Monday, September 28, 2009

Cardiac Rehab

In the summer of 2006, I entered a unit for the first time and had a conversation with the supervisor of the North Little Rock (Baptist) Cardiac Rehab department. I knew nothing about Cardiac Rehab, but was fascinated by their 12 hr/day work every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!
At that particular moment in my life, I needed time.
I wanted to be more available to help mom take care of daddy.
I wanted to devote more time to Jae's scholarship.
I wanted to be spend more time with Ralph, Casey and Abby.
I also was desperate to write.
The schedule was near perfect.

I knew the unit supervisor, Glen, through mutual friends and by professional reputation. I didn't request an interview with him but just busted into the unit unannounced and asked him if I would like it there. (!)
I recall telling him that I needed a job which made a difference in people's lives.
I wanted a job that "mattered".
Glen assured me that Cardiac Rehab was indeed life changing.

You see, at that moment in my life, I was still very broken.
Jae had been gone about 15 months and I felt very distracted. I was still doing the daily crying thing, I struggled with the frequent sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach but it appeared on the surface as if I was coping well with the grief.

I also remember at that time in my journey, that one of my survival techniques was to try to encourage other people.
NOT because I was good-hearted, no! no!.....I did it because it made me feel better.
Selfishness...pure and simple.
As I entered Cardiac Rehab that day in 2006, I had this crazy hope that I could make a difference in other people lives while dulling the ache within my own.

The job turned out to be everything I needed it to be.
No kidding,...going to work each day felt like I was going to a 12 hour church social.
In the North Little Rock Cardiac Rehab, hugs are given freely all day long.
Loud laughter abounds.
I know all about my patients children and grandchildren and they know about my girls.
I get to use my spiritual and professional gift of mercy and my patients in turn shower me with affection and affirmation.
I've been part of a staff which has assisted in identifying many life threatening conditions.
Each member of our small team (of 6) is a strong believer in Christ, but our differences are ridiculously huge.

For the hundreds of patients who have passed through our doors during the past 3 and 1/2 years, I think we have been an unusual mix of health care and entertainment. Not because we are especially talented, but because we quickly discovered that we deeply loved working together.
And.....we also deeply loved caring for our patients.

In two days, I will be walking away from this job that I love.
Our hospital is cutting it's services and we are being downsized.
Financially we are not lucrative, therefore our outcomes don't really matter.
(Health care 101. Don't get me started)

Where will I go? I'm not exactly sure.
But I can tell you that 3 1/2 years in a Cardiac Rehab has been just what this broken-hearted mom needed. Most patients complete the program in 8-12 weeks. It took this nurse a bit longer.

Cardiac Rehab for me.
Is God's plan not amazing?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weak vs Strong

I'm morning devo was Romans 14.

In these verses, Paul begs his friends in the church of Rome to stop nit-picking over rules and customs!
He reminds them to focus on each other hearts and souls.
He tells them to concentrate on the Kingdom and work of God.
In this chapter, Paul kinda implies that it is the weak Christians who are actually strong in their freedom.
But then he encourages the more mature believers to continue to walk in knowledge.

Personally, one of my weaknesses is that I am way too sensitive about criticisms of teenagers. I will bow up fast whenever someone stereotypes the younger generation into something negative. (for example, last post)

I believe that's what Paul was referring to as a "stumbling block".

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword and regularly pierces Becky at her breakfast table.
(my version)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Youngest And Our More Mature

I am a million year volunteer at our church, but Levi is our "official" paid church youth minister. He does a fantastic job in spite of his hectic schedule and life,..married and raising a 1 year old, working two jobs and going to school!
He has chosen Romans 12:1-2 for our youth to focus on this semester: (you know this verse)
I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Ya know,...this culture is hard on our young brothers and sisters in Christ.
They live and exist in a cesspool of promiscuity, drugs, profanity and broken spirits. They walk the halls, sit in class and eat at the lunch table with un-churched kids who have never even heard of the joy of a life in Christ.
Christan teenagers are in a minority.
To attend church is a rarity in most teen groups, and to have teens who attend regularly and more than once a week is almost against all odds.

Hang on to your computer chairs friends, 'cause I'm fixin to rant.
Not about any one person, 'cause I don't know who "they" are.
But I'm hacked off,.HACKED OFF I say! at the more "spiritually mature" group of people in some of our churches.
I have two girls in our little youth group who have been working hard each Sunday morning to assist in leading worship. They are both beginning guitar players and the songs they are asked to play are not always easy. The music is not exactly their type, they usually don't play the guitar to "We'll work til Jesus comes", but they are eager and they are faithful.
Our worship leader is very encouraging, affirming and the girls are having a great time in their new roles.

Recently "someone" mentioned one of the girls was wearing a short skirt.
OK. Fine.
I agree.
I spoke with the two girls about how you can not wear short skirts on a stage.
You can see things which are not supposed to be seen, not to mention we don't want people staring at legs when we are trying to point them towards worship of the Most High God.
The girls agreed too.

"They need to smile more!" many people in the congregation have mentioned.
OK. Fine.
I spoke with the two guitar players and they agreed that "countenance" is important. However, they said, it's hard to stand up in front of everyone, sing, try to hit the right chords and smile all at the same time.
Watch all other guitar players.
Do they smile?
(no they do not)

Last Sunday night, the girls led the worship by themselves!
Woo Hoo!
Several people in the congregation complimented them and for that, I am appreciative.
Several, however, were supposedly "bothered" that the girls were leading, one in knee length shorts and the other with holes in their jeans.

Not respectful?
Do I really think God is offended and feeling disrespected because of shorts and jeans with holes? Is that His rule?
Can I ask "Who are the mature ones here"?!
Why do some people treat their youngest, strongest brothers and sisters this way and then wonder why the kids don't stay in the church?
For me personally, I can hear 100 compliments and 1 criticism,..but which remark do you think stays in my head the longest?
How much more so for our dedicated, but insecure, teenagers?

I've told Levi that I'm not gonna take it any more and I don't want him to either. When he or I get a complaint from the more "spiritually mature", I am not going to nod and agree to discuss it with the kids.
Rather, I will ask those people how often they have said good things towards these kids who sit week after week in the front row of pews.
I will ask them what they know about the culture that these kids are forced to exist in daily.
I may ask them how often they pray for these kids by name.
I will tell them that the teens of our church are actually some of the strongest believers on their campus.
They would be doubtful, I bet, because the teens get on stage with,..(gasp),..shorts! holy jeans!
Oh for cotton-pickin sake.

deep breath........

I think that God is pleased with the fact that there is a remnant in this young generation of your church and mine who are not "conforming to this world".
As they are learning this, and how to "transform their minds", I think we need to remember how slow WE are to learn things.

Lord, please help ME to always be an encouragement to those younger than me in the Faith.
(and to those older than me too)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jae, a Friend and a Song

My friend Mary Beth Chapman told a story recently on her blog which reminded me of one of my own special moments which happened about 16 months after Jae's accident.

One particular summer morning, I pulled a package out of our mailbox and saw it was from a distant friend. This person and I were friendly of course, but she was not someone that I had spoken with except in passing at various sports events. The package held a letter and a CD with a song which she felt I should have.
The following is a thank-you letter I sent to her and I think it will explain the story to you.


Dear ________,
Thanks so very much for the CD of the song. Thanks even more for remembering that I am still so incredibly sad. It has been 16 months since the accident, and much to my surprise, I find myself having some good days here and there. I honestly would have not dreamed that good days would be possible for me again.
I wanted to let you know specifically how your song helped me last week.

Casey had been away at church camp for several days and she sent me a text message around 1130 PM. I had already gone to bed but heard the text signal, so I got up to read her message.
I am extremely bad about knowing the details of working my cell phone, and in the course of trying to read Casey’s message, I found a “file” of saved messages on my cell phone which I had never seen before.
Evidently Casey had taken my phone and saved all of Jae’s messages to me from the days and weeks before she was killed. She, of course, thought I knew about the file.

The first saved text message that I pulled up to read evoked one of my most precious memories of Jae Lynn on the morning of her 16th birthday. I recall over the past months wishing that I had somehow saved those messages (especially that particular one) and suddenly, at 1130 PM, I was suddenly and unexpectedly reading them.
It was as if I was, after all I have been through, hearing Jae say those words to me again.

Although I was thrilled with the discovery of Jae’s messages to me, I was overwhelmed and overcome with my loss of her presence.
There was no consoling me.
Alone, at midnight, sobbing in the dark, I remembered your CD which had arrived that very morning. I put it in and pressed “repeat”. I do not know how many times the song played, but I do know that I was able to go back to bed within a couple of hours.

How comforting it is for me to know that God cares about the hard moments of our life! He knew back when this song was written that He would somehow connect
the other mourners in their grief,
the song-writer who was inspired by their loss,
the recording artist,
and you
and me on one of my worst nights.

I am grateful that you went to the effort of sending it my way, 16 months after her death.
It ended up being much more than just a song.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Things For Me

I have wondered for about a year now about whether my current employment is where God wants me to be. It is not that I dislike my job, no. In fact, if you knew my co-workers and my work environment, would be envious. I have never worked with such a dynamic and cohesive team.
For 36 hours, the 6 of us work in a room smaller than most of our living rooms.
The TV is going, we have 8-10 fans on high, we have 6-12 patients entering and exiting every hour, treadmills are humming, recumbent bikes and ellipticals are whirring and great conversation and laughter is a constant.
So why do I wish to leave?
I don't.
But I have just had this feeling that I may be supposed to do something else.
I have no idea.

Yesterday, I was told that my job would be cut from our unit. (go ahead....gasp!)
Of all of us,..I have been at the Baptist system the longest, (almost 30 years) but in my department,..I am the newbie.
It's the fair way.
I've been given 3 weeks.
3 weeks?!!

Now that's pretty exciting isn't it?

My fingers nearly ran through my bible to find this passage this morning:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Discouragement And Faith

Something I read recently:
"Faith is not a power. We don't simply summon faith up whenever we want to.
Faith is simply believing that God will do the things He says He will do. It's as simple as that."

Yeah right.

I believe that truth in my head, but my reality is that I often doubt God will do the things He says He will do.
I want to have Faith, but deep down, I have come to believe that what I really want is far different.
I want protection.
I want to feel secure.
I want my family to be healthy.
I want my church to be fresh and vibrant.
I want my daughters to be Godly young women.
I want to be free from apathy.
I want to be kept from catastrophes.

Why does it often seem to me that having faith also means I may have to embrace the very things I fear?

The famous Faith chapter in Hebrews is chock-full of awful experiences of His chosen ones. For instance,..the ones getting sawed in two,..... do you think they felt like heroes of Faith? I wonder if they found themselves doubting God at that last moment of their lives.
I imagine I would have been screaming my head off thinking that God had forsaken me.

My job is to follow God's ways as best I can, whoever I am with and in whatever circumstances I find myself in.
However,...when I'm full of self-doubt and discouragement, I have this notion that God won't stay near me. That He won't stay by this "faithless one".

Me, of all people,...the queen of doubters,... should know better.

Thank you God for knowing my head and my heart and for making spiritual sense of the things I feel and want as I walk through this life with You.
I am a fearsome wreck, but I believe that You can make me a fearsome wreck full of faith.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

King Tut

Did you know that the
King Tut exhibit
is coming to Arkansas?