I have a friend who says I’ll write a book someday. I’ve thought about it, I admit, but every time I think of a topic I’d like to write about, I remember that I learned it all from reading books…no original ideas here. Until last night. Truth really is stranger than fiction. I chose this title because my mind can’t comprehend what the day would have been like without prayer-it was absolutely unreal as it was-bathed in prayer!
Let me give you some background. This is our first Gala in a little bitty town. I wasn’t even sure anyone would know what a Gala was. I wasn’t sure where we’d find caterers who could put together a classy meal, and no, I don’t mean good barbeque. Decorations that don’t involve cowboy boots and bales of hay-not so sure in this town.
Much to my surprise there is a great catering/decorating team right under our noses. Not only that, but we found friends of the ministry happy to underwrite the event to pay for all the fancy-smancy food and décor. We had a great speaker lined up, one I’d heard a few years before and could totally trust to be powerful. A local town sweetheart was slated to share her moving testimony and a zinger of a DVD about a girl facing an unplanned pregnancy who changes her mind after getting a sonogram was set up and ready to go.
It was all so smooth. Too smooth.
Let me back up a week. It’s crunch time-seven days until the Big Day and I realize I’m a few days late on my period. I rationalize it away remembering that I’d been a little sick, Jaybird had been nursing a whole lot more since she’d been sick, and that the stress of the Gala planning all had taken a toll. Thursday night I decided I should probably stop wondering and just take a test. But not before I wrapped up the Gala program, my director’s report, and the seating plans. I had to concentrate and could not be bothered with frantic thinking if I were, indeed, pregnant. I worked on those until late in the evening Thursday while emailing a friend my suspicions and worries. Finally I took the test just a few minutes before Shane got up to go to work.
It was positive.
I was shocked.
I was testing my heart to see if I was finished with four children. I had been feeling our family was complete but wanted to give it more time before making a permanent decision. I guess our family wasn’t complete and God had other plans. Although I praised God for the blessing and miracle, I was dreading telling anyone with every fiber of my being. I cried some that night, even woke up weeping in the middle of the night. (If this is news to you, it's either because of proximity or that you're one of the ones I'm afraid to tell...you decide :) But just know if you say something negative, you'll forever be in my memory as the first to chide me about it).
I told Shane the next morning. We sat on our front porch swing and I just blurted it out. He chuckled and said he already knew. God had given him a verse two days before, Psalm 127, about children being a blessing from the Lord. He even told a coworker that morning he felt our family might be growing. He was giddy. Shane never showed any doubt or hesitation about embracing an enlarging family. This comforted my heart but I still begged him to just let us keep it a secret—forever.
I did tell a close friend and then we told a group of my closest girlfriends and their husbands, essentially my Life Group, a few days later. I was exhausted and cried a bit, but their joy and the joy of a few others I told the next day boosted me up. Finally, I told my mom and the girls told my mother in law, I told my friend whose wedding I am in—near the time the baby is due and almost everyone was just giggly with happiness.
So, we get to the morning of the Gala and I actually thought I’d have a peaceful, quiet morning before meeting the volunteers at the Community Room. The phone starts ringing though, at 9am, as the snow is heavily falling outside. Will the snow affect the evening? No, it’s just snow. Come on, fellow Texans, don’t play into the jokes that Texans can’t handle a few flurries.
As we continue to watch the snowfall, I learn the schools are closing, as is the beauty shop where I’m supposed to have my hair done. I go in early, on the phone the entire time with calls to our speaker, my volunteers, the board, and everyone under the sun who has an opinion about what we should do. Several times I ended up on the phone explaining our decisions to friends who wanted the entire scoop on what we were thinking and why. I almost stopped answering those calls! My husband and the Board Chair are both sick in bed, so I feel a bit alone in the decision making process, ironically. On top of that, here I am paying to have my hair done for an event we’re on the verge of canceling.
As I’m in the salon chair, my cell rings and it’s Carol Everett, our speaker, making the point that if we hold the Gala, those who are just casual invitees who we want to catch our vision probably won’t be the ones coming out in the snow. I agree and feel we should try to postpone it for the next day. My hairdresser says, “That might be your sign that you just don’t need to do it tonight.” Then I call the volunteers working on the meal at the community room and they report there’s no way the chicken will be edible tomorrow night. My hairdresser then says, “That might be your sign you should just go ahead with it.” If I had any more signs, the hairdresser might have to sell me a wig since I was about to pull every strand of hair out of my head!
Instead of a dozen cell phones buzzing back and forth, a few key decision makers decide to meet up at the Community Room for a face-to-face pow-wow. It’s 2:45 in the afternoon. Carol Everett has to leave town in 15 minutes to make it from Dallas. If she could even make it. My chest was red and blotchy from nerves, but hey, my hair looked good!
At the Community Room, sitting down at a gorgeously dressed table among white columns with ferns perched on top, two of us with prom styled hair, the rest still make up-less and a bit wilted from the weather, decide the show must go on, with our without a speaker. What will we do for a program? Who knows, but we have to get these tables set, it’s three hours until the show-whatever that is!
I take a break to call Carol, excusing her from driving here since her route would entail driving through areas that had been hit harder and could be dangerous. She immediately starts praying for us and I shed the first tears of emotional strain. I regain composure by the end of the prayer and we laugh about the circumstances, she praises my attitude and we hang up. The next blow is that Stacy, our post-abortion testimony didn’t feel safe driving from out of town either, so that left my six minute ministry report and the DVD as the meat of the evening’s program!
The Lord didn’t show me anything else to say or anyone else to improvise with. I didn’t want “filler”, rambling, unplanned testimony just to say we tried.
Instead, we wanted to make sure the seats were filled. One particular gung-ho volunteer immediately got on the phone and started calling table hosts to see if their guests would still be coming. Amazingly, about 75% said yes. Our roads weren’t bad, just slushy, but that’s still an excuse to stay home.
So, we were filling up, but what would we present to them? A meal, a song, 12 minutes of program and a plea for money? Oh boy, what were we thinking? A Gala without a speaker? Without even a testimony?