So... I was all emotional today.... err... yesterday. There was more emotional exploding going on than I've experienced in a long time. Sorry if I made anyone uncomfortable. It just had to come out.
Busy day of weddings on Saturday. It was so nice to see my nursing buddies and also my cousins on my mom's side. I've missed you all. It's been too long.
So what happened today?
I'd been waiting with anticipation for June 27th. It was special for many reasons... not only because it was Anderson's birthday... but it was the first day I could go to church on a Sunday in over a month. Not only that... it was my first day going to a different church. I've been waiting months for this opportunity. And it finally came.
I set my alarm for 7:15am. That's normally the time I'm in bed after I get home from a shift at work. I have a SUPER hard time getting up in the morning. Coupled with the fact that my eyes have been really dry, especially in the morning... I can barely open my eyes without having to put in eyedrops first. I checked online in bed and there were 2 services at Cornerstone... not just 1. I don't know if there were always 2 services... but... I was looking fwd to seeing the few people I know there... so I texted a few of them super early... asking which service they were going to. No response. Oh well. I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for church. I think I woke up too early. But when I wake up early nowadays... I need the extra time. I move so slowly in the AM.
It was 8:55AM and I was a minute away from Cornerstone when my friend, Julia, texted that she'd be at 2nd service, not 1st service. Quick decision. I decided to go somewhere and sit and wait for 2 hrs. I was actually really glad for this quick change in plans. I didn't get a chance to think very much yesterday... and I also didn't get a chance to do my Bible reading. Perfect opportunity. Handy dandy GPS to the rescue. I found an It's a Grind, but on the way there... I saw a McDonald's. I don't know if it's just sentimental value from having had small groups early Sunday mornings at McDonald's all those years ago... but I opted on stopping at McDonald's instead. I got my egg mcmuffin and a mocha (omg yes, I had to resort to coffee...) and I went outside to sit in the little kids play area... to be alone. To eat, to read, to journal, to think, to pray.
One thing about the 1-year Bible reading plans... sometimes you have to go through things really quickly. It was time to read through the Psalms and I had to catch up on Psalms 1-9 for yesterday and 10-17 for today. I only made it to 13. Not that I don't love the Psalms... I do... I just dread going through them that quickly. It's kind of like... speeding through a neighborhood that you'd really like to stop often and take in the scenery... but you can't because you don't have enough time. I'm glad I had the 2 hours. It was like... bonus life. Thank you. And thank you, friend, for texting me when you did. Perfect timing.
I had so many thoughts. I was humbled so many times as I read the Psalmist's words. Chapter 1: Delight in the law of the Lord. Meditate on it day and night. Be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water... always with access to Living Water... roots tapped into the source of life... who bear fruit in season... and everything they do... prospers. Awesome imagery. Delight in the law of the Lord. Delight. Love it. Draw pleasure from it. Can't get enough of it.
Chapter 3: You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. You're my protection. Of whom and of what do I have to fear? Every time I get called into my manager's office, I'm struck with fear. I think I forgot to write about my 90-day evaluation. It happened at the end of May, I think. I got all nervous. I tried to anticipate what she was going to say. I tried to tell myself... that no matter what... I did my best... I had to have confidence in that. I got an envelope from work the other day... it didn't look like a paycheck. I got hit with another pang of fear. What if I did something wrong? What if it's some disciplinary action or something? I know it's so silly. But... it happens. I fear. And then... I remind myself... if I'm doing something wrong... I really need to know about it so I stop doing it. If I'm not doing a good job, I also need to know about it so I can improve. It's for my own benefit and for the safety of my patients. So it's a good thing. It's actually worse if I'm doing badly and no one tells me... then I'll just keep doing badly and I'll never improve. It is far more important to know what I need to work on and to improve than to have my pride intact... especially if it's foolish pride at that. So just to sum up... my 90-day eval went well. My manager had absolutely nothing bad to say about me... not even much of anything to improve on... (half happy, half sad not to have any tips direct from her mouth on what to improve on)... and that envelope ended up being some paperwork from HR or something about my 401K. Needless worries. Glad I didn't expend too much energy worrying about it.
Chapter 4: Tremble and do not sin; meditate in your heart uon your bed and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and trust in the Lord. Sacrifices of righteousness. What are they? (1) to deny myself and my flesh? (2) to choose to follow God's way? Sacrifices... what needs to die in order for me to have righteousness? Jesus died that I may be justified. His blood also empowers me in sanctification. But I need to die to myself, take up my cross and follow Him... follow after the perfect example of obedience.
Anyway, et cetera et cetera up til chapter 13. Good times with God and my mocha.
And then to follow up with yesterday's thought about doing what we need to do in order to take control of our spiritual health... I think I remembered one important piece... that good health is not always the clear-cut outcome of the labor we put in to promote it. Sometimes... we do everything right and the outcome isn't what we expected. That's because... our spiritual health... just like our physical health... is a gift from God. It is God's grace to us and it is His to give and withhold for His good purposes. Just like with Job... Job didn't know it but God and Satan were having convos about him. God was pointing out how special Job was... and Satan was trying to counter Him. But God knew. God already knew that Job's heart was extraordinary. God knew what Job would do even in the absence of His comforting presence for a little while. God was always in control, always looking at Job and his heart. Even when Job couldn't feel it... God was there. All he knew was that he was suffering. And sometimes that's all we know and all we feel too. But like Job... we, too, can remain faithful... and trust in the Lord... and wait for Him to speak, wait for the lesson to be revealed... look eagerly for His comfort and relief... ask in faith and cry out every single uttering and groaning of our hearts... and He hears. And He will speak and He will deliver... in His good timing.
I also took some time to do some analysis of my life, my finances, my speech, my time. Made a big checklist of things to do, things to get rid of... action points. Some are preventative actions... some are going back and making right some wrongs. Speaking of righting wrongs...
I have a horrible sense of direction. I have absolutely no idea which way is N-S-E-W. I have to be somewhere for quite a while before I know where I'm going. And don't follow me when I'm walking. I will likely get us lost. One good thing though... I usually know that I'm lost when I'm lost. Thankfully, I have a GPS to help. Lately though... either I'm driving too fast or my GPS is telling me to turn too late but I'm finding that I'm missing turns and having to either wait for the lady to recalculate or make a U-turn on my own to get back on track. Even today... coming back to church from McDonald's... I turned the wrong way and went a block in the wrong direction. It's not even that far from church. Anyway... missing a turn and having to turn around... it takes time. You still get there... it just takes longer. Same thing about making mistakes in life. Maybe I don't listen... maybe I was going too fast to listen... maybe I heard the directions too late... but I've made a lot of mistakes and I've had to go back and correct them a lot. That's totally fine. It's just not the ideal way to do things.
You know that Song of Jabez that got way popular... I don't know... 10 years ago... maybe more? Jabez was EVERYWHERE. Everyone was saying... just pray the prayer of Jabez and God will bless you. There was a song... Father, bless me indeed, You're all that I need, extend my horizon beyond what I see, put Your hand upon me, keep me from evil today. I can't remember if the song ever finished up his prayer but the very last line was, "that I might not cause pain". Keep me from evil that I might not cause pain. Evil causes pain. Sin causes pain. The opposite of evil is righteousness and holiness. Ultimate righteousness and holiness is found in God... the perfect living example of which is Jesus Christ.
So yeah... it's much better to be prepared... to know what you're doing, where you're going... you can have the GPS tell you as you're going along but doing your homework beforehand is also beneficial so that you're anticipating the turn and not surprised by it. The right way is the most direct, saves times, saves stress... saves you from pain.
OK so my 2 hours was coming to a close... and I walked into the worship area... and it was mostly empty. Not even any greeters yet. So I went and sat down in the middle of an aisle. I don't like to sit at the end when I'm first... then people have to climb over me to get a seat and I almost always need another chair for all my "stuff". I sat in the middle of a row. And as people began to find their seats... I looked around and noticed... that everyone came in pairs. Everyone had a friend. Seemed like everyone had someone... except me. There was one girl I saw sitting alone... I was just about to go introduce myself when her friend showed up. Right then and there, I kind of lost the will and the energy to talk to people. So I sat. I sat by myself. I organized my purse. People began to come in more quickly... and everyone seemed... to sit around me but no one near me. There was at least a 3-chair buffer on either side of me... and absolutely no one sitting in front of me. It was like I stank or something. You could draw a circle all around me... like my electrons were orbiting and there was nothing but empty space around my nucleus. Why no one sat near me... I have no idea. Maybe I did actually stink. I dunno. I couldn't tell. I started to think that maybe changing churches was not such a good idea. Maybe going to morning service... not a good idea either. I was very acutely aware of my loneliness. Oh well... suck it up, Tiff... you're a big girl... you've gone to church your whole life... you've felt like this at a church you've been at for 20 years and you didn't let it get you down... or... did you...
We started singing. So I sang. At first... I was just singing... singing without... kavanah. Ok I seriously need to consult someone to know if I'm using it right... if I'm "saying" it right in my head... or even if it can be applied to anything else other than repetitive prayers... but... I think for lots of us who've been to church our whole lives... it's easy to sing on autopilot. So I was letting my thoughts of loneliness and despair fill me... even as my mouth was singing the exact opposite of what I was feeling. And then... it was almost like... time stopped and God was speaking to me. I was reading it. I was singing it. But God was speaking to me.
You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see... we were meant to be
I know that "you and I" are probably more like... you and I as a congregation... as God's people... but for that moment... it was "you and I" but He meant "Jesus and Tiff". Me you, you me. Me and you, Tiff... we were meant to be. And I couldn't sing anymore. I could only cry. If one big tear pops out... I try to tilt my head to get it to like... reabsorb back into my eye. It almost never works. This time it really didn't work. It was uncontrollable. The faucet was wide open. Right then and there... I felt... so loved. Loved in my loneliness. Loved in my widow-ness. Loved in my buffer zone. Loved when it felt like no one else wanted to be near me. He is all I need... and we were meant to be. Like Tiff and Anderson were meant to be Tifferson... Jesus and Tiff were meant to be... uh... just meant to be. Destined.
And then Julia showed up and my buffer zone poof'd away. Perfect timing again, Julia. You really really blessed me this morning. And God used your timing... to minister to me in ways that couldn't have happened if you had decided to go to first service... and also if you had decided to be on time. And also all you people who don't know me... who don't read my blog but who sat all around me but not next to me... God couldn't have spoken to me had you not done that. So thank you... even if you'll never hear it or never even know that I said it.
The day got exponentially better after that. Good sermon. I got to shake hands with Pastor James and he said "hi Tiffany!". I know my name tag was 5 inches below my chin but still. It's nice to be called out by name. I was wondering when I'd get to meet him. I doubt he'll remember me the next time but... it's a start. Hope he doesn't remember me as the crying girl who took his money at the Czech bake sale. Oh yeah, I cried at the bake sale table too. Emotional explosions. Maybe next time, I'll make a better impression. And I got a chance to see people from my care group. Got a few hugs. Caught up with a few people. Met some new friends... or re-met them because we think we've seen each other before. One person... after I said that I was a nurse... they were like... oh... I can see that. And the other dude was like... WHAT? HOW? and he said... well... you just look like a nurse... you've got like... a caring face. I laughed. That was one of the nicest, weirdest things to say... but it totally made me smile. Lots and lots of blessings today.
Anyway... just to close... one thing... Anderson would have liked that I went to the batting cages on his birthday. I still miss him standing outside the cage... critiquing my every swing. Last time I hit in the 60mph cage. This time, I tried 70. Wasn't too bad. I wanted to try 80 but I think it was taken... so I went into the 90mph one. The speed and the sound of it hitting the mat thing... scared the heck out of me. I don't know what was the huge difference between 70mph and 90mph but I was not scared at 70... was totally freaked out at 90. 3 pitches and I wanted to quit. And then I kinda heard him reprimand me... "don't be such a girl". So... I didn't quit. I stayed. I didn't really hit anything. Maybe made contact twice. When he first met me, I couldn't even hit baseballs in the slow cage. I'd swing and miss every single one. I could only hit slow-pitch softballs. Big, fat, lobbed balls that give you like 2 seconds to watch it before you have to hit it. So... yeah... definite progress has been made. Next time... I'll do better. I know he'd be proud of me though. If he were still here... I'd probably step out of the 90 and he'd say... "good job, darling... dang... a hot girl coming out of the 90...will you marry me..." and I'd say "you already married me, silly..." and he'd probably say "well marry me again, cuz you're the one". Meant to be, I'm telling you. Meant to be.