Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Taking a sabbatical from talking about sabbaticals. (I will pick it up tomorrow)

Dahlia of the day: Keewatin Pioneer.

The alarm went off way too early this morning. In a semi-conscious condition my mind tried to justify staying in bed. My body was saying, “Close the eyes and sleep until a decent hour.” Today is the men’s breakfast at the “Golden Arches.” We don’t try to solve the world’s problems. We don’t study the Bible. We don’t try to solve the church’s problems. All we do is have breakfast together—a few men from the church starting the day together. Gary drives a school bus—this is his last “breakfast” until Christmas vacation. Still, my body tried to convince my eyes to close and let the bliss of sleep return.

Sleep. There has been way too little sleep in the past few days. My brain quickly recounted the reasons for missing sleep in the past couple of days. Sunday morning started with me leaving the house at 4:25 am to pick up our son at airport (Brenda is back east for her work). A quick shower and then off to church. My brain is telling my body, “The nap will take place this afternoon!” Church goes well. Lots of people stay for our fellowship time. Then its time for the Deacon meeting—it is the last meeting for two of our deacons, two new deacons will come on board at the September meeting. What a great group of folks who selflessly give and give and give to the folks at our church. Prayer. Cards. Phone calls. Meals. There are so many needs in an older congregation. Praise God for these people who work behind the scenes. I am more than willing to by pass the nap to spend time with these saints.

Sleep? Following the Deacon meeting I rush home to have an afternoon dinner with our son before he heads up to Bellingham, WA, to be with his college friends. At least he was able to get a few hours of sleep! Dinner, cleanup and a quick vacuum of the living room and it is time for the Session meeting at our house (for you non-Presbyterian types, the “Session” is our church board which is made up of “elders”). Sleep has to be postponed again. A fabulous meeting with our elders!! The meeting is long but not a moment is a waste of time. The Bible study in Ephesians is wonderful, uplifting and challenging. Then… my cell phone beeps—a text message from our mission team that is on the way back from Alaska. The plane is late! Let me digress for a moment. I was supposed to be on that trip. Our high school youth group was going to Kake, Alaska, to serve at our sister church. Our youth leader had never led a mission trip. I have led mission trips to Alaskan native villages many, many times over the years (several times to Kake). My “health concerns” meant that I couldn’t go on the trip with them. My involvement had been limited to driving the van to drop them off at the airport and then going back to pick them up. None of these students had ever been on a mission trip before. Back to the session meeting…

As the session meeting progresses I receive periodic text messages from the airport in Juneau. God is in control of both situations. The meeting is over. The plane has just arrived from Anchorage and is about to depart. Sleep?? Oh well… Darrel and I head to the airport at 12:50 am. Darrel has a HUGE truck, with canopy, that is perfect for all of the luggage. We are both tired but we know our team is almost home. The mission team returns to the church at 2:50 am—full of excitement, on the verge to exhaustion, bouncing off the walls (except we were outside) due to their excitement about their faith and how they had gone on the trip expecting to help others and found that their lives had been transformed. Sleep—who needs sleep. By 3:45 am I am home and getting ready for sleep. Sleep!

Monday morning… not enough sleep. My plan had been to drive across the Cascade Mountains to visit a dear lady. Kate has been a member of Evergreen for ages and ages. Kate has almost no money. She has never been a “mover and shaker” at the church. She is just one of the people who call Evergreen home. Kate has cancer and is not expect to live more than a few more weeks. Many months ago she had gone over to visit her son and had to be admitted into the hospital in Ellensburg. She almost died. After several weeks they released her to an Ellensburg nursing home. No friends in that town. Her son lives half an hour outside of town. I would drive over and visit with Kate. I could visibly see how her condition deteriorated between visits. She couldn’t receive her cancer treatments while she was in the nursing home (the treatments were just to try and slow down the aggressive type of cancer that she has). Monday morning I thought about closing my eyes and going back to sleep. I could go a visit Kate another day. Maybe I could spring free on Wednesday! Sleep? Kate might not be alive on Wednesday or some other “emergency” could come up. After a quick breakfast and shower I go out to the dahlias and select blossoms from nine varieties and put together an arrangement for Kate. A stop to gas up the Explorer and I am the road. I can sleep when I get back. What a gal!! I am so glad that I went to see Kate! (Note: she loved the dahlias J)

That brings me back to this morning. As I wrestle with the thought of closing my eyes and going back to sleep I think about the past 48 hours. And then I realize that it isn’t about “me.” Gary, Tony, Herb and Ken will all be missing sleep to be at breakfast. Darrel missed sleep to transport the mission team back to the church. Kate’s son and granddaughter miss sleep every night as they take care of her (someone has to be up with her at all times). The “oldest” lady in our church misses sleep every day as she takes cares for her husband (the oldest guy at the church) who has Alzheimer’s. Sleep?

This afternoon people will not be able to reach me. I am going home early, turning off the cell phone and taking a nap. I know that without sleep I will not be much use to the church.

At times it may seem as though I get down on Evergreen. The folks at Evergreen Presbyterian Church are great—it is a wonderful place to live and serve. It is filled with imperfect people: people who make mistakes, people who have struggles in their lives, people who are trying to serve Christ and love people. We live and minister in one of the most unchurched areas of the country. Coach Holmgren of our Seattle Seahawks pushes his team relentlessly. He sees how much they have accomplished in the past five years—yet, he keeps on pushing. He knows that there is still room for growth. He is proud of what his team has accomplished but still he pushes. His passion has transformed the team. Quarterbacks and receivers get together throughout the off season to refine their timing and skills. A record number of players take part in the off season conditioning program. The coach still pushes. His players know that he pushes himself harder than he pushes them—they love and respect him. I would never put myself on the same level as Coach Holmgren. I see the many ways our church and its people make a difference in our community. Still, I push them—and myself.

Sleep? Yes, we need rest—I need rest. Many of our folks need rest and sleep. Very few people see what goes on behind the scenes of the local church. The couple that stays up with their premature baby… The husband who cares for the sick wife… The wife who cares for her ailing husband… The guy on the roof of the church trying to keep the building together… The choir members sorting music… The musicians practicing… Meals being delivered to those who can’t prepare them… The couple (they don’t have lots of $$$) who make a major contribution so that the youth group can fly to Alaska… The guy who quit one job to take a night job so that he can go back to college to better his family… The couple that has reached out to some foster kids… The people who fill boxes with food for those in need down at the food bank… The people who drive the “shut ins” to doctor appointments… The list could go on and on and on. A bunch of imperfect people who love Christ and are trying to make a difference. Still, I push—myself and my church. Sleep? Maybe a nap will do.


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