My 94-year-old Granny lives with my parents next door. Not long ago every time I’d visit her she’d complain about her neighbor’s over-active libido. In appalement she’d attest, “I’ve never heard of people having sex so often, all hours of the day, and the noises they make!” I should probably clarify that this was BEFORE she was MY neighbor. My mother investigated and spent the night at her house to witness this whore house. Nothing. No noises. That was the first clue that Granny might need some assistance in daily living.
The dead give away of Granny’s mental decline came when my dad and I took her on a road trip for a funeral. She was so excited to see her brother you’d have thought she was going to a party not his wife’s funeral. At the reception Granny started interrogating me about past boyfriends. It was an awkward topic considering I was already married with two children in tow. The more she questioned the more confused everybody was got. When she asked about a trucker driver boyfriend I looked at my dad for help. “Mom who are you talking to,” he politely asked. Annoyed at his question she confidently stated, “Cousin Linda of course.” He lovingly corrected her, “Mom, that’s your grand-daughter Audrey.” Everybody’s heart sank. Oh Grandma, don’t forget me. Don’t forget our memories. More than my great-uncle’s wife died that week. The childhood memories with my Grandma felt like they were dying too. On the trip home while mourning the lose Granny asked if the kids would be able to rest better if the radio was off. That was so considerate of her … except that the radio wasn’t on. She didn’t believe me, so I turned it on and then off again. She still heard it. To lighten the mood Dad joked, “It’s probably just your neighbors.”
After the funeral we took Granny back to her house because she refused to live anywhere else. She lived there up until last year when she fell in Pizza Hut’s parking lot and broke her hip. She hasn’t eaten Pizza Hut ever since. After surgery Dad built a wheelchair ramp in his garage and rolled her in kicking and complaining and demanding hot tea and cinnamon rolls. After surgery the doctor REDUCED the amount of pain medication she had been on. The doctor claimed she was on enough pain meds for us all to have hallucinations (I knew she was partying too hard at that funeral!). Once mobile she got up to frost her cinnamon rolls with Elmer’s glue so Mom returned her to the hospital. They wouldn’t give my mom an exchange, which at this point with the challenges she put my parents through I wouldn’t blame them for wanting an upgrade. After Granny’s infection cleared up they finally got Granny 2.0.
I never did convince my Grandma that the voices she heard weren’t real. I can’t blame her though- I hear voices too and nobody can convince me otherwise. I don’t hear them so much as feel them in my heart or spirit. When trying to make a decision I talk to the Voice and ask what I should do. This is much needed considering I am a terrible decision maker. My mom has always been a quick decision maker, so growing up it was much faster pick out a Happy Meal for me than to wait for me to decide and have us all die of starvation. This of course did not help me develop decision making abilities, but like I said you can’t blame her! My 4-year-old daughter, Amelia, has inherited my mom’s decision making abilities. About once a month I try to have one-on-one time with just her. On our mommy-daughter date I told her she could pick out a Beanie Boo (round stuffed animal with over-sized eyes) to remember our special time together. She looked at the rack with 50+ animals and IMMEDIATELY picked out a giraffe. I was impressed. In amazement I asked her if she was sure. “Did you even look at them all? How do you know you want that one?” Maybe I should ask her for decision making advice. She confidently explained her reasoning, “It has purple eyes.” Fair enough.
I have a new technique on making decisions- I ask the Voice. I am trying to tune my ears to decipher the Voice. I know I’m not the only one who here’s this Voice, because it was through one of my best friend’s examples that I learned what it looked like to “pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 . She asked me if I thought she was an odd ball for talking to the Voice so much. “Absolutely YES! You are a Jesus FREAK and that’s what I admire most about you.” She asked if I thought it was weird that she even asks the Voice what to wear sometimes. I came up with a scenario, “What if He [The Voice] wanted you to wear a specific purple scarf because He knew it would draw someone to you and they’d compliment you on it. That compliment could strike a conversation, which could strike up a relationship which could end in salvation!” Okay, so that would be an extreme case but I consider the Voice to be an extremist. This should not make Voice-listeners fret about every petty decision, but to be comforted in knowing that Ultimate Decision Maker is here to assist us.
Sometimes I get frustrated when I can’t hear the Voicer and other times I get ANNOYED when I DO hear it. For example, right NOW! I was in the middle of painting my family room and I felt like I was supposed to stop and come write. That’s ridiculous! I am in the middle of trimming. The kids are in bed and I have a very limited time to finish this before my entire small group comes over in two days. I know I’m not the only vain one who tries to make the house look extra nice for company. If it weren’t for having friends over (and a husband who appreciates a clean house) I’d probably live in a pile of mess.
The Voice harassed me this Sunday morning also. I almost didn’t go to church because I had severe neck pain (a flare up from an old automobile accident that enjoys haunting me). Not able to turn my head I walked around church like a robot in need of DW40. I sat down in service and just wanted to cry not only from pain but out of fear of at the age of 3- I might have chronic pain. My husband suggested we pray with the elders afterwards at the end of service, but when worship began I heard IT, “Ask the couple behind you to pray for you after service.” What? I turned my robot body around and conspicuously checked out the couple behind us. It was an elderly couple. I don’t even know them. My husband will think I’m a loop job. How embarrassing . . . Seriously? I slid a note to the Hubs and said what I believe I had heard. He read it and nodded. At the end of service we cornered them. They seemed slightly bewildered as to why we were blocking them off. I was fumbling over emotions and words when the Hubs stepped up and eloquently introduced ourselves and explained the situation. They were more than receptive and stated they too had had severe neck injuries. The wife said she felt “privileged” and prayed right then and there for me and promised to continue to do so. We thanked them and walked out. This was 5 days ago and although there has not been complete healing there’s been GREAT improvement . . . Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t supposed to keep painting- too much neck strain. But even more than a blessing than healing was to see my husband not only support me in what I felt the Holy Spirit (The Voice) saying but that he initiated the conversation. It wasn’t long ago that that incident would have been way too uncomfortably spiritual for him and I probably would’ve avoided it completely. What growth! And I believe/hope it blessed the elderly couple too in some strange way.
I heard The Voice last month as well. It took me by surprise (as usual) when after my parents invited us out for dinner to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. My mom had gotten a discounted gift card (a Groupon) for a specific restaurant 45 minutes away. All week I felt uneasy about this double date. I asked the Voice why He was harassing me. I felt Him tell me we shouldn’t go. As usual, I tried to understand His reasoning: Maybe we’ll get into a car accident on the way there. Then why doesn’t He just prevent the accident? Maybe we’ll get into a fight and my dad will punch my husband. (Just kidding) Maybe the restaurant will give us food poisoning. So can we just go to a different restaurant? I certainly didn’t want to offend my parents by declining their invite, but I’d rather disappoint them than the Holy Spirit. I told my husband my feelings and he lead us in prayer. I have been blessed with parents who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so I wasn’t too afraid that they’d think I was a weirdo by saying we couldn’t go. They offered to pray with us about it. Good grief God we’re just trying to get some food. What’s the big deal? They prayed and Mom asked hopefully, “Okay is the burden lifted?” No. Even in Mom’s disappointment over her Groupon she THANKED me for obeying the Holy Spirit. My parent’s receptiveness opened doors for communication. We ate locally and had a blessed evening with involved my husband and I blowing straw wrappers at my parents (See we are highly spiritually mature people!). Mom gave us the Groupon to go out with friends. Is that it? We are supposed to go out with another couple to that restaurant? Are we going to meet someone there and have some kind of divine encounter? Is the time with the other couple going to be God-filled? Who shall we invite? My husband and I prayed about it and invited a couple from small group. We got to the restaurant and a sign on the door said they could CLOSE at any minute. We couldn’t even get a seat. My mom is going to be so bummed about this Groupon. Is that why we weren’t supposed to come? If we had drove out here the other day it would’ve put a damper on the whole evening. Or is it because these friends desperately need to take a break from house moving and spend some quality time together with some AWESOME people. I don’t even care right now this Mongolian food looks amazing. I don’t know about any divine encounters that night but being given that ineffective-soon-to-expire-Groupon forced us to go on a double date with a couple that has since then grown into some of my husband’s and my closest friends.
Now if the Holy Spirit would just tell me which color to paint the Reading Room that’d be super helpful. I really did pray about it! When we moved into this house I felt like He said this house would be used as a house of ministry (I have no idea what that looks like), so I asked Him what color He wanted His reading room. He didn’t seem to have a color preference, so I took a pole on social media and the vote TIED! …I’m not sure I even like orange. I should just let Amelia decide.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
“As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15
Dear God, Help me to hear Your voice and then give me the courage to obey even when what You are asking of me seems impractical or embarrassing.