The longest hour...

I just heard a call-in segment on the radio about "the longest hour of your life." It prompted a bit of thinking back on my part. I'm going to go with "the time I thought I might lose an eyeball" story. (don't worry, I won't get too graphic)

It was the first night of two weeks of summer camp in 2005. I was basically the camp coordinator...the person who is over the staff and activities for about 200 people, and the one running around behind the scenes all day making sure everyone is where they're supposed to be and doing what they're supposed to be doing.

It was late Monday afternoon, and several of us on staff were in the camp office prepping for the late-night activity, which included a marshmallow roast over a campfire. Unable to find wire hangers at Wal-Mart (what the heck?), we settled on a roll of 14-gauge wire that was about the same size as coat hanger wire.

While clipping off lengths of the wire, the loose end sprang back from the roll and popped me right in the eye. YIKES!!!

As everyone turned to look at me, I could see the stages of panic go across their faces... OHMYGOD! what do we do next? where's the nurse? how are you feeling? can you see? But I really got scared when they all became surreally calm. Two or three people around me started the "you are going to be fine...don't worry about it...we are going to get you fixed up..." etc. They were being a little too reassuring, which clued me in to the fact that it must look pretty bad. That, and when I asked if it was bleeding, they said, "Yes, but it's not that bad..." and I could tell they were being nice and not entirely truthful.

The nurse came up the hill after what seemed like two hours, but was more like 5 minutes. She covered it with a bandage and asked me keep it closed. My dear friend Amanda hopped in the car and we began the trek to the nearest hospital.

Side note: our camp was about 25 miles from the nearest town in any direction. Just west of East BFE, if you will.

I was praying, and felt a tremendous peace. I asked God to keep us all calm and to help us get where we needed to go. I was navigating us toward Lancaster, SC, with my good eye and trying to make conversation so I didn't start crying or freaking out.

Thankfully, the ER only had one person waiting. But, the assistant seemed to think that my bandaged, bleeding eyeball did not warrant rushing me right in to see someone. Instead, she started getting all kinds of information. I was trying to calmly relay my address, insurance info, and surgical history without screaming at the top of my lungs, "LADY!!! MY EYEBALL IS BLEEDING!!!! GET ME IN TO A DOCTOR NOW!!!!!!!!!!"

The funniest thing was that at one point she asked me a question that sounded like this: "Do you have a leeeving whee-yul?" I didn't know how to respond, since it seemed to be asked in a dialect of Southern I had not yet met. I looked to Amanda with my one good eye, hoping for a translation. She just shrugged. "I'm sorry?" I asked. "A leeeving whee-yul." She responded, as though perhaps she hadn't said the strange syllables loudly enough. Again, with the one good eye to Amanda...again, a shrug of confusion.

LIGHT BULB! A living will. "No, I don't have a living will." As I said the words, I could see Amanda smile with recognition. Now, I'm from Georgia, and have lived in Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and have "people" from Alabama. I am no stranger to the Southern dialect...but that one really befuddled my noggin.

Back to the eye.

Finally, the doctor saw me...did a thorough check-up, and asked me if I was in any pain. The strike had happened in the white of my eye between the inner corner and iris. When I replied that I was not, he seemed confused. He said that it might just not have started yet, or I might be in a bit of shock, but that I would surely be experiencing some hefty pain. He prescribed one of the heavy-hitters in the pain meds catagory as well as some optical antibiotic.

We tracked down a pharmacy and spent two hours getting back to camp (we got lost). Miraculously, I never really experienced any pain, and only took the pain meds about twice. The biggest bummer was that I couldn't do any lake activities or go swimming and that I had to wear my glasses (no sunglasses in the SC sun) for the next two weeks. But I will take those "bummers" over some of the alternatives. I am still super-squeamish about eye issues and wear shades anytime I think there's a possibility of anything getting near my eyes! I am thankful for my sight, and need to get working on that leeeving whee-yul. And maybe spend some time in Lancaster learning the native language.

It can be a pretty long hour when you're wondering if you will have one good eye or two!


If I only had a heart...

I always wanted to be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I loved her songs, her "little dog," her bright red shoes...but for years I seemed to identify with the Tin Man. Not so much because I was needing some oil in my joints, but because I was possibly missing a heart.
Being task-oriented and generally driven to perform and compete, I often missed the point of being in the world with others. Self-awareness tends to creep up on us sometime after high school, and we realize that we might not be the center of the universe. Self-awareness was not so gentle with me, however. I found myself at college having to face my selfish nature and smart, tart remarks...seeing them in the eyes of others and God in a mirror that reflected back something altogether disheartening.
Once I worked through a lot of awkward and confusing situations, I began to realize that I was wired quite differently from a lot of girls I knew. I am just not that sensitive to how others are treating me. I have a (somewhat masculine?) ability to compartmentalize my emotions. I don't wear my heart out on my sleeve. It's not that I'm unfeeling or lack empathy, I just don't show it the way a lot of people do. If someone's trying to give me the cold shoulder, I don't really take it personally.
It became kind of a joke among my college roommates..."Shelley's the insensitive one." Once they all realized that I was wired "funny," it made life a lot easier for all of us.
Thankfully, all of this self-awareness has come full circle. I marvel at what the Lord can do with with an argumentative, proud, and bottom-line personality. I believed for a while that I had no capacity to love deeply or to feel deeply, but it's not true. With Jesus' help, I am able to feel immense compassion and empathy toward others. I realize that I am a fixer, but that sometimes I need to listen. Full-time ministry and marriage both have a way of knocking off your hard edges and leaving something softer behind.
I feel it creeping back in sometimes, that black-and-white selfish hard edge. But I have learned that most opinions are best left unsaid unless you are coming to the defense of the defenseless. Tasks are never more important than people. The only way to show God's love...and to be His hands and feet...is to slow down a minute and take stock of what is really important in light of eternity. Competitiveness, sarcasm, pride, condescension, and performance are not Fruits of the Spirit. I want to be fruitful, not prickly. He's making me that way.


I don't have the write stuff.

Have had little to say lately. Mostly because I have barely slowed down to THINK. April is that month...where being is difficult and doing is relentless. I have forced myself to take days off and go more slowly. But the days off make you pay up, like a hungry unshaven landlord hunting for his overdue rent. They wait for you to return and beat you up 'til you produce phone calls, emails, event sheets, and invitations and and and and and...
I hate to wish entire weeks away. I want to live for the moment. But my moments right now are better motored through. Reflection returns week after next. Next week, I pray a lot in my car as I run to and fro. I think about a lot but have little time to capture it in "ink." I will throw my energy toward the job as I'm thankful to have one.
For now, the hope of getting to bed and getting some rest is alluring.
Meanwhile, here's a photo that I took and modified. The church is in Rock Hill...


Easter Project

I recently did two versions of a fun project for my photography class.

Here I am...again and again...hunting for Easter eggs.

Click pic to see larger!