Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm being serious...

Just kidding. I’m not like that often...but I have been known to be serious on occasion. I try not to be serious for any length of time because that just isn’t the way I’m wired. Some people say I’m not wired right...never have been and never will be. They’re right. That’s me. And my main thing with this blog is to bring a smile to your face or make you laugh so hard that tears will fall down your legs.

But this one may be a little different because there is something I must share with you. After my sister died unexpectedly in January of this year, I felt lost. Yes, I have my wonderful husband, daughter, son-in-law and brothers...but she was gone.

Vangie was a “presence” in my life. My first playmate, my first friend, my roommate. She was constantly reminding me that God gave me the voice I have to sing with and so I must always use it for Him. So when I was singing Carole King and James Taylor tunes in coffeehouses and other venues, Vangie’s reminder always came to me. Even when I’d try to shove it in the corner of my mind, it was there. I’ve never forgotten. And now I do my best to use it like she advised me. (Except when I sing the songs I use in my comedy routines, like the one I wrote about comparing my body to a car...and “The Menopause Song - Stand By Your Fan.” She heard those, by the way, and laughed as hard as anyone, so I guess it was okay with her if I did a little comedic music now and again.)

My sister was my biggest supporter, cheerleader and fan. She would constantly encourage me about this or that...not empty praise or encouragement...but straight from her heart. And that is now my dilemma. She’s gone.

I recently began doing my comedy again, after I’d had time to grieve and get some things in perspective. But I hadn’t had the opportunity to share in a church service until this past Sunday evening. The 3 1/2 hour drive was mostly through heavy rains, so I was a bit tense. I didn’t listen to the radio because I wanted to concentrate on what I was going to share that night.

But one nagging thing was breaking that concentration as I drove. I felt that I just couldn’t stand up and share my heart with that congregation without falling apart. It’s one thing to stand up and try to keep them laughing...but this was different. Yes, I shared a few funny things, but I had a message to bring. I’m not a preacher. That’s my husband’s job. But I do have things to share that I hope ends up encouraging others...as was the plan that evening.

Vangie would always write on her calendar the dates I’d have for speaking or singing engagements, as well as my comedy dates. That was so she could pray for me. Afterward, she’d always ask how it went. But I knew she didn’t know about this one. And it felt strange to think I wouldn’t have to call her the next morning to give her a report on the previous evening’s moments.

People tell me that the “firsts” of anything will be the hardest after a loss like I’ve experienced. They’re right. Last night was my first time to speak in a church service, sharing something God had laid on my heart to say. And it was a first without her knowing about it. Maybe she did. Maybe she gets to see stuff like that. Maybe not. All I know is that others were praying for me and I made it through. God showed up and I knew it.

But what about next time? What about my first retreat? My first Camp Sychar without her? That was where we’d spend nearly two weeks every summer together. And this year, I’m leading the worship music in the morning and evening services each day. She won’t be there.

As I drove to Unicoi, Tennessee yesterday to share in that church service...I thought about the fact that I wouldn’t have her at camp this year. I actually started to cry thinking about doing that without her. I even wondered if I would be able to do my music job properly because of the grief I’ve experienced over losing her. It’s something I’ve struggled with for weeks and weeks. She was such a beloved person there at camp and now I’ll be seeing lots of people who loved her. I know we’ll cry. But we’ll smile, too...thinking about her. But how in the world will I be an effective worship leader at this “first camp” without my sissie?

Well, last night I found out that I can do this. I’m going to be okay. Because last night I talked with the congregation about God’s Promises. And His biggest promise at that moment was that He would be with me. God showed up. Big time. It was evident He was there.

From now on, I’ll be doing everything without my sissie. But I’ll be okay. Because I know where she is and that I’ll see her again. In the meanwhile, I need to rely on those promises I shared with the church last night.

And something else. I can rely on His Word. There are two scriptures I’m concentrating on these days. I’m doing this because I do not want my grief to define me when I’m trying to lead other believers in worship. I can’t take them someplace that I’m not willing to go myself. And if I let my grief get the best of me, I’ll not be giving God the best of me.

So I leave you with these two scriptures and ask that you, too, would keep me in your prayers. I don’t want to be a hindrance in what God wants to do through my music leadership.

Lord, teach me how you want me to live. Then I will follow your truth. Give me a heart that doesn’t want anything more than to worship you. Lord my God, I will praise you with all my heart. I will bring glory to you forever. Great is your love for me…
Psalm 86:11, 12 [NIRV]

Here in this great gathering for worship I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here
in front of the God-worshipers.
Down-and-outers sit at God’s table and eat their fill. Everyone on the hunt for God is here, praising him. “Live it up, from head to toe. Don’t ever quit!”
Psalm 22:25, 26 [The Message]

This picture was my view on the way home after sharing at the church service. It's one of those "aha moments" people talk about. Maybe you can see why I thought it was appropriate to place in this part of the blog.

“If you have a pulse, then you have a purpose. Make your life count!”