardiogram and two heart stress tests. Oh yes, they checked my feet, too. It seems that everything except my kidneys is working fine.

And then, this week, just days before my scheduled transplant surgery, the “transplant team” decided it would be good for me to visit my Cardiac Electro Physiologist. Dr. Pelchovitz was concerned with some a fib I had suffered a few months ago and was pleased to hear that I had not had a re-occurrence of the problem. Just for kicks, they took ANOTHER EKG and sent me home. A few hours later my cardiologist, Dr. Murtaugh’s office, called and made an appointment for me. The EKG didn’t look right. They then scheduled me for another echo-cardiogram and another stress test. If either showed any problems, surgery would be canceled. With that stress I figured I would fail the test.

My wife and I went to the hospital the next day at 0’ dark thirty for the echo. Then we hopped over to the medical office building to meet with the urologist who would be caring for me after my surgery. And then back to the hospital for the stress test. By then I was thoroughly stressed. I didn’t need a test to know that. The best part was after the test was completed the technician said, “Here’s your card.” “What card”, I asked. “You’ll need this card if you have to go through a metal detector, like at the airport. It explains why you set it off.” “And why,” I asked, “would I set it off?” His answer was not comforting. “You will radioactive for a few days.”

Radioactive!! Are you kidding me? I thought that perhaps I would be like the teddy bear in the song, “Radioactive”. (Click to listen) I’m certainly happy I am not planning on having any more children. So here I am, in great health and glowing. Bring on that kidney.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

An Organ Recital

Years ago, when our youngest was in grade school, we were invited to the spring concert. I wrote about that awful experience in a newspaper article later posted as a blog titled, The Banned Concert. (Click on Banned Concert)

Much like an elderly woman, when asked, “How are you doing,” responded with an organ recital about her heart and her lungs and her bowels, and most of her other organs; I am about to give you an organ recital about my kidneys.

About 20 years ago I was diagnosed with both kidney disease and diabetes. Some doctors believe both were caused by a bout with lead poisoning I was exposed to a decade and a half before. At the time I was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, better known as FSGS. Not that you care, here is the description. FSGS is a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli) causing serious scarring which leads to permanent kidney damage and even failure. FSGS is one of the causes of a serious condition known as Nephrotic Syndrome. Focal = some, Segmental = sections, Glomerulo = of kidney filters, Sclerosis = are scarred. That was easy, wasn’t it?

My kidneys lasted about 15 years after diagnoses. My nephrologist (kidney doctor) was surprised they lasted more than a year and believed their longevity could be attributed to prayer. For years and years, my kidneys got less and less productive. Finally, on April 1, 2014, (Happy April Fool’s Day) I went on dialysis. Most commonly dialysis is a procedure that involves having large needles inserted in your arm and then you are hooked to the dialyzer and one’s blood is circulated through the machine for around four hours. The entire procedure lasts around five hours.

The average patient leaves dialysis feeling like 15 pounds of homemade sin on a popsicle stick. Usually, a nap is in order and little else than couch time happens for the rest of the day. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have been working full time even after I started dialysis. It has been an interesting challenge. As time and treatments have worn on, on dialysis days I have become more and more “zombified”. I am up and walking but not much is happening. As a detective on the police department I serve said not long ago, “You’re weird when you have dialysis.” That pretty much sums it up.

At 71, I just barely ducked under the upper age requirement to qualify for a kidney transplant. It gets better. I have a matching donor. He is my nephew Tim and we are such a great match that the surgeon told me that I have a greatly reduced risk of rejection. It goes without saying that Tim has moved to the top of my list of favorite nephews. He is an amazing man with as kind of a heart as his father, my big brother, had.

The surgery date has been set. People ask me if I am frightened or anxious. I am not… not for me. I am concerned for Tim. Above all, my prayers are for Tim to come out of this procedure healthy as a horse and experience a rapid recovery.

Keep us in your prayers and I will bore you with the details of my recovery.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What's Your Story?

The past few days, our congregation has been involved in the spiritual discipline of writing our individual faith stories – our faith journeys. It has been an interesting and challenging work. Most interesting is that many of us don’t have a story… or at least a story that involves Jesus. Many of us have stories that tell of a relationship with a church, but not a relationship with Jesus.

Perhaps, as I suspected for many years, those of us who have been a part of the church for most of our lives know something about Jesus, but we don’t seem to know Him. Instead of having a relationship with the living God, we have a theology about the living God. Like the flu shot, we have been inoculated with just enough Christianity we may never catch the real thing. Instead of being Christians, we end up just being religious.

Our lack of a story may speak to the heart of our demise as a church. If we do evangelism at all, we don’t seem to do it well. And we don’t do evangelism because being a part of a church is nice but usually not life-changing. We like Christianity, but we are not excited about a faith that has transformed our lives. Let’s be honest, why would we talk about something that is just nice but is not life enriching and life-changing.

To fit our religious experience, we redefine “Christian”. Instead of a Christian being someone who has given Jesus lordship of their lives, who are wholeheartedly doing all Christ has asked us to do, we pick and choose our way through the Bible accepting and doing what we have decided we should do. Instead of being a no holds barred Christ follower, we see being Christian as being synonymous with “nice” … and that is often to only carefully chosen groups. One can be a “Christian” and still believe almost anything. The Bible is not terribly authoritative.

What’s your story? What were you like before you gave your life to Jesus; how did you come to know Jesus and how has He changed your life? A simple story but not easy to write. I have thought about mine for years, thus it has become easy to share.

BEFORE. I went to church every Sunday and attended every church function. The church doors were open, we were there. Church was not a bad experience, but it didn’t mean any more to me than being a member of a club. When I left for college at the ripe old age of 17, since He meant nothing to me, I left God behind. On the outside I looked fine: A better than average athlete, a better than average student, able to get a date with just about any girl I wanted, came from a well to do family, had nice cars to drive, many good friends, and headed to college where I would rush the only fraternity on campus and be elected President of the Student Body. I had the world by the tail. On the inside it was a different story. I was frightened, insecure, drank too much, couldn’t maintain a relationship, was angry at everyone about virtually everything. My life was in chaos and I was miserable… and nobody knew it.

HOW. The summer of 1965 my brother and I spent the break from college driving and camping across America, visiting every state and national park we could find. We ate one meal a day, slept on the ground and had a blast. During our travels, Bob initiated several conversations of a spiritual nature. Something profound had happened in his life and he wanted to share it. I made it plain that I wasn’t interested. In those conversations, he told me that Christianity was not a religion but a relationship with God made available to us through Jesus. He said religions were man’s attempts to reach God and Christianity is God’s attempt to reach humankind. In a very emotional conversation, Bob challenged me by saying, “Jesus wants to be the Lord of your life.” I said, “Really.” (Read that sarcastically.) “I don’t need any help from Jesus. I can run my own life.” Bob looked at me with his clear, light blue eyes and crushed my God barrier by saying, “Oh, really. How are you doing so far?” I was pissed because I knew he was right. After I had cooled down that night, comfortably tucked away in my sleeping bag, I prayed a sad little prayer. “God, if you think you can do something with my life, give it a try.” And God answered that prayer.

AFTER. From then on, I would like to say we were off and running. It is more like we were off and crawling.  I could say that in the beginning, we had a rocky start, but the entire journey has been a bit rocky. I have fallen on my face time after time, screwed up relationships, hurt people, disappointed people and disappointed myself. But in some dramatic ways, God has changed me. I am no longer angry and hate filled. I like or love almost everyone I meet. My priorities have changed from things to people, from success to significance, from drinking to dry, from fearful about everything to excited about what life with God has to offer. Where there was once chaos and fear there is a peace that supersedes everything else. Is life perfect? No. Am I perfect? Far from it. But, thank God, I am certainly not who I used to be. For this, I, and the people around me are profoundly thankful.

So, what’s your story?

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Less Who and More Why

One of the statistics provided to me by my blog site host is where my page views originate. It is interesting information.

My top three countries are the United States (No surprise), Russia (Big surprise), and the United Arab Emirates (Huge surprise). I am assuming, since Russia came in second, I will be receiving a subpoena from Robert Mueller to testify against President Trump since everyone else in America who have had any interaction with the former Soviet Union in the past decade is being called.

Since you (I) brought it up, it may surprise you to know that our government is completely fouled up. If there are two ways to do something, the government will diligently search until they find the wrong way to do it. I’m not being negative… I’m being observant. Their incompetence is nothing new. It has been like that ever since I can remember, and I can remember way back. It is remembering yesterday I struggle with.

It seems that every special prosecutor we have had appointed has spent millions of dollars, wandered around in circles looking for someone to charge with a crime, made up crimes to charge them with, not stopping until they find someone to take to court and look like complete idiots except to the political hacks who sent them on the mission in the first place. Mueller has succeeded in upholding that great tradition. Quite honestly, if Robert Mueller summoned me to court to join his ridiculous waste of taxpayer money, I believe I would be forced to tell him to kiss my behind.

Having the information about where the people are who read my blog are, the question comes to mind; “Why do they read my blog”? I love writing it, but I am not sure I would enjoy reading it. Here is my list of reasons for reading my blog. Feel free to add to the list.
  • I want to know more about growing a church.
  • How is “Healthy Church” done.
  • I knew the author back before he could read or write.
  • It is fun to watch both political parties made fun of.
  • It is interesting to watch someone be rude and have them write it off as being honest.
  • I don’t have anything to do at work but want to appear busy.
  • I am studying certain individuals so I can grow up to be a curmudgeon, ala Andy Rooney.
  •  I am a sadist and enjoy being abused.
  • I’m teaching my six-year-old to read and I use reading material with simple words.

Take a shot at sharing your reason. And thanks for dropping by and reading my thoughts, no matter where you are from.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Isn't She Beautiful

I have begun wondering if I am like an old man I met over 50 years ago.

I have no idea why he did it. Perhaps because I had voiced a desire to become an attorney. For whatever reason my father often took me on house calls he made as an attorney. I loved when he was doing legal work for his brothers and sisters.

They were just plain country folk and my dad was to only “educated” one in the family. And he was smart as a whip. And he was raised in a family of quick-witted smart alecks. They weren’t well educated, but they were smart. So, these visits were always entertaining. On one visit, his sister, who was married to Tom, was complaining about his drinking. “Tom comes in most every evening drunk.” Dad’s scholarly reply was, “Divorce the SOB.” Mable just ignored him and continued complaining. “With all his drinking he can hardly keep a job.” To which my father replied, “Divorce the SOB.” Then Aunt Mable said, “He’s an embarrassment to the family.” Dad’s now expected reply was, “Divorce the SOB.” He was smirking and thoroughly enjoying pulling her chain and punching her buttons. His smile broke out into laughter when Gladys, completely frustrated, yelled, “Divorce the SOB, divorce the SOB. Is that all you can say?”

Some of our visits to other clients weren’t quite so funny. Occasionally, the visits were touching. I remember one in particular. It was a beautiful, sunny, summer Sunday afternoon and my father decided nothing would do but that I accompany him on a business visit. At nine years old, I was not a happy camper. There were dozens of other things I would rather be doing on such a day. After a rather short drive, we pulled up in front of one of the smallest white frame houses I had ever seen. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. Inside I was not too surprised to find two very old Munchkins. A miniature couple that looked to be about a zillion years old.

They were sitting next to each other in rocking chairs holding hands and smiling. They warmly greeted my father whom they obviously loved and respected. It was if royalty had arrived. Dad introduced me to the man. As has been a life-long habit, I failed to remember his name. His face lit up as he turned to his wife and introduced her to me. Then, with an almost mystical look on his face, he turned to me and said, “Isn’t she beautiful.” I said, “Yes”, and thought, “Of course she’s not beautiful, she is an old woman.” And then, even at the tender age of nine, I realized I was observing two people in love. It was something beautiful to behold. It is amazing that that image and conversation have stuck in my mind all these years.

This past Saturday my wife and I had dressed for an afternoon wedding and a birthday party for my oldest sister. We had gotten ready early (Something older people do. That why restaurants have “Early Bird Specials.) and were sitting on the couch together. As is my habit I was just staring at her and thinking, “Isn’t she beautiful.” Suddenly I thought, “Have I become that old man of years ago?” I soon discovered that I hadn’t.

After the wedding, we went to the party. As always, we were warmly welcomed with hugs and kisses. My younger sister gave my wife, Nancy, a big hug and smile and said, “Kae and I were just talking about how much we hate you. (We only tease you if we love you. 😊) You’re still just as beautiful as you were the day we met you thirty years ago.”

It gave me hope. Maybe I'm not that old man (Yet). But I am still thunder-struck in love with my beautiful wife.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved


Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press. He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Bob McConnell & Donna Harlow, Mr. & Miss Eastern High 1963
Joe DiMaggio was a Hall of Fame baseball player for the New York Yankees long before I knew there was a thing called baseball. He played a few years in my childhood, was named American League Most Valuable Player three times, was a consistently named to the All-Star team (13 times) and was a star on a team that went to nine World Series championships during his career. He was a hero to many a youngster.

And now most young boys don’t have any idea who he was. As Simon and Garfunkel asked, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” He played baseball before my time, but I heard enough about him to hold him in high esteem. Then I heard he married Marilyn Monroe and he became my hero.

Another hero of mine who seemed, as life went on, to have disappeared was my older brother. I was with his son, my nephew, Tim, a couple of weeks ago and we were comparing notes on how we saw his dad. He saw a much different Bob than I did. And I wondered, “Where did you go, Bob McConnell?”

The Bob I grew up with was kind to a fault. He was even kind to me, his little brother. He was smart and witty. I am pretty sure he made straight A’s in high school but drove his teachers to distraction with his sense of humor and funny remarks. When he applied to The Ohio State University (I always thought the “The” in Ohio State was just a bit condescending, if not ridicules.) and went for preadmission testing, the proctor called my parents in for a conference. I am sure they thought, “What has he done this time?” She wanted to tell them that their son had just scored the highest marks on the math test in the university’s history. Bob went on to receive a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OSU and a Ph.D. in engineering from Purdue University. The boy was smart. Well, he was what we called book smart. Sometimes common sense escaped him.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, he was an All-Star pitcher. In high school, he threw several no-hitters. When he got up to warm up, the opposing players would let out a collective sigh, hang their heads and lose hope. I have never seen anyone throw a baseball that hard. Fortunately, I played on the team with him. He intimidated me, too. I lost all hope when he pitched batting practice. A couple of his no-hitters were extra-inning games. Many of my teammates were no better at hitting than I. And in the spring, I stank. When he wasn’t striking fear into the opposition’s hearts, he was on the bench growling insults at them to throw them off their game. He was the king of meaningless insults.

He wasn’t any goodie two shoes. We roll the family car out the driveway to take a midnight drive more than once before either of us had a license. He and I and a couple of close friends were well known for being better than average at “TPing” houses. But he was generally better behaved than I. I smoked, he didn’t. I cut class, he didn’t. I got suspended from school and he didn’t. I got caught cheating on a Latin test, he didn’t need to. I cussed a lot and he didn’t. I irritated the living hell out of my parents and Bob didn’t. And he was the best brother in the world, and I wasn’t. We were very different, were best friends and truly loved each other.

He grew up and the Bob had known disappeared. Following college, he married a woman whose personality did not mesh well with his. (I am being really, really kind here.) A few years later his oldest son, Robert Redding, Jr. was killed in an automobile accident at the age of two. Neither parent ever really got over it. Then in his 30’s, he was diagnosed as bi-polar. He had an extreme case of it which was pretty much debilitating. The medications he took caused him to shake and be lethargic. Those same drugs ended up killing his kidneys. He had a heart attack, a couple of near death experiences and died of kidney failure.

In talking with Tim, I came to realize that we knew two different Bobs. So, the question is, “Where did you go, Joe DiMaggio and Bob McConnell?” Honestly, I know where Bob went – he went to be with Jesus. Joe, I don’t know.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Just Die, Damn You

Most of my time in ministry has been spent working with churches in small towns. I love small towns and small-town people. The first few years of my life I lived in the city and then, bypassing the small town, we moved to the country.

I loved living in the country. Lots of open spaces, no neighbors close by to bug you, campsites were everywhere, creeks to wade and play in, only walking a hundred yards to find a place to hunt, grassy meadows with that wonder of nature, grass, to walk through with bare feet and lay in and watch the clouds take different shapes. In the country, the grass wasn’t something to cut, it was to be enjoyed. There were woods to hang out in with trees to climb and wildlife to watch and attempt to catch. It was idyllic.

The rural and small-town setting seems to produce hardy, independent yet community-minded people. They tend to be friendly, funny, hardworking, self-sufficient and helpful. Small town living was something new for me. Lots of stores for shopping but lacking a wide variety of goods. They remind me of Garrison Keillor’s mythic hometown, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. In Lake Wobegon’s business district was Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery, where the motto was, “If we don’t have, you probably don’t need it.” The lack of merchandise called for occasional shopping trips to the city. Something nobody really liked to do.

Churches are much like small towns. Comfortable. Little changes. Everyone knows each other. Well oiled systems of interaction and life cause everything to hum along without much effort. People get to know each other and what reactions to expect. Small churches generally claim to be like a family, but the members really don’t know each other well enough to be family. Thus, they come across as a dysfunctional family.

As a church transformation advisor, I try to teach churches a better way that leads to growth. Most churches say they want to grow and then they resist everything proposed to bring that growth. It sounds crazy because it is crazy, but they want to grow if nothing changes. They fail to understand the basic purpose and nature of the church, which is about growth and change. Growth and change of the individual which naturally leads to growth and change in the church.

I rarely, if ever, give a church a list of things to do to bring transformation. But if I did it would look something like this:
  • A growing church makes fulfilling its purpose, which is making disciples, its highest priority. Everything else is the small stuff.
  • The type of music played, the color of the carpet and walls, who does what job, what one’s title is, what the preacher wears to preach in, who gets the credit or blame, whether a program succeeded or failed (Just learn from the experience.) has little to do with the transformation of a church.
  • Make every decision based on the mission of the church.
  • Learn to say “No” to good things that are not what God would have you do to fulfill your mission and purpose.
  • Refuse to let the most negative bullies in the church set the agenda.
  • Healthy, spiritually growing people make for a healthy, growing church.
  • Pray more and talk less.
  • Talk less and work more. God so loved the world that He did not send a committee. Move from committees to teams. Committees, by nature, sit and talk. Teams go out and “play”.
  • Find places for everyone to do ministry where they are called and gifted.
  • Don’t expect the pastor to do anything but to preach and lead.


After sharing these thoughts with hundreds of church leaders through consultations, seminars, and coaching, I have been surprised that just a hand full took the information and encouragement to heart and began working in the direction of transformation. Most church leaders went home, continued to do what they had always done and continued to get the same results. I find this response frustrating.

It reminds of a parishioner I had in a church in central Illinois many years ago. He was a tough, independent, headstrong old farmer. We were all surprised when he had a heart attack. He survived, had surgery and prepared to go home. I happened to be in the room when his cardiologist made his final hospital visit. During the visit, the doctor laid out the regimen of healthy eating and exercise my friend needed to follow to regain and maintain good health. After the doctor had finished my friend bluntly said, “I’m not going to do that crap.” The doctor quietly walked to the hospital room door, turned to face his rebellious patient and just said, “Well then, just die damn you,” and walked out of the room.

And that is what I want to say to church leaders unwilling to do what it takes to grow a healthy church. Just die, damn you.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.
He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon