Archive for June, 2014

Wonder Woman…no, just me

Time stopped. It had to have stopped because suddenly I was in forever. And ever. Yet it wasn’t forever. It was only moments that I could not recognize. The battlefield was a mess. Littered with debris of what little remained of the thoughts that I could handle this. Joining the debris of my thoughts were tiny pieces that I finally realized were all that remained of my obliterated pretense of control. All my thoughts and plans and what I wanted to do spread out in broken pieces all over the place. Brutal battle, yet really no contest. I lost before I could even prepare to fight. My Wonder Woman cape was in shreds here and there, destroyed. My beloved ducks in a row were bleeding, scattered about nursing their many serious and not so serious wounds. And oh, they were very angry with me. “You want what?  Are you kidding?  You want us to line back up in a row? No way, no how, not happening!  We demand retribution for physical injury and mental anguish!!”

So. Here I am, lying on the bathroom floor at work. I’m lying down thinking maybe that will help the pain ease off. The pain must become at least tolerable.  I have to be able to get up, because I have to walk out and go to my office and get my stuff and tell one person quickly and quietly.  Then, I can finally literally disappear… out the door to go home.  Nope, pain is still incredibly intolerable.  Lying down is not working. Nothing is working. Pain is announcing its very real presence over loud speakers. Can’t believe this is happening.

I had actually prayed and asked God, “Please don’t let me get sick at work!” But the cold sweats and the escalating nausea told me that the answer was no. Then the pain intensifies, and here I am lying on the floor, trying yet another position to control the pain. Early on in this adventure I had a realization that I should have gone to the much less traveled bathroom upstairs, where I could hide and be miserable unnoticed. Thank God I did not do that. Pain finally gets to the point that I go from thinking “Please don’t let anyone come in and see me!” to “Please God bring someone in here!” And He did. She went and got the only person I wanted with me in this adventure.  And after her repeated pleas and more pain and sickness, I finally got to the point that I was scared enough to allow the call to 911.

This is a big production with all the twists and turns of a hit movie. Ambulance is delayed, coworkers get angry at the delay when its me here dying…I get sick another time or two, pain keeps coming in waves, and finally, the ambulance arrives. And EMT’s bring in the stretcher.  I am wheeled out of the bathroom around the corner and out the door, so wanting to be invisible, but kind of hard to miss. 🙂 All part of the hit movie I did not sign up for.

Ambulance ride to the ER, where I hang out for 8 long hours.  Two coworkers join me on this outing and stay for the duration, refusing to leave.  After various tests and long periods of nothing but hanging out in the hospital bed in the hall with my two coworker friends, a doctor finally sees me and tells me that I have “Gastroenteritis” which basically means something upset my stomach. Nah, really? He orders a bag of fluids and a shot for the stomach cramps, which of course about the time I arrived at the ER had lessened to that tolerable level I so desperately wanted earlier. As soon as the fluids are all in, a nurse comes and gives me the shot and prescriptions I don’t need for symptoms I no longer have, and finally, yay! We can leave.

I called my dad About 4 hours into this ER marathon and told him I was having an “adventure.” I talked him out of coming by telling him the truth:  that I had these 2 stubborn sidekicks who would not leave.  Stubborn sidekicks are wonderful when you need them, and even when you think you don’t. 🙂

Around 1:00am, I am finally home. Is there a stronger word than exhausted? I’m beyond that. I call Dad to let him know I’m home.  Then I take a shower and eat some dry toast and go to bed.

With morning comes texts and emails and phone calls and “Mom” lectures from wonderful, trusted, loving girlfriends. I learn quickly that though my mom is in Heaven, I have several “Moms” here to step up into Mom mode and say exactly what she would say. I have this crazy idea that I need to go to work because it’s the day before the big monthly meeting and I’m the one.  That one.  You know, every corporate workplace has at least one of these people. I’m that one who does all the prep work and gets everything ready including the power point presentation slides and arranging everything in order for packets and printing multiple copies that go behind various tabs in binders. I’m that one. My substitute Moms aren’t happy about this at all and so I get lectures about this among other things. And of course they are right. As soon as I take a shower that morning, I realize just how weak I am, and I do what one of these wonderful moms told me to do:  listen to my body.  I stay home sick for the first time in my 17 year tenure at work.  (Exception:  car wreck in 2007.  Post dated 1/17/14).  I go visit with my dad so he can make me scrambled eggs and see for himself that I’m OK.  A grown woman, but still his little girl.  🙂  I rest up and reflect on my very long yesterday.  I remember that my Wonder Woman cape is destroyed.  I remember that my ducks in a row are on strike.  And yet, I know that what is important is still intact, and I thank God for how blessed I am.

And I am reminded, yet again, that I am not, nor will I ever be, Wonder Woman. I just like to wear the cape and pretend because then I can carry on with the lie that I am in control.  I realize that this was an extreme exercise in reminding me who really is in control, and who isn’t.  God is always in control.  I’m not.  Ever.   This was also an exercise in remembering God’s goodness for placing me in the job He chose for me, working with the people and enjoying the atmosphere that is so rare.  I am reminded of how special and wonderful it is to work where people really care and are concerned and compassionate,  and how the family identity is real.  We truly are like family to each other.  There is no pressure to take care of the important work that needs to be completed before the meeting.  In fact, I am encouraged to take care of me.  So thankful.  Grateful. Blessed.

All the preparation for the meeting got done, and done well.  Three people pitched in together and figured everything out and made it happen.  Wow.  So thankful for true teamwork on my behalf.

Thankful for my two stubborn sidekicks who joined me for what we like to call a special “girls night out” at the ER for eight long hours.  Only the most caring people would make that sacrifice.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

I’m also very thankful there was nothing seriously wrong with me.  Just a major virus, combined with low pain tolerance and added stress from getting so sick at work.  Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

Hello wake up call.   And I want this to be more than just a few thoughts that are soon long forgotten.  What would it be like to live day in day out without the Wonder Woman cape?  It’s really like that security blanket Linus carries around everywhere in Peanuts.  I’m not Linus.  What about my angry ducks?  What would it be like to do life without them all lined up, perfectly positioned in a row?  I know my ducks are done, and I know I would be hard pressed to find replacements anyway… my horrible mistreatment of them is now well known by the entire Ducks in a Row organization. 🙂

I take so much for granted, like everything is just supposed to be the way it is.  Thank you, God, for the reminder that really brought home all that You have given me.  So thankful that my God supplies all my needs, whether I know I have them or not.  And not only that.  God goes far beyond what I need and chooses to give me wondrous treasures that I really don’t need.  He gives them to me anyway, simply to enjoy.  So much to appreciate, so much that I should continually be amazed at.  His gifts to me.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:19 ESV

 

 

 

 

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Where Am I?

GPS is a wonderful thing. Like a truly, incredibly wonderful thing. It has real potential to get me to anywhere unfamiliar without unplanned side trips to who knows where. I am what I like to call “Directionally Challenged”. But really, the more accurate description would be “Directionally Completely, Totally Lacking”. I have no sense of direction at all. None. When I tell people that, they think I mean I have less than most people. No, I really mean it. None. -0-. Nada. Zip. So GPS is like a gift from God. And I don’t say that flippantly. I mean it. Thank You Jesus for GPS! It brings security and opens up possibilities I thought would never exist.

Recently, a friend told me about his young adult daughter and her adventures driving around in the Houston area. She calls him periodically completely panic-stricken when she gets lost driving to some destination.

The conversation begins like this: Dad, where am I? with complete desperation in her voice. He responds with investigative, practical, calmly spoken questions  designed to get her to focus and respond and guide him to where she is.
Tell me what you are near. / I’m on 45!! / Tell me what exit you see. / I see…ABC Street!! / OK, tell me another exit. / But I don’t see another exit!! / You will see another exit – just wait.
There is another exit of course, and she tells him what it is.  Now he has enough information to determine where she is and tell her what to do to get to where she wants to go. Obviously, in her most stressful moments of frustration and panic, she assumes her dad just automatically knows where she is. She completely trusts him and looks to him for guidance out of the scary unrecognizable to the right path to her destination.

This true story opened up my heart to some truths about my Heavenly Father.

He always knows where I am, even when I don’t.  He knows exactly where I am when I sometimes find myself in a dark scary place in the deep and intensely private corners of my heart and mind.  He just waits patiently for me to cry out to Him for help. He brings to mind and heart the fact that He is with me even though I feel alone. He will guide me when its time for me to see the way.  Unfortunately, I tend to wait until I have tried just about everything else to figure out the answers on my own.  Not to be simplistic, but work with me on this.  He is my GPS.  Not relying on Him is like me, totally directionally lacking, driving around in downtown Houston, at night, with no GPS.  Gulp!!  Beyond scary.

He also knows why I am where I am.  He knows the reason for the dark and rough rocky places with sharp edges that are sometimes part of the path of life He has for me.  These are the times when I feel like I’m doing everything right and I don’t understand why I’m here.  Why is this crisis happening to me?  Why the steep climb over jagged rocks to nowhere? What do I do now?  Why the pain? Why the hurt? Why can’t I understand? What am I missing?  I struggle and plead for light to shine in the darkness so that I can see the way out. Doing life in the dark places and waiting for His timing is tough, but it also brings about growth and more dependence upon Him and appreciation for His light and His calming presence. 
Sometimes the why of where I am is when I allow myself to be mesmerized by the pretty colors of one of the many bright and beautifully painted signs that point in the wrong direction and promise all manner of things I think I want.  With my focus in the wrong place, my feet follow the wrong path.  Again, He simply waits.  Always with me, no matter where I am, even when I am not focused on Him at all.  Patiently and calmly waiting for me to stop, turn, and redirect my focus to Him and ask for help getting to where I need to go… His way.

God is so good.  For someone as directionally challenged, or lacking, as I am, He created great minds to invent GPS.  And I know that I am spiritually directionally challenged too.  I allow myself to be distracted far too often and not even realize I have veered away from His path and onto the well traveled road of my choice.  When I open my spiritual eyes and see my dilemma and long to turn back, He is my spiritual GPS.  He shines His light of guidance in the darkness of my wandering and worrying.  In His light, I see that He was there with me all along.
Sometimes, as part of His plan, His path for me takes sharp turns to parts unknown and I am caught off guard and afraid and longing to get back to the lighted area where I can see.  He waits patiently for me to finally realize that my hand is in His.  He walks with me through the struggle that will strengthen my character and my commitment to rely on Him.

Along this same line of thinking, one more truth about God is shown from one of my own experiences:

He never leaves me. Last year I went on a wonderful trip out of the country with a group.  The group was from Dallas.  I was from Houston.  The flight back landed at the DFW Airport, and to get home I had to leave the group and get to the right part of the airport to fly back to Houston alone.  This trip was truly a gift from God and I enjoyed it on so many levels, but there was this small speck of dread that grew in exact correlation to the nearing of the end of the trip because that is when I knew I would have to find my own way in a strange, unfamiliar, and crowded place.  Up until this point I had flown 3 times in my life – short flights.  I was not familiar with airports at all. And remember, I am “Directionally Completely, Totally Lacking.”

I could not stand it anymore, and when we were all waiting at the hotel to leave, I approached one of the leaders of the group and asked him to give me some instruction and point me in the right direction when we arrived in Dallas at the airport and they watched me walk away, a lone figure against the world and all that. 🙂  It turned out that he had been planning to take me where I needed to go before he left the airport to go home.  The relief that flooded my soul was indescribable.  The entire 2 weeks of this trip I thought I would have to do this alone.  My mindset was: I’m a grown woman. I should be able to handle this. Obviously that line of thought was not working too well. Thank God that there was already a plan in place designed to ensure my safety and get me where I needed to be without any effort on my part.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have an ever present Someone who is constantly with me.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  Always.  He will never leave me alone, and He does so much more than simply give me instructions about where to go.  He doesn’t just point the way.  He doesn’t even speak directions like a disembodied voice with a little map screen.  He is personal, close by, caring. He walks with me.  He is constant and unchanging in a world of constant change.  He simply is.  I am called to recognize, acknowledge, and glorify Him.  Even in those times when I can’t see where I am whether by my bad choice or as part of His perfect plan, I know I can trust Him.  He will guide me and I will see what and when I need to see. If I do not feel His presence or know His compassionate voice in the stillness, that does not mean He is not with me. That means I wait, knowing He has not left me.  He has never failed me. And He never will.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.  Ps 37:23-24 NLT