Do Not Worry

The events of my life yesterday are such that I could not write them as fiction if I tried.  Here’s how my Wednesday unfolded:

I had a 10:15 AM appointment with a cardiologist.  The back story:  I finally heard back from my doctor on Monday evening about the heart palpitations I’ve been having; she was unsure what was going on with my heart and referred me to a cardiologist.  Also Monday, my Wednesday morning staff meeting was cancelled.  On Tuesday morning I called the cardiologist to make an appointment.  While checking for openings, the receptionist said, “Wow, this never happens. Is there any chance you can come in tomorrow (Wednesday) morning?  Our next available appointment is in about a month.”  Why, yes…yes I can!

So yesterday morning I  got ready for the day and left the house with enough time to stop for gas on the way to my appointment.  As I was driving out of my neighborhood I realized I’d accidentally left about 15 minutes before I intended. (Who does that?)  I felt a little annoyed with myself, knowing I’d just be waiting an extra long time in the waiting room.  I stopped at the gas station, filled up the tank, sat back in the car, turned the key in the ignition, and… nothing.  Well, nothing except a gritty clicking noise.  Dang it.

The gas station attendant did not have jumper cables or a car (he’d walked from home) but was so kind and started walking around asking other customers if they could help.  One woman had the cables and was willing to help start my car.  Over the course of the next few minutes, I discovered that the gas station attendant was the father-in-law of a friend from church, and the woman with the jumper cables sends her kids to the camp where I worked in college, and we have mutual friends here in town.  My car started, I thanked the folks who were willing to help me on a rainy morning, and I was headed toward the cardiologist with the exact amount of time I’d intended to give myself.

I started laughing and thanked God as I drove–there’s no way that series of events was anything short of divine intervention.  My schedule that morning had cleared, there was a random, rare opening with the cardiologist, I accidentally gave myself extra time, and when my car broke down, there were kind folks to whom I was already connected willing to help.  I was meant to be at that appointment.

When I pulled up at the doctor’s office, I turned off my car, then attempted to start it again–just to see what I was going to be dealing with post-appointment.  Nothing but that lovely dead-battery noise.  Excellent.  I texted my friend and coworker Evan, who lives around the corner (and was home because our staff meeting had been cancelled), and he said he could jump my car after the appointment.

When I was finally in the examination room, the nurse took my blood pressure.

“114/55… looks good.”

“I’m surprised it isn’t higher; my car died on the way here this morning, and I’m a little worked up!”

“Oh no!  Then you’re doing REALLY good!”

😀

I spent the most time with the nurse practitioner, who was great and explained everything so well to me–basically I’m having a few extra heartbeats throughout the day, but because my heart rhythm looks normal, I’m at a healthy weight, active, and have no risk factors, I have nothing to worry about.  Stress, rather than a problem with my heart, is causing the palpitations.  Bottom line:  I just need to learn to relax.

No problem.  Now let me go jump start my car for the second time today.  😉  Evan graciously drove over to help (thanks, Evan!), and I headed for my regular car shop.

I left the car running and walked inside.

“Hey, as soon as I turn off my car, it’s going to die.  You guys do battery stuff, right?”

“We do.  You can pull it into the garage!”

I pulled it in and walked back inside the office to give the man my car key.

“What’s your plan–are you going to wait or is someone picking you up?”

“Umm… I didn’t really have a plan.  My plan was to jump start the car and immediately take it somewhere it could be fixed.  This is as far as the plan went.  How long do you think it will take?”

“Well, we are all about to go to lunch, so we can’t look at it right now.  I can call you when it’s ready though.”

Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.

I thanked him, then walked out the door and down the street to Barnes & Noble, where I bought a magazine and a sandwich and settled in for an indefinite amount of time.  Within an hour they called to tell me I needed a new battery, and they could have it done in twenty minutes.

The hilarious irony of the situation is not lost on me–that my car breaks down on both ends of an appointment where I’m told that I am so stressed that I’m giving myself heart palpitations.  And yet, in what is a notoriously stressful situation, God provided richly before I even knew to ask.  Everything worked out, no thanks to me worrying about how it might be resolved.

It brings to mind a passage from the book of Matthew (chapter 6), which I’ll share for anyone who’s interested or needs the same reminder today:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the the birds of the air;  they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I will be meditating on this passage daily for a while (until my heart chills outs, and then probably a bit longer :)) as part of my plan to de-stress, which I’ll outline tomorrow.

In the meantime, do not worry, my friends!

Advertisements

NC Mission Trip Recap- Part 1

I am home from North Carolina and excited to give a full account of the week, but first, I must acknowledge what happened yesterday:  Andrew hijacked the blog.  It was a legitimate hijacking.  Not only did he not tell me he was writing a post, but he didn’t tell me he’d done it afterwards either!  I happened to glance at the stats page on my phone, saw a few notifications, and thought, two people commented on…what post?  Oh…  What a funny guy. 😀  Because the stolen post seemed to be well-received, Andrew has landed himself a contract job as a monthly guest blogger (he’s not getting paid for it.)  I hope those of you that we don’t know in real life enjoyed “meeting” Andrew!

Now the mission trip summary…I’ll do my best to keep in concise without leaving out any juicy details 🙂

The team:
Our team consisted of twelve middle school youth and four adults.  I’ve probably mentioned this on the blog before, but I love middle schoolers.  I think they are absolutely hilarious in that you never know what they will say or do.  In that regard, they did not disappoint this week.  Actually, they did not disappoint in any way this week;  I was impressed by how hard they all worked and the great attitudes they had despite the heat and persistent mosquitoes.

IMG_1138

The people we served:
As I mentioned in my midweek report, we worked with a man named Chuck and his two teenage daughters, Ashley and Haley, who are in a very tough spot in life at the moment.  Chuck is sharp, witty, knowledgeable about many, many subjects, and full of hilarious one-liners.  “She’s as tough as woodpecker lips.”  “At least my report card didn’t stutter;  yours kept saying, “D-D-D-D-D…”  More importantly, he has a deep love for his daughters and a rock-solid faith that was evident to all of us.  Despite losing his wife, job, and being left to raise teenage girls, his devotion to God has not been shaken.

In addition to teaching us some legitimately useful life skills, Chuck showed us how “we rednecks” get strong out of in the country:  using heavy metal bars and sledgehammers:

IMG_1212 IMG_1207 IMG_1210 IMG_1241 IMG_1242 IMG_1243 IMG_1245 IMG_1247

And that block of wood they are pounding with the sledgehammer?  After we took turns hitting it all day, Chuck stood it up and split it in two with the sledgehammer, prompting this response from one of our boys:

“If I took a girl out on a date, and you were her dad, I would treat her so well…”  😀

The work:
Half of our team painted the outside of Chuck’s trailer, and half the team replaced the floor in a few rooms inside.  As I mentioned above, everyone worked incredibly hard and finished the tasks we set out to do.

IMG_1167 IMG_1203 IMG_1164 IMG_1166

IMG_1227 IMG_1237 IMG_1201 IMG_1213

The funny (part 1):
The man living next door to Chuck owns a bunch of goats and keeps them in a barely charged electric fence.  Think static electricity.  Or a first grade science experiment using a battery and a light bulb (I know this to be true thanks to one of our awesome adults, Robin, who teaches science to elementary school students. :))  One afternoon Chuck showed a few of our youth what that fence feels like, and, because they are twelve years old, that entertained many of them for longer than you might think.  Weird, but harmless.  Well, the phone calls home that night sounded like this:

“Catherine let us electrocute ourselves on an electric fence today!  We kept shocking ourselves over and over!  What?  Why not?  Yeah, I’m okay… No, it didn’t hurt… No, we didn’t do it for very long…”

Oh boy.  Parents, I did not let your kids electrocute themselves.  Again, think static electricity, and please consider that your twelve-year-old may have exaggerated.  I do think, however, that a few of them seemed slightly more balanced afterwards… 😉

I will leave it here for now, but I have plenty more to report tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!

Gone to Carolina [in the Church Van]

In a few hours I will be on my way to North Carolina with a group of our middle school youth for a mission trip.  We are spending the week repairing homes near the coast (low-income areas… not people’s beach houses, as my mom suspected :)), and I am so looking forward to it.  Missions and local service projects are a key piece of our youth ministry, and here’s why:

In the book of James, chapter 2, James poses the question, “What good is it, brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace;  keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”

In other words, if all we ever do is sit around reading the Bible, then go about our lives and ignore those who are hurting in the world, what’s the point?  That type of faith is not sincere.  In light of that, I am humbled and thrilled to have opportunities like this trip as part of my job.  Plus, I get to hang out with all our crazy middle schoolers, whom I love dearly. 😀

I am not sure how much I will be able to blog while I’m there–maybe a few brief posts–but I plan to give it a try.  If not, I’ll be back next weekend!  In the meantime, please pray for our team, those we are helping, and Andrew, who has to hold down the fort by himself this week.

As the very talented James Taylor put it:  “Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in [the church van.]” (Or something like that. ;-))

Today

April 16, 2013.

The day after the horrific explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The 6th anniversary of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech.

What can be said on a day like today?  I feel tremendously saddened by each of these events, and equally inadequate to write about them.

Here’s what I know for sure:

In the Gospel of John, chapter 16 verse 33, Jesus tells us, “…In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart;  I have overcome the world.”

I don’t know why these tragedies happened.  I can’t say what good will come from them.  I don’t know that I’d be able to restrain myself from punching those responsible in the face, if given the opportunity.

What I do know is that we have a God who loves us more than we can fathom, and that He has already overcome every ounce of evil in this world.  In Him alone we can take comfort.

Please join me in praying for those who are grieving today, those who are remembering in sadness, and those who are on the road to recovery.  Kristin Armstrong said it well:  “The road ahead is long.  But little do they know, [runners are] good with that.”

 

644751_10151620841010159_180371104_n