Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yes Abba!

Our small prayer group at Laity Lodge Women's Retreat Summer 2010

I am not sure I know how to start this blog. For the past two years I have had the privilege of going to the Laity Lodge Women's Retreat where I have met, prayed with and explored the things of God with other women.  It was so sweet as some of us from last year reunited again in our small prayer group while welcoming others who were new to the retreat.  This year I was the artist in residence and was able to teach some of these ladies a new technique as they taught and showed me the gifts within themselves.

I focus this blog, on the lady on the far left, Carol Bradley, as she is gone now to be with Jesus after a riding accident this week.  She loved horses and was a devoted mom who loved her kids.  I got to know her through her struggles, her blessings and her challenges as we all shared our lives with one another.  Though a brief encounter with each other it has been an encounter that will last through eternity.  I know I will see her again.  I think that is what makes this easier to bare.  She was a quiet demure woman who spoke softly, deliberately, openly, welcoming counsel from those of us who have gone before what she was facing.  None of us realizing what she was facing in less than a month.....our very own Savior.  My own encounter with her in the art studio and in the river was one of joy and inquisitive expression of how much she loved what we were doing.  She marveled at the chance meeting of another who might be one who graced her with whatever God offered through them to her.  

I got the email three days ago.  Knowing family was flying in, that decisions were being made, so I waited.  Today, however,  I just knew I had to go and see her.  It was the same feeling I got when I was to go and pray for a little boy named Isaiah Sanchez in Denver.  Even if I was not allowed in, even if I was too late, I knew it was never too late with God and I had to go.  I just had to.  So I put aside the cares of the day, devoted them to Carol, to God and to the time I had to be with them both.  Even though the appliance man was scheduled, even though dishes were in the sink, even though beds were not made, flowers not watered and cats not fed, I went.  I made allowances for those things that we normally think are pressing and put them in God's hands.  

I arrived at the hospital not really knowing where to go, never having been to the medical center in San Antonio and trusting God every step of the way.  Still receiving calls along the way about weddings, appliances, xcountry meets, bus pick ups and lawyers. Still I made my way to say goodbye to one of God's angels.  Just like with Isaiah God gave me a parking place right up front, directed me through asking the right people how I might see her and directing my steps each step of the way.  I have to admit my heart was pounding. I was scared. Then, I confronted the door of the SICU......locked.  The sign reads, "Vistors 8:30am-12pm, 1:30pm-5pm".  I had thirty minutes to wait so, I see a ledge by a window.  I sit, I pull out my bible and read Psalm 91 filling in her name whenever I can declaring His Word.  Just then the door opens and Robert comes out. He asked if I was waiting to see someone.  I told him who I was wanting to pray for and he said follow me.  He takes me back to see Carol.  I got to meet all of those who had been taking care of her, monitoring her, praying for her, wishing for her, wondering about her, inquiring about her, and requesting on her behalf.  A ministry within itself.  They allowed me time alone to pray, read scripture to her, tell her thank you, goodbye and to say hello to Jesus for me.  The third time I have asked someone to say hi to Him in two years.  It doesn't get any easier, but I know they deliver the message.  I sat in a corner, watched, listened to cell phones go off with each individual ringer, wondering, amazed and spell bound.  Then I asked for a timeline.  She was to go to surgery at 2pm where all of her organs would be used locally.....all of them.  Tremendous blessing.  It was 1:30 so I started to leave thinking her family would be there soon, but something made me ask, "Is her family coming back?" The nurse said, "No they said their goodbyes last night".  I was amazed God had allowed this time just for me.  Just me, God......and Carol.  I asked if it would be alright if I could stay with her till she left. They said fine.  Another blessing.  So I sat, I prayed, I read, I brushed her hair back, I placed my hand on the bottom of her foot and knew she had already seen our Savior.  You see her feet are what drew me to her in the end.  At the end of our retreat, after I had help others pack up, cleaned the studio and packed up my supplies, which took like an hour, I headed down the hill to the river.  As I entered the river as you have to do to exit the camp there she was, Carol, barefoot standing in the hull of the Frio River, pants rolled up, as someone suggested we all do.  She swayed her legs back and forth as her foot skipped over the top of the water.  As if feeling it for the first time she said, "Yes Abba".  I drove past her, pulled the truck over, took off my shoes and joined her in the water, feeling the fresh feeling she did as the coolness of the Frio ran over the top of our feet, we exchanged one last hug and goodbye.  We shared once more the abundance of the retreat, we embraced and vowed to see each other here, there or in the air.  Yes Abba, she says, as I went back through my old emails that she responded to of pictures sent by our prayer group leader. She ended with, Yes Abba as Nancy, our bridge builder, said at the retreat.
Today was beyond amazing as I said farewell to a chance meeting that made me realize more how delicate life is, how precious our time together is and how chance is usually, no, always divine.  The verses I read to her come from Romans 8:15 "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs....heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory."  And in Galatians 4:6 "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father."  We are more than conquerers....we are heirs to the Creator of this universe who orchestrates everything for His divine purpose and plan.
I followed her bed down the hall as people watched her pass.  In front of me walked the nurse with the dolly of stacked igloos waiting to bring life to another. Reality.  I walked all the way to the elevator where she was going realizing I needed to go a different way to exit, I was not going with her,  yet complete in my resolve in why God sent me, I said one last goodbye and told her to have fun in heaven.  I found my way surrealistically back to my car, got into my oven baked seat and wept, saying now what?, now I am still here, now I get to drive back.  
To drown out tv noise from the other room,  I went to my old stand by MWS album Freedom for I knew it was all instrumental, not knowing the second song on the album is titled Carol Ann.  As I type, I am listening to over and over (click to listen)  Michael W. Smith's song, Carol Ann, having no idea what her middle name is, knowing she is with Him. As life would have it our football game this evening for Sydney's new school was in Mason.  Carol was from Mason.  Jealous in some ways of where she is, also knowing she would not want to miss in her families activities, but realizing we are all wanting what she now has.....eternity.


  1. "How beautiful the feet of those who bring the beautiful!"
    Love you dear sis! What a glorious goodbye...until you meet again...
    Love you,

  2. The song by Michael W Smith, I heard from Sarah today, was written for Carol Ann....a friend of his and Hannah Williams' best friend's mom......he sang it at her funeral......she too was killed riding horseback......thought you would want to know.

  3. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of this woman who said "Abba, Father" and how you did as well and were blessed beyond measure. You are a jewel in my life, Barbara!

  4. Barbara, I have chills. Little did we all realize when we were in our small group that one of us would be going home to the Lord in such a short time. Actually it is such a short time for all of us - a blink of an eye really. Another reminder of the gift of each day and to ask ourselves when we are stressed with mundane things of life, "how important is it?" Thanks for taking the time to give Carol this tribute. It was an honor to be a part of this group at the Women's Retreat.

    In Christ,
    Jeri Muhich

  5. Wow!! This brought tears to my eyes. I'm so glad she had you as a friend.

    God is great!!!

    Heather from Mommy Only Has Two Hands!


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