Hopeful Thoughts

Counting Down?

There are so many big events coming up in my life that I am finding it difficult to focus on the here and now. Here’s a list of what’s coming up:

  • Less than 4 weeks until BTCL graduation
  • Less than 7 weeks until my LAST day of teaching
  • 7 weeks until I go home to visit NC and see my nieces!
  • A little over 3 months until I go to Argentina for a mission trip and to see my friend Emily and her new baby.
  • About 4 months until our lease ends and we move into a bigger place!

With all of these fun things to look forward to, you can see how I might be struggling! In the mean time, I am trying not to rush through everything and to make the most of the gift of time that God gives me each day.

An Empty Seat

Every group has one … the awkward guy who’s always around. You try to include him, but sometimes his quirks make it difficult to know what to say or do when he’s around.

Ours was a Letter Carrier by day, Country Guitar Player by night. No matter where he went, he always had a guitar, usually in his lap, almost as if it was some sort of security blanket. If he wasn’t playing his guitar, he was chewing on a drinking straw, a habit formed years ago when he gave up smoking. At Sunday lunches, he would quietly listen to the conversations, and occasionally jump in if it turned to music, but was lost amidst the usual talk of technology.

He loved the Lord, he loved his church, and he loved to play his guitars. During Bible study, his comments weren’t the most profound, but were often childlike and thoughtful. Sometimes his prayer requests would go on with lengthy detail, but oh how he cared about people! Our Sunday worship music took on a country twang each week. I’m not sure he knew how to play any other style. But, he was dedicated, dependable, present.

We lost him this week. In the middle of the day, while he was doing his job, the Lord saw fit to take him home. And now, where our quirky, dependable friend used to be, there is an empty seat. And we are all left wondering, did we love him like he loved us?

A lesson learned

I grew up in a family where service was modeled. Dad was always doing stuff for other people, and mom was giving blood regularly. I’ve always been willing to jump in and help others, but, before yesterday, had never given blood myself.

I’ve often had opportunities to give blood, but, quite honestly, I didn’t weigh enough. Every when the high school hosted a blood drive, my kids would ask me why I didn’t donate, and I was quite honest with them. I’m only about 5 feet tall, and REALLY I didn’t weigh enough to meet the requirements to give.

Time passed, and I got married and started cooking for my husband. There are a few things that I make well, like DESSERT, and so, the weight crept up. For most of the passed 6 years, it’s been FEAR, not weight that has kept me form giving. I was always scared that I would pass out.

So, yesterday, with my precious friend, Diane, by my side, I gave blood for the first time. The guy that drew it was so nice. He really helped to make me comfortable with the whole thing. He and Diane and I laughed, and, before I knew it, 600 grams of my blood was no longer in my body. Surprisingly, I was still alert and felt fine. So, I drank some juice, ate some cookies, sat for about 10 minutes, and then walked back to my classroom to finish the day. I made sure to sit for the duration and drink lots of water.

After school I ran a few errands: bank, fabric store, grocery store; and then it was on to home group. I ate a big dinner, as I’d been told to. Everything was still fine.

The last thing I remember was reading a passage from Ephesians about the good works God prepared us to do. I began reflecting on the wonder of the human body and how amazing it was that it could be fine without that pint of blood I’d seen earlier. In fact, it looked like a lot of blood relative to the size of my body. I don’t know if I psyched myself out or it was really the blood loss, but that’s when my head started spinning. I thought about telling the group (about 15 of my church friends), but I didn’t want to interrupt the discussion. So, I drank some water, put the bottle back on the floor, and then sat back in my chair, trying to relax.

Next thing I remember was hearing Vicki asking over and over, “Hope, are you OK?” She had an arm around me. I felt like I was coming out of a deep sleep, hearing voices in a dream. It was very surreal. I’ve never passed out before in my life. It took me a few minutes to realize what had happened. Poor Husband didn’t even know yet that I had given blood, so he was quite freaked out until someone clued him in.

We considered going to the ER, but after talking to my mom and Lori’s mom, both nurses, it was decided that I would just go home and rest for the duration of the weekend. I am under strict orders from MOM to eat red meat, take iron, rest (possibly stay home from work on Monday), and to NEVER give blood again. Turns out I really AM too small!

I want to thank all my sweet friends who helped out last night. God’s hand was so present, and I am grateful. Even to the point that He made sure we were crammed in close enough together for discussion that when I passed out, the nearest thing for my head to land on was sweet Vicki’s shoulder! I will be OK, but I have certainly learned my lesson!