With the Lenten season in full swing, church played an active part in my weekly activities this week.
Lamont and I attended a Rush Run Community Chapel service Sunday at the invitation of Rudy Micker. He said that the photography profession of the local area was being honored. I told him I was a reporter who took photos to go along with my stories but he said that qualified.
I was among some photography greats and felt overwhelmed in their presence. This included Jay Stock, who has been in the business for many years and won many prestigious awards, and Everett Briggs, who is just as prestigious and was once part of the Herald-Star photography staff. That was when taking pictures was an occupation in itself.
Pastor James Monogioudis was talking about how everything happens for a reason, and I knew that to be true as soon as Micker stood up to tell of a frightening experience he had encountered the previous week.
"I went for some tests because of bad headaches and got a telephone call on the prognosis, telling me to report to the hospital immediately.
"They did an arterialgram and found that I had a bleeding aneurysm of the brain. I am sure it was due to the many prayers that I next learned it had sealed off, due to a calcium deposit," he said.
Boom! A lightning bolt struck over my head. The very person who had invited me to the church service had experienced the same problem that I had in 1985.
I had a bleeding aneurysm, was in intensive care for four days and hospitalized for 11 days. And I experienced the not very pleasant dye that felt fiery hot when it was shot to my brain through an artery, too. The many prayers and an anointing by some faithful Christians brought a favorable report when the next arterial gram was taken to determine the damage. The aneurysm had sealed up and when the reports were sent to two research hospitals, it was determined that I did not need surgery.
I was able to share this with Rudy, and we both shed a few tears on how lucky we were and how prayer is just as powerful as medical knowledge.
Pastor Jim spoke on the book "Heaven is for Real" and I knew this book well. I read it in December and felt that the young boy, Colton, brought inspiration to his parents and others in telling of his heavenly experience when he was desperately ill. He had seen his parents praying for him as he hovered on high, and they knew it was something he wouldn't have known otherwise.
Our Smithfield Christian Church was host to the Community Lenten service on Sunday evening and after skipping over a song that was in the bulletin, Pastor Wilford Simeral decided to also tell of another funny incident that had happened at his grandsons', more than one, karate tournament.
Having knee surgery recently, he grew restless and was in some pain sitting in the bleachers. He and wife, Anna, got up and walked about and then he chose to lean against the wall to relieve some of the pressure on his knee.
"I felt something poking me in the back and reached back and pushed it. That was a big mistake! It was the bell for the fire alarm," he said to the laughs from the congregation. It seems that no one knew how to get to the service that shut off the loud clanging, and it went on for 20 minutes. There were people holding their hands over their ears, and the karate students took off their prized belts and tied them down under their chin to cover their ears," he said.
"My daughter-in-law, Missy, said this was a blessing for the concession stand. Everyone was coming to the lobby and of course seeing food, were attracted to the smell of sloppy joe sandwiches. So they sold out after worrying that they would be stuck with a big supply," he said.
I went to a church again during the week. This is when I took a picture of ladies from the St. Paul AME Church who compiled a "Food for the Soul" calendar to be sold for a fundraiser. Their recipes will be the Wednesday food column. And believe me, there are some good ones. I felt honored to be asked to contribute, and my recipe for Hearty Minestrone Soup was included.
I was given an even more impressive gift when we went to the Second Baptist Church in Steubenville to take the photo. Lisa Mason, who compiled the calendar, gave me a T-shirt with a "Kiss the Cook" message on the front. Marge Monaco did the typing for the calendar that sells for $10. You can call Lisa if you are interested in one at (740) 424-8148.
I was delighted to see Juanita Slappy, a tiny but mighty lady I have known for years through her being the secretary for the Second Baptist Church and me being the one who typed up the church sermons. She is one of the few ladies I can feel tall around.
I got to meet Debbie West, who is from Mount Pleasant and is related to Billy West, a young man who was a friend and football teammate to my son, Darin, at Buckeye Local as well.
I need to mention that the AME Church is now without a home as there are construction problems with the building. They meet at the Friendship Park Restaurant for Sunday services and used our Christian Church for their turn with the Lenten services. Let's hope that they are able to raise funds to get a new church home. The calendar is one of their fundraisers.
Their use of a word to describe the basement social room in our church, where they would be serving refreshments after the service, "undercroft," had many running for a dictionary, or the younger ones who are computer savvy, to Google it. It means a vaulted chamber under a church or a subterranean room in the event that you did not know like me.
Now that I have revealed Wilford Simeral's embarrassing experience of the day, I have to tell one on myself.
I had a beautiful dress in the closet that Lamont bought me for Christmas in 2010. Yup! Just like the GPS Christmas present, it was overlooked for over a year.
I was pulling out spring clothes and noticed it hanging there looking quite forlorn as it had never been out of the closet in 16 months.
I wore it to the Rush Run Church service and at the covered dish dinner that followed, I managed to drag a long pair of beads that I wore through the coleslaw and get mayonnaise all over the skirt. That wasn't the embarrassing event though, I simply wiped it off and all was fine.
Since the dress was pretty much in sight the next morning when I got ready for work, I put it on. Now comes the part where everything goes south, and I do mean south.
I put on a half slip different from the one I had worn the day before and noticed that it was bit loose around the waist, likely because I am in a size smaller now that I have lost the "doctor-ordered" weight I was supposed to take off.
I wore my knee-high boots with the dress and when I arrived at work the slip had slipped far down from the dress. I couldn't feel it tickling my legs because of the boots. After I went parading through the news- room to my desk and got back up to get a cup of coffee, I looked down and there it was hanging about 4 inches below my dress. I went around the rest of the day tugging at my waist each time I got up. I didn't want it happening a second time.
I will close with a saying in our church bulletin board. "The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that comes along their way."
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Herald-Star. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)