How to Get Over That One Big Thing

Ten years ago this month I stood on the kitchen chairs, sang, and did “The Chicken Dance” after seeing double lines darken on my Dollar Tree-brand pregnancy test. Two years earlier I had experienced the same heart-stopping glee when I found I was expecting Kaki, then sixteen months old. She joined the celebration as my husband and I talked to a nurse on call about setting up an OB-GYN appointment.

I squealed that kind of squeal that makes you rub your hands together and stamp your feet. I plugged in all the numbers and came up with November 25th as my due date. I pictured my “muffin cups,” as I knew I’d call them, in future Christmas card photos embracing each other in their matching holiday dresses. I called everyone we knew.

That One Big Thing

Then it happened.

A routine trip to the restroom culminated in an enormous “Gush!” and a scene reminiscent of what I had seen in the labor and delivery room when Kaki was born.

“No!” I screamed, hoping to seal my womb by the sheer will of my heart.

B and KAKI SPRING BREAK MARCH 17 2007 AT BARNDOLLAR GAME DAY (3)My obstetrician advised me to walk around, but to avoid exerting myself that weekend. We took Kaki to a board game blitz with other dorm parent families that afternoon and she sat quietly cuddled up to B the entire time.

I was afraid to move, to speak, to cough.

The eerie silence of the dorm that night was somewhat comforting. Our guys were away on Spring Break and I needed a minute to privately process what I knew would be the final explanation of what I physically experienced.

The “m” word–miscarriage.

I hardly wanted to say it because saying it would somehow make it true. To miscarry on the same day I found out I was pregnant seemed unbearable.

Is This a Mistake?

What had I done wrong? Did my helpless little baby just slip past the hands of God?

I pictured the pressed-together fingers of two large hands cradling a seedling and protecting it.

Why hadn’t God done that for me–for my baby? 

The physical emptying of my body since the “Gush!” made me feel weak, helpless, alone, and lonely.

A knock at the door snatched me out of my daze. A police officer stood in the disappearing twilight next to Kenny, one of our dorm sons. He said Kenny had been in a car accident on the Interstate, and although he wasn’t injured, he would definitely need a place to stay over the weekend until his parents could pick him up.

We took care of Kenny that evening and the next day or so. I didn’t say anything about the miscarriage because I just couldn’t talk about it yet. And besides, what could an inexperienced, teen-aged, freshman, male college student do to help me?

God Moves

Before his parents took him home, Kenny walked over to the campus bookstore, picked up what he later said was “the first card he grabbed off the rack,” wrote a thank-you-for-being-my-dorm-parents-note inside it, and gave it to me.

Kenny Oquendo's card 1My mouth dropped open wide enough to catch a softball hours later when I finally looked at the card. There on the front cover of the card was the very image that danced around in my head since the “Gush”: the pressed-together fingers of two large hands cradling a seedling and protecting it! Above the image was a banner that read, “You can trust God” and below it a reference to Philippians 1:6 which said, “Whatever He starts, He finishes–and finishes well.” And if that were not enough, the printed interior spoke to my need to know God empathized with me and would walk me through the heartache.

Coincidence? No.

God? Yes.

The Least Likely Person

Who else but God would guide Kenny’s hand to pick up the very card that would be most meaningful to me? And although Kenny’s personal note inside the card was precious to me, his willingness to take the opportunity to say thank you was even more precious. It started the process of getting a message to me I desperately needed to hear.

And as for me, I had to accept it, and not just as a nice gesture. I had to accept it as God’s message for me.

I almost didn’t read Kenny’s card because I was too wrapped up in my own grief and because I never imagined anything this inexperienced, teen-aged, freshman male college student had to say would make one iota of difference in my life–especially amid my emotional turmoil.

In 1 Samuel 25, the soon-to-be King David has to make a similar choice. When he is insulted by Nabal, he gathers his men and starts on his way to Nabal’s place to kill him and every other man there. But he meets Abigail on the way. Abigail has as much perceived ability to influence David as  Kenny had to influence me. Yet David hears her encouragement, considers his problem in a different light, and has a change of heart.

David had to accept it, and not just as a nice message. He had to accept it as God’s message for him.

Who is that least likely person in your life? And how, then, do you get over that one big thing?

 

I Samuel 25:35 – “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Biggest Gift is Not Under the Tree

An old man is shocked when an angel tells him he and his post-menopausal wife will soon have a baby. A young girl is puzzled when she learns that in her virginity she will soon conceive and bear a son.  A young man’s fears are relieved when he finds his fiancée is not pregnant by another man. A selfish king’s plans to kill the Messiah are thwarted, and instead, the king himself is dead a short while later. 

All the twists and turns in the Christmas story labyrinth come together in an unforgettable, unrivaled, unimaginable display of God’s intervening hand in the affairs of men . . . all to give us a Savior. 

This is the true gift of Christmas.

Accept it.

Amen and amen!

 

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  ~ Luke 2:11

 

 

The Real Miracle Worker

I am fit to be tied every single time I hear someone steal God’s glory by claiming that God no longer performs miracles today. These perpetrators usually have seven letters after their name, and usually begin their arguments with something like, “Now that the Scriptures are complete . . . “

 

 

My response to that rationale is, “Huh?”

 

 

Putting God back into faith

It really is possible to be too educated for our own good, and to relegate God and his work to a box shallow enough to fit our own intellectual grasp. The sun does not have to stand still, nor does anyone have  to trod through a sea on dry land in order for us to claim an event as “inexplicable by the laws of nature [and therefore] held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.” (TheFreeDictionary.com)

In fact, just today my sisters-in-law and I were listening to a favorite song of ours as sung by three different performers.  All three singers delivered a technically perfect rendition of the song, but as we compared the three on a more subjective scale, only the first made our toes curl in our shoes. She was clearly the only one who had suffered hurt long enough and deeply enough to put an authentic spin on a dramatic song expressing the heart and rage of a recently-jilted woman. Her raw, guttural interpretation of the lyrics was so real that we vicariously experienced her pain, nearly to the point of tears. Were it not for the depth of her pain, the melody would not have been so sweet, nor would it have ministered to me regarding my own similar hurts. 

 

Thanksgiving  

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving I bend my knees to the real miracle worker–to the one who caused me to see my beauty when man called me ugly, to turn on the light when I preferred to live in darkness, to stand before strangers and declare my abusive past, to stand before well-known ones and do the same, and to call good that which has nearly destroyed me because I knew God would ultimately use it to compose a sweet melody that would fall from my lips. 

 

 

These melodies are the miracles of my life and the handprints of God all over me. 

 

 

And he plays them over and over and over again. 

 

Has the Lord redeemed you? Speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. ~ Psalm 107:2

 

When You Don’t Get a Do-Over

Ever been afraid of telling it like it is? Afraid of telling the truth because the would-be recipient was older, more experienced, or somehow more important than you were? After all, the old are supposed to lead the young, right? I know the feeling well, but one day God squeezed it out of me in a way that left his fingerprints all over me.

My grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt Williams, a once robust man with a hearty, contagious laugh, lay stretched out in comatose silence in his hospital bed, wearing an oversized, steel blue gown that hung sloppily off his skeletal torso.  The dingy, white piping around the top was tied loosely in a bow that rested on his emaciated neck.  He was unrecognizable, and that devastated me.

The Memory

I was used to seeing Grandpop sitting comfortably in a recliner, telling funny stories about working with his brothers down at the Brooklyn waterfront.  I wanted to hear him laugh again.  I wanted him to bet me that he could eat a whole loaf of Profile bread in one sitting, without once forgetting to dunk a piece in his coffee.  I wanted to see him sharpen his razor on a leather barber’s strap and slick his hair back with Vitalis. I wanted him to give me a roll of peppermint lifesavers and send me on my way, as he did every single time I saw him.  I wanted to make him another Father’s Day card, as I had done every year since first grade when my father died.

The Reality

But there he lay in a coma, so lifeless.  I felt unprepared for all this.  I had been away at college, and so had not seen his gradual decline in weight and wellness.  Someone told me that I should talk to him, because there was a good chance that he could hear me, even if he didn’t respond.  Well, I thought, I certainly have plenty I could tell him.  I had gotten saved—that he already knew, but the spiritual growth, the sense of being led to the mission field—that would have truly excited him.  But the words never came.  I could have gone step-by-step through the gospel, making sure he had no doubts as to how to be saved, but I said nothing.  I sat there paralyzed in silence, apparently overcome by this “imposter” in my grandfather’s bed, with tubes in his nose, and an IV in his arm.

The Cowardice

Instead of saying something, I glanced out the window, and I saw one of my cousins entering the hospital.  I didn’t want to be seen as emotionally overcome as I was, so I decided it was time for me to leave.  About a week later, when I was back at school, my mother called to say that Grandpop had passed away.  My heart broke into a thousand pieces.  Somehow, I thought God would have spared him.  I wasn’t even sure if I felt that way because I truly wanted him well, or because I truly wanted another shot at doing what I was too cowardly to do when I saw him in person.

 

What was wrong with me?  This was my Grandpop.  I held the keys to the kingdom, and was too afraid to open my mouth—And what was I afraid of?  Of being laughed at?  Of someone else overhearing me?  Of losing my position as “favorite” granddaughter because I dared to wonder whether or not he really did know Christ as Savior?  Would God really let him go to hell because I didn’t have the courage to speak up?  So then, I was preparing to go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel, but not to Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn?  Not to my own grandfather?

 

At his funeral, I realized I had never allowed myself to consider Grandpop’s eventual death.  How I wished I could relive that day in the hospital, that I could open my mouth and say what the redeemed of the Lord say.  I needed the Lord to comfort my heart in a way that no one else could at that time.  I asked Him for a verse, and He gave me Mark 7:37:  “…He does all things well…”  I’ve always taken that to mean:  Even when Sherry disappoints, even when Sherry fails miserably,…He does all things well.

 

A Call to Biblical Manhood: Whose job is it to keep his pants up?

SOMEONE, help me with this–please! Just how responsible are women for maintaining the sexual purity of men? If you’ve ever been part of an institution that requires its girls or women to present themselves as if they’ve shopped at the mercantile and spruced up at the apothecary, you know what I mean. Continue reading “A Call to Biblical Manhood: Whose job is it to keep his pants up?”