Pastor's Blog
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January 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

Plans and Presence


Christmas Day 2015 didn’t turn out quite as Betsy and I had planned. Christmas Eve was wonderful: great worship services, wonderful food and family time at home, and the “long winter nap” that’s the blessing of having “older” children. Then came Christmas morning! Coffee on, fire in the fireplace, excitement and anticipation in the air! The gifts were passed out and Kate began tearing into hers. Then I noticed Betsy leave the room. She came back shortly and everything seemed OK. In a few moments, she left the room again, and returned after a bit longer time interval. I asked if she was OK, and she simply identified a bit of nausea. This exiting and reentering continued, growing more frequent as time passed, her level of discomfort visibly increasing with each trip. Finally she called me to the back of the house and I found her practically doubled over in pain. I have not seen her like that in 37 years, so I knew something was terribly wrong. We decided quickly to head to the hospital. Kate and I got her into the car, but a very short distance down the road I was dialing 9-1-1 and heading back to the house. The ambulance arrived and we made a speedy trip through town to the ER at UPMC Northwest. Tests were run, pain meds were administered, and it was determined that a hernia she’s had for 4 years had become strangulated and would require immediate surgical intervention.

Now remember…….it’s Christmas Day!  

All kinds of thoughts ran through my mind: is surgery on Christmas Day even an option? Who would be available to do it? How long would it take to make this happen? As I wondered about these things, the doctor walked in the room and a peace immediately calmed my racing mind and anxious heart – it was Dr. Matt Lehman from our church. He “just happened” to be on call on Christmas Day. Matt examined Betsy, looked at her test results , and at 11:35am said, “we need to do this now. I’ll call in the team.” So……wait……. he wasn’t the only one on call – a team was standing by! Phone calls were made, paperwork was signed, and by 1pm Betsy was in surgery. As I sat by myself in the waiting area, I thought about the hours that had brought us where we were, and the ways that God had been at work long before I realized it. The EMT’s were wonderful – caring, compassionate, and a calming presence. I had never placed my bride in an ambulance before – the guys were fantastic. The ER nurses and doctors at Northwest were focused  and patient with Betsy in pain and her anxious husband who was wondering how to help her hurt go away. Dr. Lehman and his team were superb – as absolutely attentive to our situation on Christmas Day as they would have been on any other day. The first time I saw Betsy post op, who was standing beside her bed? Our family physician, Dr. Will Fee – on Christmas Day! And the nurses on the third floor after surgery provided excellent care with a sense of humor about the day that made us laugh and feel at ease. Every one of these persons was God’s presence for us that day. Christmas is all about Emmanuel – God with us – as a little baby in a town called Bethlehem. But for us this year, Emmanuel was present in EMT’s and nurses and surgeons and hospital staff.

So the lesson? When things don’t quite go as you planned, remember God is present in the chaos, often in the lives of the people He places around us. Thanks be to God!

As always…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.


02-14-2016 at 6:04 PM
Sharon Goldsmith
Even though you want to be with your own family on holidays I used to feel a certain sense of another family and togetherness when working on Christmas or Thanksgiving. People were kinder and nicer for the most part and I often enjoyed sharing my holiday with my patients when it was my turn to work the holiday.. And a certain feeling of love and kindredship all sitting around a tree singing Christmas carols. At least for one day and night most people were kind and thoughtful to others.
01-09-2016 at 2:15 PM
So often we are so unaware of the angels placed around us at all times. "Praise God from whom all Blessings flow" and how grateful we know you are for those blessings given to your family on Christmas day. Our prayers for Betsy's healing and complete recovery are offered daily, and we praise the Lord, with all of you, for His faithfulness.
01-08-2016 at 3:54 PM
Charlene Schroder
Praying Betsy is doing well and you were able to enjoy your postponed Christmas celebration. Sometimes we need a reminder God is in control even when we aren't. And His provision is so much greater than we can anticipate or plan. God knows our needs and provides even before we ask. Happy New Year to you and your family.
01-08-2016 at 11:21 AM
Christine Garmong
Praise God, praying for a Betsy. Chris
01-08-2016 at 6:30 AM
Pat Mann
Our God is faithful. Jesus promised, "He'd never leave us, nor forsake us." (Heb 13:5) He just didn't tell us in what way. Thanks be to God. Blessings
01-08-2016 at 3:32 AM
Carol Pfeifle
Prayers from Oregon.
Been studying Psalm 91. God was protecting you.
01-08-2016 at 12:04 AM
Robin Riddle
Gracious Father we are thankful for all those who unselfishly place others ahead of their own families in times of need. Thank you for your gift to this family as they celebrated in a uncharistic way. I pray you continue to comfort and strengthen Betsy in her recovery. Amen
01-07-2016 at 9:44 PM
Praise God for the people he puts in our lives to give us peace when it is needed.
01-07-2016 at 9:44 PM
Peg Peary
God's blessings as you recuperate, Betsy. Dave, God has obviously sent Angels to surround you and Betsy. Please allow those same Angels and all the others He's sending to you to give you what you need to rest and be loved. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
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