Monday, January 22, 2007

I Tried Raising My Hand During Worship Once

In regard to raising my hand while singing in church...I did try it...once.

I had just returned from a Women of Faith retreat. Two days of continuously singing praise songs mixed with inspirational messages. So the next day at church I was singing with the praise team up front and I thought, Why not?

Therefore, as I was singing with my eyes closed, I raised up my hand. Now I must have stunned God since he knew I might not ever try it again. So He took that opportunity to rain down some extra living water. Literally, I'm bawling in front of the whole church. Obviously, I can't sing anymore. So I'm relegated to bowing my head and praying...not a bad thing, but not planned. And no, my hand was not up anymore.

My pastor/worship leader was, of course, elated. Emotional displays during church are proof to him that the Holy Spirit officially manifested himself. He could be right, but I wouldn't consider that the only sign.

P.S. You should know, although I can't always control when the tears will flow, that I really hate crying in front of people. Not necessarily because I'm afraid of them knowing something is wrong or that something has touched my heart, but for a much more vain reason.

I am not attractive when I cry, bordering on ugly. My nose immediately turns hot and red before any tears show up. And then when the tears do eek out, they burn and my eyes turn into little red, puffy slits. Not exactly the look I'm going for. But certainly a humble one. Who can have pride in their heart when looking like that?

Speaking of pride...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Outside My Comfort Zone

I officially accepted Jesus Christ into my life at the age of 6. Officially, yes. However, it has taken many ups and downs, a life of two steps forward and one step back, getting on and off the fence, being lukewarm and then hot again to get me to where I am today. Not the perfect Christian by a long shot, but I am sure of my salvation and where my help comes from. And while I still struggle with the daily doubts and unbelief that God can and will do all he says in the scripture that he wants to do in my life, down deep, due to what Jesus did at the cross and the Holy Spirit that now lives in me, I always have an overriding sense of faith, assurance, and hope. Those of you who also have been sealed by the Spirit will agree that this does not come from ourselves, but is a generous gift from God to feel this way when there is so much that seems hopeless around us.

I'm not saying I have always felt this way, I'm just saying this is the point to which I have been taken in the journey. So, in general, I consider myself spiritual. A true worshipper of God. And when I pray, whether I emotionally sense it or not (usually because I'm not getting an immediate answer or resolution to my concern), I know down deep God is listening and will carry out the best plan for me. And when I sing songs to or about him, either on or off key, I know he appreciates the effort.

However, I have never been comfortable with outward displays of worship that I have control of such as holding up my hands while singing or shouting out "amen" or whatever during the sermon (crying is a different story). And even though I may feel it and believe it, I've never been comfortable in daily conversation, except on rare occasions, to interlace my sentences with phrases like "glory to God" or "praise God", etc.

And now there is a new form (new to me) of singing in church that is called "free praise" where you just sing random melodies and words of praise over the top of what everyone else is singing. Obviously, this is not in my comfort zone either. For me it borders on disorder and chaos if more than one person (holding a microphone) is doing it. My spirit does not feel at peace, and I feel anxious. I probably feel very much like the old people in congregations that were being forced to convert from hymns to praise songs.

There, I've filed my complaint and now I can move on. I suppose the longer I'm exposed to this new style of worship, the more I will adapt. It won't seem so foreign and obtrusive.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Thank You God for the Boat

1:15 p.m., December 27, 2006 - I had just gotten off the phone with my husband after returning from lunch at Arriba with a his aunt. It is what it sounds like - Mexican food. I had eaten a huge plate of nachos piled with refried beans, cheese, tomatoes, jalapenos, and sour cream. We had split a side of guacamole. I had left the restaurant feeling stuffed and uncomfortable as usual.

After hanging up the phone, I planned on going upstairs to be domestic. Since the boys still share a room, I have one room upstairs that I have called the guest room for a while. Basically it has a mattress set on top of those cheap metal rails with wheels. On top of that are a couple of ill-fitting sheets (as guests would attest) and mismatched blankets. I had crowned this bed with a turquoise, white and pink quilt my grandma had made for us for our wedding. And recently, going along with the grandparent theme, I have hung a pastel painting my grandpa made for us, as well as a needle point hanging also from my grandma. I also have her old sewing table in the room to which I was going at this time.

1:30 p.m. - I had just sat down at the sewing table and was looking at the situation with the pants. However, my insides started to ache beginning with intense heartburn down to abdominal cramps. I figured, what should I expect? I had just filled my stomach to capacity or more with gas producing Mexican food. I'll just lie down for a few minutes and it will eventually pass - literally.

It didn't. I mean I did go to the bathroom a few times. Ok, things should start moving. They aren't. Even though I couldn't stand up to walk, I came down to the kitchen to get some Tums. Tums always make me feel better. I passed the kids in the living room. Don't talk to mommy, mommy's sick. I went to my room and curled up in bed. But nothing. No change.

Ok, I'm pretty nauseous now and then, and I've been breathing deeply and probably too fast hoping the feeling will pass. Or maybe I'll just throw up. But no. Ok, I'll make myself throw up. Now, this was a first for me. I had only heard that you could stick your finger down your throat to induce vomiting. I've never been a fan of throwing up and I will normally do anything I can to avoid it. So I wasn't sure it would work. It worked well. Bye, bye, refried beans. Things should get better now. It's about 5:00 now and my husband was home. I'll go sit on the couch. Be positive.

5:30 p.m. - Ok, the couch is not comfortable. I'm going back to bed. The pain has not subsided at all. I lay in the fetal position and wonder if this might not be gas and/or constipation. I'm freezing, no I'm hot. I'm shaking constantly. My legs and arms are tingling and going numb (I found out later this was a result of the heavy breathing I'd been doing for 6 hours - I didn't have enough oxygen). I called my husband in to get on the internet and see what else it might be. He decides maybe it's my appendix and suggests maybe I should to go to the hospital. The hospital! For constipation? Forget it, I'm tough. This will eventually go away.

7:30 p.m. - God help me please, God help me please. Ok, God just take me home, if it's easier. Please. My husband comes in and hears me chanting my God help me prayer. He suggests again we should go to the hospital. No, I say. However, I suddenly heard in my head "I sent you a boat." Yes, yes. A boat. (For those not familiar, there is a joke about a guy in a flood on top of his house praying for God to rescue him - God sends a guy by in a boat, and a raft, etc. - he didn't take any of them because he was waiting on something that appeared more miraculous). Anyway, I called out to my husband to take me to the hospital, please. At least they can give me an enema or something.

7:45 p.m. - We, kids and all, park in the parking lot at the hospital and I get out. I'm about to cry as the hope of pain relief is in sight. I hobble into the ER praying no one is ahead of me. The place seemed empty. They took down my list of symptoms and sent me to the triage nurse who also took down my list of symptoms. Was the first a deposition? And now they are trying to catch me in a lie if I can't repeat what I told the first guy? I felt like if I missed something, I might get sent home. Now come to think of it, every new person I met that night asked me the same questions. Are they not writing this down?

Thankfully they believed me. Probably because, by this time, the pain had caused me to enter my own little world. Yes, I have a heartburn feeling. I get my heartburn feeling at KMART. Oh, she's asking me another question. Hmm. What was the question? I'm cold. I've got to go the bathroom. No, she says, not yet. I'm thinking, What? What if going to the bathroom is the end of my troubles, and they aren't going to let me? Apparently, they want me to pee in a cup down the hall.

They put me in a wheel chair and took me to a dark room where nurses finally start scurrying around and poking me with needles. They take my blood, give me an IV and begin administering pain killers and anti-nausea medicine. I'm still cold and shaking. They get me warming blankets. That's nice. Ooh, the pain is starting to subside a bit. And I'm tired. I think I'll go to sleep.

At one point they tell me my husband is going to take the kids home. It's about 11:30. They put me in a new room because they need the other room for someone else. The bed here is more comfortable they say. Not really, but I'm not complaining. I've got drugs now. The heartburn is still there. They give me some kind of Mylanta cocktail. Ah, that's better.

The next events turned into a groggy, out-of-body experience. I swear I went to the bathroom and stood staring at the toilet for about an hour. The nurse said I didn't. At one point, I was taken for x-rays where I remember the x-ray tech saying she was in the hospital last Friday night for what I have . What did you have, I asked? The flu, she says. Are you kidding me? I came to the hospital for the flu? I'm a wimp.

The doctor gets the x-ray back and says she thinks maybe my intestines are twisted. They think while there is no stool blockage, there may be gas blockage. Nice. So I just need to...umm...pass gas. I knew it. They want to do a CAT scan to confirm. They actually had me sign a form to allow this. Really? I mean, I was not in my right mind. What was the point? I'd sign anything to make it all go away. Cut of my right hand, you say? Sure, why not? Sign, sign, sign.

The CAT scan was a little weird. I was supposed to listen to a voice that told me when to breathe in and when to breathe out and when to hold my breath. It wasn't loud enough. And I'm trying to sleep. Did he say breathe in? No, I'm supposed to hold now. Hmm, I must have passed the test because they took me back to my new little dark room.

3:00 a.m., December 28, 2006 - The doctor enters in a flurry. She's excited. They've figured it out. I didn't read the book, she says. I've got appendicitis. They are positive. Look at the CAT scan; look at my white blood cell count. And I've got a low grade fever. And where do you feel the most pain? She asks. I point to my right lower abdomen now. See, the pain wasn't localized, she says. Once we took care of the heartburn pain, now it's more obvious. I will have surgery, she says. When? I ask. At 7:00 a.m., in four hours. Ok, I'll think about that when I wake up.