Saturday, October 30, 2010

Really Big God-Sighting

God showed up in an amazing way on Tuesday. I received a call from a social worker at the hospital down the street; she had a patient who fell while working his tree-trimming business.  He was in a wheel chair and needed to move to a rehabilitation center.  Sounded simple enough.  The problem was that they were out of money and did not have the gas to drive an accessible van four hours away to the center that could take him.  They had received some gas help, but needed more to make it there and back.
I am completely out of discretionary money for the year, but I wanted to help (I have a soft spot for tree surgeons because my brother is one).  I thought I could just take the money out of my own pocket; I told the social worker I wasn’t able to get the gas card until the later afternoon, but that I would bring it to the hospital by 4 pm.

I was making one more call from the office before I left to get the gas card.  I was checking in on a deeply spiritual member (I’ll call her Jane) and also conferring with her about a small blurb for the newsletter.  While I was talking with Jane on my cell phone, the church phone rang.  Everyone else had left the office, so I put down my blue tooth and answered the phone.  It was the wife of the gentleman from the hospital who needed the gas card.  I told her that I could get the card for a QT which they thought would be easiest to find, that I would do it soon and drop it off, and that no, I had not figured out how much it would be, yet.  Then I hung up and went back to my conversation with Jane.  This is what she said to me:

Pastor Linda, I couldn’t help but overhear that conversation and I have a $25 QT gas card in my purse!  I get them from work sometimes, but I don’t need it, so I was looking for someone to give it to.  I’ll go over and meet this family and pray with them and bring them this gas card.  Do you have a suggestion for a Scripture I could use?

We were both bowled over, because she had been home from work for a personal day and felt that this opportunity was an answer to her prayers!  We talked about reading Psalm 121 and off she went, living out missional church in her personal life.  Later that evening, we talked again and Jane emphasized that this kind of ministry is something she can do.  She offered to assist me with these kinds of visits and needs.  I was wowed again; I do need help, but it hadn’t occurred to me to ask.  Sometimes I think and behave as if this ministry is all up to me, but God keeps reminding me in big ways that it is not.  We do this ministry in a community of many and diverse gifts.

Photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Monday, October 18, 2010

Surviving Puberty after Cancer

Daughter just turned 12 – the third and last of our fall birthdays.  After school one recent afternoon, she was sitting on the couch reading her first Seventeen magazine, ordered through a recent school fundraiser.  I was picking up the house, cleaning the kitchen and generally organizing for the evening when I noticed she became very agitated and restless.  Soon Daughter started firing questions at me like, “Why do you give us those stupid frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones?” and “How come I get applesauce in my lunch instead of fresh fruit?  I hate grapes, why can’t we get something else?”

rib3.gif - 3.2 K I found this a bit strange coming from a girl whose primary food group is ice cream.

Silly me, I tried to answer her questions with reasonable answers, explaining that when we’re out of fresh vegetables, frozen ones hold the most nutrients, and so on.  She was not impressed.  She became more agitated and unsatisfied, looking as if she just realized that everything in her life is WRONG.

Finally she blurted out, “This magazine says that you can reduce your risk of breast cancer by exercising regularly between the ages of 12 and 24.  I told you I wanted to do volleyball and why won’t you go out everyday with me to roller skate after school?”

Finally, we were getting somewhere.  I stopped trying to answer her questions and sat down on the couch next to her.  I asked gently, “Are you feeling afraid that you will get breast cancer?” 

Daughter glared at me through her bangs, “Yes!”  And with a little more defiance in her voice, she added “and it’s all your fault!”

Indeed.  I cannot argue with pubescent, capricious reasoning.  Neither can I wrap my head around what it must feel like to be a pre-menstrual developing girl, newly growing what your mom recently had cut off.  How does one blossom into womanhood with confidence and self-acceptance when it feels like you’re growing a couple of ticking time bombs? 

I do know what it’s like, however, to be the mom of such a girl.  Most days it feels like I am flunking.  I try to walk the thin line between honesty and hope, between past events and future possibilities, between living healthily and letting go of haunting anxiety.  This is a tall order for a grown woman, much less a young girl with a rapidly changing body. 

I know that this is beyond me; I cannot fix or control her experience.  I do try to embrace that the real gift is that I am here—I am here to grow through this with her.  I pray that in the long run, this will make all the difference.