This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Jim Teague,
FPCE director of communications.

Dear friends –

Have you ever suffered an infestation of any kind? In the fall of 2015, my family and I paid a visit to a college in the East and spent the night on the way there in a less than glamorous Ohio motel after a nicer establishment gave our rooms to someone else with a similar name by mistake.

Within a few days of arriving home from the trip our youngest son noticed he was waking up with bites on his arms and shoulders. I suspected some kind of house spider and, after finding one hiding in an upper corner of his room, I disposed of it and considered the matter finished.

A week later, my son mentioned again that he was waking up with bites. I went into his room and looked at his sheets. There were tiny dark spots leading away from the center of the bed up to the far corner. I pulled his bed away from the wall… and was stunned. In the dust ruffle in that corner were hundreds of bedbugs. Literally hundreds of them tucked away there as a wriggling, living mass. I almost cried with the guilt I felt at having let him sleep for so many days with that hoard of blood suckers just a few feet away.

That discovery began a five-month-long battle against these tiny but incredibly persistent pests who require blood to breed (technically they need it to molt BEFORE they breed). We had likely transported one or more of these tiny things back from our trip and they had been busy breeding rapidly while hiding in the dust ruffle of our son’s bedroom.

We got all kinds of advice from family, friends and, of course, the internet, but the only thing that finally rid us of them completely was throwing out everything that could possibly serve as a hiding place. This  meant we lost all of our mattresses, two box springs, all of our dust ruffles, three pillows, and one old dresser that probably could have been saved but had been home to a handful of the bedbugs and, frankly, had seen better days

They survived two major, lengthy attempts to get them out of our lives with non-toxic, environmentally-friendly sprays, moving from one bedroom to the next. The third wave of non-toxic, all-natural fogging treatment finally fought them off, though it may have had as much to do with the warming weather as it did the treatments. To this day, anytime one of us gets any kind of a bite we can’t explain, my wife and I go into a kind of manic battle footing until we are assure ourselves we don’t have them back in our lives again.

We refer to this period in our family history as “The Great Bedbug Plague!”

This Sunday, Rev. Dr. Tassie Green continues to lead us down the road with the people of Israel as they struggle in bondage against their Egyptian taskmasters. As part of a much broader topic, Pastor Tassie will look at the plagues God brought forth against the Egyptians.

Now, our family’s battle with the bedbugs was relatively brief in comparison to the hundreds of years of captivity the Hebrews suffered. By the time Moses arrives on the scene, his kinspeople are without hope, having forgotten the promises of God passed down from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

We are in a challenging time here at First Pres right now.

  • A beloved leader has moved on. He did so in obedience to God’s direction and in prayerful consideration of both what he was called to AND what would be best for us here in this body of believers. Yet, even as we pray for him, his family, and his new congregation to experience the goodness of God, we have experienced a profound separation.
  • This past Sunday we celebrated the years we’ve had with Rev. Amanda Golbek on staff as our leader of youth and children’s ministries. She and her family, including our former associate pastor Henry Coates, are off to Portland, OR, with their cherubic kids Jacob and Josie in tow. Again, their choice seems not only understandable but God ordained, and yet it excavates another emptiness in our hearts.
  • Many of us are in various stages of grief and/or anxiety as we seek God’s face after having experienced loss through illness, life changes, and even the death of those we love.

In what may perhaps be the most ironic recommendation I have ever made, I want to challenge us to be like bedbugs. By the time our family battle against them was won, I had learned that bedbugs can go anywhere from 90 to 300 days without feeding and still survive. They put themselves in a place of warmth and protection (we found some between our floors and the floor moldings) and wait until an opportunity arises (like a new dust ruffle to climb) to go feed.

Even when all their comrades have fallen, they stay put as long as they can. So long as there is one male and one female, they will wait together until the female feeds on blood, molts (shedding exoskeleton) and then mate. Disgusting, I know. But they have a persistence and never-say-die lifestyle that we would do well to imitate (not the blood sucking, though).

Of course, I am being silly, but my point is clear. I am SO encouraged by what Pastor Tassie is bringing to us as a body of believers. Far from being starved or left to wait in dark places, God has already proven he has wonderful plans for us and we will do well to wait upon him, hiding in the shelter of his wings.

We are one more Sunday from moving back to our 9:30 a.m. worship time, and what we consider our Fall kick-off. Let’s celebrate his coming goodness as we gather together!

May God’s presence be deeply felt among us all,

Jim Teague
FPCE Director of Communications

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