I had just nestled into the horizontal position for my afternoon siesta when the phone rang and I heard Ina's fluttering voice on the other end. She told me that her heart was racing uncontrollably. (Ina's heart was always racing uncontrollably.) She asked to speak to my husband—her pastor—who was not at home. So she settled for talking to me about that day's ailments.

Ina was an elderly, nervous widow who called incessantly asking for prayer for something—usually a perceived illness related to her racing heart or shortness of breath. You had to love her, with her ruby-red lips that spiked beyond the lip-line and her penciled-in, over-arched eyebrows that crowned her wrinkled brow. Once after church she came through the receiving line to greet my husband and me with her brow furrowed and distorted as she muttered how she was sure she had contracted AIDS. She didn't know for sure, but her nephew whom she thought might be gay had kissed her on the cheek at a family wedding, and she hadn't felt well since.

The call that interrupted my siesta that afternoon was of a different sort. This time she had an unbearable burning sensation related to her female anatomy. She asked for prayer. Now, I'm a praying woman, but I couldn't help asking—Lord, how am I supposed to pray for this? Well, I prayed and managed to say it right, because Ina was so grateful. The next church day she floated up to me in the receiving line, throwing her hands up in ecstasy and telling me that she was "Oh, so much better. Praise the Lord!"

Ministry. When the church called my husband to serve as their shepherd, whether I was prepared for it or not, I received a call, too. Sometimes it means that my afternoon siestas are interrupted with ...

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April 7, 1997

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