Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Say That Again?

My daughter woke up the other night because "I hear music in my ear and it scares me". So she fell asleep next to me on the couch while I wrote.

When I was ready for bed, I went to pick her up and carry her to bed. She is much like her dad and talks in her sleep. When I scooped her up, she moaned, stretched, and said, "Don't do that. I might come back to life!"

Huh? Deep sleeper, I guess.

Then there is #3. He is a funny little kid. He's funny just existing. Today, on the way home from school, he was excited over a penny he had.

"Mommy, it says 1981 on it. Does that mean it was made in 1981?"


"Wow! So how much do you think it is worth?"

A penny.

"But mommy, it should be worth more since it is so old!"

1981? Old? I must be archaic by now.

Her Story - A Gift

There is more to tell of this story, of God's ways of caring and comforting me, of unlikely people who did the right thing and brought me comfort, of facing fears during another pregnancy, and of God's goodness. But the reason I began this story is that I wanted to tell what gift God had given me with the death and birth of my first daughter.

We named her Lydia. It was not the name we had originally chosen if she was to be girl, but we named her Lydia. Lydia was the seller of purple, a valuable cloth fit for royalty. With Lydia's small life, I began to see God's hand in my life in a real way... like a purple thread woven throughout my daily journey. Lydia was the first believer in Asia. Our Lydia was our first baby in heaven, and it seemed like a good name.

Our children all had middle names which their dad chose. Ones which worked for his country. He never could find a name for her, and for ten years, she had only the one name. Last year, I told God that I wish she would have had a middle name, too. Then I was reading somewhere, and I found the name. Amana. It means permanent, secure. It was a good name. Lydia Amana. Now, I feel peace - she needed her whole name, even if she was so tiny.

Back to the gift:

I had watched my friend tell me about the death of her daughter, Sarah, who died of SIDS. I thought then, "the one thing I could never live through is the death of my child. I would not survive." I had longed for children all my life, and knew I just couldn't survive that.

A few weeks after Lydia's birth, I was again sitting in the car driving somewhere. Honestly, God and I have our best conversations in the car! I was thinking ahead to the next steps in our life which would lead us eventually towards going to country that really wasn't that "safe" to be in. Just having lost one baby, I wasn't thrilled about taking my only child (at the time) into a dangerous place. Hey, I was scared at times about taking myself there!

I had grown up in the 70's and 80's in churches that put a lot of emphasis on being right, being prepared to defend your faith, being strong enough to face persecution. Ok. But... how do I know if I am really strong enough. What if....? What if....? What if I am weak? The thought always frightened me. What if I am in a situation where I am not strong enough? I had grown up on the mission field. A few of our community were actually killed for their faith. It was not unheard of. What if I was not strong enough?

And then God began to talk to me. Very, very gently. He showed me again that last night, driving home from pizza and the quiet word and picture He had given to me, the very picture that hung on the wall of the room where I delivered my little girl's dead body.

He could have given me that comfort earlier - somewhere in the two weeks that I carried her body. It would have comforted me then. He didn't. He gave it to me the very night I was going to go through a labor without hope. He gave it to me exactly when I needed to think about my daughter alive with Him and not be focussed on the twisted, dead body which I labored with. He knew exactly when I would need the help and met me exactly then with exactly what I needed to get through that night.

That was the gift God gave me. He showed me that it would have nothing to do with how much I had worked out my "spiritual muscles", but with Him. It wouldn't be a strength He would give me beforehand to store for when needed, but it would be given to me in the time I needed it. He, Himself, would give me what I needed to endure whatever came in the time I needed it. Even if I needed it in my weakest moment.

He gave me confidence in Himself. I know that God will enable me to face whatever comes because He has the strength, not because I do.

Do I still pray that nothing bad ever happens in my life? YES! But, I am not fearful anymore. (well, not so much!) I know my God.

That was the gift of my daughter's short life, that and the joy we and her brothers and sisters will have when we finally get to meet her.

A Rough Night

What else would follow a rough day, but a rough night?

My friend who just miscarried called at midnight that night being rushed to the hospital with severe pain. She had an ectopic pregnancy that they didn't catch earlier, and needed surgery. I did not go in that first night as another team member was with her, but I did last night's shift. She is home now, with her husband who arrived while she was in surgery, and resting comfortably.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Rough Day

I think I will never join another committee! I hate having to make rough decisions.

The last decision which meant a good-bye was done well. Sad, that is did end not the way I wanted, but it went well.

Then, last week we made another decision. One person was not acting as they should, so we drafted a letter meant to help them see where change was needed and assist them in changing with support. It was a very gentle letter. Too gentle for the situation, I thought.

It was not received well. The person objected to all the changes asked and stated that she was fine the way she was and we were oppressing her. Then she quit - in two weeks. But today, before she quit, she went around gossiping angrily about the leadership. She was so angry that we did not feel she could do her job alone. She would continue to spread lies and rumors. So I was assigned to sit in on her classes. She had already packed all her stuff, so questions were coming, and my job was to ensure that they were handled in the way we had agreed on handling them.

I sat there and smiled, and she was there and smiled. She knew I was watching her. I knew she knew. I managed to keep the day pleasant and cheerful in all my conversation with her. It went well for the situation, but it was stressful.

I don't know what tomorrow holds and what steps we will have to take next. We did not see this coming. I'm exhausted today. I got home to help another family talk through a major decision. We sat for three hours discussing back and forth, listening, waiting. It's been a rough day. Pray for peace. I'm sad when I see what sin does.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Her Story - a dark night before morning dawned

When I last left this story, I was riding home in the car with a tummy ache after eating pizza. God had just spoken to me clearly that night, giving me comfort. He had said, "Your daughter went straight from the safety of your womb into My arms. She never knew pain and never knew sin." Then, in the quiet darkness, He showed me that beautiful picture of her toddling out of a walled garden through an open gate into the light of the new day. I clung to that half second glimpse of her turned head and little baby giggle. I held in deep in my heart, and hung on to it.

When we got home, I was exhausted. I went to bed, and my husband put my son in his crib, and went to play computer games. I tossed and turned, but could not get comfortable. The pizza had really disagreed with my tummy and I could not sleep. It took about an hour for me to realize that the indigestion was beginning to come in waves, and likely had nothing to do with pizza.

It took my mind a long time to wrap around the thought that I was in labor and needing to deliver. I should have known, but I didn't. Grief does not leave a clear mind. I called upstairs to my husband, but he was playing. He called down that he would come when he finished his game. I just sat, curled up on the bottom of the stairs waiting. Trying to think this through. How could I be in labor? The baby was dead. Labor is exciting. It is the beginning of hope realized. It signals that it is time to meet your baby. Mine was gone, no longer there to meet.

Yet, as I sat alone on the stairs that evening's words came back into my head. She never knew pain. She never knew sin. She is safe with Me. I repeated them over and over to myself. I opened my hurting heart up and looked toward God and sat with Him. And I hung onto the glimpse of the laughing girl with black hair toddling towards the morning. I sat there and said to myself, "someone left the gate open, and she has walked to God, straight to Him, that is all. This is not death; it is life. Maybe even more alive life."

After some time, my husband came down, took one look at me, and scolded me for not telling him it was urgent. But I was glad to have that time sitting alone. I needed it. God Himself was preparing me for a birth which was not a life. As we gathered up our son again and drove through the dark to the hospital to deliver the dead body of our first daughter, my thoughts were not on the twisted, cold, lifeless body inside me, but on the glimpse He had given me of my child alive.

It was a rough night at the hospital. A foreign country where things are not done like we would at home. No emergency care. By that time, I was bleeding heavily, and for some reason, they stuck me on a surgical ward with two other patients in a room. They told my husband he could wait in the waiting room, but not with me. By this time, I was in active labor, and crying. The nurses kept coming in the room and scolding me for crying, telling me to shut up and let the others sleep. Finally, they called my husband to tell me to be quiet, and he was able to better explain the situation. Then they transferred me to the maternity ward.

I expected to go into labor area and wondered how I would handle that, but instead they put me in private room near the door. Unfortunately, it was directly across from the nursery. All night, I heard newborns crying. The nurses had graciously taken my seven month old son into the nursery, too. They looked down their noses at me when I said that he won't take a bottle and I should feed him first. They knew how to get babies to take bottles, I was told.

The new room was nicer, but I lay in bed in pain for an hour listening to my son scream bloodly murder. He didn't take bottles. I knew that. Somehow, being a patient in this country meant you had no brains. The nurses knew best. After an hour of loud wailing, a shamefaced nurse brought my son in to me. "He won't take a bottle."

Um. yeah. I told you that over an hour ago!

By then, the contractions were nearing the end, and I was struggling. But I was a mother, and I rolled on my side, quieted my cries, and nursed my son to sleep. I gritted my teeth and sang to him, and he was quiet.

It was after he was returned to the nursery that my daughter was born. While the labor was rougher than any of my other labors, the birth was quick. I have often thought back as to why the pain was worse, and this is the only explanation I can give - it was pain without hope. It was without the hope that gives us energy to go through it. It was simply pain on top of pain.

And then she was born. No bigger than what I could have held in one hand. The nurses scooped her up, all wrapped up in her membranes and all, and plopped her into a plastic tub much like a margarine container. I still can hear the snap of the lid. Then they walked out of the room.

I never saw her. I had rested my head back, and I never saw her. They snapped that lid on and walked out with my daughter inside.

Later on, somewhere in the dark of that night, someone asked if we wanted an autopsy, and I think we said yes. A week or two later, we were told that she was perfectly formed.

But I never saw her. They simply threw her away in the medical waste in the incinerator. That thought took me years to cope with. We don't do that, but it was standard practice, I guess. She was, after all, a week short of 20 weeks, so not legally a child.

It was a dark night. I was left entirely alone after they walked out. Somewhere in that night, I struggled to wake as I had dreamed I was watching from above as my body floated down a dark river. I struggled and struggled to wake, fighting to wake for my son. My husband leaned forward when he heard me mumbling, and he called for help. I was bleeding badly. Then the nurses came back, took one look at me, and went running for help. I slipped back into a semi-conscious state again, and woke later with IVs running and the nurse calling my name. She was wheeling a bassinet into my room, and for a brief second, my heart lept, but no, it was not her.

One look in the bassinet had me at least smiling. A seven month baby looks like a giant in a bassinet. My husband said later when he checked on him in the nursery, he laughed. It was little bump, little bump, little bump, huge baby! I nursed one more in the half darkness of the morning, and thanked God that He still left me this one baby to fill my empty arms.

My husband was the buyer for a company and that next day was a day where he was supposed to order the whole winter stock at a trade fair. He had to go, and told me that while I nursed. I knew he had to, but oh how much I wanted him then. He said he would go get my friend to stay with me. It would take him two hours to get her and he'd be back.

As I sat alone in my bed with my empty belly nursing my son, the sun rose. Light streamed into my hospital room and lit up the wall opposite my bed. I raised my tired eyes to the light and saw something which made me cry. There on the wall was a painting. It was a painting of a walled garden full of creeping vines and flowering bushes. An archway stood over a small gate which had been left open, and outside of the gate was a gently sloping hill with the daylight beginning to dawn over it. It was the picture that I had seen the night before as we drove home after pizza. The same picture, except that now the little laughing girl in the white dress was gone.

I sat in stunned shock crying, yet they were tears of comfort as well as pain. Even on this horrible first morning that I had to wake up alone in a maternity ward surrounded by the sounds of other mothers caring for their babies, God had met me. He had come to answer my pain, to surround me with detailed comfort in the very minute I needed it. He had walked that dark night of pain through with me and was there with the morning's light.

Later on, when I was able to think back to it all, I had learned a lesson about God that I never forgot, but just then, I sat together with Him nursing one baby, mourning another, and being comforted by a very present God.

Only During Service - Never Ask #3

I could have warned him. I could have, but I didn't get the chance.

Our pastor occasionally likes to involve the children in the service by asking some questions. Sometimes he just has them raise their hands, and other times he might ask them a short question like "What was your favorite birthday gift?" or "Do you remember who Abraham's son was?"

I could have warned him to ignore number 3 son's frantically waving hand. The deep breath he took before he began to answer should have clued him in.

The pastor simply asked, "Do you remember a really wise man who had to make a difficult judgment? Does anyone know what happened?"

Well, #3 sure did! He took a deep breath and began at high speed to tell the whole story.... the whole thing..... and just when we thought he would end, he took another deep breath and kept going.... all the way through the famine, and no one had food, and two women had two babies and one died and one said it was the others and no one knew whose it was, and they went to the King, ..... and..... the King got the sword.... and one woman said, "yes, yes, cut him in two.".... and the other said, "no, no! I want him to live - give him to the other woman".... and Solomon knew that the real mother would want him alive.... and all the people were amazed....."

He didn't leave one detail out, and he put in all the right emotions, and explanations, and he just kept going! It took him over two minutes to answer all this. I tried to get him to hush halfway through, but he just turned to me, shrugged, and said, "Mom! He asked about it! He wanted to know!"

The pastor laughed with me afterwards and said the amazing thing is that the kid has a loud clear voice that could be heard all over the church without a microphone.

(I knew that... I wake up to it every morning!)

But, #3 loves to teach. When it is his turn to do devotions in his class, instead of just bringing in a devotional book to read like most do, he spends a week researching his topic and looking up verses, coming up with a point, and putting it into a speech with questions and audience participation. And he is only 8.

A Dream

My friend here, the one who just had a miscarriage, is a special person. We have become close, much like sisters. She is without family nearby, and I have family, but am also seldom near them.

For the last six years, we have been sisters.

I met her one day when they lost a place to live, and they moved in with us. For about three months, we lived together, and even after they moved out, they were daily in our house from early morning until late night. My daughter loved her more than me as a small baby and would scream when she left. I was there for the birth of her last child. I love my new sister dearly.

We both moved across the world together and navigated our way around a new place together. We're friends.

The country which we work in had no songs. I guess there were a few, translated years ago with western tunes, but no real songs. Singing was not really done. We needed music. A church needs music. Believers need music. Music lifts, teaches worship, and is so dramatically different from the darkness around them.

My friend can sing. She is not the best, no. Would likely never be accepted for American Idol. But she can sing. More importantly, she knows how to worship God, and that worship has in the last few years begun to be expressed in song writing. She writes, and then with others, she teaches how to sing.

Before she began to write songs, she had a dream. She told me this dream hesitantly one day as we did housework together. She said:

I dreamed I was in a stadium sort of building, an arena with seats all around it. I knew I was standing where people were brought to be killed. I could see people coming to kill me, but I was not afraid. I stood there with my children with me, and I began to sing. When I opened my voice to sing, the singing filled the arena. It was almost like a powerful force, and it stopped the people coming, but then they became very angry and they began to run toward me to kill me. I sang louder, and we began to run. We ran and ran up the arena seats towards the door, and I saw my children go out the door to safety, but I was still singing as I ran. The men came chasing me, and I turned around and the words that I sang were so powerful. I can't tell you what they were, but the song was filling the arena. And then I woke.

I asked her if she got out alive, and she said she didn't know. She woke up. I asked if it was a frightening dream, and she said it really wasn't. It was more amazing when she saw the power of the singing, and the song itself filled her with courage and hope. That was four years ago, and she and I filed it away to think about. Yet, from that day, I knew God would use her in her country in a great way. The church needed songs. This last week, when she came back from traveling, exhausted, and she miscarried her baby; she had just come back from teaching a whole new set of songs - the second set now. People who had never heard singing now sing together to worship.

I know for me, worship in song has amazing power. It lifts me when I am down. It comforts me when I hurt. It allows me to express joy in God's presence. I could never do what my sister does, but I watch her work and am thrilled. I've prayed for God's hand on her in this area for four years - ever since her dream.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The devil is Mean

He is. He doesn't care one bit about us.

Why that is a surprise to me, I don't know. Somehow, I expect him to have some common decency. He doesn't.

I need you to pray for one of my coworkers. Her husband has been struggling with sicknesses for months and there are worrying symptoms. Then her husband is gone to a location that is not too safe to do work that is even less safe. She was just on a long trip with her two kids, and is tired from that.

Then a few days ago, there was a huge conflict in the believing community that we work in. One person phoned her and many cruel accusations were dumped on her head. I won't mention details. It is looking like it will be solved at some point, so I am thankful for that, but it was a huge emotional blow to her.

Then yesterday, she phoned me in tears. She just had a miscarriage. She didn't really know she was pregnant. It was a surprise. But she just miscarried, and she is in pain and very sad.

The devil is just mean. That is all I can say. All these things on this woman at one time... it is too much! And she had just returned from doing something that will help a new church learn to worship. She writes songs for believers who haven't had song in their language, and she sings them. What she does lifts people's spirits and teaches them how to worship.

And now this. Pray for her. For comfort, for healing, for settling of the conflict in a Godly way. For strength. We have contacted her husband, and he is coming home. She needs him now.

I have to go to set up for a wedding tonight, but I will write tomorrow about a dream this woman had. I think God has set her in place for a key purpose. He has given her a gift that this dark country needs. I am not surprised that she is attacked right now. We should have been praying for her more specifically in this regard. But pray for her now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Straight Part

I woke up to the sound of bath water running. That got me moving fast! I popped my head in the bathroom to find #2 son and my daughter in the tub.

"Mommy, you just said we couldn't take a bath alone in the mornings! There is two of us here!"

Ok. I guess. It sure got me out of bed fast!

Later on, Daddy combed out my daughter's waist length hair. It was an early morning out the door, so having to do hair was not an expected job. Later on, I checked his work, and took her back up to braid her hair. In a loose pony tail, it will be a mess by evening, and we need to go out this evening.

While I took her hair down and began to quickly do it, I told her, "You need to tell Daddy next time he does your hair that he needs to get a straight part first. Then it looks better."

She wrinkled her face at me in the mirror and said, "But I have a straight part. My finger is straight, and my legs, too. My arms are straight, too, unless I bend them."

#2 has his birthday today! He turns 11. They are getting way too big.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What To Say?

I need you all praying.

I have a woman here at my house to ask me what I think about her marrying a man from another culture. I am not too excited about the idea, and the more I listen to details, the less I think it is a good idea. But how to say that?

Pray for me. I'm going to take her out for breakfast tomorrow and be as honest as I know how to be gently. It will be her choice and her responsibility, but I need to be able to honestly share with her what I see.

Pray. I don't like to hurt people. I'd like to say only good things, positive things that make people happy. I like making people happy. Tomorrow's talk likely won't make her happy. But I need to be able to do it.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ephesians 6

I listen to the kid's memory work at school, and they have been slogging through Ephesians 4-6.

First and second graders.

I am compiling their mistakes. But so far, Ephesians 6 has been hard to keep a straight face on.

"Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and your mother which is the first commandment with promise, that you might last awhile on the earth."

Yep. This kid has the fear of his parents drilled into him!

Then came a shy little girl who isn't the brightest bulb in the batch, but she tries so hard! She's adorable.

This was her version: "Honor your father and your mother......

I helped her, ".....which....."

She scrunched her face this way and that, shrugged, and finally said, "All I can remember is "which leads to debauchery"."

This morning, we had moved on to verse four.

Two kids gave me this version:

"Fathers, do not expire your children but bring them up in the structure of the Lord."

Still, my favorite was the kid who quoted:

"Children, do not exasperate your fathers....."

Amen, kid!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Good Laugh

Even God knows that I enjoy a good joke.

My daughter, who is a bit of a thinker, but not melancholic at all, has been thinking about life, sin, salvation, and Jesus' death. She's a bit worried about the salvation issue.

"Mommy, I know I have asked Jesus to forgive me, but I have to keep doing it because I forget that I did it!"

I've tried explaining that God does have a better memory than she does, but it hasn't helped. I've just told her that God won't mind her asking again, but it likely isn't necessary. And I'm fine with her talking it over and thinking about it more.

So today, she was trying to understand about sin and punishment. She was trying to wrap her mind around the fact that if you sin, you die... but Jesus paid that... so if we ask Him to forgive us, do we die? How does that work?

I started to explain about the two types of death - physical and spiritual... and this is how it went:

Well, girlie, there are two types of death

I know.

You do? Can you tell me those two types?

Well - one type of death is when you can't hear, and the other type is when you die.

(Here muffled giggles came in from her brothers, but I shushed them. The topic was too important to be distracted from, although I am glad I was driving and facing away from her!)

No, not really. One type of death is when your body dies, that is right, but the other type is about your spirit. It is when your spirit dies or is separated from God forever.

Then.... well... what is it called when you can't hear?

Deaf. Not Death.

And on the conversation went. What I am wondering is - we have a large deaf population in our church - what has she been thinking we are calling them?!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Problem with Believing

OK - let me put a disclaimer on this that I am really feeling down, and life has not been easy here recently and doesn't look like it is getting better. So if you want to keep believing that missionaries are anywhere near close to perfect or even near the ball park, please don't read this.

I don't understand God at times, and that is hard on me. There are days that I really enjoy God and see what He is doing and am thrilled. Then there are days like the last few days. Rough ones.

And general rough days, I can take. Or rough days where we all suffer together and it just seems like God is short on answers. It is days like my ones recently that are hard and leave me staring up at God and asking what is wrong with me. It is the days that it seems like everyone else's prayers are being answered in wonderful ways, and you stand there with empty hands.

There are some great things happening. One of our coworkers got healed from a pretty scary sickness. Another may have just found the perfect house. We even got a stay of execution for a decision that looked impossible just last night. Yes, I'm thankful for all this. Really.

Even my prayers are being answered. A huge concern for me the last two years as I worked on a project was that I needed three women for this thing to work, and there were only two. And it is not something that we can just go out and "find" one. An impossible thing to find. Yet, I prayed, and felt it was best to write for three. And I wrote. Last week, we found one, and she is delighted. Tonight, I sat with her and started her on her first assignment. (Sorry, can't tell much more.) And it is amazing - nothing short of a miracle, and I am stunned by God's ability to answer prayer.

Yet it is that same ability to answer difficult prayers that has me sitting here tonight staring at my computer screen wishing for an answer. Because I have other difficult prayers tonight that are not being answered. And I am hurting and begging God to answer, but He is not.

That is hard for me.

I want Him to step in and save the day, to ride in on His white horse and be a hero. I want Him to stop the pain. And He isn't.

It hurts.

It hurts because I am hurting and I am not seeing Him respond to stop it. I want Him to. I want Him to tell me, "you are so valuable to me that I don't want this to keep happening to you." I want Him to protect me, to care for me, to stop the pain. And He doesn't.

I'm struggling with that right now.

I'm actually not doing so great with the struggling part. I would think it would be more accurate to say that I'm floundering, stuck in heavy mud. I'm tiring from it.

A month ago, my husband got really angry with me again. There was a brief statement from him of, "let's stop fighting", but no real solution. And last week, he was again angry and yelling at me. I'm really tired of being yelled at.

I married a man from a different culture. I really don't feel like telling everyone from where. I know half of you would jump on me. Besides I can't put that on my blog. And I don't want him judged as harshly as people might if they knew his culture. But, it is still true that it deeply affects our marriage. I feel so often like I am a second class citizen. I am not valued.

It hurts. And today, I am trashing myself for it. Telling myself that you made that decision, now live with it. It may just be my life. I am tired of fighting over it. I know that if I am just silent, don't ask questions, don't talk, don't do anything wrong, that there will be a measure of peace. But that peace feels strangely like a prison.

Tonight, I'm tired. I'm sad. I'm sort of stuck in the mud. And I'm so tired of being told I have no value that I am ready to agree with it only to get some peace. Especially when today I see God answering prayers for others, even for what I do, but not for who I am. Not the prayers that deeply affect me.

Do I still believe? Yes. Is that said with great feeling and enthusiasm? No. It is said with the sad resignation of knowing that I can't dictate to God, that I don't understand it all, and yet that there isn't anything better, no better hope than Him. He's not stepping in where I am begging Him to, and yet I have nothing better than Him. So I believe. Still. But I am sad.

So, I need you all praying for me. With me. I know that there are some of you out there who I know and whose names and blogs are familiar to me. I've found that there are a few quiet watchers, too. That's fine. Don't feel you have to stand up and identify yourselves. I understand the feeling of just wanting to stand back and watch at times. But pray.

Then... to complicate things... this weekend, I have a lady coming to visit me to ask me one thing - should she marry a guy she has been dating, if he asks, who is from a similar culture. Hmmm... I want to tell her what I think, and tell her strongly. But I haven't figured out how to tell the truth and not disrespect my husband. How to tell her the truth in a way she will listen. And when. Pray for that. It is really not helping my mood at all.

So - I began with a disclaimer, and I will end with one: I still believe God is alive and working in my life. I do, even though I am in tears in front of Him asing how much more. I do love my husband. I do, even though I am tired of being treated of less value. I do deeply love the country and people I am working for. I do, even though their pain is at times hard for me to carry since it hits a bit too close to home at times. I do thoroughly support the team and mission I am working in. I consider it an honor to work with them. I do, even though I am fully aware that my team leader and my husband talk about me behind my back and have said some pretty cruel things. I have a heart for women who are hurting. I do - I just wished I wasn't hurting, too. I wish I could be that nice leader on solid ground on the grassy edge of this mud pit saying, "come over here", and not the one struggling in the mud with people trying to say, "despite all that is happening, I know that there is a God, and I will keep crying out to Him."

It is just that today, my cries are getting weak, my heart is sore, and I am tired. I need others today to come and cry with me for an answer.

Is This Hope?

My friend, who is also on that committee, met me today. We talked. We grabbed another member and talked some more. We felt that the right channels were not taken. We have two similar situations which are being dealt with totally differently. That was a concern. Also that this decision is supposed to be made by this committee, not this committee informed of it - fact done.

It was a bit frightening, but we had to move fast. The decision was going to be told to the person involved this afternoon. So we met, and we went to the person who made the decision and objected. It was taken well, and the decision has been "unmade". Perhaps. At least it is not going to be told until we call an emergency meeting and discuss it.

Is this hope? I wish it were. Yet, I doubt it. The mind of the person in charge is firmly made up. I wish it were hope. I'm trying to hope without getting too hopeful. I am crying out to God to act here, to step in and change this decision is that is His will. But to be brutally honest, I'm praying without much faith because my life has been so tough recently that I look up at God with exhaustion and a slightly stunned disappointment... and then I ask Him again to act, but I'm already discouraged. Yet, I do ask. Sometimes God answers, and other times... those times I have a hard time with right now. Yet I ask. I know He can.

But, even if the decision won't change, perhaps we can soften it. At the very least, we do not have to crush someone right before Easter.

And, I feel some slight victory, some slight worth in standing up for what we believed in and being able to change, at least temporarily, action.

Monday, April 6, 2009


There is not much more I can say. I'm on a committee, and we made a decision - or shall I say, a decision was made, as it was made not by us, but we were informed that it was made. (I thought that was the responsibility of this committee, so I am baffled by being told it as opposed to being able to discuss it.) But it is made, and it is final.

I can't talk about it yet, but it will become known over the next few days/weeks.

I'm sad about the decision. I understand it, but I am sad. It means a good-bye, and I am sad about it.

That is all I can really say. Even that is likely not allowed. But that is all I am saying.

I'm sad.

Another goodbye. And likely someone I care about will have their feelings hurt. I'm sad.

Only During Service - Baptism Sunday

Four people got baptized yesterday in church. My daughter was very excited since she couldn't remember any baptism and wondered what it was. Son #3 tried to show off how much he knew since he had seen one once. Son #2 hit the chair, and closed his eyes and was out cold. He has this thing about drifting off any time it is remotely quiet.

After the preaching, the pastor invited all the kids to come up front and sit on the floor so they could see better. I went with mine.

Our church thoroughly believes in reproduction, so there was quite the crowd of little kids with no parental control at the front. Here was the conversations:

"Hmm.. I thought they're supposed to hold them down longer."

"Why do they wear blue dresses?" (robes)

"I think because they don't want to wear their swim suits in front of church"

"And I guess they didn't want to go naked, either."

Then the last one came to be dunked - a girl who is over six feet tall.

Exclamations of astonishment broke out among the gathered children.

"Wow! She won't fit!"

"How can they fit her in the water?"

"Her feet are going to stick out!"

All I could do was sit there and try not to giggle.

Then, after church, we learned something about our new baptistry. It was installed with a turn drain at the bottom. Easy to fill, but we discovered that the only way to drain it is to get down in it and turn that drain. Great. And the pull down screen does not cover the tank at any time.

A few of us sat there and tried with a broom handle and scratched out heads. Then I said, "this is what boys are for." and called my second son, stripped him down to the waist, and hung him in upside down by his jeans. It took him two tries to find it, but he got it! And the whole church watching while they had coffee applauded.

Next baptism, last one in undoes the drain! Or we bring a change of clothes for our divers.

Still, I told him - you're only going near water because I have a firm grip on you!

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Son's Version

I thought you'd get a kick out of this. I heard my son tell his version to his brother.

So, I got up early and went and woke up my sister and asked if she wanted to take a bath with me, but she said no. So I filled the tub and asked her again, and she said no. (Child - it was 6 AM!) So I told her if she changes her mind, just come in.

I went and soaked for a long time, and used Daddy's shampoo, and then put conditioner on my hair and rinsed that. Then I put more conditioner on my hair and the special smelling soap
(OK - let me mention that his hair is all of half an inch long) and then I rinsed the back and turned over to rinse the front.

I heard the bathroom door open and someone say something, but I thought it was just my brother coming in to use the bathroom, so I just kept rinsing my hair. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, someone grabbed me and pulled me right out of the water, ahhh! that was scary! I almost had a heart attack- and then I saw it was mom, and she looked all funny, sort of grey, and I was really scared, like what was wrong with her?

I guess when you think about his view - relaxing in the tub, and suddenly, without warning being grabbed and yanked out... It could be scary. Especially if you get the water cleared from your eyes, and your mom is half-bent over clutching her chest. Poor kid.

He recovered faster and thought the thing was funny. Seriously, I almost had to take the day off and just sit. It took that much energy out of me! I went to bed with the kids and slept 11 hours now.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm Still Recovering!

My third son might be well known for saying things when he shouldn't, but my second son has another specialty - terrifying his mother.

This morning started off like most. I woke up to noises telling me my second was up moving. He is a morning person in a family of night owls. I got up and found he had filled the tub with hot bubbly water and wanted to take a soak in the tub. No problem.

I wandered downstairs to sit by the fireplace and try to orient myself to the fact that the sun was thinking about coming up. I must have drifted back off, and woke later to find that 45 minutes had passed. I wondered, "What has happened to that kid? He ought to be done by now." A tiny cold worry started in the back of my mind... he often drifts back to sleep when he wakes to lie by the fire and warm up... what if he fell asleep in the tub?

I quickly walked up to the bathroom, and opened the door. No response.

I stuck my head in and said, "hey, are you alive in there?" No response.

Then, I took two quick steps across, pulled the shower curtain back, and there he was - floating face down in a full tub. I screamed, "God, no!" and reached to grab him and turn him over. He was cold. The water was cold. My heart dropped, and I flipped him over.

And he shook his head, looked up at me and asked, "What mom? I'm rinsing the front of my hair!"

Ah... I sank back against the counter trying to breathe...

Then he looked up and said, "Mom? Are you going to be alright?"

No more baths! Only showers. I can't go through this again! (He is almost 11, so he is old enough to take a bath without me standing there, but not again!)

He did this once before. I had three in the tub, and came to take one out, and was dressing him in the bedroom next to the bathroom while chattering with the two in the tub, telling them to say "turtle" (a favorite word at the time). My second was two and a half, and the other one was four, so I figured they won't drown while I throw a diaper on the baby - not while I'm talking to them.

But on one round of "turtle, turtle", there was no "turtle" from number two. I poked my head around the corner, and there was no head over the top of the tub, so I called his name as I covered the short distance of the bathroom. No response. Then I saw him - floating face up in the tub, face out of the water, but eyes open. I screamed him name again, and not a flicker of response in those wide open eyes. Then I grabbed him, and it was the same thing - he shook his head, yawned, and wanted to know why I woke him up. He falls asleep in seconds when he is tired! And he sleeps with his eyes wide open.

But, I would have thought, at almost eleven, I could let him take a bath... nope. No more baths. I can't live through it again.