THE CALL IN THE NIGHT …

dsc_0273It was a dark and stormy night …

Seriously, this particular night was dark and stormy, but we were all sleeping soundly when the phone woke us up  – maybe about 2:30, 3:00 a.m..

As I have said before, middle-of-the-night phone calls can mean anything in a pastor’s house: someone wanting money, someone needing the answer to a deep, theological question (funny story about that), or an emergency.

I could tell by listening to Ken’s side of the conversation, that this was an emergency. His last words, before he hung up, were, “I’ll be right there.”

Of course, I was awake. “What’s happening?” I asked.

“That was the police. I need to meet them at the hospital.   Someone broke into Mrs. __________ house and attacked her.” Mrs. __________ was our church organist (so I’ll call her Mrs. CO.) She was in her late 70s, a widow, who lived in a beautiful home on the south side of town, a home that was on the corner of a busy street.  Although Mrs. CO had relatives with whom she was close, she had no children and her relatives lived far away.  So when the police asked for someone to call, she gave them Ken’s name.

Ken didn’t know much about what had happened, only that he was to immediately go to the hospital.

Ken left. I sat on the couch and waited for him to call with details. Outside, the thunder roared across the sky.  (Without cell phones, calling was more of a challenge.) After a couple hours, I turned on the radio to the local station – a station I never listened to, so I had to do several twists and turns up and down the dial to find anything. Finally, I heard that an attacker had broken into the home of an elderly lady and broken her nose.

Five-thirty came and my kids sleepily stumbled out to the living room. They both had paper routes at that time and I wasn’t about to let them do them on their own in the storm. So, all three of us got in the car and I drove first one and then the other down the early morning streets. The lightning was still flashing, but looked strange. The flashes were blue in color and hitting low to the ground. I have this clear memory of slowly driving down a particular street with the eerie, blue flashing, the rumbling thunder and the fear of where Ken was and what was  happening at the hospital.

Later – we got the story. A man had seen that Mrs. Co was in the house alone (she was standing in front of  an uncurtained window. He hid in her garage and when she went to put the garbage out, he grabbed her and threw her into the basement closet. He then took some things, told her he would be waiting for her if she tried to get out – and then took off in her car.  He did break her nose – and her glasses. Fortunately, that was all that happened to her. Frightened, she stayed in the closet for a couple hours before she made her way upstairs and called the police.

Meanwhile, the thief  took off in her car, got on the expressway and smashed into a tollbooth, totaling the car.  He was captured by the police before Mrs. CO even got out of the closet.

Yes, truly one of the scarier nights of our ministry.

NOT THE BEST DAY

Some moments of my life will never be forgotten. The day Ken and I went to see Debbie in the hospital is one of them – well, not the hospital visit, but the drive home.

Let me start from the beginning. Debbie was a young mom in our church. She and her husband had two girls and then and a few months before everything happened, they had a baby boy.

But Debbie didn’t recover from the birth as she should of. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Her symptoms were leukemia-like, but she didn’t have leukemia. A doctor told Ken that they wished she DID have leukemia, because then they would know what to do. They didn’t know how to attack this unknown disease she had.

She would be in the hospital and then home for a few weeks. Often, that summer, Ken and I would ride our bikes over to their house and visit.  Then she’d have a relapse and be back in the hospital.  They took her to a hospital in Milwaukee, so trips to see her would take several hours – trips Ken made many times.

Everyone was concerned about her, of course. A young mom with a new baby (who had been diagnosed with diabetes, so his blood sugar level had to be watched at all times). Yet, the family bravely took one day at a time.

Still, Debbie seemed to be getting worse instead of better.

One day (during a lengthy hospital stay) Ken and I headed up  to see her, but when we reached  the room, we found her dressed and sitting on her bed.

They’ve discharged me, she said. “I’m doing better. They did a spinal tap this morning  and they said I could go home.”

Her husband came in the room from signing papers. He was in a festive mood. “She’s coming home,” he announced. “Finally.”

And I want to go to BAKERS SQUARE,” she said. “Some good food. I need some good food.”

“Hey,” suggested her husband, “why don’t you come with us?”

We agreed to meet at the BAKERS SQUARE that was about halfway home.

We got to the restaurant, went in and were waiting for the hostess to seat us when Debbie said she needed to use the ladies room. Her husband asked if I would go with her since she was still very weak.

I agreed. The ladies room was tiny – two stalls and a sink and no place to stand and wait. She went into a stall and then immediately came out again. “Linda, I’m I bleeding”

She lifted her shirt and I saw the puncture where they had done the spinal tap earlier in the morning. It was pouring blood. Now, let me say here, there’s a real, good reason I’m not a nurse. I react to blood simply  by listening to people talk about\ their wounds.

But I had no choice. I grabbed a handful of paper towels, held them on the wound and attempted to stop the rush of blood. But the blood kept coming. Soon my hands and clothes were soaked with blood. (Because of her illness,  her blood was thin and wouldn’t clot.)

I used up all the paper towels and grabbed toilet paper … blood was everywhere. Ladies walked in and immediately walked out again. Then two rather loud ladies walked in, took one look at it all and decided they were going to “lay hands on her and cast out the demons.”

Debbie panicked. “Get away from me. This is my pastor’s wife and she can do all the praying I need.”

“If you want to do something,” I said to them, blocking Debbie from their aggressiveness, ask in the kitchen if they have some rags or something I can use.”

One of the ladies listened to me. Finally, I got the blood stopped, at least tentatively stopped. I walked Debbie out to her husband who immediately headed back to the hospital. I washed my hands and cleaned up as best as I could and Ken and I followed them. By that time she was readmitted.

Only later, as we were driving home, did I start shaking and burst into tears. What had happened overwhelmed and frightened me.  At the same time, I was thankful that the Lord got me by my usual aversion to blood to be calm enough to help her.

Sadly, Debbie died about a month after this happened.

I’ve always been thankful to the Lord  for giving me the peace and confidence to handle the situation, because I was completely out of my comfort zone for sure. Only He provided the strength do to deal with that day.

THE WEDDING

 

dsc_0527Ok, this first one didn’t happen to Ken and me, but it did happen to my dad and mom. I remember it well.  I was a teenager and knew the bride.

The thing is, the bride’s parents had split up when she was young and I don’t remember all the story, but her father had left town. Occasionally he would call her mom in drunken rants and then they wouldn’t hear from him again for months, maybe years.

Somehow he found out that she was getting married and threatened to show up and ruin the wedding.

The threats became serious enough that everyone began getting a little worried.

What to do?  A whole church full of people were expected and they didn’t want a man with a gun infiltrating the lobby.

The police were called.

So, while all the church people, dressed in their wedding finery were coming in the front door of the church – police covered the back of the church. Sure enough, the father did show up. The police frisked him in the parking lot as the bride said “I do,” and carted him away to prison.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – NOT WHAT I EXPECTED

dscn0674Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. (2 Corinthians 11)

When Paul became an apostle, I wonder what he thought. Did he realize that reaching people with the message of grace would be more than standing in front of a group teaching? Probably. Paul, himself, had been a persecuted of Christians, so I’m sure he understood that he, too, would be facing tough times. 

Probably few of us have faced true persecution, but often the life of someone in ministry takesa  right turn from what we thought it would be.

They’re the moments they don’t tell you about in seminary (and where are those pastor wife courses anyhow?).  But they’re all part of what happens.

You’re on an exciting (and sometimes frightening) ride.

This week I plan to share some of those frightening moments in our life.

 

 


FUN FRIDAY – THE TEEN/SENIOR DINNER

My mother-in-law recently wrote me about an event at their church. The teens invited the “social security” people to a special dinner.  kens-family1

First they asked the seniors questions about their lives so they could get to know them better.

Then they served them dinner.

Ken’s mom told me that she had gotten out their war letters. (I’ve read those letters from the time they were dating while Ken’s dad was in the service – whoa!!!!!!! I’m sure the teens enjoyed some of those 🙂  )  Ken’s dad also took his morse code clicker to show them what morse code sounded like. He learned the German code. (Hmmm … so he can’t speak German, but he can speak German morse code.)  He tracked submarines off the coast northern U.S. coast. (That’s where Ken’s parents met – his dad was in the Navy, stationed in Chatham, Massachusetts and Ken’s mom grew up on Cape Cod.)  After he did what he did in the east – he went to Seattle and learned Japanese morse code.

Anyhow, a good time was had by all at the dinner.

What a great idea and a great way for the teens and seniors to connect!

PLAYING GAMES

Sometimes you gotta do the unexpected – in life – in church and in staff meeting.

Usually Wednesday staff meetings consist of verse reciting, announcements, updates or a speaker.

Today, we played games on the Awana circle. Real games. Like where you stood at the line and and ran around the pins and in for the beanbag. Some didn’t participate but more than 50 grown men and women did. 

Guess what? We had a great time. Actually a couple people I talked to agreed that we wish we had had more time to play and that it was a great way to exercise!

It’s been several years since I’ve run around the Awana circle, but it was fun and thanks to those years of playing firstbase (one pastor’s wife responsibility they didn’t teach me about in college), I was able to whip the bean bag across the circle and right into the hands of my teammate just as I was supposed to do.

Again – sometimes the unexpected is a lot of fun.

Try it.

A GREEN PAINT DAY

Not sure what this has to with being a pastor’s wife, but hey, this is an oops! post.

So, I came home from work, pulled into the garage, and heard a fizzing sound – you know, like the air was escaping out of the tire. Immediately I thought I had run over a nail and was now reaping the consequences … or something.

I got out of the car. Tires looked fine, but the smell hit me with a vengence. Hmmmm …

Now I had my suspicions. I went into the house and tentatively put my shoe down on the floor. 

Right – green paint. I continued tiptoeing across the floor and let the dog out.  I went back to the garage and turned on a brighter light. Under the front, left tire was what was left of a can of dark, green spray paint. 

Then I noticed, that besides having green footprints in the kitchen, I now had green steps, a green recycling bin, a green can of bug spray, a green vacuum cleaner – and a most definitely green floor – I mean a huge-puddle-of-green paint floor. And no way could I get it cleaned up.

Then I realized that the next time I pulled out of the garage, I would have a green tire and leave green tracks down my driveway.  I then unrolled an entire roll of paper towels out on top of the green paint, soaking it up as best as I could and attempting to rescue my driveway and street. Nothing like having a garage floor that matches your lawn furniture.

Oops!  

Yes, it was annoying. Yes, it was aggravating. Yes, it was time-consuming. Yes, that green paint will be there tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. 

But in the grand scheme (or maybe I should say green scheme), this was a blip, not a big deal.

Because I have a friend who is facing a life-changing, big deal right now. She’s had a day that she will never forget, the kind of day that challenges your desire to put everything in the Lord’s hand, the kind of day that makes you wonder and get angry and to cry.

We have days like. Hard days. Tough days. Days when knowing that God is sovereign is the only thing that counts.

Because He is. We know that.

And we can depend on that.

On green-paint days or any other kind of day.