I got a phone call a few weeks ago and I had to listen twice to the voice mail message, I wasn't sure I heard the name right. Oh I knew the name but I thought I was mistaken.
It was someone I had never met. I've only seen him on TV and heard his name on local commercials. It was Pastor Buddy Cremeans from the Northway Church in Clifton Park. Yes, I know of him and have wanted for two years to attend one of his services but didn’t have the nerve. You see I was raised Catholic.
I went to Parochial school, received every sacrament possible (so far) and was taught Catholicism is the only way. When Pastor Buddy called me I was excited. How does he know my number? Who told him I needed prayers?!! Does he know I've wanted to stop by and check out his church but I feel I'd be cheating on my own parish?
Well, I listened to his voice mail and returned his call. I had no idea what the heck I would say other than to let him know I was stunned he dialed my number. I had a lot of questions racing around in my mind, most especially who told him about me, who should I thank and exactly what did they tell him? His phone call made such an impression. He took the time to reach out to me to say hello and tell me I was making a difference and I was inspirational. Me!!!!!? Really? It was hard to wrap my head around and digest.
I have Pastor Buddy's cell phone number, now that's not a number I thought I'd ever have. But then again whodathunk I'd be on texting terms with the SHEN varsity football coach, Brian Clawson or NYS Senator Kirsten Gillibrand???? There's something I need to keep grounded about, I need to keep in mind we are ALL just people, with various jobs. Most of us were not born into our position, it develops with time and effort but we are human and come from families that are regular working class people.
If I use myself as an example I understand it best. I'm just me, Regina. I grew up in Albany with a regular, although large, family with regular neighbors and classmates. I'm going to guess Pastor Buddy did too.
So, he invited me to attend one of his Sunday services. Yes, you bet. I have been wanting to. Matter of fact I really wanted to go two Christmases ago to the Times Union Center in downtown Albany when there was a huge crowd but I was afraid to. Now I've been invited so I've got a legitimate reason to go! I've never strayed from the Catholic Church even though I pick and choose what I believe from each sermon. My mom was an organist for over 60 years and I shudder to see her gasp at the mere thought that I attended a non-denominational church and liked it. (I didn't tell her)...
The only other service I've attended recently (or ever really) was on Christmas Eve when Pat Hardy asked me to go with her. I was planning to skip this past Christmas completely as everything was so raw and I wasn't sure I could spend the time out in a crowd. She asked and knowing I wanted to spend as much time with Matt as possible I agreed. We went to Grace North church in Halfmoon and I loved that service too. Uh yuy yuy... My mother wouldn't care for this if she knew. I felt so guilty!!
Well, last Sunday I went to the 11:30 service after the pancake breakfast for Matt and Bailey. I got there in time to meet Pastor Buddy and his wife Debbie who were incredibly gracious and personable. We had the opportunity to talk for a few minutes and I enjoyed his service very much. The uplifting music and heartfelt singing was nothing like I'm used to. I don't usually see a full set of drums, several electric guitars and multiple singers belting out praise for God in the manner I saw this past weekend. Overwhelmed would be a good word for how I felt. I stood there sobbing like child. As I sat in the front, the poor lead singer must have thought there was something wrong with me!
All I could think of was "Chris would love this!" I had to drag him to mass most times. This he would have found inspirational. I'm bringing Jeremy when he's home for spring break... If anything was non-traditional in my world, this was it. Incredibly faithful though.
I still don't know who asked the Pastor to contact me. I think it was more than one person because Pastor Buddy said people have been mentioning me to him. Thank you for that, your prayers are amazing. I know I have a tendency to re-tweet Joel Osteen’s messages on my Facebook and Twitter accounts and some of you were trying to get him to call me. Well, guess what?
I heard from him! Imagine??? I've been a closet Joel watcher on TV for a while now and working on being a faithful person and look at what happened!
Hearing him say my name out loud was surreal. He was talking straight to me. I've seen him talk to 15,000 in his congregation and I've been singled out? Unbelievable! Now I don't know his history, I don't know how he grew up or if he was a regular kid like me but seeing him there sharing words of encouragement was pretty awesome. I stood there with my mouth gaping open shaking. I love his down to earth encouragement. To change the channel when someone is bringing me down and that a flood is coming for me. Yep. The flood gates opened Sunday thanks to all of you and I'm so grateful. Still can't believe it.
So, I told you the other day that I fell apart Sunday night. Now you know why. I had already had a really full weekend of events and then attended the Northway Church and received an incredible message. My meltdown and river of tears to God were a mix of thanks, bewilderment, sadness and fear. Sometimes I think I'm going to burst. So many emotions start brewing and I feel a volcano is going to spew out the top of my head. I feel like a pressure cooker and all I can do is lay down and let it ride. Eventually it passes and I get a grip again.
I thank each one of you who said a prayer for me, for Chris and for my family. For all of you who reached out on my behalf, you were heard and now I'm sharing what you accomplished. Thank you Pastor Buddy for contacting me and Pastor Joel Osteen for helping me feel so special in the wake of such tragedy. I bet my son Chris is getting a kick out of all this and that makes me joyful. You should consider experiencing a service at Northway Church. It’s quite inspirational. I plan to attend again.
Thank you for reading.