I really wanted to attend TWU's chapel this morning - Andy Steiger from Apologetics Canada was going to be speaking and we had just been talking about him at our most recent book club meeting.
But I had no one to sit with.
Or walk into the building with.
Or talk to when everyone else would be talking with their BFF's who'd be sitting right next to them.
And I'd look like a big fat loser and everyone would wonder what I was doing in the building.
(Yes, I did invite 3 different friends to join me but none could make it. So much for being proactive.)
But I can be brave sometimes, and do things all by myself, so I was going to suck it up buttercup and go.
And then I was going to have lunch with a friend. We've been trying for months to make this happen - I was supposed to drop in on her at work and we'd go from there. It looked like today was the day.
From there, I was going to walk with another friend. For forty five minutes. Because of the ass. The one located at the top of my legs.
And after that, I was going to visit my dad.
And from there, head straight out to Abbotsford where I was going to attend a TLC (Theology, Life and Culture) Class at Northview Church at 6:30 pm. By myself. Well, there would probably be other people in the room, but I wouldn't know them. (Again, yes, I DID invite 7 different friends to join me and only one said yes. But I had a feeling she wasn't going to come afterall.)
So that was the plan. Leave the house first thing in the morning and come back home 'round 9 pm.
I woke up with two stinking pimples. The big kind.
One on my face.
The other one, not on my face.
And the heaviness in my soul (WHOA drama queen it up much?) was overwhelming. So I decided to not go with the plan, Stan.
I realized I needed to read my Bible and pray for abit. Why can't I get into the rhythm of doing it daily already? How come I only make time for it when I hit a rough patch. (OK. It could be argued that I've been skidding along that rough patch for about 4 months now. I get that. And yet. I still don't crack open my Bible nearly enough. Jah, jah, jah, I pray non-stop about the people I love. But those other kinds of prayers? I need to have a notebook and pen in front of me for. And I only do that a couple times a week.)
So anyway. Today I was going to skip the T Dub thing and give God some space so He could talk to me through His Word.
And then instead of lunch out, I would apply for another job. In fact, I wasn't going to leave the house until I had forwarded another resume somewhere. Anywhere.
I ignored the dishes in the sink (a first. I almost always put off Bible reading until the kitchen is clean. Most times the background music to my prayers is the dishwasher humming) and opened my Read-This-In-One-Year version of the Bible and turned to Sept 24. Wow. So good. So perfect:
“Forget about what’s happened;"Making a road through the desert; putting rivers in the badlands" ... sounds alot like grabbing a shovel and making a new groove/ditch out of hard packed soil. Probably a better metaphor than my 'pick up the needle and place it on a new song on the record'. And this whole idea about looking ahead, anticipating how God is going to finish the story of my life keeps coming back to me over and over. Like a holy echo or something.
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands."
And then I read and personalized this:
This is what the Lord says—
he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jane, I have chosen you.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your sons, Clint, Max and Drew
and my blessing on your grandchildren.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
and still others will write on their hand, ‘I am The Lord’s'.
And then I realized that it isn't Sept 24.
I totally should have read this on Sept 24 though. It is so comforting.
So I quickly glanced at Sept 25 and read:
What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.
OK then. Good to know.
I really should read the Bible everyday, yo? WHY OH WHY DON'T I?
So. On to today's reading. Sept 26:
Look around you and see,Alrighty Almighty. You've got my attention and my adoration. Thank you for loving my boys.
for all your children will come back to you.
As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
“they will be like jewels for you to display.
Today's lucky recipient of my resume? Some unknown, numbered company on Craigslist needing an admin assistant to receive packages and open mail. High school diploma required. $25 per hour.
I might be overqualified.
On to the walk.
Did you know a person is supposed to take 10,000 steps per day?
We did 5,000 in 45 minutes.
I had a cramp across the top of my left foot, a burning calf muscle (me? a muscle? maybe...) on my right leg, and an angry non-face pimple. It's got to get easier.
Our goal for the fall is to increase the number of steps we take without increasing our time. 45 minutes is plenty. There are other things to do - life is short.
Today's visit with my dad was hard.
I got there at 3:45 pm, just as my mom was leaving.
We (he and I) did our usual routine of walking up and down hallways (thus, increasing my daily steps taken by at least another thousand) but when we got to the main floor, he told me he was cold. Seriously? COLD. Come on old man?
I was boiling. (When am I not?) But I guess he just sits around all day, eating pink foods and losing weight, so I can be a little gracious.
We went back up to his room and I lay another sweater across his chest, as he did not want a blanket. (
I put on Ben Hur and we settled in to watch it like it's our very first time.
He's not very talkative, but that's OK. Sometimes I'm not either. (Like when I'm sleeping.)
I mixed up some thickener with some Bolthouse Fruit Drink but he shuddered when I put a spoonful near his lips. He liked it yesterday. And he liked it when I made some for him earlier in our visit. Now he was acting like I was poisoning him. So I put it down.
And then he started wailing. Big wide open mouth wailing. MAAA. MAAA. MAAA.
And then massive sobbing. And more wailing.
Shit I hate it when he does that.
"Dad. What is it?" I ask. I sit right in front of him and place my hands on either side of his face. I look into his frantic eyes.
"Dad. Tell me what's wrong. Talk to me."
"Use words dad. Are you in pain? Scared?"
"I need mom. She'll look after me. I need MAAAAAA."
"What's wrong? Tell me."
The whole left side of his body starts shaking uncontrollably and he starts sobbing, "I'm having a heart attack."
I run out of his room and look for Shona. She's not at the nurse's station, so I zip back into dad's room and press the call button. A care aide comes running.
"I think my dad is having an angina attack. His heart is hurting and his right side is shaking."
"I'll get Shona."
Shona is there two seconds later, takes one look at dad, and runs for that spray you put under your tongue.
Dad is crying and calling for mom.
Shona grabs the vitals cart and hooks up the blood pressure thing on his arm, the heart rate thing on his finger and tries to put the temperature thing in his ear. He fights her off, saying, "My wife will help me. She will look after me. My wife should be here. I need mommmmm."
I am sitting on a chair directly in front of him with my hands on his knees, holding both of his hands tightly, reassuring him that Shona is a good nurse and she can help him. He will be fine.
Once he stops yelling, I call mom on my cell and tell her 'someone wants to talk to you...' and give the phone to dad.
He starts crying as he tells her, "I need you. I'm having a heart attack. I need you to take care of me. You know how to look after me." The tears are flowing and he looks so very young and helpless and scared. He has a death grip on my phone and he listens to her intently. She is his life line to sanity.
By the time they are finished talking, I am crying. I can't stop. This is all Just. So. Sad.
My dad finds this (me crying) interesting.
"Dad? When you cry, I cry. We have to stop, OK? You are going to be fine. Shona gave you some medicine and checked your heart and it's all good."
"I fell. And I had a stroke. And I'm having a heart attack," he tells me.
"You didn't fall today. I've been with you. You are safe in this chair, and you are fine now."
He is keeping a close eye on me. "I need mom. She will take care of me."
"Mom is in Langley. She's at the bank and she's paying some bills. Shona is going to look after you, she's your nurse. Let's talk about some good things, OK? Things that are lovely, and perfect, and fun, and good..."
... and then I list all the people who love him. And all the beautiful things he has built. And all the places he's seen. And that verse, the one that never leaves my mind, has another meaning for me. And again, I'm surprised by it's relevance.
It's almost 5 and I need to leave. I really want to go to that class tonight. I think I could use another dose of some good teaching.
I roll him into the dining room, where Shona and the care aides have promised to look after him, but he get's all anxious on me again. He refuses to eat. Or sit at his table. And he's starts up with the "MMMAAAA" sobbing thing again, so I take him to his room.
I place one hand on his chest and the other one on his head and say, "Dad? I'm going to pray for you, OK?" And I pray. And pray. And pray. And he sits quietly and listens and stops yelling. I finish with, "and please God, fill him with your peace, remove all fear, and allow him to rest, knowing that Your angels are keeping him company and that You love him."
"I'm peeing," he says.
"Well that's good. You drank alot of juice this afternoon. You're supposed to pee it out."
"I'm still peeing."
"I'm not finished peeing yet."
"Now I'm done. Mom should come and change my pad."
"No. Mom should not. Your nurses will do that for you. Mom has to pay some bills."
He finally settled, somewhat, by 6 pm, so I kissed him on his head, as I left.
And I remembered that other verse I read this morning:
I have cared for you since you were born.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.
God has cared for him longer and better than I have. I left my dad in God's hands.
I had no make up on my face and I was wearing my 5,000-walking-steps clothes. But I was going to that class.
I was late.
But it was OK because there was a worship time at the beginning.
I settled in between two women in the back row who both sang falsetto soprano which throws me off because I don't. So I just listened. My voice is low, so I like to sing along to male worship leaders. And tonight there was one. But the stereo soprano voices in both my ears was louder than the voice coming through the speakers and my voice didn't know what to do. So.
So I looked at the map.
There were 4 classes being offered.
Three of them were taking place in very large rooms/auditoriums.
The one I was taking was going to be in a small classroom upstairs.
Great. I was in the least popular class.
(The pastors were going to be the teachers and I really was hoping to be in the class taught by Jeff. But no where on the website did it say who was teaching what. So I took a guess.)
After 3 songs we were dismissed.
I found the room and discovered that the course I had registered for was the only one being taught by the two women pastors, one of whom is a relative of mine. I have no problem being taught by a woman, but I was really hoping to be in a class taught by a man. Only because MY LIFE IS ALL WOMEN. All my conversations about faith are with women. All my perspectives come from the female viewpoint. Big sigh.
And when they outlined the course material, it turns out this class is less about them teaching, and more about them asking us questions, and us answering. There are no wrong answers.
Interactive learning. Conversations with strangers. Sharing thoughts and ideas with people I don't know. I just wanted to leave. I was hungry. No where in my day had I grabbed a meal. It had been at least 6 hours since I had eaten anything. And that visit with my dad? Wore me out man.
And THEN. THEN they thought it would be a good idea to create 'community' in the room, by having everyone introduce themselves and share a little bit about our lives. We were to tell each other about our families, our jobs, and our involvement and area of ministry at Northview. I was sitting in the backrow (of course) so I was the forth last person to speak. My prayer during that whole sharing time was "Please God, stop me from crying. Don't let me cry. No tears. None. No cry. No cry. No cry."
By the time it was my turn, I knew I was the only divorced person in the room. There were never-marrieds and happily-marrieds, but no other previously-marrieds. For a person who always only wanted to fit in and be like everyone else, I AM NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE. So I shared that I was divorced, that I had three awesome sons, and that I was currently unemployed. And also that I was not involved at Northview at all, I just attend on Saturday nights and sit in the back row.
"Well, it's time to get plugged in, don't you think?" one of the pastors asked me.
"Yeah, I know. I was pretty active at the previous two smaller churches I went to, but both closed down, so for now, I'm OK just getting lost in the back of a large booming church...."
After that fun exercise we got started.
The pastors read from the Bible the story of Adam and Eve. And then asked us the who, what, when, where, why questions. The extroverts answered all the questions. The introverts took notes. I didn't say a word and ended up with 78 pages of notes and a cramp in my right hand.
And then it was over. And the girl sitting at the table beside me said, "You used to go to Murrayville, didn't you? And your son Clint used to work here, didn't he? And you took pics of Tessa and Jesse, didn't you?" WHOA. Her name was Kristin V.A. and I don't think we'd ever met before but our circles sure overlap. We chatted on the way out because she, unlike me, is super friendly and not shy.
For homework we're supposed to do Moses. And next week we're going to do Hannah. In seven weeks we are going to study the relationship that famous bible peeps had with God. Once I get over my attitude it should be good.
I came home and ate leftover tuna casserole while playing Words with Friends.
I hope my dad is OK.
1. Shona. And tonight's care aides.
2. My mom. She is carrying a huge burden. It's not easy being someone's 'everything'.
3. That God gave us the Bible. And that it's relevant and full of promises.
4. God's idea of Christians gathering together in a community, also known as church.
5. Another not rainy day.
6. Friends who will take 5,000 steps with me.
7. That I have a fun weekend planned.