It's the 60th Anniversary of a precious book by Virginia Lee Burton. I heard about it tonight as Caroline Herring performed. The perfect way to end a crazy week. I couldn't help but think about how closely the book resembles my life story in so many ways, and only from a limited perspective of course. I don't want to give it away if you've never read it but it's a good one!!
There are moments in my life that swell with memory and emotion, that seem like minutes went by as days and I can still recall them as if they are happening in the next room. I was privileged to be a part of a recent series of events in the life of some members of the body of Christ in my church, Atlanta Westside, that I want to recall to tell about God's faithfulness and to have as reminders to the Teacheys of God's amazing hand in every detail of their lives when the hard days come.
My life is personally changed because of these moments and I will be forever grateful to God for them. The morning of Doug's accident I was sitting at my computer in my bathrobe and had received an email that I was not offered a job that I had interviewed for. I wondered what I would or should do that day and where to go from there as that was not the greatest start to a Monday. I briefly prayed and asked the Lord for a purpose for the day, for some sort of work to do that would be honoring to him in some way even though I did not have a typical work day ahead. Five minutes later I received a call from another Westside member who asked me if I could drive Jenna down to Montgomery to the hospital as it would not be good for her to go alone. I agreed very quickly and then stopped to think about it while gathering my things. (Side note: I am the person who doesn't like hospitals, doctors, needles, blood, anyone in a white coat or scrubs makes me nervous, even the blood pressure machine at a grocery store is freaky, honestly...so what the heck did I just agree to?!) This is where the sweetness of God's way stepped in. Had I not been lead by him to pray that prayer I know I would have doubted his call to go that day and would probably have backed out. As I was reminded of the words I had just said, I felt confirmed that he was completely in the details and that it was my place to go, not knowing at all what I would face but in the Lord's strength. "He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!" came to mind.
Another moment that is emblazoned in my mind came about after sitting in a small room with Jenna and two surgeons who had come out to talk with us in the midst of surgery. We listened to the first real news that we were given face to face after a day's wait. It was hard news and that was the first mention of possible amputation in order to save Doug's life. We immediately left the small room and walked right across the hall to the hospital's chapel. I've never been more appreciative of a chapel in a hospital in my life. It was late, so the waiting room was empty, the halls were clear and the door was unlocked. We entered and walked down to the front pew. We kneeled down on the pew and started to pray. It was a powerful moment and experience of God's presence more than any I have ever experienced. I clearly remember Jenna's prayer of "Lord please let my husband live, and if he has to lose his leg then we will praise you still; if he loses his life Lord, then I will still praise you". As we continued to pray, Jenna said that she wanted to sing a song which was Elie's favorite, "Our God". We started to sing in that little chapel, kneeling down in the front, no one else around, with all of our hearts. I distinctly recall the feeling that I was the weakest person on earth at that moment, with absolutely nothing to say, no perfect prayers, no true comfort but a river of God's spirit and power were flowing like a mighty rushing wind, through that little chapel. After a time we stood up to leave and I looked back. There was a huge stained glass window at the front of Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulder. A sweet reminder of his care and love for us, his sheep.
Finally, we waited another hour or more alone until we were told to go up to the 7th floor where Doug would be in Surgical ICU for the night. We proceeded up the elevator and were greeted by another empty waiting room. Empty until we rounded the corner and saw on the far side, someone huddled under a blanket curled up & asleep. We picked our spot and opened up the Bible to read feeling tired, fearful and alone in another cold, sterile room. The woman woke and stood up a little while later. We asked her who she was waiting for and what was her name. Thinking we might pray together she beat us to it. She came over, grabbed our hands and was honestly like an angel sent from God to speak the words that we were too tired to speak. Her name was Mrs. Anita and she was a dear lady. We decided to leave the hospital around Midnight to find the hotel. Of course I got lost with GPS AND a map, and was frustrated that after all, what is a real estate agent good for if not for this?! But once again, God was in the details. I had put in a cd that morning that I had just gotten from some friends, Abe and Bethany Okie, which was a new set of hymns they had just released, but to new tunes. The perfect songs came on, "What Er My God Ordains Is Right", and "The King Of Love My Shepherd Is". The words were sweet and Jenna laid back in the seat and tried to sleep while I consumed the comforting lyrics and in a round about way, got us to our hotel at last.
"No poision be in the cup, that my physician sends me" was a line that struck me about our relationship to God and his deep, deep heart of love for us. I will post links to these two songs as soon as I can, they are wonderful.
There are plenty more moments to recall, but these are reminders of God's goodness, presence, power and perfect timing that I remember. I am so incredibly thankful for these experiences in my life and wanted to say thank you to Doug and Jenna for letting me be a part of their lives during these few days. I am forever grateful and I know that for every person in our body who has been involved in this story, there are hundreds more evidences of God's faithfulness. When Satan tempts them to despair of their current situation in the days to come, I hope that they will know God is using their story to make many of us more like himself, to redeem the world, to gather his sheep and to give us a place in his kingdom of value and purpose. These events have helped me to believe that it is true and to trust God's loving hand more than I ever have. Thank you Teacheys!
(Another side note: I wanted to post a picture of myself with the Teacheys on this entry but the only one I could find was a gritty version of Doug in a Grim Reaper outfit from a few Halloween's ago. I recall he scared off all of the happy neighborhood children to Jenna's utter embarassment. Doug, you're hilarious!)
My dear friend and mentor from UGA was married on Sunday evening to a wonderful man named John on top of a beautiful cliff outside of Greenville, SC. Because it was a small wedding there were around 90 attendees total and that meant the rehearsal dinner could go on for hours as all 90 of us had significant things to share. I'm often the procrastinator when it comes to this sort of thing and in this case that was a bad choice, as the moment passed me by. What I wanted to say was this:
"Sandy, you are the ultimate pursuer of relationships of any person that I have ever known. Throw into the mix that I was somewhat of an unruly Campus Crusader who basically asked you to go away and never come back to my sorority house (the first time we ever met). It's true. I'm embarrassed to say this but I honestly didn't understand why you would always stop by and talk with girls that in my mind you hardly knew, would leave them notes and candy, bake brownies, and basically were sharing the love of Christ with college women through your actions and words regularly. That was the start of our friendship and I am forever grateful. I continued to not make it easy for you and yet you continued to pursue me in love.
Secondly, you have the most contagious laugh of anyone that I know. You make me feel like I am the funniest person in the world when I am around you. I know that I'm really not that funny, but for some reason I believe that I am every time we get together. You are very free with your laughter and it is contagious.
You have encouraged and employed the gifts that you have seen in me and helped me to grow to strengthen them. How many other people would let me into the messy places in their lives (literal places) to do what I enjoy (organizing) at the risk of exposing yourself and would also enter into the messy places of mine on many occasions with a spirit of love and grace.
Finally, you are the best at asking good questions. I can not recall a single time when we have had a conversation that you didn't say something to the effect of "so Hannah, when you think about ....what does that.....?"
I love you Sandy and I am so thankful for your place in my life these past 14 years. I am so excited for John that he will be the special recipient of these treasures in you, and I know in turn you will be receiving as well a host of other blessings in John. I could not have been more proud to stand with you on your wedding day as you begin your life of serving Christ together, counseling God's servants on mission fields around the world.
One last thing that I love about you is your love for coffee. So cheers to you and John, and don't forget the spoon!
Our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them. " The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY.
Psalm 126: 2-3