Tuesday, December 30, 2008

School Books, School Books

Kayla's books arrived! Yeah! We had her family over for lasagna tonight and played games and laughed. Then I could show them the books, and talk over how we want to approach this. Basically, they gave me free reign to do whatever. (little happy dance) I would not have minded working on strategy together, and I will communicate well with them, but it is easier to work when I have the ability to make decisions. I'm looking through it tonight and getting familiar with how I want to teach this.

I'm excited!

Oh, and another bonus... her family, who also go to our church, are well off. (I wish there was a way to say that that sounds more polite...) Anyway, I did not ask, although the school suggested it. They are going to pay me, and well above what I would have asked if I asked! Wow! What a nice surprise! I would have taught her anyway. Really. But it is a nice gift.

So when school starts again, Kayla and I are going to celebrate. I think we will start off with burning or otherwise maliciously destroying her old math book which she hates. Then on to basic math. Keep her in your prayers when school starts. I want to do well. I want her to do well. I want this to work. It is a little scary at times. I went head to head with the principal and assistant principal and told them that what they were doing wasn't working and that I thought I could do better..... (the teacher is 100% behind me)..... sounds a little arrogant.... so it scares me some. I don't want to fail. But it would be hard to fail more than the current program is failing this child. So, I go into school on Monday both excited and nervous.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Undefined Prayer

I should be doing fine. Should be doing great. Things are going well. Good holiday, good friends...

I'm not. I have that undefined sadness, a longing, a nameless companion to my days. Don't know what it is. Perhaps the wrong time of month, but it has been lingering. Perhaps holiday blues, but it has been hanging around here for awhile... Perhaps the never silenced MK longing to migrate once again, who knows? Perhaps all the change - even good change is tough...

I don't know what it is, but it is bothering me recently. I can't shake it. Do you ever get that, too? And will you pray?

There is a lot of change. I am so proud of my husband and the changes he has made. He is really doing well. But... since he has been so withdrawn from this family for at least two years,.... it is an adjustment. I've developed my ways of coping, my ways of having my "inside circle", my ways of just being. All of that has been shaken up now. I have to navigate a new "us". Then the couple who have walked with me through all this mess of getting my own life straightened out for four years, - I'm struggling with them. They have always been my first line of defense, my first people to go to, who I talk over my life and my day... They are still there. They have not changed. But I am not so connected to them. I tend to talk over life with my husband; he is who I go to, talk with, beginning even to pray with... by the end of the day, I have no great need to connect anymore. (Have you noticed even that blogs have dropped off?) And that is a good thing. Even a great thing!

But.... I miss them. And I can't seem to navigate all this change well. I really feel like I have been through a move. It is the same emotional effects on me (to a lesser degree) as if we just moved. My whole internal world and support system has been or is being reorganized, and it is not without stress. I react to too much change by eventually wanting to shut down and just go back to "normal" - no matter how off that normal was. I noticed this effect, also, when I was healing from some of my past. At times, even the good was such a change that I longed for normal, even when normal was so abnormal. It was MY normal, and I was used to it.

Only During Service - Take Three

Today's sermon was about Thessalonians.

My daughter pays rapt attention to the sermon for the first five minutes. She then draws for about five minutes, and then begins to ask, "How much LONGER?!"

She listened to the verse talking about the people who had "fallen asleep". And, of course, the obvious question - "What does he mean, fallen asleep?"

I explained that it was a nice way of saying "dead". That sometimes people don't like to say "dead" so they use other words to explain it.

She accepted that answer and pondered it in her typical fashion for a few minutes before pulling on my arm again.

Leaning up to whisper in my ear, she asked, "Mommy, is Pastor afraid to say 'dead', too?"

No. No, he proved that later on.

On the side, I have gotten tired of people using all sorts of words to substitute for "dead" at funerals and other events. When I die, I am going to have my kids give the pastor a thee by five signed card to tape to his podium saying, "Face it. I'm dead. I realize that. So does everyone else. So admit it. And if you dare say I've passed on or passed (what? like gas?), I will sit up and roll my eyes at you!"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Waiting for the Giggles


We hung pictures on our walls today!!!

If this doesn't mean much to you, maybe you are not an MK.... Every time we finally hang pictures, we move! I've developed an aversion to hanging anything. Also because it keeps me from feeling "settled". I'm not sure how I would react to the next move if I felt settled. It might be harder.

I had all the pictures out on my bed deciding which should go on the walls. My daughter carefully looked over one collage, and wondered why she was not there. She wasn't born yet. I told her, "You made us wait a long time for you!"

She thought. "No, God made me, so it was God who made you wait, not me."

I laughed. "I guess you are right. He must have been waiting until he got you so perfect."

"I think He was waiting until He got enough giggles in me!"

Maybe. It was a long wait, I'll tell you that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book #3 - Walking Taylor Home by Brian Schrauger


Sorry.

I know I said I am a "read and pass on" type with books. Comes from having to move so much. But every once in awhile, I run across a book I hang on to.

I'm hanging on to this one.

Taylor's story. I face life and death fairly often. I've seen death face to face both in patients, in parents who have just been told news that they can not possibly absorb, in war zones, and even closer, in the death of my first daughter before she was born. I've faced the fear with a medical situation which worsened quickly with no explanation. I've watched doctors struggle to find a treatment. I've crawled to the doorway to watch my three baby sons sleeping and wept the night before I went in for a treatment that hopefully would reverse the problems, but which could also seriously backfire. Thankfully, I'm healthy now. Where I work now, I still see death often... but usually in people over 80, and there is a difference.

But Taylor's story....

There is nothing I can really say to this. It is a story of a boy who faced cancer head on, and lives as he dies. It is a story of a father who is honest about his pain and his questions. And it is a story about love, the love of a father to his son, the love of a son to his father, and the love of a Father to His sons.

I'm keeping this book. But, I'm heading back to the bookstore on Monday, and there were lots of them their last time, so I'll pick up a few more of them. Angela, one is for you.

That might be all for book reviews for awhile. It is a book which you can not put down and reach for another. It stays with you after you turn the last page and stare off into nowhere.

Book #2 - Escape


The next one I read was called Escape by Lorena McCourtney. Another author I had not heard of before, but who has apparently written quite a few books. (Having four kids... I'm sort of out of the "read everything written" stage.)

This story is about a single women who inherits the guardianship of her nephew when her brother and his wife die. The powerful, but evil family of the deceased mother is also looking for the child. The book is the story of Beth's attempt to keep the child safe, and of course, the inevitable romance that most light fiction contains.

I thought it was a decent book. Interesting. One you can escape into for a few hours. Nothing spectacular or edge of your seat, but decent. As a mother, I can obviously relate to the desire to keep your children safe from "the bad guy".

Its a decent book. Fun to read. But that is about all. If you read this one expecting that, it is good. I think because of the cover photo design, I was expecting something more in depth form the book and was mildly disappointed, but over all, a good light read.

Now, the next one I started is a wow! But it is a true story.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sometimes You Can Just Wait

Remember the mess about the letter the "here" pastor wanted to send out? Well, I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing. I told him I'd wait until my husband was home, and by then the issue had slid into something not on the top of everyone's minds. I continued to just wait.

We did, however, need to get a prayer letter out. We were late a month or so ago. I wondered what I should do - would writing one without talking to him be seen as going behind his back? Yet, he is a pastor - of a small church.... how much does he really know about communicating with supporters?

Last weekend, I finally wrote our own prayer letter. Added in a little of what I would have written that letter to say. Added in good things that have also happened. A normal letter. I debated - do I send it to him, too? I decided to go ahead. Being open and transparent.

I got a letter from him yesterday. We met on Tuesday, and he said he hadn't read our letter yet, but would. The letter yesterday said he liked our letter, and in fact it was well written and made the one he was thinking about redundant and so we don't need to think about his version anymore.

(big, slow smile) I did it! What a feeling of relief and, yes, victory! But I didn't fight my way to this victory with logic or confrontation.... I just waited it out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Veils and Fire


Well, I spend two hours and about forty dollars, so have around twenty new books... and a fireplace to curl up by...

Tonight, I read Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky.

Good book. Not an author I had heard of before, but good book for a fiction read.

It is about a fire which burns a town quickly. I have a patient at my work that this reminds me of, and perhaps that is why the book speaks to me. There is a photo hanging on her wall - a woman with nine kids lined up on the boardwalk beside her. One baby on her hip, perched on top of her belly swollen with another new life. My patient is the little two year old hiding her face in her mother's skirt.

I don't know the whole story; she is too far gone into Alzheimers to be able to speak. But from what I have heard, there was also a sudden, intense fire which swept the town. The family tried to outrun it, but only the father and the little two year old he carried reached a cow puddle and survived the fiery storm. The rest were burned beyond recognition.

This woman has not talked, nor even woke, for four years; but last year, one night when I went in to check on her in the middle of the night and shone my light on her, her eyes opened. She looked at me steadily with eye contact and spoke. "Tell me it didn't happen." Her eyes probed mine for a brief second and caught me unaware. What should I say? What nightmares plague her mind in the shadows? I only reached over quietly, and said, "no, it didn't. You're ok now. Go back to sleep." The veil slid back over her eyes as I spoke, and I have never again seen eye contact or consciousness to voice with her again.

I would have thought I was dreaming except that another worker was with me and saw this also.

It is her story which haunts me as I read this book today. This books melts elements of her story and mine in a misshapen lump of metal fused by heat.

So, it is yours for the asking - just send me an address or way to get it to you (on e-mail, not blog). I know, more than one will ask, so the decision is just up to me, no complaints. I have twenty other books, too....

Books, books, books!


A Christian bookstore in our town is going out of business. (Ok, I guess it is not good to celebrate their bad news...)

But books are on sale!! Yeah! All books - $2. I'm going shopping! I list what I got here later. I am a "read once and pass on"type, so if there is a book you really, really want to read.... ask.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Only During Service - Take Two

It was communion service. In our church, we have the very quiet time when the bread and juice is being passed around, and we all have a few moments of silent prayer to contemplate what Jesus has done for us....

I must confess that as a mother of four wiggly kids sitting in service, I actually do very little of contemplating what Jesus has done for us and spend most of my time frantically begging God to please, please let them be quiet for communion and please, please not let my tired thirsty little ones start whining as to why they can't have grape juice too, since "I'm thirsty too, and I KNOW Jesus died, so I CAN remember it!"

So we all sat there in quiet prayer, and it seemed as if God was answering my desperate pleas. Four silent children sat near me. So silent, in fact, that number three got tired. He stretched a little in his seat, yawned some, and turned to lean up against me and rest. He sighed as he snuggled in against my side, and rested his head on my breast - for a brief second. Then his little head popped up in surprise and discovery. He leaned over and poked my breast with one finger, jumped back a little, and said, "hmmphf, that feels just like jello!

And yes - loud enough for a few rows to hear... we were, after all, having silent prayer!

All I could think as I turned red and tried to bury my giggles in reverent prayer was that I was at least glad that the man seated behind me had four young children of his own. He looked reverent, too, as silent tears ran down his face during the prayer time. In fact, a few people sitting near me must have all been simultaneously convicted of sins as tears ran down many cheeks and heads bowed deeper and shoulders shook in quiet sobs... or was that giggles?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tooth Fairies

We are back home, and last night, we gathered the kids together and told them that Daddy is home to stay. The relief in their faces was visible. They crowded around Daddy to hug him and smother him.

We are tired. Still. Sleep seems to do nothing for it. I think it is the exhaustion of the last few weeks piled up.

My daughter lost another tooth last night. When she lost her first tooth, the tooth fairy "forgot". What happened was that the tooth fairy fell asleep. She completely forgot. This time, I hinted that the reason the tooth fairy forgot was that the tooth fairy is actually daddy, not mommy.

I think the brothers felt bad that the tooth fairy fell down on the job last time. When she woke up this morning, there was the fifty cents that daddy had put there, a large chocolate bar one brother had got for a gift at a Christmas party, a giant candy cane another brother had gotten, and some coins from another brother. Tooth fairy on overdrive.

Christmas. I'm exhausted. Still healing from the pain and stress of the last few months. I have to get it together for the kids, but I just do not feel like it right now.

At the same time, I am overwhelmed by the bigness of Christmas here. Everything is saturated with it, glitter, decorations, gifts, parties, and all. I miss the simplicity of Christmas on the field with a team that makes do with what we have and enjoys the time. Here, I think we are to enjoy things, and people often get lost in the mix.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shhh!

I'm off on a three day break WITH my husband.... he is in the shower.... relaxing and spending time with each other... oh, yeah, and being spoiled at a really nice hotel, going on walks and eating out.

It is going well. We are reading, praying, walking, and talking. And leaving the TV off (well, mostly... we did watch one show last night, but that was all...)

So keep praying, but it is going well, and I will be bringing him home with me on Thursday evening. Then comes the adjustment days at home with routines, schedules, kids, etc.

Thanks!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Only During Service

This is the first of a series - things kids do or say during church. Feel free to submit your own story, too.

Actually, this week, my kids were good in church. So an incident from about a year ago.

The pastor was preaching about something to do with people who were different, handicapped in some way. I don't remember more. (hmmm... what am I doing in church?) Anyway, he kept repeating this phrase, "the people who are born different".

My daughter was sitting very quietly and studiously drawing in her notebook. I was so proud! At the end of church, I looked down and saw this:


(ok, this is a recreation of her drawing. She honestly draws better zebras than I do.)


Her explanation? "Zebras, mommy. See, this one was born different!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

New News

It is hard for me to write what is going on right now. It isn't that I don't know, I just don't know how to explain it well.

My husband is doing well. He is over often, and is helping out around the house finishing up projects and doing housework. So far things are ok with us, and I am thankful.

My father is causing tension. Let's just say this: He used to have the job that my husband currently has. My husband is on sabbatical. My dad just moved here and is trying to "fix" everything in the office.... need I say more? This is really a matter for serious prayer. If he continues to step outside his responsibilities, he makes a mess of things that were not his to mess with, and it is very hard to tell him no politely.

I really like our pastor. Really. I like him as a pastor. Nice guy. He preaches well. He keeps the kids attention as well as any pastor can. He is friendly, helpful, concerned. But I don't think he is good at counseling. So far, he has given us homework.... two lists of over one hundred verses to look up and categorize and about twenty different lists we are to make of our sins and failures.... I'm actually a fairly studious person. I was that kid in school who liked to research and who loved tests... ok, used to be a nerd..... But this is even daunting for me! When I told him as gently as I could that perhaps if he gives this homework to people, it might be a bit overwhelming.... he said, "well, there are also people who might look at this and say, 'this isn't enough'"! Perhaps. Maybe. I would be concerned if they said that.... So we are slogging through it, but there is nothing in it worth talking about.

Besides the lists of verses, he is going through Ephesians with us. Slowly. Verse by verse. Did I mention that he just preached on Ephesians for two years? Verse by verse. Good preaching. But I heard it the first time... I find myself sitting in sessions with him remembering what was going on that Sunday when he preached that....

Nothing more than that....

Difficult to know how we are doing. We talk when we are alone, and I think we are doing well, but it is basically a "do-it-yourself" approach to counseling. The weeks away in this course were very good for him. It laid a groundwork that we can build on. But there is no building on that foundation. Even the couple who have been working with me for four years have gone away for a few weeks, so no communication there. I feel a little lost. Things are going well, but still lost.

I see changes in him though. I hope and pray they last. I hope they are not just to get back in the home, to get what he wants again. I don't think they are, but the thought still exists. I think they are real changes. I just would be happier with seeing someone spreading cement on the carefully built changes so they stick to each other and begin to build a new normal.

Yet, we've decided to go away for a few days. We were supposed to wait until the weekend, but the week works out better with the kids in school. So Monday, we go for three days just the two of us. After that, he will come home. I see no point in him being out of the house now. He is controlling his anger and has seen that it is wrong and not my fault, but an issue that needs to be dealt with in front of God. He is willing to work on issues in the marriage and on getting help and being transparent. So he will come home. We will continue to work, and possibly look for a counselor.... this will be a touchy thing to be able to do without offending our pastor.

Pray especially for this next week as we will be transitioning to home again. Pray that our mini- holiday goes well. Pray for time to heal and work on issues in the middle of the Christmas busyness.

Thank-you. It has meant quite a lot to me to be prayed for so much. I mean that, too!

When It Doesn't All Add Up

YAY! More good news - I got permission to take one kid and teach her math. Pray for "Kayla". She is so sweet and so kind, but she struggles in math. Our school has a math curriculum which I do not agree with at all, but they (administration) love it. Most parents and teachers find it confusing and unusual. Kayla is in sixth grade, and really, she does have some serious problems in math - but this curriculum doesn't help her. The curriculum is all about understanding the concept. So they teach many different ways to do a problem so you "see" the concept. Well, Kayla doesn't see anything! She hasn't since second grade, and all this "do the problem this way... oh, and now change to that way.... oh, and now another way..." has gotten her totally confused and demoralized. In sixth grade, she still can not consistently figure out how to multiply two digit numbers!

I have tutored Kayla in fourth grade and was asked to again now.... I tried.... I really tried. Then I went to the principal and said I would be willing to take her for the first hour every day and tutor her, but ONLY if I can take her OFF this curriculum, put her into a normal curriculum, and put her back in third grade math. She will likely never understand all of the "why" of the concepts, but given a consistent way to do a problem, she can do it right. Hopefullly, if we continue to be consistent and she can actually see a page that she CAN complete and understand, her attitude towards math will improve from "there is no hope for me" to "hey, I get this", and we can make progress. I don't think I can catch her up to her grade level, but I am fairly confident that we can make significant progress.

But you would not believe the opposition I had from administration to the suggestion of taking her off the curriculum! It took me a few weeks of talking to get to that point.... you'd think the very fact of Kayla not being really up to third grade math despite being tutored for several years and getting help at home would be enough to make them willing to try anything! The problem with the tutoring is that is has all been aimed at getting her to keep up with her present class. Umm.... that was fine when the difference was a year or two in skills, but now we are approaching a four year gap, and she CAN'T keep up, no matter how hard we push. How can she? All her math book tells her, day after day, is that she is stupid.

Time for a change. So, today, I am thrilled to have permission to teach "Kayla" math. She is excited, too. Can I ask you to really pray for her? We have so little time to be able to make a significant difference in this. I believe she can do it. Pray for confidence, a willingness to work, and for her to be able to grasp concepts. Pray that we can quickly progress through third grade this year and begin on fourth grade math soon.

I enjoy teaching. I enjoy watching the results. Two years ago, I spent an hour a day with a struggling ESL reader and took her from C-A-T is what?? in second grade to a decent reader. Now, when I am in that class helping and I hear her read, I smile.

I just like things that show fruit. I think one of the hardest things working in the people group we work in is that fruit grows so slowly... so it is fun to do something that does show results.

December Busyness Strikes Early

I think December is a month we all need a holiday after! It seems every year I try to say I will try not to get too busy, but it is impossible. We have family events, friend events, school events, and ministry events. By the time January rolls around, we are ready to sit in the corner staring at the walls for a few nights!

Tonight was a craft fair. I am only fair at crafts - not great - but I have found one thing that sells well. Chocolate covered pretzels. One half milk chocolate, one half white chocolate, and then on top drizzled on red, green, and dark chocolate drizzles. They look much more complicated that they are, and taste good. Two hours tonight making, boxing, and beautifying pretzels for tomorrow's sale at a church.

I also took a page out of picture praise's book, and made photos to sell. A nice photo (one of the perks of traveling around the world), add a verse, put it in a mat.... I think they will sell. We'll see. If they do, it might be a way to raise some money. If they don't, they'll make great thank-you gifts!

Tomorrow, I go to work at the nursing home. Totally out of what I usually do, but I enjoy my few days a month that I do work. I'm so excited! My daughter's class (and K-2) are coming to sing and pass out cards at my nursing home on Monday!!! Yeah! Old people are so neglected.

Pray if you think about it - my kid's school is struggling. Finances.... what else these days? Pray for more kids to come. Today was Bring a Friend to School day, and we had 28 visitors. Amazing number since we only have about twice that many students! Pray that some decide to send their kids here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Good to Know Some Things Are Still Free



Then, of course, if that is just not enough for you, another store had another free offer:


Sunday, November 30, 2008

It Is Those Tiny Things

Sometimes it is just the tiny things that turn a good day into a tough day.

One friend saw me at church and came up to me with a smile. "It's so good to see your family back together again!"

He was talking about my husband being home from his trips....

I looked up with the closest imitation of a smile I could come up with and a quick "thank-you" and walked away.

Ouch.

We are not back together. We are still fractured, limping. And last night's visit did not go well.

It is those tiny things which makes life hard.

Then again, it is those tiny things which make it good, too. My husband came over this afternoon, and shut himself inside his office to study. There was a party going on where he was staying, and he had a long-standing commitment to speak to a group this evening. So he studied, and we tried to be quiet and it was awkward. He had left last night irritated, and the kids and I tense up very quickly when daddy is irritated.... it is like the reactions of someone who has lived through a major earthquake responding to small vibrations in a building - instant alertness.

He came home after speaking, and brought me chocolate. My favorite type with coconut. I warmed up some food for him, and he made me tea, and we sat and watched TV. Too tired to do much else. I had cleaned son #3's room.... that job is enough to send anyone off the deep end! Son #3 is a very sweet kid, but he has some inability to keep the same thought in his head for more than three seconds, and he talks incessantly.

It is in the little things.

I gave in on some little things, too. I watched some football.

Little things - he grabbed the snow shovel and cleared off the driveway and sidewalk before he left. Yeah, we have snow, lots of it! This is from a husband who would not even get out of bed last winter, even when it would take me two hours to shovel my way out to get the kids to school on time.

So there are little things, and they are good. I am just tired very easily. This is wearing on me.

And Then Those Things Which Strike Fear Into Your Heart

Tomorrow, I have to face son #1's room. If you see me stark raving mad drooling in the corner of a mental institution tomorrow night, you'll know why! Son #1 has ODD- Organizational Disability Disorder (yes, I'm kidding...). He hasn't even figured out how to organize his feet to walk down stairs, but simply falls down them in sections! He also has a great love of figuring out how anything works - or at least how anything can be taken apart and spread all over his room. His latest project was trying to disassemble a bicycle to build a unicycle. Then there was the "collect old electronic equipment off the curbsides and disassemble them into minuscule pieces" phase. I know, I know - he may one day grow up to be some highly creative engineer who pioneers the next new discovery.... but right now he is a kid with a room scary enough to make the bravest mom cringe!

Son #2 is milder. He can somewhat keep things clean and possesses the ability to know how to clean a room. His problem is not what shape his room is in but WHAT I will find in it! Birds nests with eggs, dehydrated snakes, cocoons on sticks, flowers and leaves of all types, and, of course, the huge rock collection. No big guess as to what field he will go into.

When I had only two sons, and they were only one and a half and three, I had an interesting insight into their interests and characters. We walked down the street in our home town on our way out of a fast food place, my two sons one on each hand. Both said, "ooh!" at the same time. I looked down. Son #1's eyes were on the road, "Ooh! big monster truck!" Son #2's eyes were on the ground. "Ooh! pretty flower!" Both of them equally captivated by what their eyes saw and totally oblivious to what their brother saw! Thankfully, these two dramatically opposite boys are also best friends and have worked out how to share in the other's interest and play well.

Now if only we could somehow squeeze son #3 into that tight brotherhood, I would be happy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quick Notes

I should really write some things about what is happening. It is just I either never know what to write, or I am too exhausted.

Thankful -
- for good changes I've seen in my husband
- for good conversations
- for decent Thanksgiving celebration and peace between family on the day.
- for a good birthday party for my daughter... no, it wasn't her birthday, that was earlier during the chaos.

Concerned -
- I still have decisions to make and wonder on what basis to make them and when
- I still see old habits and I still have unhealed wounds and the two do not always work together

Keep praying. Tonight did not go well, and I am concerned and unsure about tomorrow. Yet, it didn't go too badly, either... it is just the concerns... the knowing what how bad it can get that worries me. And yet there are good changes, too.

Pray that the good continues and the bad gradually disappears

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beautiful Scars

I wanted to share something that encouraged me this weekend. I was just reading and came across this and it stopped me in my tracks.

For several years as I began to deal with the aftermath of abuse, I had one prayer - "no scars". I wanted God to so heal me that there would be no scars left.

He is capable of it.

The difficult thing for us as His children is reconciling what God is capable of and what He choses to do. We all have our questions from times that God did not answer in a way He could have.

I had some of these questions when my daughter died before she was born...

My prayer was always, "no scars". Showing faith. I firmly believed that God could heal so I would not be a "damaged person". I still believe it. In fact, I still hold God to it. But something happened that changed my prayer.

I was away at a conference last year, doing very well, and very happy. Then one thing happened, someone gave me a book. I was happy to get the book. I had wanted it. But to see the title and know it was about abuse send me into a temporary down. I had to fight some tough feelings on my way to my room to put away the book, and on the way back, I argued with God, pleaded, begged Him to heal me to the point of no scars - so that I can be effective and that one small thing can not bring back waves of pain.

I continued on to the meeting where I heard something which stopped me in my tracks. The speaker was not even close to this subject. He was speaking about explaining Christ to one certain religious group. He had just said, "When people say to me, 'well, Jesus never died on the cross; He was switched with Judas at the last moment'.", then I can say, "Look at His scars. They are still in His hands today, and I know when I get to heaven, His hands will still bear those scars."

Screech...... life just did one of those screeching halts to a quiet pause...

Jesus bears scars. He does it as a testimony to what happened, to what He has done...

I stopped asking for "no scars" last year. I'd like to be this wonderful, whole, beautiful person with no scarring at all. But... What is the first reaction you have when you see a scar? Mine is to ask what happened. What happened?

Scars, healed scars, even healing scars, testify to the power of God to work in our lives. My new prayer has been "make my scars beautiful". Take this mess and make me beautiful. Make the scars bring questions and Your healing power be shown through me.

This weekend, I read this and stopped in my tracks again... I had been praying for our marriage and feeling useless and disqualified and sad about my mess. Since then, I've sat more quietly at God's feet. I really don't want more scars in my life, not really, not at all.... but if they come, make them beautiful.

This was from Nate Saint:

"If people come with no scars, we don’t want to listen to them. We listen to someone who’s been there. If we want to reach the world, they need to see that God meets us in our darkest hour. They need to see a God who’s worth taking a beating for, a God who sent His own personal family to be a Savior for us. When we take that kind of God into the world, we don’t show our muscle, we show our scars"

I've got a lot of wounds healing up right now, and I am still embarrassed at the scarring, but let it be. I need God. I also know that He can heal. I've seen Him do it before and I am confident in that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who To Listen To?

A few years ago, I got suddenly very sick while in a country whose medical care is questionable at best. I also did this feat while 99% of the missionary community (which was minuscule to start off with at that time) was out of the city. My husband rushed me to the hospital, where I fought to stay conscious enough to at least keep an eye on my medical care. Thankfully, the care was half-way decent, and I managed to stay halfway conscious. Two halves make a whole, don't they?

(If you are a nurse, and only if you are a nurse, I would tell you what made me sick... If you're not, trust me, you don't want to know!)

I found it exhausting, though. Trying to be alert and think when I was so weak. I wanted so badly to be able to close my eyes and drift off. Had either of the two missionary nurses or even the former lab tech been in town, I would have. But I could never rest.

I was given medication in my IV that caused a major allergic reaction... no one knew what it was or what to do about it, and no one was ever able to tell me what it was they put in that IV. Thankfully, my husband reacted without pausing to question when I said, "Stop that IV now!" A nurse tried to give me laxatives when I had the runs.... Several times, I had to send a nurse back to find out what a medication was. Simply saying, "Here swallow these pills. I don't know what they are, but the doctor would like you to take them." didn't cut it with me. (I know, nurses are horrible patients! - But when your nurse may have passed a test at school, or her uncle may have simply paid enough money for her to get a good mark, it is a little scary!

It was exhausting. I remember that.

I feel a little like that now. I feel like I can't close my eyes and rest.

My husband is pushing to come home right now. He arrives back in town tonight. He is learning good things and I am hearing good verbal progress. My thoughts on it are... sounds pretty good, but I'd like a day or two to meet face to face with him and see and hear directly from him. A few days to talk it over and talk about and agree with our next steps and actions.

He wasn't too happy with that answer, and kept pushing which was hard on me. But he said he was ok with it. I just want to talk first a few times. Make sure there are no red flags. Make sure we can handle a face to face conversation.

Then, my "here" pastor talked to me about it. He thinks differently. He does not even want to think about him coming back home. His comment was that "even if you both were wanting that, I would advise against it". He says he thinks we are looking at two months or so of slowly working on issues and all. "You have 13 years of pain behind you, so I don't want to go too fast."

Ok, true.... our marriage has created some pain, some of it pretty bad... But it has also been 13 years of "I love this guy, yeah we struggle often, but I love him, too".

I just don't know. I feel like I can't close my eyes and rest and know I am cared for. I have to keep watching.

It would be one thing if he had said, "well, when he gets home, we will evaluate and see how things are and discuss it then." But to say, "no, not thinking about it for two months."?! I am not a real big push-over anymore. Used to be, maybe. Not now. I don't think I am willing to give this decision over into someone else's hands, especially if I don't get the feeling that he is listening. I'd like advise, I'd like input, I'd like wisdom, but I am not giving over the decision to someone else. It is also my (or our)decision.

Another problem I can see coming up is what we believe. Hard to explain this one... I am a MK. My husband also grew up on the field, so we are both influenced by a wider spectrum of beliefs than one in one church in the US might be. I tend to be a good mix of conservative - partly because I am quiet and shy (well, maybe used to be?)and I like solid teaching - and not so conservative - because I find some life missing in straight conservative places... not the "life" like dancing and clapping, although I enjoy good worship times and miss that.... but life, like this is real life, this is God involved in our lives, like let's not put God in a box of what we think and only what we've seen...

We chose this church because it has some really good things in it, and are reasonably happy in it. I think, after being in a mixed group of believers on the field, it is hard to totally fit into one group and be totally happy. But, I know my husband has been learning about generational sins and praying for freedom for those - what I consider fairly solid teaching and no where near anything strange... but I've seen this "here" pastor react to things like that in horror. (Our home pastor would be fine with it, much more balanced.) "Here" Pastor is more on the line of "if you read your Bible and pray and try hard, you have strength and energy". It is almost like any discussion about the Spirit of God is not really allowed in the church. Oh, yeah, on paper, they believe the right things... but... in belief... I just don't know.

For example... talking one day about miracles and dreams and all in Sunday school... the general consensus was that God might do miracles (specifically healing), but they really hadn't heard of them and it would be hard to scientifically verify them. And pretty sure God doesn't often use dreams in today's world.... I sat there stunned... thinking... ya'll sure ain't been on the mission field! I believe firmly in dreams. God talked to me in a dream - way before I was old enough to "make it up". I don't believe that every dream that people say they have is from God..... but this is really a whole nother topic, isn't it? (would be interested in a conversation about how what we believe has changed on the field in contact with others and in seeing a bigger world than our little home church and town... ok, I never had one, but still.)

I just find myself, over the last few years, growing differently. A longing in me for more than dryness and right doctrine. Yet, I still highly value right doctrine, and I struggle with people who believe something only because they "feel" it. I don't know... perhaps I am a strictly conservative charismatic! :) I am just a mix, that is all... an MK, thoroughly happy to take from different cultures to be me and to realize that there is not one culture which "has it all". It is the same with churches, too.

I just worry how that is going to affect our working with our pastor.

Struggling here today. My husband comes home tonight, and I don't know what I want to say... knowing that what he wants is one thing, what I do is another, and what our "here" pastor wants is totally another. I want to ask for input, for guidance here.... yet who do I even ask? It is not a majority opinion poll, but how do I get godly guidance on this?

I might phone up my "home" pastor. There are two women who will also likely get a phone call today. Those of you who have been through this with me, feel free to tell me your opinion, too.

I feel like I am having a hard time focusing on the issues since I have to keep focusing on the how to get to the issues.

Perhaps there is good advice out there, but it requires digging for, not sitting and hoping to have it served to me on a platter....?

Ah, but I'd like it served up. One order of solid advice to go.

You have to read the signs in the window. I worked hard on them!

I've been doing some reading, and learning some things. I'll write more about that later on.

Friday, November 21, 2008

When Talking Honestly Might NOT Be Good

I'm ok with talking honestly to God. I figure He knows anyway. And God is pretty dependable. He is who He is, and He does not change.

It is people I have a problem with.

And it is with people who talk honestly about you without asking your permission that I have a real problem with.

I think there is a balance between hiding things and being transparent. There has to be.

But, my sister-in-law just wrote a letter to the whole family and informed them all that life is pretty stressful right now because of my brother's events, and because Ellie and her husband are having trouble and are separated at this time.

Thanks.

We hadn't told the whole extended family yet. Do they all need to know? I'm not sure.

And things are going better. In fact, it is likely that he will be moving back home within a few weeks here.

I didn't appreciate that at all.

There has to be a balance between transparency and privacy. And I would assume that in news like this, someone should have the choice of what is told.

But.... life goes on...

Now I get to answer more questions, and answering questions takes so much energy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Talking Honestly

Something different for today. I had a good meeting today with our "here" pastor which is a relief. I don't have to make all the decisions today, so am taking one day at a time. I was talking to him about talking honestly to God - a habit I have developed over the last four years. I used to think we should bow our heads, close our eyes, and speak nice words to God. Over the last few years, as someone has shown me the beauty of transparency, I've learned to talk honestly with God.


I thought I would dig into the past for today's entry. This was a journal entry from about four years ago. It was the first time I began to talk to God honestly about my past and my struggles. From this time, God has begun to work in my life and I'm so thankful for the things He has done - although it has not always been easy!

(For those of you who read this and think you are missing something, I have offered to share more of my story in an article I wrote, but you will have ask for it and give me your e-mail.)

This was the title I put on this one:
"Glory"

Why, God? Why did you let it happen? Why do I look out at others who laugh and talk with smiles on their faces, and why does my heart cry? You say You love me, but would anyone let this happen to someone they love? Where were You? What were you doing when someone took this child aside to hurt, to use for their own sick needs? Do You not hear my pain, can You not see what this has done to me? Is there any hope? Will the pain ever go away? Why God? No one will love me now; there will be nothing the same. I have to carry this forever. People look at me different if they know. “Oh, there is that girl.” What am I to You – a piece of garbage lying on the street?


I hear in the path behind me echoes of another pain.


Why, God? Why did you let it happen? Why do I hear others laugh and play in the sunshine, and I sit in the dark? What did I do? Why would you do this to me? I sit in the garbage thrown at the side of the road. Is that what I am? All day people tease me, talk behind their hands. “He must have done a really big sin against God.” “I wonder what his parents did that God would judge them with a blind child?” Why would You judge me before I even knew how to look for milk at my mother’s breast? You say You see Your people and carry their sorrows, but where are You? I can’t see You anywhere.


Time heals all wounds, they say. No, it does not. It heals some. Some fade. Some things I learn to compensate for. I learn to go on. But some wounds never heal. I try to walk knowing God loves me, that He has forgiven me, washed me, and I am His. There are days I do fine, days I forget the pain for a moment. Then a shadow and searing pain fills my heart again. Where, oh where were You, God? You say to walk with You now and trust You. Trust a God who did not keep me safe before when I was even too small to keep myself safe?! How, Lord? How am I to trust You now? Why? I need an answer to why. Under all, it sits unanswered. People try to fill me with nice answers. None of them are nice. None of them even touch my pain. I need to hear from You. Why did You let it happen? Oh God, how am I to follow You when I can not trust You?


God, where are You? I sit all day in the dirt, hoping no one will kick me today. Hoping people see me. Perhaps pity will move them to give me a coin, something for bread. This is what I am - a blind, dirty beggar. Why, oh God, why me? What did I do that you would do this to me? Years and years of darkness, ridicule, pity, scorn and no end in sight. Never to know love; at the best only pity. No future, no real past either. Just one long day of sitting with the other garbage on the side of the road.


Again comes the pain. God, I know I have no right to demand answers from You. I know You are God and I am just Your child. Your thoughts are above mine and Your ways higher than mine, but Father, why? You say You know the future. Why did You let this happen to me if You knew I was going to follow You? Why did You let me be hurt? Why did You not stop all those horrible things that happened to me if You knew I would be Yours? I don’t understand.


Then one day, a crowd goes by. New voices. They stop in front of me. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Not again. Not a lesson again! Does anyone see me down here in the dirt? I do have ears. How could this be fair judgment for my sins - I was not even born yet! What could I have done to deserve this? I was too small. Wait. What is that answer? A new one? “Neither this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


What? Oh yuck, now what? Mud on my eyes? A gentle voice, but why this? Is this some sort of a cruel joke? “Go and wash.” What am I – just garbage that people do these things to me? Wash. Yes, wash that mud off. Then I will feel better. Wait! I see light. I see more than light, I see water, a pool, people!! I see!!!


You chose me before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before You. In love, You predestined me to adoption … to the praise of the glory of Your grace which You freely bestowed on us. The reason I am chosen and made a child is to show Your glory. Is there in that perhaps an answer – maybe one I do not understand or always appreciate, but still an answer? Maybe You let us go through horrible things and suffer before we come to You so you can show your glory. Maybe You show it in two ways, first in choosing me from out of the garbage to be called Your child, and secondly, in transforming me into Your likeness.


I hear the echo of the man blind from birth. Jesus said that he was not blind because of his or his parent's sin, but so that God's glory could be shown. And it was shown. But that says nothing about the man before that great moment when he gets his sight and goes bounding around in great happiness. How many years did he suffer blind? How much did he hurt when he sat and heard the other kids playing stick ball in the streets, and how many insults did he get tossed at him?


Did he suffer?


Of course he did. But nothing is said about that. It is for Your glory.


See, now that we are Christians, we say happily, "Do anything with our lives for Your glory." But should I not have the same attitude for my life before You? Do You not have a right to do anything with my life before I knew You for Your glory? I do not understand all the time how You are glorified in things, but I don't know if that is important at all. I do know it is my job to glorify You, and if You choose to be glorified in my life in ways that I may not have chosen myself, that is ok. How much glory could You really have if I say, "You can be glorified in my life, but only this way or that"? If You can be glorified in it, maybe just to Yourself or whatever, then let it be, and I will be content.


I do not think that this is enough to answer all my questions and all my pain, but perhaps it is something I can offer to You - the hurt, the pain, and the shame - and say, "If You want to have it, then it is for You. Take it and glorify Your name through it. Show through my life that You are a God that can take a piece of human garbage, call me Your child, and make me in Your image - whole and complete."


When the people saw the man who had been born blind, they asked each other if this is him who was blind or not. One answered, "It is him." Others said, "no, it just looks like him." Let me so live that people say, "It can not be her; it must be someone like her. Let my life be one that I can say, 'I do not know everything, but this I do know - I was blind, and now I see'."

 


Monday, November 17, 2008

Silence

It has been a quiet two days. My husband did phone yesterday, but he only talked to the kids. I half expected to hear from him tonight, but silence.

Silence.... it could be good or it could be bad.... I don't know.

But it is unsettling.

Keep praying.

On the other side, the kids are happy, we've got the house somewhat under control again, and even laundry is getting done. My one son finally caught up on his math homework, and I helped my daughter finish her poster project just one day late!

Somehow, in a clean house, I feel better. More peaceful. I am not a spotless housekeeper, and I do not have toddlers and nursing babies anymore, so I have no good excuse for not coming up with a system that works in a general way. I like my house clean, but I've found out that when there is no fear of being yelled at when my husband comes home, I am much more able to concentrate and do household things in some order. The second week he was gone, I sat down mid-morning to a cup of tea after finishing the last cleaning jobs and sighed in relief. I hadn't felt so peaceful for a long time. Living under constant anger and criticism took much of my emotional energy, and it limited how effective and organized I could be.

Last week, it was my parent's move here which got me behind. A few days of collecting and carrying furniture up in to their apartment to get them set up, showing them where to shop, and getting them settled left no time to keep up at home. Today, I am back to normal. It is good to have a cup of tea without aching muscles and without the guilt of "I should be..."

Yeah, I could do ironing and mop the kitchen, but the house is generally clean. If I saw a car pull up right now, I wouldn't scramble to do anything. I'd just put on more water to boil.

Another change to the peace of the house is having the TV off. My husband watches TV every minute that he is home. He usually watches TV with his laptop on his lap and plays games while he watches. No one can be loud or get in the way of him watching TV. For the first week or two, the kids had it on all the time, but we've talked about it and introduced other things. Now they only watch one thing a day, and the house is more peaceful. Yes, as a side-effect, we have games and toys to clean up, but I like that. Today they are playing computer games, but only because my son finally won a Webkinz for a prize at school. He worked hard to get that prize - all so he could give it to his little sister. (One daughter born after three boys is growing up to think that all men will fall all over her to do whatever she wants and protect her from any slight!) So, right now they are playing on the computer and I am not watching their time tonight.

But the silencing of the constant noise box is wonderful. I can hear us all talk.

True - I can hear them all fight, too. But now we can address that and learn to get along.

I'm still hoping I hear from my husband soon, but I don't know. He might be angry for another few weeks. I hope not. I just don't know.

A friend told me it might not be a bad thing if the counselors where he is actually see him when he is angry. Maybe. I don't know. All I hear is silence.

I tried to rest and enjoy the silence today in a mostly cleaned house.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

And Here We Go Down Again!

I hate rollercoasters! I think I will never go on one again.

Today, we went on a down hill. I try to remind myself that the downs are bound to come, and they will keep coming, and gradually the downs will be less and the flats or ups will be more, but I still hate the downs!

Today, I hear him saying all the old things that he was saying. That he has a right to be angry. That if he is hurt, someone has to pay. That he is justified.

He wants, when he comes back, to go away the two of us and talk about all the wonderful things he is learning and all this. I am up for spending time with him, and yes, it would be wonderful to be able to do that away from the daily responsibilities of caring for the kids. But... I am leery about spending so much time one on one with him. I suggested how about if we do that somewhere where there is someone to help us listen to each other and step in if we have trouble. No. He didn't want that - interfering and distracting, he says. I'm not sure. I know him. He will have good days, and that's great. And he will have bad days, and we will need a person walking alongside to be able to help out then.

I don't know what to do. Pray for the best choice for the next step in a week. Pray for him to see truth.

I wrote him tonight after we talked. I told him that he can not be both wrong and justified. He has to make a decision. It can not be both justified and wrong.

But I am discouraged today.

That was all I had said that started off this, "I am tired. It has been a rough two months, and I am tired and hurt. Living under anger for two months has been rough for me and I need some time to rest and heal."

His response was and instant and powerful, "Well, I've been hurt, too! And someone needs to apologize if I was hurt!"

Is all hurt the fault of someone else? Does all hurt mean you have to look for someone to pay? These are questions I have today.

Looking for someone to pay in hurt for your hurts is revenge, not forgiveness. He is wanting today for me to pay in hurt for the hurt my dad hurt him with when he made that business decision that should not have been done. He wants me to chose to support him in being nasty back. I won't. So then he says that I should pay because I support someone who hurt him. I don't. I think my dad had no authority to do what he did and it was wrong. But we just don't turn around and inflict pain.

Tough day today. But I am more sure that I do not want to just go on a three day vacation with him and talk alone and everything will be fine.

Pray for answers. I still think he is learning good things. It is now the process of taking good things and actually putting them into his thought patterns - transforming how he thinks - and that is a process which takes time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why You Should Not Spell "Stop" In Church

Ok - Those of you who have been reading will already know that my daughter does not have the best reputation in church. Actually, she is a nice kid, and she listens in church. In fact, her first three sermons "sitting in" church, she listened to with great enthusiasm. The first was about Abraham mourning Sarah's death. She drew a picture of Sarah lying on the ground with her tongue stuck out - "See, like this (she stuck her tongue out sideways and closed her eyes in a grimace), she's dead."

The next week was no better. It was about Nabal and Abigail. One more dead guy drawn into her church notebook. A fat dead guy. Mouth open, tongue out, fat belly sticking up.

Then we had a visiting pastor and I thought, "Surely we will get better." Nope. Another dead guy sermon. I forget which one. When our pastor returned, I sent him an e-mail. "Please don't preach about a dead person this week. My daughter's church notebook is all drawings of dead people so far!"

He didn't. He preached about something else. Since then, my daughter has lost her rapt attention in church. In fact, without dead guys, church has become much more boring. So she began to work on copying letters from the bulletin, and then moved on into interest in spelling words.

We've spelled "God" and "Mom" and "Dad" and "cat". But, let me pass on a piece of advice - If your child asks you to spell "stop" in church - DON'T!

She carefully worked her way through the letters, writing it big in her notebook. I looked out the corner of my eye pleased with her concentration and dedicated effort to learn to write and spell. Then she carefully ripped it out of her little notebook.....

and held it up and waved it at the pastor!!!

(did I mention we always sit in the second row from the front?)

So... well... I'm not too surprised that the pastor's wife said something about her reading in church... who knows what she might do next!

Learning to Talk


My husband phoned again tonight. We talked for three hours. We disagreed on something. I want something and he wants something else. I have one opinion about a choice and he has another. I don't like his opinion. I really think mine is better. He really likes his opinion. So we talked.

It took three hours of carefully discussing issues around this and issues it brought up. It was hard work. In the end, I did not get the choice I wanted. But that is ok, too. I did get to explain my opinion and get heard. I also got to express my emotions on the issue and on the having to accept a choice that was not my first choice, and I felt he listened to those emotions. He was able to understand that my emotions of sadness or disappointment are my emotions coming from not getting what I wanted, even if I am choosing to take his choice. They are just emotions, normal disappointment, and not an attack on him or a means of manipulating him. He can accept them and comfort them and still stay firm on his decision.

It was hard work. I'm tired now. But it was a good talk. We're working on it. We did not reach a final decision on details, but we did reach a decision on how the decision will be made.

Progress.... it's slow and hard work, but it is definitely happening.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And Good Keeps Happening...

Wow...

This deserves a longer post with some explanations, but I don't know if it is simply the relief of good things beginning, and hope growing, or if I am catching some flu, but I am worn out! Can't manage to put my thoughts together well and just want to sleep by the fire right now. (Sorry to all of you suffering with the heat or with cold in places without good heating.... I have a gorgeous fall, some snow fell already but melted again, and a gas fireplace to flick on and off... ok, I know, really suffering here...! Hey, I'd gladly share my fireplace with any of you - there is another chair and room for two sets of toes to warm up in front of it!)

My husband has been phoning once or twice a day now, needing to talk, always to apologize for something more, to try to communicate what he is learning, to just talk. I see changes happening - things I have prayed long and hard for. As someone said, "I knew this program would be good for him - I wanted him to go two years ago!" So did I, but there is people's wills and God's timing, too. Two years ago he might not have been desperate enough to change. Two years ago, I might not have been as ready as I am now to accept change and forgive without resentment.

But there is change happening. Real change. And that is good. We are beginning to think ahead to a week and a half from now - what then? Do we go off for some time alone? Do we go somewhere? What then? He would like to have time alone with me, which I also think is a good thing. I wonder if we should be alone, yet nearby to someone who can meet with us throughout that time and help us if we have problems and guide us some in putting things back together. I don't know. We will likely only take a few days, and then get back to the kids. I have no idea about the next step. God does. I am trying to remind Him that there is a week and a half, so You had better be prepared - without being too controlling. :) Trying to relax and let God lead, but.... I like knowing things....

Thankfully, for all of you who have asked, we are in a good place. I would love to tell you all who I am and where I am, and one day, I might, but I might do it not in a public blog, but in letters. I don't want to shame my husband in front of people who do not care and won't see the whole picture. We are in a safe place now, my kids in a Christian school where the teachers are aware and very supportive. I volunteer in the school since my years of homeschooling have equipped me to help "round up stragglers". So I have good friends and support both in my church and in the school. I have my parents who just moved to where we are to work with our mission from here... (ok, now I know I have everybody envious... not everyone gets grandparents right with them...). Yet even without my parents here, we had good friends who are there for me and who I can call on to take the kids, come fix things, etc - from the school usually. They are a gift to me.

So, yes, I am surrounded and supported, although my main support people who have been with me through so much are not even on this continent - thank God for technology! Leaving the kids for a few days to be alone with my husband will be an easy thing. If I asked today, I would have six volunteers! But, I will likely ask my parents to just move in here and keep the kids at home together.

I wish all of you had the support around you that I have now. I know I am blessed in that way. I do. I'm thankful for it. It is not something we have always had. There were times that we were very alone "out there" with no other families nearby. God has us here now for reasons, and I'm thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Keep Praying

My husband just phoned now to talk about a session they have had on anger. It really hit him, and he phoned to apologize - he hadn't realized what he had been doing, and he couldn't cope with going on with any more sessions this evening, but went to be alone, and then wanted to phone me.

He wants to talk, wants to be with me, and just talk. Things are happening.

Keep praying.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Memory

This brought giggles, so I think the time of tears are past, and the time of fond memories has come.

How Do You Mourn a Snake?

One of our snakes died. It was a tiny rat snake. I think he starved to death, unpleased with his food choices we caught.

Apparently, my response was not sad enough. It was waved in my face by a very sad boy while I was trying to arrange some business on the phone. It kept being waved in my face - a dead, stiff snake inches from my face.

I said, "Oh, sorry, but get the thing out of my face. Go throw it out or something!"

It was not a sympathetic enough response. So today, after school, we will have to properly mourn a snake.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Makes Them Home?

Maridee asked me this question about my friends who are special to me. And what gave them mileage in my life.

These people... hmm... what makes them home for me...?

Well, it has come from four years of "walking with me" as they say. For four years, they have been there for me, several times a week writing, reading e-mails, talking to me.... just being available. They listened without condemnation, allowed me to open up more, did not run when I questioned their honesty or motives, nor when I accused them - but sat there smiling at me and determinedly loving me. They shared their thoughts and struggles with me, and when I struggle, they encourage me. They let me get to know them. I know of them that they have chosen not to speak a bad word about another person to a someone else. They've shown me this in their own lives, so I know that my life is safe with them, and they will not dishonor me or betray my trust. Besides that, they just love me - they love my kids, they are interested in what they do, in my life, and they share with me their family and life. They have good boundaries and let me know them well and kindly, and I respect their boundaries. They stay in my home, I stay in theirs, their kids stayed with me for summers when they were teenagers, and my boys look forward to being old enough to go to their kid's houses.

They pray with me, they laugh at me, they help me see myself, and then they tell me who I am in Christ. But mostly, they chose to love me - it has nothing to do with who I am or how I am acting on any particular day. At their house, I am free to be at home, and not be a guest. They have the ability to ask me anything in my life and I can be honest with them, yet I never feel forced to talk if I chose not to.

They are people God has put into my life. They've taken on that role with joy, and with humor at times. And I love them.

Mileage - they've worked with me over the last four years, although I have known them since I was married, through many issues in my life - bringing me close to God, teaching me that God's love is unconditional and showing me what that means, walking through the darkness of my past into light and rejoicing in me as I walked and encouraging me when I fell. They fought battles for me in prayer when I could not even pray myself, and they pushed me to stand on my own feet when I could. They let me watch their deep hurt over some very unfair treatment they went through, and so showed me how to act gracefully as God's child in the middle of an unfair situation. I've seen them cry both over things in life and over me - both tears of hurt and tears of joy. I am who I am today in a large part because these two decided to love me. They gave me the ability to be transparent for the first time in my life, and to rejoice in that ability. I say with them, I have the ability to stretch out and relax, like you would lying on the grass on a hill, and close my eyes. I don't need to keep one eye on them because I know their hearts proven over time, and I know with them, I am safe.

Their home is a quiet place. Peaceful. There they pray, and they pray a lot over many things, and the peace you feel walking into the home comes, I think, from the prayers in the house. They agree to deal with conflict right away, with grace, and humility, and they do it. I'm proud of these two, and I love them.

It is this couple who have walked with me through all of the mess of my past, and that was not even their official job. It was just something they decided to do.

These are my friends, where I am at home, and I know I am loved. I'm proud of them.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

And On The Side...

Can ya'll pray - I've been fighting one of those headaches for three days now - you know, one of those that is borderline migraine, but hasn't quite made up its mind to go that far yet. Sensitive to light, nauseated by food, and hurts to move, but not quite to the proportions of a migraine. It is making my daily life difficult, and four kids home for a four day weekend really are not helpful for migraine fighting!

Thanks for all the input, too. My husband mentioned again to someone about going to this couple's house for a few days on his way home. I'd love him to go. I'd love to go, too. But if that is what we should do, please pray for guidance and for funds for that... I hate to trust my instincts here on this one since everything in me always wants to go to their house! :) It is in many ways my home. Safe ground. Peaceful. And with people who know me probably better than I know myself, and love me even if I act like a brat! The mileage they have in my life is amazing.

It is true, too, that I think that with my pastor, it will take weeks before either of us are able to establish trust with him. He is not helping in that regard. I don't want to work against him or in rebellion to him, but I might not be able to work with him, either. We may have to work with another person. We'll see. I want to make this decision with my husband, not without him.

What Would You Look For?


What would you look for in someone to counsel you in a marriage problem?

This is my question today. Our here pastor is doing the job, but we are both increasingly frustrated with him. He has no plan besides "meet and talk about issues of the heart". That is it. Nothing more will he tell us. I've asked and asked, but he says he can't give us a time-line or anything else, only that as we talk, more issues will come up, and we will talk more.

Makes me want to not talk.

He hasn't even yet talked about meeting with us both together. He hasn't shared what his philosophy is or how he think. It is just "trust me".

My husband and I really both want to work on our marriage. We do. We have problems, yes, big ones, yes, but we want to work on it. This is very slow, and without a plan or purpose, and we just aren't sure about it.

What would you look for in someone to counsel you in a marriage problem? Or course, it is also an anger problem which is separate from and twisted into the marriage, too. But what would you be looking for? Or, if you were considering having a pastor counsel you, what questions would you be asking to be sure that this is the wisest choice?

Maybe the pastor is a good guy for the job, but what questions should I ask him to know that or not?

Thanks for your input.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Welcome


Welcome Angela, jackandellasmum, and Maridee! Nice to have you in this little community.

NEWS FLASH - Three in a Row!

Wow - that got a lot of response! Thanks for weighing in on the issue. All of you have good things to say, and I am thinking them over. The good thing is that as much as the pastor wants to do this now, he can't push me. I have the address list, and he doesn't.... nyah, nyah, nyah! (Sorry, can't resist - I dislike feeling pushed and forced into things, and just realized that he can't push more than I want to give.)

My husband came over for dinner. First we went to see the new office. All I can say is I think God knows what He is doing. He put us somewhere which makes me smile - smack in the middle of another Christian thing where we have more exposure to godly men and women, and potential of people who can be interested in what we are doing, and we are desperate for help in two areas... so smiling and watching. Sometimes I sit on the sidelines with God as He lines things up and smile as I see Him move.

So dinner - it was good. We were all too tired to talk much, and my two older sons chattered on and on about a biking adventure one had had today. Thank God, too, that He had already arranged that my older son would go biking with his four best buddies all day in a ravine. Nothing like a good sunny day, time with friends, and hard exercise to help him deal with emotions. But... pray! I think we will have to go out fund-raising again - this child ate three peices of lasanga, three pieces of garlic bread, a full salad, a piece of peach pie, and then ten minutes later snuck up to devour another piece of garlic bread on the sly!

So, mostly we sat around. The little ones read to Daddy, and then we all just curled up on the couch. It was a good evening, and hard to let him go.

After the frustrations with some of the other men I am dealing with (not saying who...), I am tempted to say "forget them, I'll keep the trouble I am used to!" :-) No, can't do that. I know he is nice now and happy, but I need to see the anger dealt with.

NEWS FLASH - Sleeping Men Rise and Begin to Make Good Decisions

Yes, it's true. Shocked me today, but true. Our team leader saw the letter, answered my skype to take a look at it, and rewrote it much more positively than I could have. (Easier for others to insist that you get complimented than for you to yourself!)

Then our field leader who has been heretofore silent, wrote in and suggested that the issue of funds ought to be addressed and requested that people continue to support us.

Yay! Let's all pause for a moment of silent thanks for sleeping men who woke.....

Ah. Much easier for them to "fix" the letter. Hmm.... nothing to do with prayers of a half dozen women scattered around the world, is it?

Now, I will take all the suggested edits, and combine them into one. Writing and editing is what I do now - but I am not professional at it, so do not judge my writings based on that statement. It is only that I am one of the few on our team who speak English as my mother tongue, except our team leader.... but he is one of those who are exceptionally brilliant in some areas, but in others.... well... it is just best if he works with an editor!

Oh, and then my husband wrote a letter to the team about the move thanking them for their effort and saying that he appreciates their support during this time, we are working on issues, and we hope to be back with them soon. Wow! This was a man who a few days ago told me he could never face the team again and I had ruined his entire chances with them since in his culture there is no forgiveness possible. I only told him as gently and firmly as I could that forgiveness is not an American concept, but a Christian one, and if we are believers first, and culture second, and even the team here can learn this. Give them the chance.

So, good and bad. Bad follows good as unsympathetically as a cold winter storm blowing in from the west. Good follows bad as determindly as the crocuses push up the snow in early spring. And in the middle of all these cycles, I sit - trying hard to trust a God I believe in, but One who I am begging to make life easy for me just this once, please, please. I don't like pain! I'm ready to cry uncle. (why do we cry uncle? Is this because it was those gangly uncles who liked to tease small kids until they cried?)

But today ends with a higher note than it began with, although with the sadness of saying good bye again to my husband as he leaves for two weeks. Pray with me that here, in this time, God speaks to him.

And pray as I have a meeting with our here pastor again tomorrow.

NEWS FLASH #2 - Things Sink Into Hard Head

Oh, I did say something sunk in from my Beth Moore study on Wednesday. Two things. The first was talking about people being unable to give us what we need at times. Sometimes we so desperatly seek something from people - approval, love, etc - and they don't give it. There are varying reasons for that, whether lack of ability, the love of control over us, sheer ignorance. Beth said, "get your approval and love from God. Get what you need from God, and He will fill you up. Then you are able to give." This is something I need to hear right now. I want my husband to love and appreciate me. He doesn't. He might slightly for a time, and then he is angry and doesn't. I want to be respected and cared for without false accusations by people in leadership, and it just isn't happening. But God. He is there and He gives.

Do you want to hear what I put at the end of my letter to my pastor about the tone of his letter? I said, "But, I serve a God who delights in me and rejoices over me with singing, and even when He corrects me, He doesn't change that poured out love in me, rejoicing in me. I think we could at least manage to squeak in a smile in the letter."

See, my life has been changed by one person who decided that he and his wife would love me, and they did. No matter what, no matter what I did or didn't do, they loved me. They constantly saw the good in my life and told me about it. They smiled when they talked to me, and when they had to correct me, they did it with gentle teasing or with tears and love. They loved me. And they changed my life because of it.

The other thing that sunk in from the Beth Moore study was what she said at the end about God gets it. (Ya'll that are a week behind, will have to wait, and I'll try not to spoil it for you.) God gets it. He knows what this pain has meant to me. My husband may never quite get it. He might not. I'd like him to realize that it hurt me, but he may not quite get it how much. But God does, and I may need to let go and forgive. I've been through this process in other things in my life, written about them, and now it may be time for the same sort of forgiveness here.

I don't want to post here on my blog, but those of you who I know through your blogs, if you want, write me, and I will send you a link to the rest of my story, to an article I wrote about two years ago about some of the healing I myself have been through. It will explain more if you haven't had enough reading already. :-0

NEWS FLASH #3 - Silent Husband Carries on Real Conversation
In between writing this post, my husband phoned from the airport, and we had a really good open talk just now. It was good. He wants to go visit this couple who mean so much to me, and was worried that people will think he is running. I encouraged him to do so. I will stand up for him for it. God uses these people. They have already been praying for us every day in detail for four years now, and they are people who have insight and wisdom. Hey, I'll fly over for a visit, too!



Opinions Needed

Ok - our pastor here, where we are, which is not "on the field" and not yet "home" either... its complicated - a sort of assignment here since our country was not workable for awhile, and the "here" has sort of become a longer term place, too.

All that to say we have a "here" pastor as well as a "home" pastor. Then we have a team leader who pops in and out on his way to and from different places. He is the one with vision problems. He has always had some quirks where he is very focused and doesn't always see beyond his focus - like a horse with blinders on. Then we also have a leader of our organization who is based a few hours away. This leader also did nothing when I asked for help beside volunteer to pray. He is apparently involved now after our here pastor called, but I wonder how much as I haven't heard anything from him, either.

So, our here pastor has taken charge of the situation. At times I am thankful he is doing something, and at times I am frustrated because he can not formulate a plan other than "meet with me and work on matters of the heart, and we'll see". I am a plan person. "This is where we want to go; this is how I think we will get there; and this is how we will measure where we are."

Well, our here pastor has decided it would be best to send a letter to all our supporting churches and tell them that we are going to take a six month's sabbatical to work on marriage problems (not infidelity, but problems) and we will step back from ministry during that time, and would you please pray.

He is asking for our opinion on the letter. So, I am asking for yours. I think that it is not what we talked about initially. We initially talked about a letter just to say we are taking a six month sabbatical partly because it is due and partly because we need a rest and time to deal with stress built up over the last six years. I am worried that a letter like he sends will be the end of our support - finished, ended. People understand sabbaticals, stress, personal issues - but marriage problems the way he has worded it sound really bad, like it is over, go put your money elsewhere where things are fine.

What is your opinion? Don't think this one out for a day or two, because he is looking for an answer. Tell me your off the top of your head, what experience have you had throughout your times being/ watching missions?