Saturday night was my night.
My night to stay over at dad and mom's house.
Jim, Daryl and Mandi have been handling the lion's share of "overnighters", as they seem to be able to actually sleep in that house. Something that, thus far, I have not been able to do.
But Saturday was my turn. And I gave my sons no choice but to join me. They could invite friends. Cousins. They could bring along a game system. DVD's. Rootbeer. Fireworks. Anything. I just wanted to share the load with someone.
All week, I reminded them, "Saturday, we're at Bups' and Nan's place - 9 pm til 10 am ... then we'll go to Gracepoint for church ..." (What I didn't add was that we'd probably have the Sunday afternoon/evening shift as well.)
On Saturday, while Clint worked, Max and Drew and I went shopping. For ideas, for Christmas. But ended up just driving around in traffic, going from one place to another, half-heartedly looking at displays. No Christmas cheer in these O's this year. In fact, both boys were kinda growly. Not fun. And every hour or so one of them would ask, "So what time are we going over there?"
We got home at 5 and I started making a supper that would need to roast for 2 hours. I slowly loaded up my truck with the things I'd require for the evening/night/morning and possibly afternoon in Surrey. Max and Drew did what we all seem to do WAY too much around here - each sit in front of a computer screen and not talk to each other. We ate at 7, and try as I might to engage someone in some sort of conversation, it just didn't happen.
At 7:30, while I was doing the dishes alone in the kitchen, the phone rang. It was my sister, telling me that Daryl had offered to take my shift ... I didn't need to go to Surrey. When I told the boys, they were all, "but we want to go. Kevin and Zac are coming too. We've got it all planned..."
So, Max, Zac and Kevin drove over on their own, I drove Drew over and visited with mom, Daryl and Jule for an hour then drove Jul back to her place at 10:00 pm. Daryl and the boys stayed for night.
Was I all "yippy! I'm free to do whatever I want!"???
I was just sad.
Nothing feels right.
Dad is not dad. And mom is depressed.
And we're all tired.
And we spend way too much on the internet.
I came home and watched "Hairspray" on my little portable DVD player in bed.
Like every other morning?
My stomach woke up first (at around 6 am) and was in a complete knot by the time the rest of me was fully awake at 7:23 am.
I think I will never be able to sleep more than 6 hours. Regardless of how many Brad King tablets I take.
So, this morning?
Like every other morning?
I lie in bed and pray. For my mom. My dad. Lawrie. Jared. Jennifer. My whole family. My friends who are in pain. My friends who are struggling. That lady in Saudi Arabia who was raped and then charged and found guilty and who is supposed to get 200 lashes on her back and 10 years in prison. I pray for women in Afganistan who are beaten by the men in their lives. I pray for my kids' friends. I pray for my kids.
I can't stop my stomach from hurting. I can't make the feeling of dread go away. There is so much hurt out there, and I'm hyper sensitive to it these days.
I get dressed, put my make up on, do my hair and phone Max.
He doesn't answer.
So I call Daryl and ask him to get Max to phone me.
So I call again a half hour later.
And when I tell Max I'm coming to pick him and Drew up for church (unless Kevin wants to drive him and join us at Gracepoint?) in half an hour and he says, "No." And hangs up.
Again with the sadness.
Again with the feeling of "now what?"
Again with the overwhelming feeling that I should do something. Something about getting my kids to church. Something about getting rid of mom's depression. Something about that poor woman in Saudi Arabia.
"Should I go to Gracepoint on my own? Drive all that way? Northview? By myself? Why is this so hard?"
I sat and prayed and fretted and wished things were different. Wished this little desicion wasn't paralyzing me. Wished things would have gone the way I had planned them - that me and my boys would go to Gracepoint. Now I needed a new plan, and I couldn't think of one. Where was everyone else going? And did it matter? Each of us is going to have to find our own way in the end...
Time kept ticking and my options were narrowing with every passing minute.
I went online to look up local church's start times, and decided at 11 am to go to Southgate's 11:11 service.
I got there at 11:07, parked, walked in, and took the aisle seat in an empty row at the back of the middle section.
"I wonder who's spot I've taken." I said to myself, knowing that people are creatures of habit and I'd probably taken someone's usual seat. I looked around to see if I could see any familiar faces and I didn't. Which was just as well. I was there to hear from God, not engage in small talk conversations just to be nice.
At 11:13 the service still hadn't started so I started reading the bulletin.
"Excuse me, but we don't usually sit here. We sit over there... this feels weird to us, but we want to sit with you..." Sandra and Rick, step past my knees and take the two seats beside me. We stand and sing along with the worship team and it feels a little bit like Creation without the sweat.
"Move over," Brian says, and he nudges me.
"Where's Maxine?" Sandra asks.
"Home. Sick. And my spot over there? Got taken over by a bunch of teens."
We shuffle down and make room for him on the end.
We keep singing and now I'm really feeling like we're at Creation except there's no blinding sunlight behind the stage.
The pastor's message was about a few things. I didn't take notes, but I did come away with the word "Repentance" on my mind. (Repentance doesn't mean confession. It doesn't mean asking for forgiveness. It means changing your mind about something. Changing the way you do things.) He gave a few suggestions of things people might want to repent of - and his first example was worrying. Or living with anxiety.
And even though people may say, "Well, that's the way I am" as a reason for their worrying nature; it doesn't make it OK. (I've been asked by Lawrie the nurse, why I am still so anxious about things. And my pat answer is, "First born daughter. Type A personality. Can't do anything about it.") The pastor said we can't use that as an excuse. We need to repent of it. I need to repent of it.
God loves us just the way we are.
But He loves us too much to leave us just the way we are. He wants to wash the goobers off and help us become the best we can be.
He gave the example of his 18 month old grandson making a mess on his face while trying to feed himself. That grandson is loved just as he is. But his mom and dad wash his goobers off because they love him.
One of my goobers is worry. And another one is anxiety. God still loves me if I have them plastered all over my face, but He'd rather I let Him wash them off.
So I was pondering these things in my mind when we stood for the last song.
It was "Jesus, Be My Vision" and I knew it. (I only knew one other song this morning. Those Pentacostals... they must have their own choruses.)
Brain, who was on my left, looked at me and said, "I want to pray for you." And he moved beside me, put one hand on my back, the other one on my shoulder and started to pray. With authority. Sensitivity. Boldness.
I had no idea he was aware of what I'd been dealing with this month. I guess Maxine (who had prayed for me on the phone last week) has conversations with her husband. And I guess he listens. To her and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Can you guess what I was doing while he was praying for me?
And then, Sandra, who was on the other side of me, picked up where he left off. Tag team praying. And she, who knows everything about my pain, took it all to God for me.
Uh huh. The tears just kept on flowing.
And I knew. I knew without any doubt. That I was exactly where God wanted me to be this morning.
This was a divine appointment. And it wasn't in a Mennonite church. Could God be non-denominational?
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. That knot in my stomach? The one I wake up with? Usually disappears 'round 6 pm. Three weeks ago it was my 24/7 companion - these past few days, it only hangs around for 12 hours at a time.
2. All of the friends who are praying for my family. Thank you.
3. The no-rain weather we've been enjoying. Thank you God.
1. For my mom. That she would be able to heal both in body and spirit.
2. For my dad. (Actually this is really a praise item... the doctor said to him on Thursday, "Pete. You must have alot of people praying for you. There's no other explanation for how awesome you are doing right now. It's incredible how good this check up is.") Now that he's 'out of the woods' again (this man has way more lives than a cat) and the angina attacks have stopped and his Alzheimer meds are calming him - he's BORED. Please help us all think of things he can do so that his days are not so long and empty.
3. For Lawrie, Jared and Jennifer. Praise God with us for their involvement in our lives. Pray that they would be inspired with ways to make mom comfortable and dad content.
4. For my kids. Pray that they would be open to God's leading as we look for a new church to call "ours".