Friday, September 27, 2013

The Amazing Donut Ruckus!

We drove the hubby to Urgent Care with stomach pain. Dr Robyn had already correctly diagnosed gallstones, thanks to Google and WebMD. He was in a lot of pain, and since Urgent Care was closed, someone recommended we drive 30 miles west to a new hospital, because, apparently, they don’t have emergencies on the west side of town. They thought he would be able to get right in without having to wait forever at the emergency room downtown.
They were right. We walked in, and my very yellow, bent over husband attempted to answer all the standard pain level questions. No sitting and waiting for us. They triaged him and guessed gallstones as well. Within 10 minutes of entering the hospital, he was floating on morphine and hooked up to an IV. They were quick at this hospital! They took him back for an ultrasound, confirmed stones blocking a duct and a gallbladder they described, I’m not making this up, as looking like a gumball machine.
That was the good news. The bad news was that this beautiful, amazing, and speedy hospital was not fully equipped with all the needed medical staff. Specifically, there was nobody there who could operate on him. This meant I would need to drive him to the big downtown hospital. He was not in too much pain now, having been sufficiently drugged.
It was 1:00a.m and unfortunately the downtown hospital did not have any open beds. We would have to wait at hospital number one, until a bed opened up at hospital number two.
I don’t think a room actually ever opened up at hospital two. I think they crammed us in to some sort of storage or cleaning closet. The room they gave us was at the far end of the hospital, the very last room. Having been in a lot of hospitals, I knew this was not a normal room. For one, it was unusually small. There was already an occupant in the first bed, and the curtain between the two beds, literally, was ripped on one side and was only half the size it should have been. This meant that the other occupant, who I mistakenly thought was homeless, was totally exposed. And by exposed, I really mean exposed. The actual temperature in the room read 85 degrees. The other occupant, who was from England, told his doctor that he had come here to mine gold. Seriously, he was a gold miner! Mr. Yellow and I have lived here since high school and have never, ever heard anyone talk about mining gold here. The gold miner complained about the heat. Yellow complained about the heat. I complained about the heat. Two nurses said, “Wow, it is really hot in here!”
Mr. Goldmine felt justified then, in completely throwing off all his covers, revealing more than anyone would want to see. I made a mental note to make sure my boys always wore clean socks, as well as clean underwear, in case they ever had to go to the hospital, because looking at the bottom of his socks was just gross.
Mr. Yellow got poked, prodded, x-rayed, and scanned. It was confirmed that he would need two separate surgical procedures, on two separate days. I was hoping they would wheel him back right then and get the first one over with. It was an emergency after all. But, I guess surgeons don’t prefer to do surgery at 3am, if they can pump the patient with pain meds and have him wait until 8:00am or some other reasonable hour. Little did we know at the time, that no surgeons prefer to operate at all on Father’s Day, which was the next day.
We ended up staying half a night and all the next day in the sauna storage room. This floor was so busy and had a lot of crazy people on it. Kids were running up and down the hallway. We could hear the lady across the hall yelling that she had come in as an emergency and now nobody cared about her, so she was leaving. Late in the afternoon, Mr. Goldmine had either sobered up or had sweated enough and was ready to leave. When his ride came to get him, he pulled the IV right out of his arm. An alarm sounded and a nurse came running. Through the half curtain, we could see blood flying all over the bed and the floor. Then, Mr. Yellow’s IV bag was empty and his alarm starting going off too. Two more nurses came in. The room was so small the many nurses could barely fit in. As Mr. Goldmine was getting dressed, they explained to him that he should not leave the hospital since he hadn’t seen a doctor yet. My heart sank. We had been there 13 hours and had not seen a doctor yet, either. I knew Mr. Yellow would never yank his own IV out, but I also knew patience was not one of his spiritual gifts.
As a nurse and a doctor tried to talk to Goldmine, a physician’s assistant came in to talk to us. It was really loud and chaotic at this point. After she told us we would have to stay for at least another four days, I asked, “Since we are going to be here that long, is there any way he can get a private room?” I shot a quick arrow pray up, ”Please Lord.” She looked over at Goldmine and said, “I will try to get you moved up to my floor.”
I am not exaggerating when I say that moving to the surgery floor, and leaving the chaotic floor, was like landing in the wonderful world of OZ, after being in the hurricane of Kansas.  This floor was amazing. Everyone was calm, or possibly sedated. There were no kids running in the hallways. Everyone had their own private room. If we had to stay in a hospital for four more days, we  hit the jackpot of floors.
 That night I left the hospital leaving Yellow to the nurse’s care. We had seen a doctor. Yellow was the first one on the surgery docket in the morning, and we were finally seeing some progress, and a release plan in sight.
The next morning, Yellow called me. He was not a happy camper. He needed more pain meds. He had not had anything to eat or drink in two days. Worst of all, a doctor told him they had a lot of emergency surgeries and now he was LAST on the surgery docket. The doctor told him not to count on having surgery today. It would probably be tomorrow before surgery was done. All hope of leaving the hospital anytime soon was dashed and extreme frustration was about to set in.
Then, Yellow said something, and I quote, “I need you to come down here and raise a ruckus.”
Yes, he actually used the word ruckus. I tried not to die laughing as I was genuinely sorry for this disappointing turn of events. However, I also knew that I was having a conversation with a heavily drugged, exhausted, starving man, who was not thinking clearly. You see, he knows I am not really a ruckus girl. In our 20 year marriage, if a ruckus needed to be raised, our whole family knew Yellow was the guy for the job.
He had a moment of clarity when I think he vaguely remembered this, and he said, “Or, do you want me to do something?”
“No. No, I will come down and take care of it,” I said, pretending to have that super calm, everything-is-going-to-be-alright voice.  
I had no clue what I was going to do. Even if I could muster up a good ruckus, I knew that would not change anything with the surgery schedule or win any points with the hospital staff.
I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. Then, I sent Yellow a text telling him he was in God’s hands and He had a plan for him.
I think he got new pain meds about that time, because I never received another text. I stood in my kitchen trying to think up a nice, loving way to ruckus, when I remembered the verse from 1 Peter 4:8, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” I kept thinking, “Love covers. Love covers.”
Then, I did something I had never done before. I found some pink and red construction paper and some sharpies. I drew and cut out two large, fancy hearts. On the first one, I wrote the names of the two nurses from the crazy floor. I thanked them for the amazing work they did, in the midst of all that chaos. I told them how much I admired them and how grateful I was they had taken such great care of my hubby.
Even though I had not met any nurses or staff on the new floor, I imagined they would be equally as hard working and caring as the previous floor. So, I wrote them a pre-thank you card. I thanked them in advance for their dedication and care they provided to their patients and to my hubby. I knew if I was a nurse at a busy downtown hospital, and had to be at work at 6:30 in the morning, I would love it if someone brought in Krispy Kreme donuts.
I headed to Krispy Kreme, with my pink and red homemade hearts, hoping this might be a blessing to them, and also to ‘cover’ any rukuses that Yellow may have caused. I went to the crazy floor first, found the two nurses and told them I brought the donuts to thank them for how amazing they had been. You would have thought I had given them a million dollars! The first nurse started crying and threw her arms around me giving me a big hug. I walked away smiling. It had not been that big of a deal. I guess people don’t regularly cause donut ruckuses at this hospital.

I rode the elevator up to the beautiful Oz floor. This would be a little more awkward, since I did not know who our nurses were, nor had I met anyone on this floor. I walked to the closest nurses station and said, “It looks like my husband will be staying here for a while. So, I wanted to give you all these to thank you in advance for all you do for the patients.”  The girl looked at me bewildered. She didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t even sure she was a nurse. I didn’t know if Yellow’s nurse would know I  brought donuts, or even get a donut. That was ok. I prayed the Lord would calm the stormy waters before I stepped in.
When I got to Yellow’s room, a friend was visiting him. Yellow was not looking well. I was there less than five minutes, when Yellow’s low-talking male nurse walked in. No smile. Expressionless. I thought he was bringing more bad news. Before talking to Yellow, he turned to me and said,
“Thank you for the donuts.” I smiled.
Then he turned to Yellow. “They are ready for you in surgery now. They are on their way up to get you.”
I was shocked! The donut ruckus had worked! No, I knew it wasn’t the donuts. It was the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, working out His schedule for my hubby. Yellow was happy. We found out later, someone grew tired of waiting for their surgery and left the hospital early. Who does that? I thought it was probably another gold miner.
I learned a lot during our five days at the hospital. The main thing was God is always in control. Also, it is better to show love than to raise a ruckus any day.
What about you? Have you ever trusted God during a difficult situation, and seen that His ways are better than our ways?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Confessions of a Baseball Mom: Don't Miss the Signs

           It was not until my son was playing high school baseball and my husband was one of the coaches, that I realized the importance of the signs.  Looking back, the coaches had used signs in Little League to tell the catcher, who would signal to the pitcher, which pitch to throw.  Back then there were not a lot of different pitches and the signaling system always seemed to go fairly smoothly. There would only be a problem if the pitcher was not quite able to throw, say an accurate curve ball.  This was always due to lack of skill or execution, not because of a lack of willingness by the player.  Pitchers were trying their best to throw the ball the way the coach wanted.
            This changed, for the first time that I noticed, at the high school level.  We knew of a team in our city that was very good.  They had several returning seniors and one of their pitchers was exceptionally good.  He could throw his fastball faster than most.  The previous season, our team was only able to manage one hit when we faced him.
            During a game, this pitcher was shaking his head at the catcher, when the catcher relayed the coaches’ signs.  This is routinely done in the major leagues, but to my small baseball mind, this was unheard of in high school baseball.  The coach grew increasing upset at this pitcher after he did this several times.  Finally, to put an end to it, the coach walked out onto the field, pointed at the pitcher and yelled, “If you aren’t going to throw the pitches I call, you won’t be pitching for me anymore!”  It was a huge wake up call for the pitcher, as well as his teammates.
            Thankfully, our Heavenly Coach does not yell at us like that.  Although, I have needed plenty of wake up calls in my life in order to pay attention to my Coach.  How often do we shake off the signals from our Heavenly Coach?  Certainly our team has a history of doing this.  Look at Jonah.  The Coach was going to send him in to deliver a pitch to Nineveh, and Jonah shakes off the sign.  He does not get very far, because God wanted Jonah for that particular play.
            How many times have we said, “If God would only send me an obvious sign, like a burning bush,” or as my friend says, “even a sticky note on the door,” I would know what to do and I would do it.
Our Heavenly Coach is a creative communicator.  He has only sent the sign of a burning bush once.  In baseball, the coaches change up the signs so the other team does not steal them.  God uses plenty of different signs as well.
            Make no mistake about it, He is sending signs.  For one, He has given us His playbook, the Bible.  We would do well to read it, since most of our plays and signs are found there.  “Love your neighbor. Always be willing to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Give to the poor. Baptize and make disciples.”  The plays go on and on.
            Then, there is the Holy Spirit living within us.  We know when the Holy Spirit is nudging us to do something.  “Invite that person to church.   Call that person and pray with them.  Ask someone how they are doing, instead of talking about yourself.”  Let’s be honest, we know when we get a sign and we know who it is from.
            How many times have I, like that high school pitcher, shaken off my sign from God?  I know I have many times and am convicted not to miss the my sign the next time.
            I remember once when I shook off a burning bush type sign.  It was not a literal burning bush, but our modern day equivalent.  A friend, I had not heard from in a long time, called me out of the blue.  She said she had been praying for several months because she was in charge of selecting the speaker for their church’s women’s retreat.  She said the Lord kept giving her my name, so she was calling to ask if I would do it.
            Immediately my heart began to race.  I had never spoken at a women’s retreat before, although I had spoken in other venues and God had equipped me.  I told her I would pray about it and get back to her, because I knew that was what I was supposed to say.
            As soon as I hung up, my heart nearly pounded out of my chest.  My whole body began to heat up.  (If that was not a sign, I don’t know what was.)  I began to walk around my kitchen talking to the Lord.  I starting giving Him a long list of the reasons I was the wrong person for this play.  My list was very thorough.  I told Him of all my flaws, insecurities, inadequacies, my lack of anything meaningful to say, and my inexperience.
            My husband, the baseball coach, who usually does not miss his signs from the Lord, told me I should go for it.  I spent the next two days rehearsing to him all the reasons why I was the wrong person for this job. Finally, he grew weary of listening and told me to do what I thought was best.
            As quickly as I could, I called my friend and told her that she was mistaken in her sign from God.  The reason, I told her, that God had given her my name, was because I have a great friend who would be perfect for this assignment.  My friend on the phone was a little baffled, but since she had followed through on her part and called me, I would have to do whatever it was God wanted me to do.  I called my other very experienced retreat-speaking friend and she agreed to do it.  I was off the hook.
            It was not until a year later, during an intense time with the Lord, that I heard clearly, “That was for you.”  I cried for about three days.  I confessed my sin to Him and begged for His forgiveness.  But most of all, I was so sorry I had disappointed Him on a play He had called for me.  Also, I missed an opportunity for Him to use me in spite of all my inadequacies.
            I have heard that God will give us a make up play when we have blown it.  I am still shaking in my cleats thinking about that.  But, I know I do not ever want to shake off a sign from the Lord again.  I want to throw the pitches He calls for me.  I know I can do nothing without Him, and I can do everything He calls me to do because He will give me the strength to do it. Let me encourage you. We all miss the signs sometimes, but let’s stay in the game. The assignments He gives to us are uniquely created for us.What He calls us to, He will see us through.
            What about you? Have you ever missed a sign or gone against an assignment the Lord chose for you?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Confessions of a Baseball Mom -- Home Run Hitters

             Baseball is such a great sport!  I love everything about it, the pitching, the hitting, the teamwork of the defense, and the strategy of the game.  It has taken me 13 seasons of watching more games than I can count, and playing church softball, to really begin to understand all the intricacies of the game.   I have the added advantage of being married to a coach who loves to discuss every detail of every play for hours after a game.
            After all these years, I am finally starting to get it.  The most important lessons in life I have learned from my heavenly Coach.  Here is one of them.
              Not everyone is a home run hitter.  This has been a huge lesson for me.  Every player from tee ball to the big leagues wants to be a home run hitter.  They get the most cheers.  They bring in the most runs.  Their hits are the most impressive.  They seem to be the most important players on the team. Home runs are fun. They are exciting to watch.  They get the player, the team and the fans all fired up and sometimes give the team the momentum to win the game.
            Even though players are told from early on that Babe Ruth, the all time home run hitter, also had a huge amount of strike outs, that does not seem to matter.  They all still want to be like Babe Ruth and swing for the fence.
            It was not until my son’s last season in Little League that I finally understood that being a home run hitter was not everything.  There had been a game where my son hit a home run over a 40-foot fence and the crowd and his team went wild.  It helped propel our team to a big win.  There was another game when our team was losing by a significant amount and all hope of winning was already gone.  A player hit another home run over the fence in the last inning and it did not mean anything.  None of his teammates were on base.  It was not enough.  It did not excite the team or the crowd because we were already so far behind.  Everyone knew we could not win even with the home run.
            That is how it is in life too.  There are certainly home run hitters on the Lord’s team as well; Billy Graham, Kay Arthur, Max Lucado, and Beth Moore, to name just a few.  God has called them and equipped them to be home run hitters and they play their positions extremely well.  We all cheer them on when they hit a home run for eternity.  We, as teammates, can get excited after a home run, more energized to go out and do our part for the team.
            Most of us, however, are not home run hitters.  Sure, we occasionally hit a home run.  God equips us with the words and the opportunity and enables us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to lead someone to the Lord.  The Bible says the angels cheer in their stands when that happens.  Our team gets excited and we all rejoice in the win.
            The words that I hear coaches call out for almost every batter is, “WE NEED A HIT!  JUST PUT THE BALL IN PLAY!”  “LINE DRIVE!  BASE HIT!”   Thankfully, our Heavenly Coach is not yelling at us, but it seems like that is what He wants from us also, a base hit.  Most of the time He wants me to simply put the ball in play.  Hit a line drive.  He calls out for me to invite people to church or to a Bible study.  That is the opening they need to find Jesus.  Most of the time we simply need to serve where God has called us.  We need to be a greeter, work in the youth department, volunteer at VBS, pray with someone, or start a home Bible study group.
            Our baseball game is different than a Little League game.  In our game, the score is already confirmed.  We know our team has already won.  Our Heavenly Coach’s son, made a tremendous sacrifice with his life, so that everyone on His team wins.
            Even though in the end, our team wins, our Heavenly Coach still has plays He wants us to run. It is the last inning. He still has pitches for us to throw and He wants us to hit a single to move someone closer to home.  He still calls out for us to make the play and do our part.  How is He calling out to you?  How are you hitting the ball for a base hit?  Don’t give up.  Our team needs each player to do their part.  If each player hits a single, we move each other around the bases, until in the end, all of our players are home.  The angels are cheering.  Our team is victorious.  You and I may not be home run hitters, but we can still swing for the fence when our name is called.