Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I have to go back in my mind many years but I remember the pain, the humiliation. and yes, even the miracle of it.
My branch operation was sold and I was offered a transfer to another location and to start in sales after being in management for many years. I took the transfer and we'll fast forward about eight months. I was called into my manager's office and he told me he wanted me to clean out my office at the end of the day, that I was fired. I was stunned, I didn't see it coming. I walked out of his office went straight to the bathroom and cried until there were no more tears and then I prayed. I asked God if this was His plan for my life, should I leave or should I defend myself, go over my manager's head and stay. I was torn. I knew there were personality issues at stake but I wanted much more than ego satisfaction. I wanted to be on the "right road". Never have I prayed more earnestly for a "sign" from God so I would know what to do. I fixed my face, joined the staff and tried to act like nothing had happened. An hour or so passed and a customer came in (we were taking rotation and it was my turn). I talked with them for an hour or so, showed them homes and at some point in all that (and yes, my tummy was upset the whole time and I was trying to hold myself together with silent prayer) the husband looked at me and said, "there is something so different about you from any salesperson we have ever met" and then the wife smiled and said, "well, honey, I'll bet you are a Christian, aren't you?" I said (with conviction), "I am". Very long story, short (I know, you didn't think I could do that, but every once in awhile, it happens) they bought the house. I wrote up the sales agreement (better known as the contract), took their down payment and they left. I went (with all paperwork in hand plus the money) into my manager's office. I put it on his desk and looked him in the eye and I said, "I'm not going anywhere, this is where I am suppose to be!" I went back to my office (yes, shaking all over, inside and out) and an hour or so later the owner of the company drove up to the office. He came in to my desk, put out his right hand and shook mine. He laughed and said he thought he should make a video of the gal that refused to be fired. He later promoted me to manager and vice-president at another location.
Sometimes we, like the tree that is planted by the water, must refuse to be moved.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tomorrow I am setting up at an inside sale at a local elementary by renting space from the PTO. There will be about 17 families doing this. I love yard sales because it is a win-win situation: I get rid of my stuff and somebody else gets a bargain, a treasure at a good price. I get "high" when I see somebody "like" my goodies well enough to buy them. I don't sew or craft but I do love to go to yard sales and stock my booths at antique shops and occasionally set-up (usually in my yard) and have a huge blow out. Does my heart good.....makes my husband happy to see clutter turned into cash.
Tomorrow, I will laugh with people, get to know a few, share or hear a story or two, have my heart touched by seeing a needy adult or child and I will do my best to make their day brighter by being kind and by giving them a great price! It is a different world at a yard sale and it asks me to think higher and to share more.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I was twenty one years old, married and living about eight hours from my mom and dad. I had no relatives or close friends in the area. My doctor told me that I had to have surgery to stop some hemorrhaging. I was scared. Late on the night before surgery the anesthesiologist came to my hospital room to talk with me. He explained to me that when he saw people as large as me come into the operating room he wanted to run away as quickly as possible. He explained that because of my weight it was hard to determine the amount of drugs to give me to keep me “asleep” during surgery, that he might give me too much and cause my heart to stop. He said that if he chose to do a spinal the chances were that he could hit the wrong spot and paralyze me. Now I was terrified. I told him to just call off the surgery and he said we couldn't’t do that. When he left, I asked my roommate if she had heard what he had said to me. She said, “Yes, he said he might kill you or paralyze you because of your weight!”
I went inside myself and hunted for peace, for God and for strength. I felt so alone. I was an adult but I wanted my Mother to reassure me that everything would be alright. As I lay there in torment, tossing and turning, I heard someone walk into the room. My foot was outside the covers just as it always was when I tried to get to sleep. I felt a gentle squeeze on my big toe, as my Mother had done a thousand times, when she had come to tell me goodnight. I looked into the face of a nurse telling me everything would be fine but who I saw, who I heard was God speaking to me once again through the voice of my Mother.
The surgery turned out just fine. I ended up with a spinal and was able to wiggle my toes as soon as the surgery was complete. The anesthesiologist told me that what he was seeing was impossible. I told him it was just God reassuring me that he had not paralyzed me!
When we are at our lowest points, God finds a way to reassure us of His presence and love. Sometimes we are the ones He asks to reach out and other times we are the receiver. Either way we are richly blessed to experience His love and peace.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I was all set to share my first experience at the Gemein House in Laurel Ridge (our church camp) and then everything shifted in my mind and in my heart.
Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy on TV on Thursday nights? Last night I did and I hope if you are an avid watcher you will forgive me if I do an injustice to the dialogue but for those who missed it, I want to let you in on what happened.
The father of one of the young doctors died on last night’s episode (this is all fiction) and one of his peers followed him outside and welcomed him into the “ Kids With Dead Dads Club”. She explained that her Dad had died when she was nine and that she was so sorry that her friend had to pay such a high price to join the club. He told her that he just did not know how to exist in a world with his father was no longer in it. She replied that the sad part is that we never learn how to do that. Tears were pouring down my cheeks and I was doubled over in grief-ridden pain.
My father died when I was thirty five, my mother when I was forty two. At the HELP circle at church a few weeks ago one of the women shared that when her parents died she had felt like an orphan. I wanted to hug her and say, “Yes, that is what I felt like, and some days still do. An orphan without a home.”.
When my two older children’s father died when he was forty-two, I had a few moments with my Mother before I saw them. I remember her holding me so tight, I was sobbing and telling her that I just wasn’t old enough or wise enough to say the right words to them and she replied, “Oh, my dear baby girl, we never are.”
I later returned to Missouri to go back to work. A couple days later one of the ministers I worked with called me. I answered the phone and no one said a word for a minute. Then finally I heard Tim say that this was one of the hardest phone calls he had ever made and that he didn’t know what to say to me. I told him the fact that he had taken the time to breathe my pain with me, even for a moment, was enough. And it was. Are the words ever adequate anyway?
And, after all these years, when the grief can still come with the force of a tidal wave and knock my legs out from under me, I know that there are those of you that breathe it with me. That you have gone through the same experiences and more. We are becoming family to each other in a different but loving way as we all continue our journey home
God will continue to dry the tears, give us strength and peace. Thanks be to God
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I am trying to think back to how it all began, at least in my mind. I suppose it was nearly a year ago when Jim (our pastor) spoke on a Sunday morning of how we all need to be in service helping one another. He told stories of several families that needed help but the one I remember the most was about a man living in a house with huge leaks in the roof. I was both agitated and moved by his message. I felt as if I was inspired and ready to vote for the cause but didn’t know where to register. Where were these families? I agreed I needed to help them and that I even wanted to help them but how could I go about it? I told Jim how I felt. Others must have bent his ear also because he shared with the Elders of the church at the next meeting that he felt a need to help the community and that there had to be a way that we could give back like he had seen done at Laurel Ridge (the town where our church camp is located. And then he said, with a glow in his eyes, that if other churches responded and did the same thing, it would multiply and many more people could be helped in our community. Everyone agreed that the time was right and that we could do it.
Later after some groundwork had been done, Jim brought another message to us on a Sunday morning and at the end of it he asked who was willing to help, to be Christ to those in need. The entire church came forward. It was a moving experience as we prepared our minds and souls for service.
It took a lot of work by many people. Countless hours locating the people that needed the help of our church, meetings by dozens of people on how these tasks could be accomplished and other meetings to see how everyone in the church could be involved: by praying, working, donating, cooking, etc. Finally the vision was taking shape and the date arrived.
We kicked it off with a Thursday evening Mission Blitz dinner. The room was filled with love and enthusiasm. Teams had been formed, money and donations had come in, and breakfast and dinner would be cooked and served to the workers and supporters each day.
As the week progressed, the stories started floating in. People were telling the workers that their neighbor needed more help than they did, people receiving the help were feeding the workers, thanking them, and sharing stories. The workers were returning to the church with their bodies tired and sore but their hearts overflowing with love and excitement. I saw more hugging, laughing and handshaking during the Blitz than at any other time in our church. I heard more positive stories and comments from people and I heard the yearning to do yet more. Never have I been more proud to belong to any church or to be associated with such fine people . Never have I felt more “Christian”.
Good deeds are contagious. I started hearing families saying they were going to have a Blitz and call in other members of their families to help people in need. What if, as Jim says, we have indeed started something really, really good? Often he closes our worship service with these words, “We came here today to worship, let us go out to serve.”
During Mission Blitz, we truly did. In one way or another our prayers and hearts were connected to do good. Now we get to decide whether it was just a flicker of a candle in the night or will the flame to burn and ignite other candles??