Thursday, January 13, 2011

Little House in the Big Snow

Matthew 11:28 - Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Those of you who know my husband, Danny, are probably aware that one of his passions is watching weather maps and making predictions about impending storms, cold waves, heat waves - you get the picture. So, when he announced his certainty of our recent snow storm three days before it hit, and the likelihood that sub-freezing temperatures would keep us home-bound for close to a week, I didn't doubt him for a second. When it comes to weather, if Danny says, "Jump!" the proper response is: "How high?"

We began warning family and friends of the impending "snowpocalypse" as early as Thursday before the Sunday it was slated to hit and prepared our own little house for the big snow. Not being one who suffers crowds and long lines well, I did our grocery shopping on Friday to avoid the bread/milk/beer frenzy sure to descend by Saturday. My greatest concern at that time was not being stuck in the house with my family, but being stuck in the house with my family with no power, heat, or hot water. I just couldn't envision my techno-savvy boys surviving for five minutes without the computer let alone five days! Fortunately for us and for many others in the region, the power stayed on throughout and after the storm, so that was a bridge we, thankfully, did not need to cross.

Allow me to digress for a moment for my readers who don't live in the south - sand and salt trucks are as rare here as was this snow storm. That's why, when we take a hit, we're down for the count; schools, businesses, and roads are closed for days, especially when the temperatures refuse to creep beyond the freezing mark. And, dangerously, if they do and some melting occurs, the nighttime temperatures turn everything icy again promising a treacherous commute for anyone daring, or foolhardy, enough to get behind the wheel and it does nothing to promote safe walking either.

To continue, the snow arrived as predicted about 10:30 Sunday night and, within an hour, three inches of the powder coated the ground. Unable to contain themselves, Danny and the boys went out sledding and skiing (attempted) until midnight. In the morning, the ruler he had stuck on our deck table at three inches measured six and Georgians awoke to our second winter wonderland in as many weeks.

Monday was a glorious day celebrated with sledding, skiing, and even kayaking (yes, very creative) down the glistening slopes. Facebook was a flurry of videos and expressions of exuberance over the astounding snowfall and the joys of being free from school and work. By Tuesday afternoon, faint rumblings of cabin fever began to emerge. By Wednesday, the rumblings had turned to grumblings. As I write this on Thursday afternoon, every other post I see on Facebook from fellow Georgians reflects intense frustration at the snow-bound, "snow-bored" situation in which we find ourselves. The honeymoon is definitely over.

In reflecting upon this phenomena, I concluded that we are all products of a culture that values "doing" and not simply "being". I am reminded of a line in the movie, "Eat, Pray, Love", when a character tells Julia Roberts, "Writing is what you do, not who you are". As much as we need and long for rest from the routine grind of our busy lives, we find it so difficult to simply relax and "be" without feeling that somehow, something must be accomplished.

I am reminded of the story of the sisters, Mary and Martha; the latter is bustling about the house preparing everything perfectly for Jesus while the former sits at His knee, absorbed in His teaching. When Martha, flustered and frustrated, asks Jesus to make Mary help her, He gently chides her saying, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

What you are able to do can be, and one day, will be, taken from you. Who you are, God's child, will always be. Sit at the feet of Jesus and find your rest.

Friday, January 7, 2011

God of the Impossible - Part Three

Months passed and Daniel grew and, as he did, I felt a growing need within me; it was, I now know, "The God Hole" - a place in our hearts that only He can fill. I felt a restless, persistent longing as never before, but had no idea what to do about it, but God did.

When Daniel was 11 months old, I returned to work. My commute involved a daily drive twice past Holy Trinity Parish located in Decatur, Georgia. The church's towering steeple was graced with a large cross as simple as it was elegant, and I found my eyes involuntarily drawn to it each time I passed by. I began to reflect upon my hit-or-miss upbringing in the Episcopal Church and how, during college, I had turned my back on all things Christian; not that I ever denied the existence of God, but I had no inkling that He desired a relationship with me. Each day as I gazed at the cross, the yet nameless longing waxed stronger and more compelling. Within two months, I announced to my atheist husband at the time that Daniel and I would be attending church that coming Sunday. Though he grumbled and called it all foolishness, nothing could adversely affect the inexplicable peace and delight cherished within once I had aired my decision.

But the best, most unexpected, and undeniably glorious was yet to come. After reassuring a tearful Daniel that I would return soon retrieve him from the church nursery, I negotiated my way to the narthex of the church, inhaling with waves of memories the mingled fragrances of incense, furniture polish and candle wax. I was greeted at the door to the nave by a smiling usher from whom I accepted a service bulletin. I took a deep breath as he swung the door wide for me, my senses enthralled by the Anglican-blue cross lit above the altar. I stepped, I hoped then, with humility, inside.

"Welcome home!"

The voice! His voice! It resounded in my ears and reverberated through every fiber of my being. Rich, warm, enfolding, inviting - His voice! Unspeakable joy and gratitude poured over me, through me, from me. His voice! I know I sat through the entire service with a ridiculous smile on my face, but I didn't care. God had personally welcomed me to His home, to be at home with Him, and I had no intention of leaving ever again. That morning, I truly came to understand the adage: "There's no place like home".

So, how did all the pieces of the puzzle congeal into one riotous collage after I heard the news from my doctor? Simply put, when Daniel and I were at death's door, I was not saved. I believe that Dr. Smith was an angel sent to intervene on God's behalf and the miracle of the new life I'd brought to bear in Daniel propelled me on my quest to fill the void in my soul. The Lord willed my eyes, beckoned them to the cross before I was ready to accept it. When I dared the first baby step across His threshold, He welcomed me home with open arms. I was the lost coin, the lost sheep, the Prodigal son - He welcomed me, a sinner, home.

The God of the Impossible who began a good work in me was faithful to complete it. He will do the same for you. Amen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

God of the Impossible - Part Two

We had no health insurance when I got pregnant with Daniel. Fortunately, there was a program through a local hospital where a one-time fee covered all prenatal visits and the delivery. The drawback was that most, if not all,of the doctors were interns and I rarely saw the same one twice when I would go for my check-ups. I was substantially past my due date when I finally went into labor and was admitted to the the hospital, but if anyone thought it a concern, it certainly wasn't communicated to me.

When I dilated from two to four centimeters within an an hour, a cheerful nurse assured me that mine was likely to be a short labor; how I wished she had been right! Seven hours later, I was still at four centimeters with contractions so intense that I was passing out between each one. In my delirium, I vaguely recall the comings and goings of nurses and interns, but no one seemed able to make a judgment call on what should be done. Guessing from the time of Daniel's birth, around 8:00 a.m., a doctor I had never seen before entered the room, took one look at the situation, and began barking orders that lit a fire under the others in attendance. All I remember hearing her say was, "You have fifteen minutes to get that baby out of there!"

A hastily administered epidural which left my legs paralyzed for hours after the delivery thankfully relieved the monstrous pain of contractions, and I was hurriedly wheeled into the operating room. To my immense surprise and immediate comfort, there appeared a friend of mine from high school, a nurse, who held my hand and spoke words of reassurance during the entire ordeal and let me know what a beautiful baby boy, albeit, a bit "over-cooked", I had had when it was all said and done.

Back in the '80s, the standard length of stay in the hospital after a C-section was five days. In all that time, I was visited and examined by many of the interns whom I recognized from various check-ups, but though I waited with great anticipation to meet and thank the doctor who got the ball rolling in the delivery room, she never showed up. I didn't even know her name (and don't know why I didn't think to ask someone) until I saw her signature on Daniel's birth certificate. Scrawled in a neat cursive hand that could have belonged to the most meticulous of fifth graders was: Hannah Smith, M.D. While at the time I thought this most peculiar as doctors are notorious for sloppy writing, I didn't dwell on it then. After all, I had a brand new, 9 lbs. 4 oz. bundle of joy with a voracious appetite to care for and I was beside myself, awed by the wonder and responsibility of motherhood.

Part 3 - January 7, 2011 Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

God of the Impossible - Part One

It wasn't until I was pregnant with my second child, Sarah, that I understood how the "God of the Impossible" had interceded in the birth of my first, Daniel, rescuing us both even though I had yet to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Yes, I had endured a particularly arduous labor with my son and the result was an emergency C-section, but I was hoping beyond hope that my new ob/gyn would allow me to at least try a natural delivery with baby Sarah. I remember as if it were yesterday, sitting patiently in the examining room, waiting for his answer, watching anxiously as he poured over my records from my former hospital. The look of consternation on his face as he read translated in my mind that another C-section was in my foreseeable future, but nothing could have prepared me for the actual words that spilled from his lips when at long last he abandoned the papers to meet my gaze.

"Were you aware that both of you almost died during delivery?"

Suffice it to say, a feather could have leveled me. With my stomach turned leaden and my heart racing, I could barely manage a whispered, "No".

As my doctor rambled on about planning a repeat C-section and all the reasons why under these circumstances, I scarcely registered a word he said. My mind was reeling, not because of the news itself, but because of how it instantaneously cemented all the seemingly stray incidences surrounding Daniel's birth upon which I had pondered and tried in vain to resolve until that very moment. The pieces of the puzzle were assembled at last and I was overwhelmed by the gracious power of God's great love and mercy. This is as much His story as it is mine.

Tune in to Part 2 on January 6th!

The Greatest Story Ever Told

  For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and ...