StagesWe were planning a delightful outing – a night seeing a show with friends!

The destination was a little theater production house in the suburbs of our fair city, as their website describes:

“Stages St. Louis is the region’s foremost not-for-profit company committed to preserving and advancing the art form of Musical Theatre through excellence in performance and education. . . Stages employs the best musical theatre artists available regionally and nationally for all productions. . .. The theater seats 380. “  

We had great seats as honestly, there is not a bad seat in the house in a small venue such as this. Our tickets had us sitting pretty much in the middle – of all the rows and in the middle of the actual very long row itself.

As the theater filled up (it was a full house) and we chatted with our friends, my mouth began to get very dry. The production began – Smokey Joe’s Café.

I knew what was happening and I couldn’t believe it. I was having a panic attack.

There I was smack dab in the center of 380 people! I was surrounded with no means of escape. I tried to sit forward to ease the stress but that made it worse as now I could easily see the long long filled row of people to my left and to my right blocking my exit.

I prayed. I pleaded with God. I just couldn’t believe or at least didn’t want to accept that there I was – having a panic attack! I tried to focus on the stage but my fears overtook me. Into the second song, I had to leave.

I told my hubby I’d be back at intermission and proceeded to step over and past probably 25 people seated in the dark. I kept saying “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me.” I was horrified at myself!

As soon as I reached and stepped out into the isle, I calmed down. An observant usher lit her tiny flashlight to guide me up the stairs to the back of the room. She looked at me questioningly. I explained that I was claustrophobic and wondered if there was a place in the back I could sit. So the rest of the first half I sat amongst the ushers on high chairs stationed at the back wall enjoying the show.

Meanwhile, Hubby was beginning to panic because he didn’t know why I left and didn’t hear me say I’d be back at intermission. And I didn’t come back! He turned his phone on – a no no in the theater – hoping I’d text him. I didn’t.

At intermission, I went down and told him and our friends what had happened. I was totally embarrassed but they were all gracious and understanding. Hubby wanted to come to the back and sit with me but I said no, as there was only room for me – and the ushers, who I must add were very accommodating!


I really struggle to understand this claustrophobia of mine. I don’t know how or when it began and it seems to be progressing. I don’t know when I actually gave it a name. Hubby says something like this possibly begins with some event in childhood but I cannot recall one. Statistics show 5-7% of the population suffers from this phobia. Yea me! Not!

The first time I remember the experience (and I didn’t know it had a name) was in my early twenties going on a church college event where a massive hay tunnel was built in a big barn. Apparently there was a room inside where all were gathering. I tried but I just could not make myself crawl through the tunnel. I felt like such a sissy!

In St. Louis we have the infamous Arch – a 630 foot tall curved monument. To get to the top, first you go down to the base, stand in line – forever – then enter a tiny capsule (they call it a tram) which (they say) seats 6. I say it seats two, tops! They also say it’s a 4-minute ride up and a 3-minute ride down. That in itself is scary! There are windows in the door of the capsule, er, tram, but they only face into the inner workings of the Arch. There is no daylight until you reach the top. I admit the view from the top is breathtaking and over the years I’ve made the trip many times as all out-of-town company require it. But no more! Now I wait in the gift shop with my guests go up. If they think I’m a sissy, so be it!

I no longer tour caves and I need an open MRI when required.

The worst event was about a year ago. I was at the dentist. She was doing something major – a root canal or something. I always get the “gas” so I felt ok. But then, THEN she slipped some sort of apparatus in my mouth to hold it open. I didn’t see it, didn’t know it was coming or what was happening. I panicked! It’s difficult to communicate with a nose full of gas and a mouth full of who knows what! But she could tell I was upset. She’s trying to guess: pain, sick, claustrophobic? Oh baby, she nailed it! She informed me she could not remove it or she’d have to begin again so I needed to get a grip! I pulled out my phone, turned on Pandora and listened to Praise music. It calmed me enough to get me through it. But the panic I feel always surprises me. I wanted to punch her out! Thankfully I didn’t or I’d be dentist shopping!

The saddest event happened several years ago. Hubby and I were on a fantastic driving trip of a lifetime – from St. Louis to California and back. All was wonderful except for one tiny part! The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel: A 1.1 mile tunnel dug through a mountain in the 1920’s. There are many restrictions for sizes of vehicles. There have been major and minor accidents over the years. I read all I could. Then I determined we couldn’t go through it. By that I mean I couldn’t go through it. Patient Hubby complied and we drove many, many miles around to avoid it and give me peace.

Every year St. Louis had quite the festival downtown for three days with food and entertainment and booths of all kinds, ending each night with fireworks off a barge in the river. It’s quite spectacular. One year, probably 25 years ago, we went with my kids and got caught in a sea of traffic – people traffic. One had no choice except to go with the flow. I thought my kids were going to suffocate! I thought I was going to suffocate! We’ve not been back.

Since my daughter and family moved to Florida a couple of years ago, I’ve been on a lot of airplanes. I do okay unless there is a problem. And with me, it seems there is ALWAYS a problem. I wrote about one such incident last August. You can read it here:

The Rest of the Story

Now, I have little pills, thanks to my gracious and understanding doctor, which I always pack when I fly. And believe me, they have come in handy too many times! But I’m grateful for them!

Now I’m wondering if I need to carry them with me all the time! I guess it couldn’t hurt – especially in the middle of a show.

We have tickets for another show later in the summer at Stages.

Yes – same place, same seats!

I hope it’s not too late to change my seating arrangement!

I’ll be carrying my pills . . . just in case. 🙂

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.'” Psalm 56:3



sunset Florida

O God, as I awake

I feel the need to pray;

Before I take a step

I need Your strength today.

Help me see some good

In this dismal, dreary morn;

Help me touch a life

And show I’ve been reborn.

O God, You clear the path

You’ve given me to take

And shelter me from strife

As this new day I make.

Journey with me, God;Florida bird

Take my hand and lead;

This day waits for me.

I know Your love I need.

(circa 1975)

in honor of today being the National Day of Prayer

The Story of Grace


Beginning life in the church where her dad was the organist/choir director made for solid footing for little Grace. But life can change quickly as everyone knows.

Grace’s dad passed away when she was 12 years old, leaving behind not only Grace, but her two sisters, ages 5 and 14 at the time,  in addition to their mother. In the next few years, additional deaths followed including the passing of her beloved grandfather, grandmother, and other close relatives.

How does a little girl grieve with all these losses? Grace’s mom was the stronghold of the family, until her untimely death only 5 years later. When Grace was 17, she and her siblings became orphans.

Grace and her sisters lost way too many family members and dearly loved ones in too short a span at too young an age.

By this time, Grace’s older sister was married and out on her own. An aunt and uncle moved in to the family’s home to help with the other two. This arrangement was short-lived as elder sister and her husband moved in. They persevered, leaning on each other for strength and security. Feelings came in waves: the sorrow, the anger, and the memories. But they did not allow themselves much time to dwell on their losses and their loneliness. It was not an easy life and things were not always rosy – three young sisters living together under those circumstances. They struggled. But Grace and her sisters were survivors. They had no choice. Grace remembered her mom’s last words, “Take care of your little sister.” And she did as best as she was able. Grace’s part-time job paychecks went towards clothes and other essentials for her younger sister. Little girls grew up before their time.

Two weeks after high school graduation, Grace married her high school sweetheart. Several years and three children later, they divorced. And after three years as a young single mom, she met and married Chuck. That was 32 years ago.

Grace continued to struggle inwardly, to replace somehow what she had lost at too young an age. Grace’s older sister was a born evangelist! She took it upon herself to convert Grace from her godless life to a life filled with Christ. She would “preach” Christ to Grace for hours on end during various and frequent phone calls. Grace, being respectful of her sister, would patiently listen. At some point, she was encouraged to listen to Christian radio, which she did.

For 15 years, Grace’s sister spoke into her life. The radio confirmed and reinforced what Grace had been hearing. Pretty soon, certain radio preachers began to speak into her life. Some of her favorites were Chuck Swindoll, James McArthur, and Charles Stanley. There was a common thread through the various preachers: The Gospel: “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

One day, the day Jesus picked to intervene in her life, Grace knew. She knew it was time and she knelt down by her bed. As she wept, she confessed every sin she could think of going back through her entire life, into her childhood. When she was finished, Grace asked Jesus into her heart.

She was Born Again.

Grace called her sister and shared the Good News. Being obviously elated, Grace’s sister and her husband came over to visit with Grace and Chuck. They suggested the couple might consider attending Bible Study Fellowship for some in-depth Bible Study, which they did. For years! They eventually settled in to a solid church and proceeded to bring their grandchildren with them for the next 15 years!

Life for anyone is never smooth sailing from beginning to end, and in Grace’s case it’s all too true. There have been life’s ups and downs, sicknesses and losses. Just barely four years ago, her son – in his mid-forties, died of a heart attack without any previous warning. Understandably, Grace was devastated! There is not one day, NOT ONE DAY that Grace does not think of and mourn her son’s loss. But Grace is grounded. She is steadfast in her belief in Christ and her anchor is in Him.

In her grief, Grace went to the Lord. She was comforted by His presence and His words in scripture:

“A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

One thing Charles Stanley preached so many years ago that Grace never forgot was that “God doesn’t have grandchildren, only children.” Having a grandfather who was a pastor and a dad involved in church did not secure her salvation. Although Grace was fatherless and motherless at too young an age, she knows Her Father is not only in Heaven but walks beside her every moment of every day.

She is blessed!

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His Holy Dwelling.”          Psalm 68:5



Thank You for Loving Me!

It’s the way I start each bedtime prayer.  Sometimes it’s the way I end it.  Other times it’s my prayer in its entirety.

Have you ever had times in your life when you want to pray; you know you should, but you just can’t?  No words are there.  You’re just numb.  You’re empty.   Life becomes too big and we become too small.

It has happened all too frequently for me.  There was a long stretch when nothing came.  Nothing!  It’s a lonely time.  I always believed God was there.  I even believed He was listening.  I hated myself when I thought I was keeping Him waiting.  But I couldn’t manufacture something from nothing.

When I’d enter a slightly better frame of mind, I’d remember the verse in the Book of Romans:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;”    Romans 8:26

I had the “groanings” part down.  I could only hope the Spirit was translating.  But actually, truthfully, I knew God knew my heart.  He knew my thoughts.  And I knew He knew best.  That has always been such a comfort.  He knows better than I do what is good and what is best for me, my loved ones, and you!  I know His plans are not to harm us.  Ever!

I’m thankful He doesn’t wait on me to do what He does.  But I’m so very thankful He’s ready to listen when I’m ready to talk.  And I’m really thankful that once in a while I learn to listen to Him when I’m in my silent mode.  Then He might plant a Bible verse in my mind or a song at church to prompt me.

It’s the lack of understanding the reasoning, lack of seeing the big picture and lack of patience on my part.  But it’s not lack of faith.  I know God loves me!  When this reality hit me, I clung to it and began to thank God every day for that fact.

So when I pray, I always remember to say, “Thank You for loving me.”  And sometimes it’s enough.

Silly me.  I used to think I was the only one who had drought times of prayer.  Until this morning at church.  We sang a song which I’ve sung before but for some reason it resonated in my heart today.  It’s right on!  And obviously I’m not alone.