Memorable Ministry Moment #5

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, some memorable ministry moments:

The fifth ministry moment, and the last one for this month, happened late at night and consisted of a phone call lasting all of about eight seconds.  It was January 2, 2012.  Carolyn, Laura Marie, and I had been in Northern Virginia for a few days, celebrating Christmas with the Hyde crew.  We got home about 10:00 that night.  Sometime around 11:00 or so, Linda called to let us know that hospice had called her and told her she should go there.  They didn’t think Steve would make it through the night.  It was late, we were physically and emotionally exhausted, and we had a two-year-old that we couldn’t exactly cart off to a hospice room in Salisbury.  Not many options at that point, and none of them convenient for anybody.  I picked up the phone to call a good friend who lived nearby.

Memorable Ministry Moment #5: Mary-Michele coming over late at night, with no notice and no discussion, to stay with Laura Marie for an unknowable length of time.  Mary-Michele Davis is a veteran teacher at the Training Station, Carolyn’s co-teacher, a longtime friend, and a neighbor.  When she picked up the phone, I started trying to explain what was going on.  I got as far as, “Sorry to call this late—” and she cut me off with, “When do you need me there?”  I stammered, “Well, we could use someone now.  Linda just called and—”  Mary-Michele cut me off again.  “I’ll be right there,” she said.  “You can explain later.”  And with that, she was off the phone and out the door.  Even when she arrived about one minute later, she wouldn’t hear an explanation—she shooed out the door.

Upon our return several hours later—it was probably between 3:00-4:00 a.m.—Mary-Michele asked if we needed anything.  Then she said, “Get some rest.  I’ll call you later.”  And with that, our hero left us alone for a few hours’ sleep.

I don’t remember what time we got back home that night.  Steve passed away around 8:30 that morning and we headed back over, this time bringing Laura Marie along with us.  What I do remember is that eight-second phone call that will last a lifetime, that brief conversation that said—loud and clear—I’m here for you.  No matter what, no matter when.  Just call.

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Published in: on October 31, 2013 at 6:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Memorable Ministry Moment #4

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, some memorable ministry moments:

The fourth moment is one that powerfully impacted me during what may be the single worst moment of my life.  On October 3, 2011, one of the world’s best brain surgeons told us that my 58-year-old father-in-law would not live much longer.  After he performed surgery, he informed us that the diagnosis (and therefore prognosis) was the worst scenario possible.  When I rode down the Johns Hopkins elevator with Steve’s wife, two daughters, and the other son-in-law, we reached the waiting room where about 15 of the most supportive friends imaginable sat waiting.  Carolyn and I couldn’t bring ourselves to go in, so we zombied our way down the hall to the chapel.  She sat down and I ran over to a trash can to throw up.  We sat there for awhile, simultaneously devastated in a nuclear-bomb-ground-zero kind of way, while also grateful for eternity to an extent I’d never experienced.  After some indeterminate amount of time (there’s no such thing as time in moments like that), we knew we had to return to the waiting room.  Upon arriving there, I collapsed into a seat as the full force of this new reality barreled me forward like a plane touching down on the runway.

Memorable Ministry Moment #4: Being held up by Dad and LJ at the weakest moment of my life.

Steve Doherty and my dad shared a first name, a granddaughter, and a completely selfless love for their children and children-in-law.  Dad had taken the day off to be with us at Hopkins.  LJ Timmons was one of Steve’s closest friends for nearly 20 years.  He spent his birthday there in that waiting room with the rest of Steve’s friends and family.

As I sat down in the seat between Dad and LJ, I lost it.  I’ve never been in a place quite like that, before or since.  It was like falling down a deep, dark hole and wanting desperately to at least drag against the sides to slow the fall, but being completely unable to do so.  Dad was on my left, LJ on my right.  They were both going through this, too, yet they were able to reach out to me.  Dad squeezed my left shoulder while LJ firmly grasped my right.  And they stayed like that for a long, long time.  While I was completely unable on my own to slow my fall, it was like those two men were pulling me back up one strenuous tug at a time.

I don’t know how long they stayed like that.  And the hard reality is that the year that still lay ahead would be hard and painful.  Even so, those two men holding me up like that at my lowest point ever was a sacrificial ministry I will always remember.

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 6:31 am  Comments (3)  

Memorable Ministry Moment #3

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, some memorable ministry moments:

The third incident took place on one of the scariest days of my life.  It was February, 2011.  I was home with Laura Marie.  Her grandparents, Steve and Linda Doherty, were visiting.  Laura Marie was sick and had been to the doctor just that morning.  It was around noon, and I was feeding her lunch as she sat in her highchair.  Since she had been running a fever, it was a great relief to me that her temperature was normal when they checked it a couple hours before at the doctor’s office.  Because Laura Marie had a febrile seizure about six months before, we always kept a close eye on her temperature, and it was very stressful whenever she was sick.  On this day, I decided to check her temperature as she ate lunch.  It registered 104.4.  I didn’t see how that could possibly be right, so I checked my own temperature.  Normal.  I checked Laura Marie again.  Still 104.4.  My heartbeat spiked just as my daughter’s temperature had.  I distinctly remember telling Steve and Linda, “I’m really surprised she hasn’t had a seizure.”  About two seconds later, her eyes rolled back in her head and it began.

Memorable Ministry Moment #3: Steve and Linda carrying me through the scare of my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter’s second seizure.  With one finger I scooped out the strawberry she was eating, while the other hand unclasped the straps holding her in her highchair.  I carried her into the living room and laid her down sideways on the floor as she convulsed and stopped breathing.  Steve called 911 and kept them on the line as I performed CPR on my baby girl.  Meanwhile, Linda gathered some things for Laura Marie so we would be prepared for her ambulance ride and short stay at the hospital.

The ambulance arrived in literally about three minutes—the first responders in Ocean Pines are truly amazing!  As I clutched onto Laura Marie during the ambulance ride, I remember telling God that I was not going to be okay if I lost her.  (I was still panicked by how quickly her temperature shot up, and I didn’t know how high it might go.)  But I was not the only one on the line with Heaven: Steve and Linda were praying, too, as they followed right behind the ambulance.

Once we arrived and Laura Marie was tended to by Dr. Jeff Greenwood—a wonderful physician who suffered from febrile seizures as a child—Linda stayed with me at the hospital while Steve picked up Carolyn from work and brought her over.  Dr. Greenwood took great care of Laura Marie, answered our questions, and offered encouragement.  And we brought our baby girl home, where it was another day or so before her temperature stayed consistently below 103.

Every day throughout the rest of the week, Steve and Linda found some excuse to stop by… always around lunchtime.  They didn’t need an excuse, of course, but they wanted to reassure Carolyn and me by not admitting they were checking on the baby.  Every single day, they just happened to be in the neighborhood (about 45 minutes away from Steve’s office), or we had left something at their house (and the junk mail that had come two weeks before with Carolyn’s maiden name on it just couldn’t wait), or Steve had to bring me a copy of a great article he’d read.  No matter how crappy Laura Marie was doing, Steve and Linda assured us that she looked great and was acting like her normal self.

Their ministry to Carolyn and me throughout that whole period was helpful in a way I could never express.  But the part I will always especially remember is that when it happened, they were there.  And they knew just what to do.  If they had not come by that day, I would have been alone when it happened.  My mind won’t even let me go down that road.  A truly unforgettable ministry moment.

By the way, some good and bad came out of this experience.  The bad: My mother-in-law now shares our seizure-related PTSD issues.  Ever since then, whenever Laura Marie gets sick, the anxiety strikes Linda.  The good: I am now basically required by law (mother-in-law, that is) to notify Linda every time Laura Marie gets sick.  Why?  Because she prays.  No ministry is greater than that.

Published in: on October 29, 2013 at 7:17 am  Comments (2)  

Memorable Ministry Moment #2

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, some memorable ministry moments:

The second one happened in the spring of 2009.  Carolyn and I were about six weeks away from the birth of our daughter.  As the pastor at CrossWay, I had gotten to know some of the 50 or so families whose children were enrolled at the Training Station Preschool, which is a part of our church.  This was several months before Carolyn became a teacher at the preschool—she was finishing her five-year stint as a kindergarten teacher in Crisfield.  That spring (I believe it was May), the families from the preschool held a baby shower for Carolyn and me.

Memorable Ministry Moment #2: The Training Station baby shower.  These families held a really nice shower for us, and they sat us up on the platform in the sanctuary as they showered us with gifts.  As we sat there, many of the children came up and joyfully handed us one present after another.  The kids were really into it, and their parents gave us hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth of extremely nice gifts.

Much of what we used with Laura Marie in the first couple years of her life were presents from that shower.  Together with the staff, they also made a book about parenting for us, where they shared their wisdom through a steady stream of hilarious and touching anecdotes.  I’m getting teary-eyed now thinking back on it!  I was not on staff at the preschool and many of these families didn’t even know Carolyn yet; there was no reason they should have felt compelled to be so generous to us.  It was purely an act of love.  There are very few moments in my life when I have felt so loved and cared for as I did during that baby shower.

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 6:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Memorable Ministry Moment #1

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, some memorable ministry moments:

The first one I’d like to share occurred on a Sunday afternoon in late November or early December of 1998.  I had recently been to a small group Bible study for the very first time.  The people there were extremely welcoming and friendly, and I loved it, but….  Being terribly socially insecure, I felt like I would be intruding if I went back again.  If invited, I wouldn’t hesitate to go—but I didn’t want to barge in.  The small group was a ministry of Berlin First Baptist Church in Berlin, Maryland.  The Sunday after attending the Bible study, I attended the church’s worship service for the first time.  It felt like home.  Afterward I walked outside and began walking across the parking lot to my white Dodge Dakota pickup, not sure what my next step would be on my brand-new walk with Jesus.  This was heavily on my mind when I heard some footsteps behind me and a booming voice calling out, “Wait!  Wait!”  I turned around and saw the leader of the small group running across the parking lot toward me, waving the next week’s Bible study lesson in the air above his head.

Memorable Ministry Moment #1: Daryl McCready chasing me across the parking lot.  Bill Hybels has a book about evangelism which he has titled Just Walk Across the Room.  In this case, it was more like “just run across the parking lot.”  When he caught up with me, Daryl handed me the paper and invited me back to the group, which he hosted at his home with his wife, Traci.  Because he took that step—well, more like 25 steps—my life has never been the same.  We became prayer partners and he discipled me.  You know how you buy something new like a DVD and can’t figure out how to get the cellophane off?  The cellophane was still on my pilgrimage with Christ, and Daryl not only helped me figure out how to open it, but also guided me in how to understand the manual and actually start using it.

Long story short: we experienced our call into pastoral ministry together, he ordained me, and he further trained me by bringing me onto staff at the church he planted, SonRise Church.  It was also through my relationships at Berlin First Baptist that I met my future wife, Carolyn (Daryl would be the best man at our wedding).  It was through Carolyn that I got to know the people at what would become CrossWay Church.  And it all started when Daryl chased me across the parking lot.

Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm  Comments (1)  

Memorable Ministry Moments

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, I’m going to spend the rest of October sharing about some memorable ministry moments.  Each day I’ll share one point in time when someone reached out in the love of Christ and powerfully impacted me. First one coming up in a bit….

Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Laura Marie Takes Canada: The Return Journey

August 25:

On our way home from Canada, we spent a little time with Laura Marie’s great-grandmother and great-aunt in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Sitting at the dinner table, she leaned over and quietly confided in me, “I can’t tell them apart because they both have white hair.”

Published in: on October 25, 2013 at 6:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Laura Marie Takes Canada: August 24, 2013

August 24:

* We spent all day in the old city of Quebec.  Laura Marie saw a wedding party leaving a church, and said excitedly, “I never saw a bride getting married in Canada!”

* We passed a street musician playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on an electric piano—and Laura Marie loves Beethoven.  After walking away, she said, “That dude that was playing the piano is really cool.”  Several minutes later, she asked, “Was that guy Beethoven?”

* Laura Marie drank a juice cocktail, and said, “I’m drinking my incredible soda.”

* While standing in a crowded line to see Cirque du Soleil, Laura Marie was on my shoulders.  Suddenly she started singing very loudly, “Happy birthday to Daddy’s head….”

* Laura Marie got tired of me kissing her as I carried her, so she informed me, “If I want you to kiss me, I’ll tell you.”

* Today wrapped up our Canada vacation… or as Laura Marie kept calling it, our “Canada adventure.”

Published in: on October 24, 2013 at 6:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Laura Marie Takes Canada: August 23, 2013

August 23:

* Today we went to a fancy chocolatier on an island near Quebec.  They had the fanciest chocolate everything I’ve ever seen.  Laura Marie wanted a gumball from a machine.

* We explored Canyon Sainte Anne.  They had a really cool kids area with a big Sudoku puzzle the size of our living room rug, and they had moving parts for the numbers.  Laura Marie conquered her first Sudoku!

* At the park, Carolyn showed Laura Marie a little pink sweatshirt she brought in case she got cold.  Laura Marie replied, “Thank you, dude.”

* The hosts at this B&B have two young children who are trilingual—they’re fluent in French, Spanish, and English.  Before going to bed tonight, Laura Marie said to the kids, “iBuenos noches!”

Published in: on October 23, 2013 at 6:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Laura Marie Takes Canada: August 22, 2013

August 22:

* At breakfast on this day, Laura Marie had a lot of thoughts to share with our hosts.  Such as: “We’re staying here because we’re on vacation.”  “I don’t remember home because we’ve gone to so many places at Bed and Breakfasts.”  “I have a passport, too.”

* While I was brushing her teeth, memories of home apparently started to return.  She said, “I remembered that I have a piggy bank at home!”

* There was a pond in the backyard of this B&B, and Laura Marie spent a good deal of time squatting next to it… petting frogs.

* In downtown Quebec, there was a shaggy teenager sitting on the sidewalk playing folk songs on a guitar.  Laura Marie stopped to listen for a few minutes, then said, “That’s beautiful music that the dude is singing.”

* When we put Laura Marie to bed, she kept getting up.  Finally I said, sternly, “Laura Marie Hyde!  Lie back down!”  She replied, with equal severity, “Nathan Hyde!  Stop lying on my pillow!”  It messes me up when she says something so stinkery but funny at the same time.

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 6:10 am  Comments (1)