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.


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.


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:

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


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...


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 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?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Pray for my kids today.

Their daddy came over to say goodbye before he flies out late tomorrow. After he left, my oldest came to me in tears. Daddy had told him that he should just a find a new, better daddy.

His response? To go to his room, and through tears, write his daddy a note about how much he loves him and how he is the best daddy in the world and he doesn't want a new one. Asked me to give it to him to read on the plane, but wouldn't come out of his room again while Daddy was here.

Then he sobbed in my arms later, after he was gone.

That hurts today... why must they suffer so much?

Other than that, I went to Bible study, and something sunk into my head. I'll write about it later. I'm tired, very tired today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Well, lunch came and went. He was upset at my dad still, and wants me to support him for what he said to my dad. I said I support his position, but not what he did about it or the words used to deal with it. I am not going to support mean words. I just don't.

So he was angry to start off with. Then he wanted toknow if he can move back home, when I will let him. Can he come back after the two weeks gone for this program?

I don't know. How can I tell now? I said that we should meet after he is back and discuss that, and see. He was not thrileed with that answer, though. He says that I have ruined his life and there is no way he will be able to be in ministry again since the shame will be too high - how can he face his co-workers again?

I think the whole point of this is to get to a place where it is not all about him - his right to be angry, his right to use nasty words, his right to demand and make people feel guilty, his right not to be shamed, but always honored, despite the rightness or wrongness. But that is me thinking, not him. He has determined that life is over for him now, and it is all my fault.

I feel bad now. I don't think this was what he wanted to talk about yesterday, but he got ticked off when I wouldn't stand behind him with what he said to my dad. He knows that I did write my dad and tell him that I think the action was wrong, but I did it nicely. I can't support him being nasty, just like I won't support anyone else being nasty. But, now, I am likely to lose both, family, husband, and it looks like now, the whole team is falling apart, and I feel responsible today for the total destruction of an important thing because I couldn't deal with being quiet.

I know that is not true, but I feel horrible right now. I was hoping that things would be good news today. But, of course, something ticked him off on the ay to good things..... proof enough that there is little change yet.

Disappointing.... still have to get through a dinner with him and friends tonight. I'd rather curl up and cry again.

But first - to go meet with the pastor.... who will be upset that I told his wife not to criticise me right now....

If I did not have kids.....

If I did not have kids, I'd sign on to be a nurse on a fishing trawler and disappear into the North Sea for two years.... well, if it wasn't so cold!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hold your Breath and Don't Move - A Quiet Day!

Well, today, up to now, has gone ok so far. Still hoping... well - we did hear that there was another kidnapping, but it was not one of ours, so it doesn't hit quite so close, but we are always aware of our team members who are "in country" right now, and know they are under unbelievable stress.

But, quiet day, busy, but no major incidents. I'll take one of those any day!

Erin - I actually was thinking of a massage the other day. I had one once when we were in Thailand, and oohhh! But tonight, I might try a hot bath without kids asking me questions through the door.

Becky and Beth - ha! My mom taught me early - whether because I had a temper or because she had a lot of housework, I don't know - to find some nasty job that really needs to get done and you hate to do and do that when you are angry instead of beating people up. Yeah, well, my mom had some really clean places in her house! I didn't have much energy today, so I just mopped the floors - it was enough.

That is what I wrote to the pastor's wife later when I wrote her - "I know you did not intend to hurt me, but what I need right now is someone who intends to comfort me." It is at times not enough to have a lack of intent to harm, but we need to intend to comfort. I think it is Isaiah 61 that talks about coming to bind up, comfort, etc. When I work with nursing home patients, I often can not heal, fix, or change anything. But I do have an enormous capacity and opportunity to comfort. There are days I hate my job - but the times when I can bring comfort even for a second or two are worth all the poop I wash up. (sorry, people!)

Yet today did bring good news. My husband phoned and came over this morning to use the vonage phone to do some quick business in regards to another kidnapping - checking in with a few people... Then he stayed and helped get the kids out the door (you have to realize that he has not helped in this task for two years, only criticized my ability to do it.) He asked what he could do, and threw a roast in to slow cook for me. He stopped this morning to say he was sorry for the fight on the weekend with my dad, and said he would talk to him.

He came back in the afternoon because he wanted to talk to me, and again said he was sorry for the way he has been going about things, and said he had a good long talk with my dad and apologized. (This is a man whose apologies in years of marriage I could count on one hand!) We did not get to talk this afternoon.... um, there are four kids running around the house needing to do homework, and there is supper to cook, and things like this....

But he invited me out for supper with him and another couple who are friends of ours tomorrow night. He left early since he didn't sleep last night, and said he wanted me to meet him for lunch tomorrow and he would talk to me then.

So, ladies, keep praying.... it has been a tough month, but I think God is working....I'm just not sure what is with the "kill off a few of my friends along the way" thing, but God is working. And - ya'll should meet me during a normal time - I'm slightly more stable then, and sort of nice. :-) But I'm thankful to have all of you in my life right now.... without you, I'm not sure if I would have been able to keep my head above water at times.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Sometimes it comes down to timing.

Isn't there a time to just not say something? Isn't there ever a time to say, "I could really correct that now, but now just doesn't seem like the best time."?

Apparently not.

Let's list my few weeks....

- dealing with long term anger

- husband asked to move out

- faced stress from all the blow up from the last item

- a team member randomly shot to death

- my brother arrested and facing life in prison

- fall out from the above affects the whole family

- my team leader decided that I was not worth visiting when he came to "support us" through this time

- another friend killed and his family left alone

- my husband angry because Saturday I fed the kids later than normal for breakfast - silent again, not talking and angry

- my dad made a work decision that likely was not the wisest, and my husband is sure that I told him to do it. I didn't, but nothing will convince him - so he is angry again.

This is my last two weeks. I feel like I am going through a tornado. It's getting too wild for a roller-coaster. I'm bruised and battered and limping.

Is there even a time to just not say something?

My pastor's wife caught me after church to complain that my daughter (5) was whispering in church and disturbing people. She went on in great detail to explain that church is a reverent time, and God speaks to people in church, and we should not allow our children to make noise and disturb people.

Thanks. I really needed that today.

I know my daughter was whispering. She was trying to read her Bible, and she is only five, so she quietly sounds out words. I likely should have told her not to read just then. But, it has been a rough week or two for me, and I am struggling to function. Grieving, hurting, trying.

Is there ever a time to say, "hmm... I could let this go this week, and address it next week"?

Apparently not.

Apparently not. I was told that, really, I'm sorry for all that is going on in your life, but that is not my responsibility, and for me not to tell you this this week would not have been loving. Your life is your business, but you shouldn't be upset if I just tell you the truth.

All I had said, was timing. The timing is bad. Can you give me some grace this week?

No. Grace, I was told, is to tell you now so you can fix it.

I'm tired of being told to be perfect.

Going to post a wanted ad:

"Wanted - Someone who wants to love an imperfect person. She will never get everything right, and she may cry and be emotional at awkward times. She won't always have a clean house or perfect meals, and likely will never be exactly on time. She has four kids who are also not perfect and require a lot of time and attention, and she is not perfect at caring for them anyway. She will often forget to smile when she likely should smile, and will forget people's names. She's been known to get upset at being criticized and fiercely defends her own kids. She may improve if carefully loved, but there is no guarantee, and even after months of improvement, will fail and disappoint you. This job comes with little reward and lots of effort. Person answering ad will have to possess patience, kindness, gentleness, a good sense of humor, and an ability to stick with it.