Sunday, July 13, 2014

So God, what are you going to do today? by Rickelle Nelson

Expectation.  Tough word.  We've been conditioned by life, by culture to temper expectations.  Expectations at some level leave one vulnerable; vulnerable to pain and to disappointment.  Tragic really.  A place where such thought, such teaching has absolutely no place is Church.  However, we are just as bad as anyone else when it comes to this, making the error even more egregious because we of all people ought to know better.  As I ask over and over and over of my congregation and fellow believers, "Do you really believe the things that we proclaim?"  I work hard to instill in folks that the sense of expectation needs to be a vital part of your faith; expect to encounter God, expect God to show up.  Expectation is at some level symbiotic with faith itself.  Ah but goodness, how I myself struggle at times with this.  I of all should really know better making my error even more egregious yet.  Thank God, God is not beholden to our faults and continues to work despite them.

I was going to write about the following account, but it didn't feel right.  It's not my story, so I invited the person to whom it belongs to write about it.  What follows is written by my wife Rickelle.


Today was an awesome day at Church…I mean, every Sunday is an awesome day at Church. I would say that it was different or something, but ever since I’ve started “expecting” God to show up, each Sunday has had its own special twist. Today I woke up thinking about two things. First I was thinking about a group of kids that had shown up to our Friday night movie night. They were new to the festivities, and I happened to be the one they talked to. I started explaining to them about what we do on Friday nights when the oldest of the four stopped me and asked, “But can we go to Church here?” It stopped me in my tracks as I answered, “Of course you can!” Then I started telling her about the services. We’ve had lots of kids ask about Church before, most of them show up for the evening service. Almost as quickly as I thought of them, they left my mind as I had dogs to tend to.

Later on, the second thing that I was thinking was, “So God, what do you have planned today?” It’s always fun to wonder and then sit back and see what He does. From all the unexpected new members and baptisms, to the neighborhood families that show up…it’s like the box of chocolates! =)

So, as I’m sitting in service this morning with the Sunday morning regulars, we get to the opening prayer and I think, “So God, it’s the regular crowd this morning…what are you going to do today?”  A minute or two later, in walk three of the four kids… “Ahhh…now I see! There You go again!”

Now, I should say that one of the things about our kids that come here is that they all seem to have their own person that they end up gravitating toward. I usually work in the kitchen and then clean, so I’m not out in the Dodgeball room and usually don’t get to the craft area until a lot of the kids are gone. While I have fun with the kids and know most of them, I haven’t had my own “crew”. For some reason, Friday night I was out in the movie area when the four came in. Carlos, the only boy, introduced himself and his three sisters, one of which was just a bit older than him, Meyda (I am not sure if this is how to spell or say her name, as she was the one who wasn’t here this morning, but it’s close). She started telling me about one of her sisters, Selena, who was shy, and Destiny, who didn’t have much to say either.  This is where I started explaining about the movie night and she asked about Church. They all sat down together and people were helping them, but no one knew quite what to do because no one could get them to talk.

This Friday was a bit different in that everyone was so in and out that I had to leave the kitchen on a few occasions. Each time, Meyda and Selena would find me. Selena and I had come to an understanding of sorts…I knew that she was shy, so instead of speaking she would just nod her head at me to say thank you. I would tell her, “You’re welcome” and she would smile. At one point I had to go to the Dodgeball room and she immediately (honey, you’ll like that!) came running up to me, wanting me to make Meyda give her back something that belonged to her. Now, one thing that I’ve always tried to be careful about when dealing with kids is mentioning both parents, and since Meyda was nowhere near, I told her that when they got home she could have her mom, or her dad, get back what was hers. She looked at me and said, “I don’t have a mom or a dad,” and took off running to play with the kids. Wow…don’t I feel like a heel. Guess they won’t be coming back…

The night went on, and they seemed to enjoy themselves…thankfully we had the Youth Group from Centenary UMC in Shelbyville back again and all the kids love it when they are here! I didn’t get to see them go, but I hoped they would at least come back again next Friday. I also learned to say “Whoever you live with…” Lesson learned and taken!

To say I was surprised to see them come into the Church this morning was an understatement. And when they saw me, they smiled and waved and came over to sit with me. How awesome was that?!? When there were pauses, I found out from Destiny that Meyda had stayed at a friends that was why she wasn’t there.  As soon as she started talking to me, her brother started telling her to be quiet and not be talking…. There it was, another of the things we’ve found about our kids. When they first meet you, they are reluctant to tell you anything about themselves. I noticed it Friday with them after they talked to me on Friday. Others would ask their names and where they lived and they wouldn’t answer. So, I just figured this was the case again.
After a bit I noticed that Selena was getting a bit antsy, so I handed them all some paper and some pens so they could do whatever kids do. They all just looked at me, so I told them if they wanted to draw or write they could. “Anything?”, Carlos asked. “Yes, anything you want. You don’t have to if you don’t want,” I explained. So they all sat there a bit and then started drawing. Pretty soon they wanted to know about where the bathrooms were, so I took them out of the sanctuary to show them. Selena (the shy one) just starts talking to me, about the church, about Friday night… When I had the three of them together again, Carlos stops me and says, “I think I need to tell you about my sister.”

“Meyda?” I asked. 

“No,” he answered. “My sister Angie. She died like 2 months ago. She was 14. She had seizures and like a hemorrhage or something in her brain…they couldn’t stop the bleeding.” 

Me, trying not to tear up, “I had an aunt that had that too. I’m so sorry.”

At this point, one of the sisters started talking about their moving here and how it took them just three days. Then they all started talking about the moving and the boxes. We all go back into the sanctuary, and they all sit listening to the sermon.

They all come up with me and took Communion, and when they sat with me they tried to figure out how the music in the hymnals worked. It was so much fun getting to sit with them and see them experience these things in this Church. After the service I take them to Corey’s office to get them some water and candy, and as we’re walking to the office the congregation starts singing Happy Birthday to someone. Carlos’ eyes get big and he asks, “Who are they singing Happy Birthday to?” “Someone in the congregation,” I answer.

Then he says to me, one of the coolest things I’ve heard from one of our kids, “I love this Church! We used to go to a Church, but they weren’t very social at all. This place feels like family!” Wow!!! Out of the mouths of babes! =)

And to think about expectations…It’s amazing the things we take for granted. It’s amazing how a kid coming here for the first time can grasp and put into words all that we try to convey in so many ways.
They loved the Church, the people, all the candy, and were excited about coming back tonight!

As I was going back to get my purse, I noticed one of the pictures that they had drawn. They all drew pictures of their sister who passed, as an angel. They said they were coming back,  I hope they do.  So God, what are you going to do today???

1 comment:

Sandy Iverson said...

Oh, my, how God works, is by no means bounded! I'm so glad God sent you all into their lives, and the blessings they'll get from Grace will last them a lifetime! God sent them and you tended! AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!
His grace is Grace!