Monday, April 23, 2012

One finger...

One finger. No more than one. And not even the whole finger. Just the nail portion, actually. So, one quarter of a finger, pretty much. Yet it might as well be the whole thing. Or my hand. Or my arm all the way to my elbow, or armpit. This stinks (I meant to pun).

I had surgery to see what was causing some weird abnormality. I almost chickened out of the surgery. I’ve never had a surgical knife touch my body before. I haven’t had to. I know lots of women so much younger than me who have. Big surgeries. Stuff that they get put to sleep for. The doctor put my finger to sleep. It’s more like a needle delivering a hard concussion to the finger. It hurts just for second or two. Then it’s lights out. Just a small part of me, anyway.

I sang worship songs in my head. Revelation Song. Your Holiness Surrounds Me. No reason for those songs in particular. Just because I had used them to lead the prior worship service. It helped. It always helps when I’m at the dentist. I ignored the sounds of the surgery. Even when I was tempted to look at what was happening. I didn’t look. Not even one little peek. I listened to their voices, instead. They talked about what they were doing, the doctor and his assistant. They talked about the surgery. They gossiped. It was funny. “You are beauty and light, no darkness at all…”

The doctor put a bandage on me. Then he printed a prescription for a strong painkiller. Then he told me to schedule a follow up appointment. He said goodbye and left the room. After I left I made the appointment and waited for my husband to pick me up. I was emotional. I needed him. So much.

Since then I have been in a haze from the painkiller. I have been kept awake from searing pain. I have been frustrated with my inability to do much of anything. I have spent way too much time online and far too little time in the shower. I have tried to cope with not serving my family by baking and cooking. I have looked at recipes with sadness. I have been scared and anxious. I have cried. And I have been reminded that this will get better. My husband and kids have shown me that they can serve me by helping out. My friends have been very caring toward me. Someone else offered to lead worship this past Sunday. And my finger will get better in time. I know this because I talked to the doctor on the phone and he said it would. I’ll take his word for it.

"If one part (of the body of Christ) suffers, every part suffers with it..."
1 Corinthians 12:26a


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What if?

Our daughter is heading to France in less than three months. She will be gone for a month.

While there she will help out at a Christian youth camp with whatever they ask of her. It will be fun. It will be exciting. But it's also a little scary. On her end, Elizabeth is faced with a million questions and anticipation. On our end, we're watching our oldest step out in obedience and experiencing what God has for her halfway around the world. This is more than just hanging out at a camp in Alps for a month. Elizabeth has had going over to France on her heart for years. Now it's going to come to pass.

Glory and I talked a little last night about the upcoming trip. With a far-away look in her eyes, she softly asked "what if...?" There have been a lot of what ifs lately, more so after we hit the purchase button on Travelocity and secured Elizabeth's tickets. What if she decides to stay over there? What if she gets sick? What if she meets a special someone? What happens to her there or afterward are big questions, but it's really out of our hands. What we know is what she's going through right now.

What if?

That probably is one of the most often asked questions.

Be it far from me to suggest that my wife is the only worrier in the family. My grandmother called me a "worry wart." I guess I have been predisposed to worry most of my life. I have to be reminded all the time that I have very little or no control over things.

Our friends the Macys are in Nepal as I write. They heeded the call to minister to Tibetans several years ago. Instead of Tibet, they ended up in Germany for several years, ministering to Tibetans. Now they are moving to Nepal. What if they didn't go to Germany because it wasn't what they really wanted at the time? What would they have missed out on as God prepared them for Nepal? Looking back now, they would have missed out on unique appointments that affected them and influenced others.

Our friend Jodi is battling cancer. I see her pictures all the time. She's got a great attitude and fearless disposition. What if Jodi didn't have such a great attitude and didn't choose to live in the face of the unknown? How would that effect her friends and family? Anyone who has gone through such a thing knows the answer to those questions. The what ifs are pointless.

There are things that are out of our control. There are things we can't see. And trying to control them is a fruitless exercise.

I shared with Elizabeth the other night James 4:13-15: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'”

With so much out of our control in such a short life, it's just best to acknowledge that God has it under control.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Who is God? If He is who He says He is, we shouldn't worry about a thing.

What if?

I don't know. God knows.

And that's OK.

- Bill

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Heaven and Hell: A good dose of perspective

I love the Pacific Northwest, but I have to say, the rain of this winter got me down in the dumps.
The other day while running I remember getting panicky while watching yet another cloud bank roll in and vomit out more raindrops. When would this end? Anyone around here would tell you that we haven't dried out in two years. It's just been wet, wet, wet. The ground is soggy all the time. The killer moss is overtaking everything. Squirrels look demonic as they scurry up grotesque lichen-encased trees. It's horrible in this dark corner of hell. What could top this off? A tsunami? Mount Baker exploding and laying down a thick layer of lava. Yes! Bring it on! Put us out of our misery. I've been wanting to tell wandering tourists who stop me for directions, "Welcome to Hell's outhouse."
But wait. Yesterday, spring seemed to finally say, "Yes, I am here." And while pruning our spruce trees yesterday afternoon, I felt myself snap out of it. I felt...nicer, calmer.
While running last night, it actually felt warm. I saw others out walking, biking and jogging. People had smiles on their faces. People were greeting friends on the street, yelling over the traffic when they would get together and have that weekend BBQ. There was even a car full of young people pulled over by a cop. Believe it or not, that was a good sign. People are getting out more. I heard laughter and cheering. I wasn't even bothered by the bleeding blister on my heel.
There are clouds in the sky as I write but there is a yellow orb in the sky, too. Day two of change. I want to chase my kids in the yard. I want to release all the Chihuahuas from the animal shelter and throw Frisbees for them. I want to hug everyone and share my food with them.
Our famous tulips here are ready to bloom. The daffodils already are out in full color. We're watching the buds of apples and plum trees take shape. And we already can taste the blackberries and blueberries that are in abundance in our Garden of Eden. People from all over the Northwest are making their way to our corner of Paradise to see what's so special about this place.
So, maybe life isn't as bad as it seemed a couple of weeks ago.
What a difference a little good weather makes.