Monday, April 17, 2017

My Birth Day Ushers

Ushers are important. I've seen a few Broadway productions in my life. I've been the late arrival, and I've been the one already seated and enjoying the play when a late-arrival came. The ushers are always well-trained in the art of getting guests into the show without detracting from the stage. They also are well-acquainted with the room. They've walked it inch-by-inch many times. When you follow an usher they give you confidence in the darkened room simply by having their own knowledge to point navigation of steps out to you. They share the light of their torch with you. And I can't leave out the fact that they have authority to quiet an unruly patron. Their presence cultivates class, confidence, and authority. 

I was ushered into this life by some pretty extraordinary people. They made God the central focus at my late arrival. They gave my mother confidence. It shouldn't surprise anybody involved in my life, who know that I am perpetually tardy. I  was actually born late!

As a woman in a family FULL of (mostly) non-doctor assisted births, I can tell you that a baby just comes! My mother had all four of her children at home. My sister-in-law had two in a home-birth center, one in a moving car, and one in a hospital. My sister has birthed two babies at home. I'm the only one in my immediate family to have had both children under the most medical care possible, via caesarean delivery. But that's because (I refer to my opening statement) a baby just comes! The midwives and doctor were concerned about a large, benign tumor, and they knew if they didn't TAKE the babies, they'd "just come," endangering both our lives. 

But on this seventeenth day of April, my birthday, I want to tell you about my own birth. To imagine a birth with such a preparation of environment as my mother had birthing me is mind-boggling, to say the least. But, for me it's more than my mom's idyllic birthing situation. The story of my birth, of The Ushers bringing me from God's knitting-room into this life, have been a constant reminder in my life that the presence of good people make me good. For though I am loved by so many people around the world, I am not loveable. And though I am appreciated by so many, I am not worthy of appreciation. I'm not merely being self-pejorative. I'm pointing out that the reality is that the core of what people appreciate in me is actually who I've been influenced by. I'm not special. The people surrounding me are special. The people who've imprinted themselves on my life have been special.

This thinking causes me to take a jaunt off the path of telling you about the people and circumstance at my birth and remind that as a parent, YOU must control who imprints your offspring. And as an independent, functioning  adult, YOU control who presently imprints themselves on you. Be the good imprints on others' lives. I saw a Tweet the other day by KidPresident that I love; "Be like cheese and bacon... make everything you touch better!" 

My parents were masterful at this task. From sleepovers (almost non-existent in my life) to where I went to school, to who's house I went over, to who came over. They let me choose my friends, but they made it incredibly inconvenient to cultivate a friendship that took me off the path of godliness and ministry. Their naive, innocent children were never their bait for soul-winning, or life-saving. They were constantly offering hope and rescue to drug-addicts, the indigent, sometimes parentless teens (just to name a few of the situations a pastor is driven to help.) But they managed to do so without allowing people who had not yet learned to live excellently to imprint themselves on us, their children. Be ever vigilant who influences yourself and your offspring! 

And now I've found my way back to the original path of my birth story...

Let's start by looking at my first Usher into life; my mother. Such a unique lady! You always hear Naomi Louise Varnum before you see her. She's either laughing, or telling an uproarious story. Or, if in a church service, whistling (Yes. Whistling. The likes of those at sporting events.) Or you'll hear a boisterous, "Amen!" She's spontaneous, a soul winner, a prayer warrior. On another topic, she's a money-making machine! When I was a kid she bred Poodles. When I was a pre-teen she bought, refurbished, and sold antiques. In my adult years I've watched her buy and sell homes. I happen to know the woman in Proverbs thirty-one is doable, because she's my mom!

The second Usher of importance at my birth was my Grandmother, Nellie Mae Butler. Nellie Butler was the complete opposite of mom. But she accomplished so many of the same things as my mom. She also was an intercessor and prayer warrior. She also was a soul-winner. She also was exuberant in church services. But, she was just incredibly quiet in the act! (My mom obviously has her dad's personality.) Grandma Butler certainly conveyed to my mother that regardless of one's approach or personality, prayer, soulwinning, and worship were the goals. My grandmother had birthed fourteen children. She knew by experience that a baby just comes. When she was invited by my mother to be a part of my birth, she was purposeful in creating a spiritual environment. (Keep in mind how "special" my birth must have been to this mother of fourteen, and grandmother of more than fifty. I was by no means that "special first" grandchild. I was somewhere after the TWENTIETH grand!) But create a spiritual environment was exactly what she did! When I was not born on the predicted due date, she declared on April first that she would fast until the baby was born. She fasted for seventeen days. When my mother's water broke she headed straight to the kitchen and whipped up a feast! But what an environment for me to be ushered into! 

The third Usher at my birth was the midwife herself, Ethel Daniel. I grew up calling her, "Sister Daniel." She was a powerful woman of God. She wrote several books chronicling the miracles she has experienced by the hand of Almighty God. She and her husband, Noel Daniel, stood on street corners of small towns and large cities, preaching and singing, while Sister Daniel strummed her guitar. (Now proudly owned by my mother!) Sister Daniel happened to be the midwife for all but one of my mother's childbirths. And for each of us born, God gave her a dream or word of prophecy. It wasn't that the dreams or prophecies were world-shattering. But she was purposeful about creating an environment of faith, where the Spirit of God could be involved in an occurance that was in reality just coming. Oh, what an Usher!

The last Usher was my dad. He was definitely the wisdom of this operation. I can't imagine what weight was on his shoulders as he waited for what nature dictated was just coming; He was only nineteen years old! The nearest hospital was thirty miles away. I can't imagine what all was in my dad's mind as he experienced his first child's birth in his run-down, little parsonage. In an era where in the hospitals fathers weren't allowed to be with the mother in labor. To-be dad's were confined to a waiting room down the hall in those days. But there was my dad, at my mom's side! He witnessed the full enchilada! He had the strength to hold the fort in a house FULL of confident women. This young man had been married to my mother for a mere ten months! I'm so grateful he had the discernment to let my mother create the ambiance for her own childbirth experience. And what a good thing too, because the midwife couldn't make it for the birth of my baby sister, Lacey. Because he had witnessed three previous home childbirths, HE delivered Lacey! The wisdom in this man who Ushered me into this world just staggers my mind!

He experienced a lot of intercessory prayer during labor pangs and breathing. He contributed his own prayer and tongue-talking! When I was born into this world, I was surrounded by an all-out Holy Ghost and fire prayer meeting! 

I've received so many kind regards on this, my forty-fourth birthday. Such generous love and accolades have been given me. But, I'm not special. The people surrounding me are special, which in turn merely makes me look good!

Proverbs 13:20 (KJV) 

20 He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

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