Saturday, December 12, 2009

Only Christ

Let us hold fast the confession of our faith, without wavering, for He who promised is faithful... let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

I wanted to entitle this blog, "From Crowds to Cows"... but on this Saturday morning, with the hope of a new day, a different season and unlimited possibilities Christ can bring about in every single life... only one title would work.

Since my most recent wrestling match with the Lord, many things have come about in my heart and mind... which resulted in a trip home to the big D to meet up with a completely rad guy - Nick Vujicic.

The Thursday night before (December 3), while processing much of what our God had done, I began to remember the 'good times.' I thought of JAF and the TV gig, I thought of Scottish Rite and my work there, I thought of Family Retreat and how I missed it so... and began to feel alone again. Surprise, surprise.

But this time it was different... I was different. Not wanting to allow the sorrow overwhelm to the point of utter despair, I decided to spend time with someone who understood.... someone who could feel the pangs of my heart without a word being spoken.... then I thought of Nick.

So for the next 3 hours I proceeded to stalk him on YouTube.... ok, maybe not stalk, but I sure did watch a lot of his messages. The jokes about children's reactions had me laughing so deep and so hard I could hardly stand it.... the truths about how lonely it really is being stuck in this broken body penetrated to my heart and mind so powerfully it brought comfort to my soul and tears to my eyes.... I finally felt in 'good company.' I then see on his site, he was scheduled to appear in DALLAS December 6.

Long story short (with many thanks to Dan'l and Sheryl Lynn:)) - I got to see Nick last weekend and hear him live for the first time.

I arrived backstage. Nick shot me a look and immediately had someone carry him over to a nearby chair. As soon as he landed, I insisted he see the others waiting, and thanked him for caring to even say hello.... but Nick wasn't having it. HE insisted I sit down and relax.... me.... like he didn't need the same advice, after having addressed thousands... :)

Sitting there, I was at a loss for words. Which was totally weird, because let's face it, that rarely happens when I'm conversing... but I couldn't find what to say. So he encouraged, I soaked it up like a sponge, and tried to communicate over and over how I appreciate his honesty and devotion to Jesus. He then prays the longest prayer ever in the history of mankind, with his sweet face against my neck. It ended, I begin to pull away, he digs his chin back into my shoulder (to pull me back) and says.... "And God, please bring Holly a husband QUICK!"

Backing up with my eyes as big as saucers, I said... "See Nick!!! You do get it." He and I hadn't even GONE there in our discussion, and for this man to understand one of the deepest and most heart-aching results of this disability.... well it made me feel loved and not alone.

And not just loved by this international minister, but loved by the Living God. The God who has called Nick out of darkness and into marvelous light. The God Who KNEW Nick's journey, Nick's cross, would comfort me in a time of confusion and desperation.

Rarely do I get to be the comfortee - I'm usually called to be the comforter (not to the degree Nick feels), but it was extremely nice and refreshing, for the Lord to think it appropriate for this great man to, for just a moment in time, speak life and encouragement back into my heart.

So yes, I proclaim only Christ. I SHOUT ONLY CHRIST. For ONLY Christ could create such a moment. Only Christ could intertwine two roads in such a way. Only Christ can call these two young adults out of the darkness and have us LEAP into marvelous light.

Only Christ.

Nick, if you're reading this, I TOTALLY had fudge for you. ;) And good luck with the driving, I know you'll do fantastic.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aches, Tears & Questions

I lost my first patient. So as to not break the bonds of confidentiality, she will remain Nameless, however, though I am not able to label her in this piece, it does not mean her life did not have a profound impact on my own.

Nameless was always ready to greet me when I came trudging through the sliding glass doors of the dialysis center. Her greeting would never change: "How's it going kiddo?" Or there were times she came knocking on the little window peering into my office saying: "I need to speak with Holly," with a tone of urgency in her voice. Hearing this, I would rush out to see how I might assist, and as I approached she would flash this huge smile and say, "I just wanted to see how you were doing kiddo...." Being the sarcastic that I am I would reply, "HEY!! You scared me! Next time just say: I wanna hang with Holly," and we would both giggle.

Yes she was a crack up. Out of my entire caseload, Nameless was the one my heart related to the most. She has Spina bifida you see, along with many other medical complications, so we would talk crutches, wheelchairs, walkers... past, present and future challenges... and relate on a level neither of us had experienced much in the past.

When I heard the news, I felt my heart fall below the earth. It didn't seem real. I felt that I would still see her come wheeling into the center that night with her spikey orange hair (used to scare her momma) and that humongous smile... but she never came.

Nameless lived in a Nursing Home, and so often I felt those 'questions' to get me out to the lobby every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, were just ploys to have some fellowship, some laughs, and some love.

My heart is broken honestly. My patient lived a difficult life, endured a heavy cross and passed on from all of this alone in her room.... and being human I began to buckle... I began to wonder if I would travel the same road some day.

With these concerns spinning in my head I went home, crawled into bed in hopes of sleeping off all of the pain I was feeling. In the wee hours, I heard my phone signal I had a new email. The message was informing me that my favorite biblical teacher, Matt Chandler, has been diagnosed with a small mass on his front lobe and endured a seizure just the week before.

Again... this can't be real. I went back to sleep and dreamt of Nameless and I sitting in The Village Church listening and being encouraged by Matt.... he cracked jokes, and Nameless laughed awkwardly loud as I looked over and smiled at her.... then I woke up to the reality that Nameless is gone, Matt is not preaching right now... and I'm not home in Dallas.

With all of these difficult occurrences to process, I only felt more and more issues begin to boil over as I shlepped around the apartment in my nightgown and socks. I signed on to Facebook to distract, but couldn't focus. My questions were becoming too much...

"Why did Nameless have to endure that life? Why do I? Why has this happened to one of the most anointed pastors I have ever known? Why has God led me to a desert to deal with all of this? Why am I alone? Why am I single? Why can't I have a family? Why is my spine broken? Why do I feel completely abandoned? Why Lord, WHY???"

I felt overwhelmed and lost. The aches were too heavy, I had no one to answer me, no one to hold me, no one to catch me as I collapsed to the floor in tears and pain. I felt so alone. Then anger came rushing in. I was mad because my pain seemed to go into the oblivion, with no husband, no friends, no parents or sisters to tell me it was going to be OK. So I buckled under the weight of this cross, and sadness of others.

I cried for Nameless. I cried for her family. I cried for Matt Chandler and his family. I cried for The Village Church. I cried for my anger, my confusion, my frustration, and my loneliness. I cried and cried and cried. Forever it seemed like.

Then an IM: "Holly Bell!!!" Amie exclaimed. Immediately I poured it out onto my so very strong sister in Christ. She waited out my questions, my fears, my hate, my hurt, my frustration - only to love me in the midst and speak life back into my pain.

Through my sobs I was able to converse with Amie and be honest with her. With tears streaming, and my nose completely closed up - I asked the Lord if He was here. Stepped back from the computer and collapsed again. I asked if He couldn't answer all of my 'why's', would He please just guide me in this day. I thought to myself: should I go to work and 'game face it', or should I stay, rest and recover from all the buckling and hits to the floor....

Then IM's again: "Holly. You are not alone." More sweet statements of truth and love in between and then, "Maybe you should take this day to rest."


Amie didn't know what I was doing on the other side of the country... she lives up north. She had no clue I fell to the ground and cried out to our Lord to save me... to answer me.

Again, I read the words over and over. This can't be real. The answers, SO clear. So insanely clear that it made my soul buckle this time, under the Majesty, Power and Love of the God of all... our aches, tears and questions.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Nameless. May her spikey hair and huge smile be the sweetest addition to heaven.

It is dedicated to the love and respect of Reverend Matt Chandler. May the tumor disappear as though it never existed and Christ be praised.

It is dedicated to every lonely heart. To everyone who feels they have no one to catch them when they collapse.

It is dedicated to my dearest friend (and neighbor ;)) Amie, who speaks nothing but the truth, power and love of Christ. May her skills and wisdom be used to glorify Him forever.

And finally, it is dedicated to my Lord, Jesus Christ. The One Who loves the lunatics ;), the One who stays silent and loud in the same moment, the One who catches me when I fall... the Love of my life, the Lord of all my questions.