In my grown up life, I have had the privilege of working as a camp director, a public school teacher and the volunteer coordinator for the children’s ministry at our church. All of these positions were wonderful in their own way. One thing they did have in common was that they constantly had me surrounded by people. I love this! Even when I was a little girl, the worst punishment ever was for me to be alone…separated from people. Just. Plain. Torture.
I want to provide a warning for the remaining part of this post, because I really don’t want to hurt your feelings. But, I am going to share one of my pet peeves with you. Let’s be honest, we all have them, right? Silly little things that annoy us a bit, that may not bother anyone else at all. So, if you disagree with my pet peeve, or even worse, if you fall into that category…forgive me. Let’s still be friends. And, for the record, I am sure there are four-hundred things that I do that annoy you, so let’s just call it even and be grown-ups, ok? 🙂 If everyone who was annoyed a bit by me every once in a while stopped being my friend…I’d have no friends. Period. Ok – disclaimer over.
While on staff at church, I had the pleasure of working with lots of people. Truly, they were just super, wonderful, unique people. In case you didn’t know, every church staff is like most other staffs out there in the “real world” and it is filled with all different types of people. Some are organized, others are procrastinators. Some are super outgoing, others are shy. Some are conservative, others like to push the envelope a bit. We all worked well together to follow God’s calling for our church. I worked closely with one sweet girl who shared my pet peeve for a little something I call “seriously?!?” names.
Let me explain.
After years of typing hundreds of campers and counselors names’ into spreadsheets, organizing hundreds of student’s names into my classroom seating chart, and typing volunteer’s names into schedules – I have become sort of a brat about how people spell their names. Hey – I admit it, ok? Over the years, I have had the fairly normal Ashley around, but I have also had Ashlee, Ashleigh, Ash-leigh, Ashlie and I am sure others. Do you see my point? When you are typing and organizing name after name after name and everyone spells Haley like this you are fine. But, when you forget that someone spells it Hailey and another is Haleigh, but don’t forget about Haylie or Hay-lee…it gets kinda old, kinda quick.
So, my friend at church and I would catch ourselves spelling things incorrectly often and having to re-do our work, which would lead us to say “Seriously?!?!” out of pure frustration with ourselves. Of course, then, being completely silly, we would threaten to send letters to parents asking them to find another avenue to show their creativity instead of how they spelled Adam. That’s right, A-d-a-m…not Adem, or Adom. Ugh.
Well, in our hours and hours and hours working together, we eventually expanded that phrase to be somewhat all-encompassing.
It’s raining and we have to load up our cars with no umbrellas = “Seriously!?!”
We make handouts for families at our upcoming event, print hundreds of copies and while cutting them, we see we spelled “church” wrong = “Seriously!?!”
We make a spreadsheet of names of kid’s signed up for an event and every other name has the red squiggly line under it because Microsoft Word thinks we spelled some name “wrong” and we can’t tell what actually needs to be edited and what doesn’t = “Seriously!?!”
You get the point.
It made us laugh. It made us cry. Mainly, it just provided us with something appropriate to say that brought our frustration to a funny point. (Yes, that is needed in ministry, for sure!) 🙂
So, although I haven’t been on staff in about a year (wow – that’s hard to believe!) I have carried on our silly tradition and often say that phrase when I have hit “that point”.
Like last summer when I was recovering from yet another spinal fluid leak, and just trying to live upright. My adrenal glands failed causing me to go into adrenal crisis and be sent to the ER. While in the hospital I was, shall we say, “being visited by Aunt Flo” and mis-er-a-ble. The doctors discovered I had a ruptured ovarian cyst. Uggh. And then (just for kicks) they informed me that I needed to have a colonoscopy to check for “issues”. Ever had one of those bad boys done? So. Not. cool. Now, friend, we are at a “Seriously!?!” kind of moment.
While there were many other moments like this throughout the last year or two of medical drama…I will spare you. (You’re welcome.)
But, it does lead me to this week…and this particular “Seriously!?!” moment that spurred this post.
About a month ago I was living as normal of a life as I have lived in a year! I was driving a car regularly, making a meal or two each week, doing chores around the house, playing with my three small kids, and just generally getting to be a Mom. It was pure bliss.
Then, I got another spinal fluid leak…again. This would be leak number four in the past three years, fyi. So, a couple weeks later, I had the procedure to “seal” the leak called a blood patch. And if you are keeping score, this would be patch number eight. It was awful! The pain was so intense this time that I threw up, passed out and literally couldn’t walk for four days. Not cool. I stayed flat on my couch for a couple weeks and then just the other day really started to try and walk around more and be upright for longer stretches of time. And then it happened…
I was walking with my middle son in our backyard to go see a lizard that we had found with the other two kids while he was inside. I really wanted him to get to see it, too. So, I stepped down off a stone onto some rocks and WHAMMO!! my ankle rolled one way and the rest of my body fell the other way. Goodness gracious that hurts like crazy! (I know this, because I am convinced I have paper mache for ankles thanks to the many times I have broken them, sprained them and torn ligaments. Too many to count…and I taught Math!) Anyway, I cried out to Ryan and he rushed over to pick me up and scoot the (freaked out) kiddos back to the playground with our sweet neighbor. I was in so much pain, I passed out; like out cold. I woke up to Ryan slapping my face a bit (I couldn’t help but wonder how long he’s been waiting to get to do that? He, he. Totally kidding!) and wondering how many hours I had been “out”. It had only been a few seconds, but man it felt weird. Anyway…my ankle swelled up huge and did the whole hypo-color t-shirt act from the 1990’s. It wasn’t pretty. So, I went back to being flat on my back (again!) with ankle elevated and iced up. I must say, I flashed back to the glory days of soccer briefly and all the time I had spent this way. Ah, the good ol’ days.
You think I’m done…nope, not yet…I haven’t said “the word” yet. So, as the evening came to a close, my oldest son’s eye injury from the day before (i.e. baby sister chunking two fistfuls of dirt directly into his unsuspecting wide-open eyeballs) was getting worse. At the advice of our nurse on call, my sweet hubby packed him up and took him to the urgent care to get this looked at, because of course, this happened over the weekend. Doesn’t it always? I stayed home and “watched” the younger two kiddos from my couch. They have gotten good at switching out Mama’s ice packs, sweet babies! So, I noticed my eye starting to itch quite a bit, but didn’t think too much of it. That is, until, hours later, my hubby called and said that Jacob had an awful case of pink eye. “What!?” I said, as I rubbed my own eye in disbelief.
And that, friend, is when it happened….I looked up at my popcorn ceilings and said to my sweet God, “Seriously!?!”
Have you had a time like this, friend? When you feel like the cosmos (that you don’t even believe in anyway) are just spinning out of control and the world and everything in it is just not in your favor?
Ya, it ain’t fun…I can tell you that.
“Why in the world would you let this happen to me, God? I mean, just a month or so ago, I was getting better! Remember that? That was kind of fun to get to be; better. Then, the spinal fluid leak again. Then, the most awful blood patch ever to “help” fix it. Then, the ankle injury for the four-thousandth time in my life. Then, the injured kid on a weekend and more mail to look forward to from Blue Cross Blue Shield. And, now, I have pink eye, too? SERIOUSLY!?!”
(insert deep breath)
I’ve had some time to think this through the last day or so, and I honestly believe that there are a few reasons God may have allowed this for me.
First of all, He knows me so well. Better than I know myself. (Psalm 139) He knows how quickly I want to dive back into “normal” life head first. He knows I can’t swim yet. See post titled “Diving in Head First and Forgetting I Can’t Swim” He knows I may need just a little more time resting than I would like to admit.
He also knows my witness. He knows how badly I want to praise Him in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18, Ephesians 5:20) He knows my heart and every selfish, stubborn, prideful thought I have. But, I can’t help but give Him some props today, because He allowed something else to happen to me. He allowed me another chance to LIVE THIS OUT and praise Him regardless. So, despite my brief “Seriously!?!” moment I had, that’s what I’ll do.
My question for you, friend, is…will you do the same?
When the cash flow isn’t so much flowing as it is d-r-i-p-p-i-n-g? When the kids are driving you bonkers? When your spouse hurts your feelings again? When you spend another Friday night without a date? When the pregnancy strip only has one stripe and not two, again? When you leave another interview without so much as a “Nice try.” when you don’t get the job?
What will you do?
I mean it…go ahead and think it through and decide.
God already knows your heart. I guarantee you He wants it to me more like His and less like mine. He wants you to choose Him. And, friend, so do I.
So, I have decided (defined as: free from hesitation or wavering; resolute; determined: a decided approach to a problem; in no way uncertain or ambiguous; unquestionable; a decided victory—oh, I like that last one!)
I have decided to thank Him and praise Him and honor Him and trust Him. I have chosen to do my very best to do all of this during every moment, even the “Seriously!?!” moments. And, friend, I pray you will do the same.
And, since I have you…I want to share some Truths that truly deserve a “Seriously!?!” response from us instead.
Ephesians 5:2 “…just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” = “Seriously!?!”
Matthew 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” = “Seriously!?!”
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” = “Seriously!?!”
Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” = “Seriously!?!”
1 Thess. 4:16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” = “Seriously!?!”
Matthew 26:64 “”Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” = “Seriously!?!”
And lastly, my lifelong bestest friend posted this on my facebook just last week, and my sweet friend and adult minister at our church texted me this today. Couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me…and, hopefully for you, too.
Ephesians 3:14-19 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Caroline, or Carolyn, or Carolynn, or Carrie, or Cari, or Carey, or Kerri, or Kari, or Kerry (you pick!) 🙂
Oh, sister! What a lot you have been through recently. And for a long, long time. I believe YOU are a fragrant offering before God, that He delights in your praises and says, “Have you seen my servant Caroline?”
God bless you. Thank you for the wonderful verses. That last one is my current memory passage, and I'm totally in love with it. I picked it because of the “love” part, but I'm loving it because of the “power in your inner being” part. I'm beginning to realize that being rooted in Jesus's love and having power are inextricably entwined.