Born to religious parents of different denominations, they didn’t want to make the decision of religion for us so they waited to let us choose. I have believed in God for as long as I can remember. I started going to church when I was very little. I remember being too small to sit in the sanctuary, so I played in the nursery with my sister and later my brother. We also attended nursery school in a church. I said my prayers at night. But as I got older and could sit with my mom and the rest of the congregation it was hard to pay attention and understand what was being said. The church’s parishioners seemed to be getting older and the numbers dwindled.
Of course we celebrated Christ throughout the year with Easter and Christmas and family gatherings. He was always in the background looking over us. But I didn’t think about His role in my daily life very much. And then well life happens- school, homework, after school activities, travel baseball year round, volleyball, dance, choir, and the list goes on. After I was born my mom had to go back to work several days a week so I stayed with my grandparents and never had a babysitter or went to daycare.
My grandparents played a large role in raising me and instilling traditional values in me. My grandfather was the first person whom I was close to, to pass away.
Losing my grandfather suddenly was a traumatic and difficult experience to go through. As if high school wasn’t tough enough for a quiet, overweight adolescent. I had all these emotions that I didn’t know how to handle. And I also had lots of questions- why did he have to die? How could he be taken from me when I needed him most? What do I do now?
At his service I really tried to listen to the pastor and take something helpful out of what he was saying. I was looking for comfort and guidance. Believing in God at the time was hard to do. The day had been hard, I couldn’t stand at his coffin at the grave site to say goodbye. And words said earlier in the day resonated that this wasn’t good bye. I would see my grandfather again, his earthly body may have given out but his soul, his spirit- the essence that was my grandfather, everything I loved in him would live on forever.
My grandfather was a God-fearing man raised in the south, and I know he believed the words of the Bible. He had been in an accident as a child and in and out of the hospital with infections from a leg wound. Eventually he told the doctor to just take his leg. He told the doctors that God wanted him to live and He would not love him any less with only one leg. He told them that he didn’t need the leg and he could still love God without it, and God would still love my grandfather.
Later in life when his first wife died shortly after giving birth to their son. He found God again to keep moving forward and raise a child. And God saw fit to bring love into his life again when he married my grandmother and had two daughters. He lived a long and in the end happy and fulfilled life raising the next three generations of his family and died at an old age of 81.
Weeks after his funeral when I was thinking about memories of my grandfather, I popped a CD in to the player. He loved music and his taste ranged from hymns to big band to rock n roll and country. It was a passion we shared, and he brought out the love of country music I have to this day. It was a bunch of country songs from different artists and just sitting there letting the music flow over me I started to trust in God’s plan little by little.
The words from Steve Wariner’s “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” and Alabama’s “Angels Among Us,” washed over me. I knew my grandfather was walking with God, was not in pain and I could have faith that all life’s cares and strife would lead me to a place where I would see him again.
Later that year as part of our winter concert at school our band and choir produced a performance of Handel’s The Messiah. As part of the choir I sang the “Hallelujah Chorus.” It was an emotional experience for me and one I still remember for its impact. I had never believed the words or had so much hope and faith in God in my life. I felt so close to Him and His love. It turned out that the performance was a tradition of the winter concert series for my high school and I got to perform it 3 more times, each time feeling so much love and trust in God and His plan for me. I could love God and hope that I may have an eternal resting place alongside Him. I may not always understand God’s plan for me but He has never left me.
My mom has helped me along this path when she started taking us to church when we were younger. As I started to shift over from knowing God to loving Him, my best friend Annette has helped me the most. Her faith and patience with me has been unwavering. She loved God and accepted Him into her life a lot earlier and has helped me along my path. Her knowledge and support are inspiring to me. She has been a kind of living reference to the Bible and God’s spoken Word and my lifeline when I faultier.
Music in general has also kept me moving forward on my path. It may have all started with an old Alabama song that struck a chord in my heart years ago or a classical piece of music from Handel, but it is kept going with artists old and new. I know that sometimes I just have to let “Jesus take the Wheel”- Carrie Underwood, “Bless the Broken Road”- Rascal Flatts, know that “God Must Really Love Me”- Craig Morgan, sometimes it’s just “Me and God”- Josh Turner and “Believe”- Brooks and Dunn. The list does go on and on of not just country songs and artists who have inspired me to keep moving on my journey but includes contemporary and classics as well.
The next time I lost someone close to me when my grandmother died. I didn’t have the questions, anger and difficulties understanding as I did several years earlier. I was heartbroken to not see her every day, but I had faith I would see her again and all around me in a different way now. Because she is with God and He is with me, she is always with me. And I never understood that before. I may not directly see God’s hand, but I know that He is guiding my journey until I see Him face to face.
Daily trials with a coworker or sibling, conversations with a patient, taking care of family, holding my first niece, good or bad- all these things remind me of God’s love. Living with God and loving Him has brought me counsel in difficult times and hope for new beginnings.
As a medical professional I take care of so many patients. Working at the University of Maryland Medical Center and Shock Trauma, I often see the worst of the worst and sickest of the sick. When I see the tiniest of premature babies fighting for every breath and heartbeat come back for follow ups as toddlers and eventually school-aged kids my heart soars with love. One of the babies I saw frequently in my early years there is now 10 years old and thriving in life. He is truly a gift and blessing to this world. The hope for news of remission or a cure or one last stitch effort to hang on is something I see all too frequently. The ability to help a patient through God’s love is powerful. Whether I can personally help heal that person or aide others in their efforts is very rewarding. Many of my patients want to pray before a procedure, so being able to sit with them in quiet and sometimes very loud prayer is a blessing I cannot take for granted.
When my niece was born only a few short weeks ago I was beyond words with joy, love and excitement for this new life. My sister and brother-in-law have asked me to be her godmother which I was not expecting and incredibly honored to hear. Knowing that the love they have in God is strong and have asked me to help teach and encourage her as she grows is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Going forward and being able to share with her my knowledge, love and faith is an incredible blessing.
So there is no time like now, with a new life to embrace to rejoice in my love for God and be baptized, because “There is Something in the Water”– Carrie Underwood.