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When God whispers

A coworker of mine turned 60 today. I walked to her desk to wish her a happy birthday. She had been out of the office for a few days, but I hadn’t given it much thought; I assumed she had taken some vacation. She explained that she hadn’t planned on taking time off, but her husband had a heart attack. Before I could offer her my condolences, she was grinning and said it was a good thing. This caught me by surprise, and I looked at her quizzically. She explained that he had been having difficulty breathing recently. When she was finally able to schedule a doctor’s appointment for him, it was weeks away. Last Tuesday, the day he had the heart attack, she was driving home and this voice inside her told her to take him to the emergency room that night. She said she had been praying to God to help her husband with his health issues. When she arrived home, she suggested going directly to the hospital instead of waiting for the doctor’s appointment. He initially refused. Finally, he said he’d go after supper and after taking care of a few things. When they arrived, he was admitted for his shortness of breath. While monitoring him, he experienced a heart attack. He was immediately taken to the cardiac unit, had several stents inserted, and within a few hours, was awake and resting comfortably in his room.

The first week of January, she went on to tell me, he hit black ice while driving and jackknifed his semi. While the truck was pretty banged up, he walked away without a scratch. She told him that these two incidents were signs that God wasn’t quite ready for him yet. I smiled and agreed, and said yes, God still had some work for him to do down here. She said so many people had told her what a bad year 2015 was for her, but she strongly disagreed with this: it was going to be a great year! Her husband is doing very well and is not expected to have any long term issues.

God whispered in her ear, and they both listened. I’m so glad they did. Are we listening for God’s whispers?


The Ghost of Christmas Past?

It was two Sundays before Christmas:  I was sitting in a back row pew at the church, singing a Christmas song.   I don’t remember which one.  I was alone, as my husband was in the sound booth, and my son was in children’s church.  There was one other family on the other side of the pew, at least fifteen feet away.  As one song ended, and the next began, I smiled:  Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.   Not a favorite, but I liked it.  I remember my spirits were in good form that day, with no major crisis distracting me from the holiday season.

Suddenly, I felt this presence next to me.  I didn’t see anything, but I “felt” this light and this warmth next to me.  I remember thinking that Grandpa was next to me.  He told me everything would be fine.  I was filled with a sense of peace and warmth.  It lasted just a moment.  I surreptitiously looked around, to see if anyone else had noticed this. Everyone was singing along, oblivious to whatever had just happened.  My eyes filled with tears, and I silently offered up a prayer to whoever was listening.

I would like to say I have never had anything like that happen before, but I can’t.  There was something very familiar about the entire experience, but I cannot list a time and date that something like that has happened before.  It was very surreal.  Was it my Grandfather?  He had passed away on December 29th of the previous year.  We were headed home in a few days to see Grandma, who was in failing health (and who would pass away on December 27th, 2 days short of the first anniversary of Grandpa’s death).   I believe my Grandfather is in Heaven, but I do not believe he is allowed to come down and visit.  Was it an angel, letting me know Grandpa was OK? Or that Grandma would be with him soon?   Maybe it didn’t have anything to do with my grandfather, but for some reason I felt his presence.  To the best of my knowledge, this was not a favorite song.  I don’t know what happened that day in church or why, but I’m OK with that.  It was something good, and while I’m not entirely sure of the message, the peace it gave me was indescribable.


As I read Natasha Metzler’s post on “faith of my mother” some time ago, I immediately thought of my friend, Stephanie.  For almost a decade, she has led a women’s ministry at her church, where she holds baby showers for women in need.  Sometimes these women simply do not have a place to hold such an event.  She offers the church, free of charge, and provides the location and decorations if needed. Most women, however, have little to no support.  Steph plans this shower as if it were for her best friend.  She asks them to register for gifts, sends out an email to her friends who support this cause, and asks for gifts and for help with the refreshments. 


I have lost count of how many showers I have attended.  Most have been happy events, with the mother-to-be and a friend or two in attendance.  If we are lucky, a mother, sister, or even grandma is present, sharing joy as gifts are opened and cake is eaten.  Some have been sad, even heartbreaking:  the bewilderment and the fear that is visible breaks my heart.  On more than one occasion, I have managed to keep the smile pasted on my face only until I pull out of the parking lot, then I cry all the way home.  


There is no expectation that the recipient of the shower attend the church, or even believe in God for that matter.  There is no expectation that they keep in touch.  Some do.  Some have turned into “regulars” at the showers, bringing snacks and a present, chasing around a toddler that was once the focus of one of these events.  Many keep in touch with Steph, by social media or email, checking in every once in a while, maybe passing along a name of someone who could benefit from one as they did.  Some simply gather their gifts and leave, never to be heard from again.  On occasion, I recognize a name in the police blotter, and I silently pray for both the mother and the child.  Sometimes, sadly, we learn through the grapevine that a baby dies.


Steph never waivers from what I see as her calling.  She says that we’ve done what we can, and now it’s in the new mom’s hands and in God’s hands.  She kept this ministry running while deathly ill herself, resulting in a liver transplant.  She asked one of her friends to fill in for her while “she focused on other things for a bit.”  Her friend did, then happily turned it back over to Steph in less than a year, with five more women helped by the ministry.   The showers were not as organized, but they occurred.  This friend has no doubt Steph prayed for each one, and that God led this somewhat scatterbrained person to become a party planner for a short period of time, because that is what was needed. 


Steph never doubted anything about this ministry, including that crazy friend of hers.  Her faith in everything she does has been a total inspiration to those around her.   I know that I am always amazed at her faith.  She made mine grow after asking me (that crazy friend) to watch over something she loved dearly and had poured her life into.  God and I had a short chat that night, after I immediately accepted her request:  I said, “OK, God, I know this request is coming from You.  I’m doing this because I love You and I love what Steph is doing, but I will never make this work on my own.  You have to make this work, because I am NO party planner!” 


He did. 

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