It’s 8:30 at night – I’m sitting in my recliner – in my pajamas – and I’m crying!
The tears are partly a result of the tension of the past few days. For over a month I have been planning a women’s retreat for my church. With the guest speaker, who is my youngest daughter, I have brainstormed picking a theme, planning the lessons, the decorations, the music. I so wanted it to be a success. But as the weeks went by I had to ask myself – why do I want it to be a success and what needs to happen for me to consider it a success?
I have questioned my motives. Do I just want to impress everyone with how smart I am? Do I just want everyone to see what a great speaker my daughter is? Do I want the women of my church to be encouraged and help them better understand God’s Word? Do I want to see spiritual growth among my “sisters?”
Will it be a success if we have a large number show up? Will it be a success if everyone has a good time? Will it be a success if someone really is encouraged, really does develop a greater desire to know God, have a better appreciation for God’s Word?
So I have prayed that my motives would truly be pleasing in God’s sight and that there would be nothing in my efforts that would desire anything other than that God would be glorified and lifted up. I have prayed that there will be a good response, that the women will show up, will enjoy, but most of all will draw closer to God as a result of the weekend.
Then, there was the worry of getting it all to come together. Finding the right decorations to set the scene (but at a cheap price as I promised the church board it would not cost the church anything so the expenses are on me). Getting volunteers to bring food for our Friday night snack and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. Will I have enough food? Finding volunteers for the skit I want to do on Friday and for worship on Saturday. Praying for my daughter as she prepares the lessons I have asked her to do.
In the middle of all this I start having terrible pain in one of my teeth. I had it filled last year but the dentist told me the tooth was really bad and he was not sure the filling would hold. A call to the dentist and off I got to get it pulled.
I’m feeling great!
Everything is coming together!
I have my tooth pulled on Wednesday. Dentist tells me I can expect pain, bruising and swelling. But here it is Friday. I have had no pain, there is no sign of swelling or bruising. My husband says it’s a God thing.
I truly believe my heart and my motives are right – that my desire is only for God’s glory. I find most of the decorations at the Dollar Store – budget saved. Tables are decorated and the room looks great. My daughter sends me her notes for the handouts and they look perfect. Volunteers have all responded and the skit, the worship, the food – it is all on track to be a great event.
Friday morning I start cutting up veggies for the Saturday lunch. Suddenly my carefully laid plans all seem to come apart.
My husband comes up from the family room in the basement and he looks white as a sheet. He tells me he almost passed out and off we go to the doctor’s office. After examining him and talking to his heart doctor, we are off to the emergency room for further evaluation. He had a heart attack in 2009 and has had 4 stents put in since then so the fear of another heart issue makes me very nervous.
Now I’m getting up tight. Clearly I need to be here with my husband, but what about all the things I still need to do to be ready for tonight? Is he going to be okay? Is he having a heart attack?
While waiting for the doctor to evaluate the EKG and the blood work I pick up my cell phone to start calling our kids to let them know their dad is in the ER. Before I can dial out, my phone rings and it’s our son. When I answer he tells me that he has just had a call from his wife and he is rushing to the ER in their town. Their daughter has been in a bad car wreck. He doesn’t know more than that but wants me and his Dad to be in prayer.
Now I’m really stressed!
I try to hold back the tears as I think – “What do I do?” I have to tell my husband, but is that going to add to his stress and cause a heart attack? After sharing the news with him, we hold hands, crying and calling out to God for our granddaughter.
I watch the clock waiting for the doctor’s evaluation pulled between needing to be with my husband and needing to get back home and finish final preparations for the night session at the retreat. Of course, my husband keeps telling me I need to go on and get ready for the evening and I keep telling him no way I’m leaving him until we find out what is going on with his heart.
And we keep waiting for our son to call with more information on our granddaughter. How badly is she hurt? Is she going to be okay?
He’s going to be okay
The doctor finally comes in and tells us that he is not having a heart attack but they do want to keep him overnight for observation and possibly do some tests in the morning. When I am assured that he is in no immediate danger, I finally leave, hurrying now to get cleaned up myself and get to the church to finish final preparations.
We finally hear from our son. Our granddaughter was hit in the passenger side by a young man drunk and high on drugs. He hit her at such a high rate of speed it flipped her car over twice, crushed in the front and they had to pull her out through the windshield. But, miraculously she has no broken bones, no life-threatening injuries, but is terribly bruised and some cuts on her arms from being pulled through the broken windshield.
While working with my daughter to put the finishing touches on everything at the church, we get a text from my son. He has sent us pictures of my granddaughter’s car. When we see the pictures my daughter and I both began to cry and to spontaneously praise God. From the pictures of the car we realize we have seen a miracle. There is no way anyone should have walked out from the car alive. The whole front and right side is smashed in, the windshield completely broken out. We get pictures of my granddaughter’s neck and front of her chest. She looks like someone who has been severely beaten. Clearly she has subsisted some terrible bruising and will be in pain for some time. But no broken bones, no concussion.
As we praise God, I feel the tension drain from my body for a moment. Then my husband calls. They are going to do an angiogram tomorrow morning. Doctor thinks they may be more blockage. I start to get uptight again, but I’m reminded in my spirit that the same God who protected my granddaughter is the same God who will be with my husband in the morning.
Long day at hospital
But now, of course, I cannot be at the retreat on Saturday. I know between my daughter who is speaking and the women who will be leading worship I don’t have to be there. But I’m disappointed. I have enjoyed watching the women in our Friday session and seeing their hearts being opened to God’s Word – just as I had prayed – and I really want to be there Saturday to share with them.
But I know there is no question about where I belong. I love my husband – my best friend – and I not only need to be with him, I want to be with him.
The procedure is done and they have to put in another stent (his fifth). The doctor shows me an area where there is a 50% blockage but says he will not touch it until it becomes blocked enough to be life threatening. Because of its location it will require open heart surgery. This makes me nervous. How will he know it has become life threatening until it is life threatening? On top of that they had trouble getting the bleeding to stop and have had to put a pressure cuff on his groin which is pushing down and is very painful. While normally a person has to lay on still on their back for two to three hours, he lies all day – over six hours – not being able to move from his back and having this pressure cuff pushing down on his groin. A rough day for both of us. Since he cannot sit up, I help him try to get some food down.
The day is over!
Granddaughter is very sore – will be out of commission for a few days – but she is alive, she is going to be fine.
My husband is out of immediate danger. He has to stay overnight in the hospital just to make sure he does not move too much and the bleeding stays stopped. But, all is well with him. I can bring him home tomorrow.
The retreat appears to have been well received by everyone.
Who Do I Turn To?
So, I need to be rid of all this tension. What do I do? Guess I could pick up a glass of wine. I could put on a favorite movie. I could take a hot shower, a sleeping aid and go to bed.
But I turn to the one I have always turned to. My Savior, my Lord, but also my friend. I put on a CD by Selah, lean back and think of all the times in my life – when my father walked out on the family, when my first husband was accidentally killed and my daughters came home and found him dead, when I was diagnosed with cancer and told I did not have a very good chance of making it – and so many other times when crisis came and how Jesus has always been there. Giving me wisdom, peace, comfort.
And as I meditate on His goodness, His love to me, the tension drains from my body and my tears become more than just tears of release. They become tears of love and gratitude.
I turn to Jesus. Who Do you turn to?
When I’m far away from home
And the cold wind starts to blow
When I’m empty and alone
I turn to You
When there’s hardness in my heart
And I can’t see the truth
And I’m wondering in the dark
I turn to You
And here in Your holy presence
It’s all that I can do
For the faith to move ahead
And to let go of the past
And to see me as You do
I turn to You.
I turn to You, Jesus
I turn to You, Lord
What else can I do
I turn to You
You alone are worthy
The one and only God
The Ruler of the nations
And Father of my heart
I turn to You, Jesus
I turn to You, Lord
What else can I do, Jesus
I turn to You