09 December 2013

Life's Awful Moments!

It's really hard to believe that we're in December now, isn't it? Even more strange is that it seems like just hours ago it was the 1st of the month and already we're in the second week!  Christmas is well on it's way, and so is the cold weather here in California.  I know, I know, it's not like cold-cold, like what those of you have to experience, but let me tell you, when the temps are in the 50's during the day, and that's COLD for California.  But I love it!  Everything feels so fresh. And it gives us a chance to wear our scarves and jackets and feel like we have a winter!

The calendar is filling up fast.  This Thursday we'll be at Glendale's homeless family shelter, cooking our monthly meal.  I'm doing something special for this month.  I am taking a crew of our younger parish family with me this time to serve and prepare the meal.  I have teens and young adults going this time, and one of the nice things is that after we serve the residents we take a plate and join them in the dining room for dinner.  This is always such a nice experience, and I'm hoping our kids will really benefit from the experience.  Especially in light of Christmas and it's materialism/commercialism.   I'm looking forward to it and living the experience through our kids.

So on to this week's topic:  As a child, and later as a young adult, I had a hard time understanding the term "God-fearing".  Back when I was growing up, I sometimes attended campus ministries, and there was that term.  God fearing.  Or they would say something to the effect of "a good Christian is God-fearing".  I had a hard time with this because I was brought up to believe in a loving God.  A compassionate Father, who may not always like what we do, but always, always loves us.  So the fear concept was strange.  Until eventually, I understood that the "fear factor" was more about reverence, and respect for God.  And perhaps fear of the unknown?  So this past week at our Wednesday night Bible Study, Fr. Vazken was doing a translation of the word "Awful" as it pertains to God both in the English and the Armenian translations.  So I looked it up on dictionary.com.

The word awful in the dictionary, is translated as follows:
Extremely bad; unpleasant; ugly
Yes, it could mean that...but not when it pertains to God - at least not my God.
But reading on with the definition, it gets better.  
Awful also means:
Full of awe; reverential; solemnly impressive; inspiring awe.  
Now that's more like it! Right?

The parallels of the wordplay made me remember those God-fearing days...and made me think of things in my life that were truly AWFUL - or AWEful - where I could really know in my heart that God was showing me his presence and letting me know that He was right there, where He said he'd be, if only I had faith.   There have been quite a few awful moments in my life.  And when Fr. Vazken asked us if we would like to share ours, my brain started trying to think of those that were truly awful. And I've been trying to think of them every since.  So I thought I would share with you some of my most awful moments (and hopefully you'll share yours with me as well).

My most awful moment was the birth of our daughter Ani.  I'm sure a lot of you can relate to this one. You
can be all set to be a parent.  You can have the crib ready in the baby's room, and all the clothing and diapers ready.  You think - I can handle this! I've read the books - and then you're in labor and delivery.  Your body is on auto-pilot and you deliver this little bundle of love.  I remember when they handed Ani to me, there was such an amazing presence of love in the room.  It was the most profound and AWEful moment.  To look at this little miracle of God's handiwork.  Perfect little fingers and toes, earlobes, and wide open eyes.  We had talked to her for 9 months before she was born; sang and read stories out loud.  And I remember when they handed her to her dad, and he spoke to her, she turned her head and looked directly at him as if to say, "Hey, I know who you are!  I know your voice."  It was such an amazing experience.  So this is the first awful moment...and heads the top of the list!

I've shared with you one of these moments in another post about our homeless outreach.  Our producer, Suzie, and I shared it together.  It happened on a homeless outreach to downtown's Skid Row area.  We were distributing our soup as we always do when a man asked if he could have a sandwich or a salad.  We didn't have that and offered him what we normally bring with us....soup, water, snack.  The man thanked us and left without taking anything, and then moments later, a car pulled up.  Some people had seen us distributing food and wanted to know where they could take some food they had picked up.  Starbucks had just closed and they had taken this food to distribute.  We asked what they had.  "Sandwiches and salad."  I remember Suzie and I just looking at each other, kind of like, "what just happened here???" But as awesome as that was, it wasn't the whole thing.  It continued.  Because we called the man over to tell him we had food for him.  He was so happy to get his food.  But rather than take it and eat, he came down on his knees, right there on the sidewalk, held the food up to the heavens and gave thanks to God for hearing his prayer.  I will always remember this beautiful, and awful moment.  It reminds me to not only have faith, but to believe in the prayers that we offer up to God, because they are being heard.

One of my most life-changing awful moments happened one year after my first cancer diagnosis.  I had gone for my one year check up.  My mammogram revealed another questionable area and I had to go in for another biopsy.  The surgeon had told me that yes, it looked like the cancer had returned.  He pointed it out to me on the film.  I was devastated.  I had just gone through cancer the year prior, and now here it was again.  We prayed.  When I say WE, I mean everyone.  My family, friends, prayer groups.  The day of the biopsy came.  I was draped and anesthetized but I was awake.  The surgeon removed the area in question. He said, "Yes, it looks like cancer."  He even SHOWED me what he had removed and pointed out the cancer.  Off to the lab it went.  He called me the next day completely baffled.  I'll always remember his words, "Your biopsy came back negative.  I don't understand it.  I saw it.  I showed you. But it wasn't cancer."  What was it?  He didn't know.  Maybe some mutated cells from the radiation...but he hadn't seen anything like that before.  Of course I KNEW what it was.  This was really the power of God and the answer to prayers.  Like I said, this event really changed my life.  It helped me to understand the power of prayer, and the presence of God.  And because of this, it has helped eliminate the fear.  I have nothing to worry about because God will be there to help me through it.

All three of these are pretty amazing events that took place.  When I think of it, there are many.  I shared with you a few weeks ago about my son Nareg, and the divine intervention that brought us together.  That was another Aweful moment when we realized that this little boy that we were getting ready to adopt was actually the same little boy that was supposed to be ours 9 years prior.  We weren't ready for him then, so God had stepped in to make sure we ended up with him when the time was right.

But there are other daily awful moments that I see pretty often.  What about the awful sunrises and sunsets? We have to really stop and watch the sky when we notice these moments because the palette of color is changing right before our eyes.  It's like watching God painting, adding lights and darks, and swirls of color.  It's God showing us the beauty in His creation.  And try as I might to recreate that beauty...not just the colors, but the feel of that color transitioning...it just can't happen.

Oh wait, I just thought of one more.  Have you ever gone to Yosemite?  As you're driving there, there are a lot of twists and turns in the road where you catch a glimpse of the amazing panorama.  And then there's that one final tunnel that goes right through the mountain, and when you emerge you are smack dab in the full view of God's amazing creation.  You see Half Dome, El Capitan, the valleys and peaks, the falls.  It's a very awful view and you just can't help but pull over, even though you see all the tourists pulled over and taking photos...and you think you don't want to have to be in that space...but you can't not do it because it's mind-blowingly amazing and it makes you feel "so small" because of the wonder and majesty of creation.

Okay, so there you have it...those are just a few of my awful moments.  I would love to hear of some of yours so please share with me.  You know, I write my blog on a weekly basis, but sometimes I wonder who's out there.  I read your comments on Facebook, but I would love to see your comments on the blog as they're more permanent.  So any comments are really appreciated.

Before closing I wanted to let you know about an event we're planning.    It's called the Holiday Jammin' Boutique.  If you're in the southern California area (of even if you're not and want to come down), we'll be at the wonderful Towns/Burr Gallery in Burbank next Saturday, December 14 from 4 to 9 p.m.  It's an evening event with live gypsy jazz music, and a chance go bring the family out, do a little Christmas shopping.  I'll have my Pomegranate & Eye line of jewelry there.  Suzie will have her delicious artisan jams and her AWEful knit and crocheted creations.  Sonig has made her Armenian pumpkin candy, and Linda will have her Madame Kubah delicacies ready to make your holiday entertaining delicious and easy!  AND the best part of it is that a portion of all sales will go toward our In His Shoes ministries. We've got refreshments too.  So it's a win/win!  Please come out and support us.  We would love to see you there!!!

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