Details of the Heart.

I promised myself that when I started a blog, I would not post something unless I actually had something to say. I tend to spend 10 minutes or so writing an entry, and the words usually flow like water. If I sit at the computer, attempting to muster up something of worth, that’s a good sign that I should probably stop altogether. Since I last posted, several “big things”have occurred. My husband and I found out where we matched on Friday, his twin sister got married on Saturday, and I had surgery on Monday morning. While these three events were very different, with varying emotions and activities, they each had much in common as well. The thread that ties them together is this: God was in the details. We often pay more attention to the mountaintop moments in our lives; but God graciously allowed me to focus on the details of His provision in these similar albeit different situations.
Match Day: a day we had prayed over, wrestled with, and thought about for months. This was a day that determined where Hugh and I will live for at least the next three years. We felt strongly called to put UAB (Birmingham) first; but a small envelope would determine where God intended us to be. When Hugh’s name got called to the front to pick up his letter, I had a moment of sheer peace. I knew that whatever was in that envelope, God was responsible, and He was up to something. I did not feel anything but confidence in wherever He had chosen for us. This moment lasted a couple seconds, and I could have missed it with all that was going on around us. I am thankful that God caused me to take a step back and realize how far He had gotten my heart in the midst of this process. A detail to some; a precious amount of molding for me.
The wedding: nothing can bring a bride to tears more than reading a letter from her husband-to-be. Watching Hugh’s sister’s eyes well up with tears as she read the sentiments from her groom silently left me reflecting on why words on a page would cause us to show such strong emotion. I don’t know what was in the letter, but I do know one thing: these tears were tears of joy, caused by a reminder that the bride was unconditionally and genuinely loved by the one she longed for. What a glorious reflection of the daily reminder Jesus gives us as Christians! Every sunset that rises, each morning that we wake up with another breath, is an assurance that He chose us, He loves us, and He has a plan for us that very day. It took the bride a couple minutes max to read this letter; but the lesson learned was imprinted on my heart. A detail to some; a precious amount of molding for me.
The surgery: A week after getting home from Bangladesh, some pain in what felt like my ovaries would not go away. A doctor’s visit determined that I had a rare type of cyst called a dermoid on my right ovary. The cyst would not go away on its own, and could grow. If the cyst torsed (ruptured or twisted), emergency surgery would be required and the ovary would need to be removed. As the ob/gyn eloquently stated, “It’s got to come out”. There were so many blessings involved in the process. The fact that I had quit my job prior to Bangladesh made more sense than ever, because recovery time was going to be at least a couple weeks. Speaking of Bangladesh, what a blessing it was that the cyst was not causing me pain while out of the country; but that God allowed us to find it before it had gotten extremely large. God kept giving me reminders that He was over this surgery and that He was going to take care of me. The biggest fear I had concerning the surgery was the IV beforehand. (No, not the incisions during or pain after. The IV. Silly, no?) When I got to the hospital Monday morning, I quickly discovered that the nurse doing my pre-op work was a Christian. I expressed my fears to her, and she reminded me scriptures of God’s faithfulness and how we should not fear throughout the whole process. A small detail to some, a precious amount of molding to me.
As I sit here 5 days later, trying to patiently trust my body with the healing process that already feels too slow, God continues to whisper to me the importance of paying attention to His details. Sure, today holds a lot of couch laying and fluid drinking, but He is up to something. The same is true for you. No matter what your day holds, if the sun rose and you are still breathing, He has some details waiting for you. Luke 12:7 reminds us that He knows each and every hair on our heads, and that we are worth more than many sparrows. As I listen to the birds chirping, I know that He is in all the tiny instances in all of our days. Look around and then look within. He is speaking.

Bangladesh, Part 2

As a Social Worker, my job consists of case management a lot of the time. Case management often turns into somewhat of a bandaid-type fix in which you fit in as many clients as you can in one day, attempting to meet a handful of needs for as many as possible. Without fully realizing it, I believe I have become somewhat desynsetized to the importance of each individual. I have begun seeing problems, hurts, and pains as more of a massive issue rather than something that is individualized. Before going on this trip, I was informed that I would be able to help with some of the mental health needs of the people we came in contact with. I was told that there was no mental health care available in Bangladesh, and that there were numbers and numbers of people to be helped. I honestly pictured myself with a long line of people, giving a “band-aid” to as many as I could. God, as He does, completely rocked my perception.
While in Bangladesh, I probably counselled 10-12 patients. In America, that would have been a ridiculously small number for the amount of time we spent there. I got to have tea with a Schizophrenic lady, who spent a couple hours laughing and smiling instead of being tormented by the voices in her head that told her to hurt everyone around her. I was able to hug and love on a depressed Buddhist teenager, and even share the gospel with her. She came back the next day, and brought me a gift because she was “feeling alive again”. I prayed (with my eyes open, in English, surrounded by Muslim spies) with a lady who felt hopeless and had begun to think that God hated her and her family due to the fact that she had lost two children in the past two years. This lady left rejuvenated and confident that God had a plan for her and her family, and that the plan was for good and not harm (Jer. 29:11). I even got to share some simple breathing techniques with a woman suffering from anxiety; she was hugging me and rejoicing that she no longer felt like she was having a heart attack, and all I did was remind her to breathe! These are only a handful of examples of the work that God did when I took the time to see the importance in the one He placed in front of me. God’s word reminds us of this truth in Matthew 18:12-13, where the Lord talks about leaving the 99 sheep to find the one who went astray. Time and time again, Jesus speaks with the one in front of Him. He leaves the crowd to go have dinner with Zecchaeus, a well-known tax collector and sinner. He hears the voice of the blind beggar in the midst of many, and He speaks to the man and heals him (found in Luke 18 and 19). Yes, through God’s intentionality (that is now a word in my book), many see His healing touch and give Him praise; but He does this through paying attention to the one in front of Him.
While in Bangladesh, several individuals came to us at just the right moment for healing. There were crowds and crowds that wanted medical care each day; we almost always turned A LOT away. Instead of letting this frustrate me, however, I learned to trust that God would bring us those He desired to touch in that moment. One day, a father from the previously unreached Marma village carried his son 8 hours in order to receive medical care. The child had malaria and was near death; he left physically healed after receiving medical attention and the love that only Christ can give. Another man was carried on bamboo shoots by two friends, unable to walk because of bladder obstruction. They had no idea that we were holding a free clinic; they were carrying him as long as it took to find the care that he needed. These are just two incidences that I know were NOT coincidences. They were God’s divine appointments.
Now that I am back, I will soon be entering into the world of Social Work once again. I pray that I never forget the value in the one in front of me. I do not want to live as if I am here to help the masses; I want to trust God that He will place people in my life that He wants to minister to through me, and I want to invest fully in those people. We are not called to be everything to everyone; we are called to live as if we have an audience of One, and to trust Him with the details. Who has He placed in front of you today? Whether it is your children, spouse, co-workers, clients, or anyone else, it is not by chance. Let’s live that truth out today, leaving the rest in His hands.