Sunday, January 30, 2011

Heaven's Hands

You are called to be Heaven’s hands... and Heaven’s voice.
This is happiness...
I was already in my pajamas. In fact I had just plopped down on the couch in the living room, Spiritual Leadership in one hand, and my iPad in the other, waiting for family time.
Then the dispatcher down at the county seat hit a button on her console... The button that gets us moving faster than any other button in the world. 
And the pager came alive. 
“An ambulance is requested at _____for a s__ty-___ year old female with difficulty breathing...”
So much for the PJs. 

Joshua, Natasha and I were out the door by the time she finished repeating the tone. 
And driving down the road towards town, I prayed the same prayer that is in our hearts every time we jump into our uniforms and grab our radios. 
“...and let us be Your hands to our patient this evening. In Jesus’ name...” 
She really was in trouble. Enough trouble that when we got her in the rig, she got three lines of oxygen instead of one. But God knew she needed more than just our medications and a ride to the nearest hospital. 
She needed a song. 
It was the farthest thing from our minds...  
But no matter. He has His ways... And before we were halfway to the hospital, the three of us found ourselves singing O Lord, You’re Beautiful... 
And she was leaning back on the cot still wheezing heavily, but with her eyes closed and a smile on her face. 
When we finished, the panic was gone. She said she could die in peace... because her angels had sung for her.
I just looked at her. 

I promise you, we’re not angels. For one thing, angels sing in tune. We could barely hear each other from the three corners of the back of the ambulance with all the road noise...
But I learned that sometimes all He needs is for us to be willing to lift the lid on protocol for just one second and move our lips so that He can sing... 

By the time our charting was done and we left the ER, every staff member there had heard the tale of her angels.
All I could do was shake my head.
And wonder at what we might have missed... 
We are called to be Heaven’s hands... and Heaven’s voice.
This is happiness. And an honor entirely undeserved.

An hour later I pulled back through the dark streets of our quiet little town, and up to the white metal building we affectionately call “the barn.” 
Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for riding this ambulance today.

“Catron S.O. this is 2*67 on Davenport”
“Catron S.O. on Davenport, Go ahead 2*67”

“Good evening ma’am, we’re back in service.”
“10-4. Thank you. Welcome home sir.” 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seventeen - Smiles Against All Odds.

An excursion down memory lane just landed me on some old treasures... A few would probably make you smile, (maybe they’ll have their chance in the near future) but one in particular rivets me this morning...
The year I learned to pray.

I knew something special was going on even back then, but now I really see it. And to this day, that nine-letter word dances on my tongue whenever my friends start talking about the best years of their lives. 
That was a loaded year. A year of transitions... And one of the fullest and toughest of my life. 
But it was pure happiness.
I still remember standing in line to register for classes at a public university... And thinking over and over again on the first day of classes: “What on earth am I doing here?”
But what I remember more is being in that treasured spot in library at the top of the hill, day after day, every time the clock in the bell tower struck 12:00, to keep an appointment...
It didn’t start there, of course. It started months and months earlier on the hillside at home. In fact, it was probably the greatest factor in my finishing 4 years of high school in a year and a half. 
It was “quiet hour.” 
Just me, and my God, and my journal.
And just as I had done all the year through when normal life, well meaning people, interruptions and “important” things tried to eclipse it, I had to fight to keep it. I had quite the time scheduling and re-scheduling 19 credits to keep it free.
Am I ever glad I did...

My life looks a bit different now. 
Instead of 19 credits, it’s the joys and challenges of virtually full-time ministry with books to write, CDs to record, planes to catch, people to love, the gospel to share, and our lives to pour out... (for which we both tremble, and thank our God constantly)
And there are the duties of home to make all of that logistically possible... 2 corporations  soon to be 4, (for myself and my brother) the joys and responsibilities of being family, such as helping to maintain home and property, gardens and a greenhouse, and claiming my share of the honor of taking care of a grandmother with severe dementia...  
But still. Still...
My life is pure happiness.
Even though I am always facing impossible odds.
There’s just nothing in the world like shedding everything for a moment (or an hour) right when it feels like it’s going to kill you, and leaning on Jesus with your head on His knee...
Smiles against all odds... 
I still call 17 the best year of my life. 
But maybe that’s not really fair... For since then, they have only gotten better.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too Good to Be True?

The word is invigorated. 
Or as my beautiful little sister put it on the way back to Boston Logan after a full weekend--
“You always end with the upper hand if you’re on the right team....”
The God we serve defies the bounds of human logic. I decided that afresh while kneeling once again by the little pile of rocks where I begged for words last week. This time, laughing and crying at once--

“My Jesus! You’re too good to be... 

No... Too good not to be True.”

Surrender to Conquer was the theme of the Northeast Youth Retreat this year... 
And the paradox has been driven home for me. 
Jesus, keep us faithful...

Photos: Elwyn Garaza & Joshua Nebblett

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

God is Good... [And the year in photos]

God is good.
Oh, so good.
That’s my theme song these days... 
My feet are finally “back to normal,” (after the miles logged in dress shoes in Baltimore :)) but my heart has only started singing. 
Though GYC flew by in somewhat of a blur, God still found ways to articulate His grace to me... Sometimes through thunderous throng, sometimes through stunning silence... 
Every time, right when I most needed a hand to hold. 
When a third of us flew home on a few hours notice partway through to be with my dying grandfather, that’s when grace swept me right off my feet, in more ways than one. It still makes my heart warm to think about it. 
He used sandwiches. One offered, and one bought for me even though I thought I wasn’t hungry. He used a 120-voice choir on its knees. He used the tears in a stranger’s eyes when she said how she’d been blessed. He used Elder Wilson’s compassionate words and prayers. He used the sound of 5,500 voices coming towards me during closing song. He used the prayer room. He used my amazing committee members. He used my little sister’s head resting on my shoulder. He used three hundred smiles from strangers, a “picnic” lunch with old friends and new faces, a solid vote of confidence...
And he used my own weakness. 
Yes, God is good. 
Oh thank You, Your Grace...
Do it again next year. 

For those of you with interest in getting a taste of our year in photos... :)

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