Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Neighborhood Watch

Again. I’ve written a thousand paragraphs that never get posted on this blog. There are a thousand reasons why they never get posted. Mostly I write things and then think, oh my goodness, I can’t let anybody else read that! I’m prone to embarrass myself when I open my mouth and then commit my words to paper, but usually it feels so good to get it out. Basically, this is just my version of inexpensive therapy.


The past couple of days I’ve been thinking about one unpublished post that’s been saved on my flash drive for a while. Not sure why it has been on my mind. Actually, it’s not what I wrote that has been on my mind; it’s the event that inspired me to write it down in the first place.

Here’s the original post I wrote:

This past Sunday afternoon we had a special choir rehearsal at church. Once it was over, I had another hour and half before Scott would be done with his other rehearsals.

Ahhh, a little bit of ME time.

I went home, poured myself a glass of iced Coke Zero, grabbed my book, and made my way to the rocking chair on the front porch. The weather was sunny and breezy, but not hot. It was quiet and peaceful. If I hadn’t wanted to finish my book so much, I would have just closed my eyes and enjoyed a long overdue Sunday afternoon nap. It was just a perfect outdoor kind of day.

I had not turned too many pages in the book I was reading when I began to hear someone talking. And then I heard a rake scraping across the ground in slow strokes. The continuous talking and raking was a little distracting, so I looked around to find the source.

It was coming from across the street and two houses down. That house on the corner lot has been empty a good bit of the last few years. Several years ago, its long time residents moved to an assisted living facility. Since then it has been occupied off and on by several different people who I believe must be renters. To my knowledge, no one is living in the house now that I am aware of.

A woman was outside raking up the oak leaves (the ones from the trees that shed their leaves in the spring when the new growth comes in. It’s awful. We rake year-round in our neighborhood!). She obviously had a blue tooth device in her ear because she was also chatting away with someone else that I could not see or hear. She kept the rhythm of her rake going as she talked. I couldn’t hear everything she was saying, just a few words every now and then. After a few minutes, I did hear her say she had another call coming in, one she had been expecting, and she needed to take it.

She ended that first conversation and picked up the second one. She stopped her raking and leaned on the rake as if it were some kind of staff. The volume of her voice went up several decibels and I could hear her clearly. She said, “I just want to pray for you right now.”

And she did. Out loud. Over the phone.

As she prayed her voice got louder. The hand that wasn’t holding the rake lifted high over her head.

I gathered from her prayers that the man she was praying with/for had a wife in the hospital and the prognosis did not look good.

She prayed for a miracle.

She prayed for God to make a way where there seemed to be no way.

She prayed for her brother to have the strength to let his wife go if it came to that.

She quoted several scriptures claiming the promises in them.

She prayed on and on. She prayed loud and hard and long. She was oblivious to anything else around her as she talked to God. Cars drove by. Kids on bicycles rode by. She had no idea I was sitting on my porch within earshot and eyesight of her taking in the whole thing.

After a while, I was raising my hand too. I couldn’t help myself. She was praising God so strongly that not only did the Spirit come down and cover her, it spread all the way over to my front porch and covered everything in between like hot lava.

After 20 minutes or so I could tell she was winding down and about to end the prayer and the call. I stepped inside my front door to put down my drink and book. By the time I turned around and went back outside, she was gone.

I wanted to go other there and speak to her and tell her thank you. Where we live we hear a lot of gunshots and sirens on a regular basis; not a lot of prayer in the streets. I wanted to tell her how unusual but refreshingly wonderful it was to hear someone acknowledging God boldly and without apprehension in my neighborhood, on the street where I live.

It was something that had nothing to do with me, but just because of my close proximity I got a residual blessing. I wasn’t expecting it. The original intention of the prayer was not for me, but the blessing was mine for sure.

Praise Him out loud. You never know where the blessings will fall.

So that was the original post. I’m not sure why I never clicked the publish button. I guess I kind of felt like it was unfinished. Like there was more to the story or something. I suppose it could be that I never got to speak to her and that I still wanted to meet her and tell her thank you.

I went back to my flash drive earlier today to retrieve that post and realized it was written on April 15. Today is June 17. It’s been 2 months. I have not seen her, nor anyone else, at that house since that day. No one.

Does anyone else think that’s a little odd?

Maybe that whole thing was intended for me after all. It is a rare occasion that I am home alone. If I am, I’m usually busy inside trying to get something done, like cook dinner or finish up the laundry, before my husband gets home. Not this day. God knew I would be home alone that afternoon, sitting on my front porch purposely taking a sidebar from a busy Sunday. He also knew I had an unrecognized need for a sighting of His Spirit in our world. In my world. On the street where I live.

He came. Just for me.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sunglasses and a Savior

I think I’m a little late with the spring fever. I’m always the last one to fall into the latest trends.

(I heard somewhere that oversized sunglasses are in? Is that true? I'm just not sure I can go there yet.)

I think it is spring fever because I seem to have lost my motivation for anything. ANYTHING.

So, I’m making a list. Maybe if I document at least the passing thoughts through my brain, then maybe I can then check some of it off and feel like I’ve accomplished something.

My list is of things that have been on my mind that are truly post-worthy, but I haven’t been able to finish one single post. I’ve started several hundred of them. “Started” is the key word. Apparently “finish” has dropped out of my vocabulary lately. Along with the words “diet” and “exercise”. Oh, and “work.”

My list is a reminder to me that if I ever do get back to my regular posting and don’t have anything to talk about, well, here’s a place to start.

But who am I kidding? By the time I get back around to anything I’ve started and not finished, the beginning of a hundred other things will have taken their place.

And so it goes.

My list of totally unrelated things to which I should have dedicated entire individual blog posts:

1. So, I have a new car. It was truly an ordeal. It took about a month to actually get it to my driveway. I haven’t quite found the balance between the joy of a brand new car and the sickness of car payments. Does anybody ever feel like they got a good deal on a car? Really? I mean, people who sell cars do it all day every day. I buy a car once every five or six years, if that. How can I win with those odds? Anyway, we simply HAD to buy a new car because I couldn’t keep buying new sunglasses every week. It seems on two separate occasions with two different pairs of sunglasses, I left them in cars we test drove. So, two lucky new car owners got a free pair with their new car purchase. Now that’s a deal.

2. One day when I’ve lost all my inhibitions I’m going to write a book about all things your minister will never tell you. There are lots of sub-topics under this one, but lately I’ve been thinking about weddings. ONE: never, ever schedule a church wedding in December. Yes, the holiday decorations make lovely pictures, but the sanctuary is already booked every Saturday in December for all the extra choir rehearsals and programs. If you want the minister to focus solely on your special day, do it during a season when nothing else is going on. June is good. TWO: You pay the band for making music at the reception, why not pay the guy who sings the sweet love song during the ceremony? Unless, of course, the guy singing the sweet love song is the groom, then paying him would be weird. THREE: Pick up after yourselves. Or at least ask your mom and dad do it for you after you’ve gone on your way to honeymoon paradise. For the rest of us, coming to church on Sunday after a Saturday night wedding and finding dress hangers, empty panty hose packages, pins, flower petals, and cans of hairspray sitting in your Sunday School class seat or in your choir chair is a little unnerving sometimes because it leads the mind to think of people changing clothes (and thus, in their underwear) right here in the very place I’m trying to, well, not think of people in their underwear.

3. What on earth have I have I got to complain about? I have a friend my age that’s been fighting cancer for several years and the battle is getting harder every day now. I have another friend my age that fought a seizure demon and had several years of victory, only to have it seize her again. I have a friend I went to college with whose wife has been on a respirator. These are people in their 40’s. I have younger cousin whose Air Force soldier husband was just sent to Iraq for six months. I can’t even keep track of how many times he’s already been over there. She’s home with her 2 girls.

Did anybody see the Life Today program a few weeks ago where Beth Moore was talking about being in a doctor’s office waiting room anticipating an appointment where she would get some test results? One of her daughters was with her and passed the time by reading all the medical brochures in the waiting room. You know, the ones that inform you of all the different kinds of cancer and diseases. Her words were, “He knows it’s scary to be us.”

Indeed, He does.

Stress over things like losing my sunglasses to making car payments.

Frustrations of being married to a minister.

People all around me who have a special need for comfort and care and healing.

God knows it’s scary to face all those things. And He doesn’t want us to face them alone.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 The Message