Monday, June 22, 2009

"I'll Think About That Tomorra"

Tomorrow is the day my mom has surgery to finally correct her back issues. She was convinced it was going to be a long drawn out process to be healed. She planned for a month to get an appointment to see the doctor. A month to schedule the surgery. And judging from previous experience, two months to recover. Low and behold, she saw the surgeon last Wednesday and surgery is tomorrow. Estimated recovery time: 2 weeks. Hooray! She is so deserving of a miracle. She has waited and wondered why and why not. She has pondered why God let her husband die young and her lay for months and suffer. I truly believe tomorrow is the answer to her prayers. Her son and daughter will be there to hold her hand and her pastor there to pray for her. And her husband looking down on her.
Something changes when you loose a parent. Whether they admit it or not I think everyone becomes more attached to the surviving parent. It sounds horrible, but before you loose one there is a safety net. Like maybe that is why God gives parents in twos. There is a backup plan in case of emergency. But when you are down to one there is no plan b. Only the here and now. I worry about my mom more now. If something happens, she is all I have. The first week after my dad died I didn't want her to leave my sight. It was like being in preschool again. I told her I was worried about something happening to her. She said, "God's not going to take both of us from you". We both know he didn't "take" Daddy, but I understood her point. I have to believe that is still the case. God knows what I can bear. He knows what she can bear. For us He keeps her safe and for her He keeps Jamie and I safe.
Please say a prayer for my mom tomorrow and in the coming weeks. This is a new start for her, for me, for our family. One more hurdle crossed. One more crisis conquered. One more praise to offer.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Mountain

The past few months have been hard. As noted in previous blogs, I've been under a lot of pressure to provide for a lot of people, the least of which is myself. I haven't been to church in months except for one service and that wasn't even my own church. Until today.
Last night in the early evening I felt relieved to be going back. From out of nowhere, which I have found is the way it always happens, I was struck with grief over my dad. If you don't let it go it builds up and finds you when you least expect it. Even the physical part came back. I slept until noon yesterday then took a nap from two to four. I was NOT that tired. At ten o'clock, don't ask why, I was cutting up a watermelon and a cantaloupe. I had my computer open, talking to Jada on facebook, iTunes cranked up with Kate Voegle, and enjoying myself despite my lack of hefty fruit cutting ability. I went from carefree to sad and completely missed the transition. As strange as it may sound it is refreshing to know exactly where your depression comes from. Crying for no reason is much more upsetting than crying over your late father. I should know, I've done both. The point of the story is I started to doubt my desire to go to church or even my ability to deal with going by myself. It's a harder thing to be there without my mom there. Although I love my church family and I know they love me, they can't take a parent's place and thankfully they haven't tried to. I went to bed last night, still crying and overwhelmed, having decided I wasn't going. I didn't get settled down and go to sleep until after two. But God had a plan for me today. I woke up at 9:30. It just so happens that I can get ready in 45 minutes and church starts at 10:30. I knew the instant I looked at the clock that God was speaking to me and He wanted me to go to church. He was ready to move in my life, but I had to show my willingness to follow him and take the steps. I arrived at church and slipped in as inconspicuously as possible just as Pastor Danny (also known as P. Danny haha) was opening in prayer. Mrs. Betty was already praising God several rows ahead of me.
*Mrs. Betty was the coordinator of Missionettes from the time I started when I was three to the time I earned my gold medal when I was eighteen. She worked a lot with my dad at church since they ministered to the same age range only different genders. They spent a lot of time praying for more workers. Neither ministry seems to ever have enough. Mrs. Betty is one of those people that has watched me grow up. One of those that tells me over and over how beautiful I am and how she sees God in my life. Both of which I usually have a hard time accepting. I don't feel like I do a very good job of glorifying God most of the time. She watched me and Jada sing together when we were little. She knows my passion for music and my love for children. And she knows a lot of my hopes and fears.*
As I said, Mrs. Betty was already there when I slipped in. Jada wasn't there yet so I stood there by myself and centered on God. It has been so long since I was in God's presence like that. I had nothing else to do except thank Jesus for my life and ask for His strength. After worship we got the direction to greet those around us. This is my least favorite part of Church. I feel like I'm flogged by people who are increasingly friendly. Basically, its my last remaining social phobia. Anyway, I was drying my eyes. I had sat down to pray and Jada prayed with me, which made me cry even more (in a good way). Mrs. Betty was there when I looked up. She said, "God told me to come back here and tell you that He is going to move that mountain. You're going to find more pleasure than you can imagine". I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. This is beyond hearing the pastor say something and it speaking to you along with twenty other people. My Savior chose a single person to bring me a personal message. I could feel God's arms around me telling me "it's going to be okay. I'm still taking care of you."
Mrs. Betty who is also on the prayer team prayed with me during the altar call. Once again, I felt safe and happy. It's not that I thought God had forgotten me or that He couldn't handle this. I've never doubted that He is in control. What I have wondered is where He is in my personal needs. I love the poem "Footprints". That is exactly what God is doing in my life. I'm looking down and I only see one set of footprints in the sand. Until this morning, I thought they were mine and I was left to wander aimlessly through the desert. In reality, I am on Jesus' shoulders. We are walking along the beach. To Him this is just a wrinkle, an error on the page that can be erased. God still walks on water. God still moves mountains. God is still in control. He still carries us. He still speaks to us. He loves us. He loves me. He carries me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

21st Century Darlings

I've heard two stories that have deeply affected me in the past 24 hours. One hits close to home and the other not so much. First, yesterday my aunt told me that one of my cousin's (who is my age) classmates overdosed. Then, first thing this morning one of my best friends from childhood called to tell me she is pregnant.
It is easy to be consumed in a fortress of peace and grace. The people I spend most of my time with are well grounded young adults. Their faith is in Christ and their eyes on His path. Every once and a while something from the real world manages to penetrate my bubble of ignorance. First the young man who took his own life is a cry for help from our generation. There are far too many of us left to find our own way with little to no guidance from anyone, much less God. I often forget that not everyone is blessed with a happy and peaceful home with loving Christian parents and a supportive home church. These things have and continue to shape my life, but where would I be without them? Would I be jumping from guy to guy hoping to find the love I never received at home?
These young people ARE at fault for their actions. I firmly believe that society and Christians also play a part. I know that I don't reach out to the people around me as I should. I know that I don't wear my faith on my sleeve. Don't get me wrong I don't think "turn or burn" is the right approach or shoving a Bible in their face.
As much as I think about prevention I think the same is true after the fact. My parents are conservative and they aren't completely tolerant. Tolerance is a whole other blog. Where are the open doors for the drug addicts and young mothers? Where are the open doors for the gay community and Muslims? If we expect these people to believe as we do they must first see it in action. It begins with an individual saying "hello, how are you?". Conversation leads to action.
If I feel so strongly why don't I do something? I think God may be leading me in that direction. All I can do is wait and see.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Higher Ground

I cried out to God several weeks ago. Begging Him to tell me why my life is the way it is. He didn't answer that prayer exactly as I had hoped. Actually, it was better than I could have asked for. He knew that. The past two weeks He has strengthened me. Each day I find more than one thing to be thankful for. I know that death and despair were not part of God's hopes for the human race. We brought this on ourselves. Even so, God can take any situation and make it into a miracle. No matter what. My mom has not improved. It looks as if surgery will be the method of healing this time. But I don't care. God is in control. This is time for my mom and I to spend together. It is time for me to learn responsibility and how to be an adult. I was not thrust into maturity as some children are at ten or twelve. I am twenty years old. I have the authority and ability to take care of the things that need to be done. When I can't do it myself, the family God has blessed me with steps in. I finally got Hershey to the vet this afternoon. Kayla helped me (another Godsend). Come to find out he has heartworms. It doesn't make sense to spend $700 dollars on a ten year old lab so now we wait. For now he is happy and unaffected, but the time will come when we will have to put him down. At first I felt like this was just another part of my dad that I was losing. Taking care of Hershey, buying him five different treats at once, rubbing his belly, and calling him a "handsome fella" all make me feel close to Daddy. Also today my mom sold the truck and hopes to soon sell the Lumina. Daddy drove both of them on his mail route. Neither run, but in true Cooke fashion Daddy wouldn't give them up. I cursed this decision this evening as I pulled all the junk out of both of them that could have been discarded long ago. Really I liked it. My mom will never know that of course. It was more time with my dad. That sounds weird, but I find Daddy in the strangest places. I'm dreading Father's Day already. I'm torn between crying my eyes out and just letting it all go or pretending the holiday never existed. The latter will be difficult at church where, ironically, I really want to be on June 21. There is no place I feel closer to Daddy than that building. He spent so much time there, helping so many young boys that were nearly as crushed as I was to lose him. I'm not necessarily a fan of Walmart setting up the holiday so soon, but I don't want to avoid it all together. I had the best father in the world. He gave everything for me and my mom. He took care of us even after he was gone. Most importantly he left a legacy that I will strive to at least meet halfway. To touch so many lives in so many places that even your coworkers need counseling after your death! Daddy deserves to be honored and that is just what I hope to do. My recent spell of loneliness could probably also be attributed to the insane desire I have developed to have a family. Keeping Reagan has given me "baby fever" as my mom says. She wanted a family and kids at 15. I at least made it to college. I think its sinking in that people I graduated with are getting married. I wasn't prepared for that. I forgot how old I was. At any rate, God knows the desires of my heart because He put them there. At the right time, in the right place, with the right person I will fall in love and our story will begin. I hate sounding so "girlish". I still hate cheesy romance novels and movies, don't lose hope Kindall ;)