Friday, July 31, 2009

Pray They Are Dead

I'm getting worried. #3 has bites all over his little body. Is it because he was outside in the evening? Or did one or two bedbugs escape the extermination and begin to reproduce? This is one time you don't want a remnant to remain.

Poor little guy. He is covered with scabs since he scratches to the point to removing the bite with his nails. I'm slathering him with my medication, but I'm worried. Do we still have them? Please, Lord no.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

To the Edge of Insanity

Ok, I do realize and admit to all of you who are suffering worse things than bedbugs that being bitten by bedbugs is a small thing in light of, well, in light of almost anything.

But it does itch! It itches without stopping. Five bites across the sole of my foot. Three between my toes. Four on one finger alone. Those are the ones which bother me the most.

Last night, I gave in and just sat down and cried and cried. I had held out hope that one person might have an idea, but he didn't. So I gave in and cried.

Then I remembered our friend who is doctor who has blessed us over the years with being available to us. I picked up the phone and phoned him, and since we are traveling in the US, he picked up the phone and phoned in a prescription for me.

Ahhh! relief. Well, sort of. I still itch. But not to the point of insanity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Hundred and Forty-seven

Yup. I counted them.

That is how many bites I have on my body. Five on one finger. Twelve on one hand. Twenty on one arm. Ok, you get the picture - I'm itching. Everything hurts.

I think bedbugs. Yuck! We stopped to fumigate and wash everything we own. Where we picked them up? I think I know.... but that is best not said.

Pray for me. Trying to be a mom, traveling, speaking, visiting, while not doing an imitation of a dog with fleas is difficult. I'm on benadryl, but that just takes the edge off and makes me dopey on top of it.

...scratch, scratch.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Wonderful Rest

It is so good to be here. To rest and not just start and go and keep going. It is quiet, and we are among friends - my friends, people I've known for years. It is good here.

Tomorrow is our last day, and we are celebrating it with cooking a meal for thirty people. Should be fun.

One last thought - I hate mosquitoes. Had to throw that in. Where it is warmer, they multiply faster.

Thursday, we pack up and leave, but only for a short drive and a few days of family camping. Then on Monday, we begin the first "work" of the summer trip.

Yet, it has been good to be here, to forge connections again, to rest. Here is a place of prayer, and we will be prayed for from here now. Already there have been good things, and my heart has quieted and found some chance to heal a little.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Little Irritations

There are times that I wonder why God does some things. I mean, life is already difficult enough, and I find myself wishing He would just make some things easier. He could, you know. But then He doesn’t.

I don’t understand that.

I find myself wondering why. Why does He not fix the little irritations or problems in our lives that would make it so much easier for us to live victoriously?

But He doesn’t.

There may be many reasons that fill in that gap of silence. Maybe we know some of them. Maybe we guess at others. Maybe we have no idea of others. I have to come back to the basics here. God, who is bigger than me, knows what He is doing, and as much as I might be horrified at the thought, I am not the center of His universe. It is not all about me, for me, circling around my concerns. There is more to God’s plan than my immediate comfort at any given time.

I forget that at times. In fact, I’d like to forget that pretty often.

There are things in my life, external things, that make life that much more difficult. I want to share one today and ask for prayer for it. It affects me in a serious way. Not that the “problem” itself is such a big deal, but the results of the problem are much bigger.

It is a bit of a long story which I will try to avoid, but the basics of it is simple. A few years ago, I had some medical problems. One of the medications that I was given to fix my one problem caused more problems to me. I had two doses of this medication, and as a result, my balance or brain was messed with. (Ok, now comes where I have to admit that there is something wrong with my head.)

It took me several weeks to walk normally without feeling like the walls were bending and everything was off balance. It took me a few months before I was driving much again. I couldn’t deal with things like corners, hills, changes in speed without a startle reflex. It is slightly better now, but only slightly. I went to a neurologist a few years ago for something unrelated, and he had fun tapping me with hammers and laughing with my husband at my reactions. He said that my reactions are so strong that it is fun to watch them. They are still within normal ranges – just on the very high end of normal.

It’s fun in a doctor’s office to watch me jump violently in reaction to stimuli, but it ain’t so fun in real life! I manage life now with little to no problems. I get dizzy after a movie in a theatre, and my sons know to hang on to me for a few minutes until I catch my balance. I have to focus while driving on mountains or corners, talking myself through it so I won’t jump. It takes focus and purpose, but it is not so hard.

The problem comes when my husband is driving (or anyone else). I have to focus then, too, to know where we are, to know the moves ahead, to anticipate. If not, if I lose concentration, look down, or drift off to sleep, and there is a sudden movement of the car such as a corner, an acceleration, or a braking, my overactive nervous system kicks in, and boy, does it kick in! I jump. I jerk. I act like a startled newborn. I can’t help it. I can’t stop it. It just does it.

It drives my husband nuts. Now, I’ll have to admit, it would likely drive any man nuts. It attacks his sense of being a man and him thinking he is a good driver. He hates it. He’ll do ok for awhile and be patient, but he’ll lose it eventually, and be furious at me. He thinks I do it on purpose because I don’t trust his driving, and won’t believe me when I say there is little I can do to control it. So, in our already stressful marriage, it is like kindling for anger.

This is where I look up at God and wonder why. Why in such a marriage, did You have to add this kindling? Life would be so much easier if I could relax in the car, close my eyes, and just rest. I think my husband is a good driver. Ok, if he is trying to read his blackberry, that makes me nervous, but all in all, he is a really good driver. He’s made changes in his driving that he didn’t think he needed to in order to help me not jump so much, and I appreciate those changes.

He gets really upset because he says I don’t jump when I drive, so it must be that I don’t trust him. It is that when I drive, every ounce of my concentration is on the road, so I don’t look away and then look back and be disoriented.

It hurts. It hurts to ignite his anger with no reason. It hurts to have him think I am degrading his driving when I am not. It hurts that he does not believe me. It hurts.

This is our travel summer, so it is a big issue again. Again, just the other day, he blew his top after I jerked one time too many, and again, we’ve lost a day or two in silent anger because of it.

I am tired. I look ahead to all the driving, and I am tired. The thought of staying awake and focused for that long, the thought of all the times he will be angry at me for it stretch in front of me. Now, I don’t know if God has some grand purpose in this that He still wants to use – which if He does, we sit looking up to Him knowing He does what is good – but I do know that God is able to heal this damage. Oh, I’d love Him to heal this damage! Not only would it make a difference in the peace in drives, but all over, it would be relaxing to be without this high startle reflex. I could spin in a circle without stopping to hold on and right my brain again. I could relax even when a kid makes a repetitive noise instead of having my whole body begin to jerk in time to it. I could follow a school bus with a strobe light on the top without having to pull over because I feel too jittery.

But the most important is that I could communicate to my husband that I trust his driving.

I know God is able. I also know that God does not always choose to make our lives easy. Knowing both, and submitting to His choices, I want to ask Him to heal this. Will you pray for this one small thing for me this summer? Pray for healing which can only come from God.

I know that was a long story for a small request. Sorry about the length.

We are on the road now, actually resting at a conference among my old friends. It is good here, and I am relaxing, enjoying being encouraged, being loved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


That is what we are eating! Sticky, messy, good. (Except I hate marshmellows. Yuck.) So I eat mine without.

We did get ready, or as ready as we could get. I came to my senses after I had the house all straightened but not cleaned. I realized that I am giving someone two months free rents while she is between houses and she LIKES cleaning! So I left the vacuuming and mopping and dusting for her to do. See, all this construction around our house has not at all helped with the state of cleanliness!

And we hit the road. Today we relaxed and camped. We are on our way to conference to rest some before the big drive across the country.

Ahh.... it's nice to relax, eat smores, and sleep in a tent.... ..... well... scratch the tent... the ground is getting harder the older I get!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Feeling Happier and Happier

I hit that low, and now I am on the way up again. Funny how it is very tied in to how much packing is done. There is that horrible stage where everything looks like a mess and I can only hope it all fits and I begin to get nervous. I dislike traveling then and wish I could be just being normal right then.

Then, very suddenly, I turn a corner, and it all begins to fit, and the last things begin to get done. Then the stress begins to lift, and I grow excited for the trip ahead.

One more day. One more day filled with little things to do, and then a good general house cleaning.

Then we leave. I'm starting to look forward to it.

At church today, someone asked how they could pray for our trip. I thought. Hmm...

"Pray that when my kids do misbehave, at least it is not when we really need them not to."

See, I know they will misbehave. They do that. But, just please, please, not when we are speaking in church or visiting with a new supporting group!

I Finished Them!

I did it! I sewed all three skirts! Just finished the last today. I'll have to admit... I never completely followed the directions on any of them. I am not the best at following directions... call me stubborn and independent.

But they are finished. The one I did today is likely my least favorite, but it is probably more the color than anything else. I packed the fun blue and green on white, so can't show you a picture of that, but it is basically the same as this one, just more fun colors. I guess this one is for when I feel more subdued. :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unexpected Jobs with Unexpected Blessings

Today, I thought I would have about an hour of two of helping someone else. They had some forms to be filled out, and they asked me to help. I have very neat handwriting and am detailed, so I am good at forms. I went first thing this morning, and had breakfast with them while I started.

Ugh! I hate paperwork. It took so long. I got home at 3:30 this afternoon! I was happy to help. I enjoyed my time with them. They are close friends, coworkers, and like brother and sister to me. With this family, I can talk openly and I have a good relationship. It was good to be there. There had been some issues recently at work, and we could talk through things. At times, all people need to do is talk, and as we talk, we can figure out how to take the principals we learn and learn them in practice, not theory. How to esteem each other. How to deal with conflict. How to handle irritation and anger.

We had a good talk. It helps that I am close to them. I love them like my family and they know that. So, the love that has been shared between us from the time I met them six years ago holds us through conflicts and cultural issues.

And those forms. Page after page of neat, detailed writing. Exact wording and spelling.

I came home both tired and rested. Tired because of the level of attention to detail for hours. Rested because these two who I love dearly always have a way of refreshing my heart. The husband is very similar in temperament to me, and I enjoy talking with him. His wife is different, and she complements him well. I will miss them.

But the "blah" that came after the weekend conference where I felt that no one cares about how things are as long as I do my work is partly lifted. I've struggled since then with an emptiness. Disappointed with God's people. Disappointed with God. Wondering why my prayers are not answered. Wondering why people smile and ask, "How are you?" when they really aren't asking.

This morning was good. Good to be with friends.

I came home a bit frazzled with all I had to do at home. At that stage where all the little things needed doing, but not sure where to start. Not sure all would fit in the suitcases. This evening, I put all the stuff in and was very happy to find out that it fits well and we actually have extra space! Yay!

So the jitters are calming down a little. We will make it. I've got to pack the little bags of things to do, bathroom supplies, and medicine. My daughter is in the tub splashing around and singing "Jesus, thank-you". When she forgets words, she launches into her own... "You'll always be there for me. You'll never, ever gonna leave me. You sent Your Son to die on the cross for me."

And I smile. We're going to make it through the next two days. The stuff will be packed. The house will be at least sort of clean. And we will leave.

Then we start off with a week long rest at a conference where I went to Bible school. Just resting. No speaking, no meeting with supporters. Just rest and relaxing.

I'm ready for it.

I don't know what it is about having my suitcases zipped up that changes my attitude from "I'm here" to "I'm leaving", but it is always the turning point for me in all my moves and trips!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Three Days to Go

I'm grouchy. There. Truth. It is just that I really dislike the last days before leaving. It is the unsettled feeling.... I've just moved too many times in my life. I know this is not a move, but a traveling summer, but it still involves packing up, and leaving my house for others.... all that involves. Still, even a travel summer leaves me unsettled, and just grouchy.

I'll be fine when we get on the road. I enjoy the trip. It is only that this is a continual reminder again and again that we are not/will never be "settled". I think that is it. And I get grouchy around moves.

On the other hand, I enjoy the thorough cleaning of my house that we do every few years when we travel and leave it to others. I suspect without that, I would build up "junk" of unknown age in odd locations.

So today, I managed to talk my daughter into a haircut. Ok, we only cut off four inches, but that was traumatic enough for her. Her hair has been growing all her life, and was well below her waist. Nice, but a nuisance for travel, and the ends were getting nasty. I went and got a nice haircut for myself, too. We're going to be up speaking in front of people, so it was time for a "nice do".

Then I spent time packing up my jewelry and valuables. Yes, I know that we have a house-sitter, but I barely know her. Last time we left, we let children of fellow missionaries borrow our house. They were married with five kids, so it was a good house for them to live in while they settled in the area. Except that I have rarely seen such damage in a house. We never met the family, and despite repeated phone calls, they never came to see us after we got home and they were in their own house. They ripped down curtains, broke fans, peeled paint off the walls, and to top it off, stole the contents of my son's piggy bank which was a sizable amount for a ten year old boy. Then, they let their dogs in the house where they urinated on our couches - we could never get the smell out and had to replace them.

I was shocked. Never expected such things. We complained to the missionaries we knew here about their daughter's family's damage, and they simply told us that "well, your house is rather fragile, you know."

Fragile?! I have three boys and one girl who acts as tough as them. The last thing my house is is fragile.

I was really ready to just lock my house and leave it empty, but that is not a good option, either. So this year, we have a Christian friend house-sitting for us. I like her. I do. But I haven't known her long. She also has two children, not teens this time, but young adults. They do not live with her, but they might visit. They are not believers.

This year, I am burned, so I am playing it safe. I'm taking my valuables and banking information over to a friend's house. I know these people, and my "stuff" will be safe at their house.

So that kept me busy. That and the fact that I don't want my house-sitter to think we are messy, so I am cleaning out closets and under beds. I'm thankful for the pressure to do it. I work better under pressure. :-)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Short Skirt

Ok, not short in length - in time.

Why did I do pleats for my first skirt? Those nasty pleats took about four hours of my time. This evening, I finally mustered my courage again and attacked the next skirt project. Ha! This one took about an hour and a half. The next one, which I will stick with the same pattern will only take about an hour. Half an hour was spent fiddling with the waist band. I detest waistbands.

I figured out what is the problem, though. I am a bit on the short side, if I stretch, I might reach 5'4", but am a little shorter than that if I tell the truth. Then, despite my lack of hieght, I have curves. In fact, fairly nice ones, that if I had the height to match them would look quite nice. As it is... well... imagine a Barbie doll that someone stepped on the head of and squished her down. Yup, that's me. Short and a bit round. (Oh, and put clothes on that Barbie doll in your head - despite the fact that I have rarely seen one in a toy chest wearing anything!)

Patterns, apparantly, are made for tall, straight people. In fact, this skirt pattern has a three inch wide waist band. I doubt if I even have three inches to spare between my hips and my ribs! So why am I trying to get it to fit me???!!!

Nope. No more waist bands. I am taking them out in the next skirt and substituting a half an inch straight band. Easy, simple, and fits. I am too tired tonight to post the photo of the new skirt, but it is cute. I love the colors in it. Also, I need my son to take the photo, so that will come tomorrow.

I know I keep saying I am tired.... today, this was my list:

1. Went to lawyer to draw up will.
2. Went shopping for garden plants.
3. Dug four vegetable beds and planted vegetables.
4. Tied up my climbing roses - oh, they are beautiful!
5. Carried a bed upstairs and assembled it in my coworker's house.
6. Swam for two hours with my kids.
7. Napped for 15 minutes in the sun that decided to shine AFTER we went swimming.
8. Finished the ironing.
9. Cooked a quick supper.
10. Went to a committee meeting to hire a new person.
11. Went grocery shopping on the way home.
12. Made brownies.
13. Sewed a skirt.

That's it. I'm tired.

Four more days to go, and we will be heading out.


What with the construction in our back yard, our garden did not get put in at the "proper" time. I had thought about just not doing it, but... in the adsence of plants, weeds would dominate, and I did not want to give them a year of free rent. Then there is the fact that our house sitters might like fresh produce, and if they manage to keep it up, we will be back just in time for all the ripe tomatoes and squash... if...

So, I went ahead and put in plants. Lots and lots of tomatoes and some seasonings. Squash and cabbages. I was trying to think what could grow without direct supervision and might be good when we get back.

I dug four beds today and got them planted. Ugh! Then we went swimming for the afternoon.

I'm still tired. I think it will be a continous state until we get to our first rest conference. Then we have some down time. I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I hate mold. Not only is it really nasty stuff, but I am very allergic to it. Number two has had itchy eyes and a runny nose with a head ache all spring, and I was pretty sure he was getting spring allergies like his mother. Then we are getting ready to leave and our house-sitter has moved in. I decided to put her in Number Two's bedroom and move him in with Number One.

I cleaned the room, and decided that it really needed rearranging. Ok, I admit, I likely do more rearranging than the typical person. It has a calming effect on me. So I rearranged. And what I found was that all alongside his bed and the wall, there was mold and mildew growing. Ah ha. That is what was making him sick!

I cleaned and cleaned and killed it with bleach, but I still worried. The two kids in the more underground section of the house have captain's style beds - enclosed boxes. No air flows around them. I wondered if that was such a bright idea for those rooms, so when a coworker who recently moved to a bigger house said she wanted to get some boxes to fit under her son's bed, I asked if she'd like Number Two's bed. It has drawers under it. Her house is drier as it is all above ground, and the bed should work fine there. That meant we could take the bed her son is in, and the bed her daughter is in (she's getting a bigger one so she can share with her sister) and give them to a new family arriving. Those beds make a bunk bed, so it was a good fit for the new family which will be in a small house at first.

(We always said you could trace the history of missions by looking at the bottom of some furniture! Family name after family name written and crossed out with new owners.)

I was somewhere today where someone was selling furniture, and wasn't really looking, but found the perfect bed for one of the boys. Later I decided it would be for Number One, so was moving his room around when I found out that his board on his bed was covered in mildew. I thought I had cleaned it after the "flood", but it must have still been in it. I decided not to move it to his brother's room as was the original plan, but went back and bought the other bed this place was selling. It actually is a perfect match for Number Two's room, but he hates it. He wants me to hang up a hammock for him to sleep in since, "my room is a jungle room anyway, and a hammock would look great." I am seriously considering it... but I didn't think our house-sitter would be too happy if I took away her bed and gave her a hammock just now!

So, I think we are mold free now. I hope so. My head hurts even from the brief contact I had with the stuff. I'm very thankful for the new (to us) beds. They are really in great shape.

But I am tired. We leave in a week now to the US to begin traveling. I am almost packed, but not quite. I hadn't exactly planned on bed shopping and rearranging today.

I'm just thankful to be rid of mold. Yuck!

What She Worries About

My daughter really tries to be thoughtful and she worries about things.

We were watching July 4th fireworks, and she pulled on my sleeve. "Mommy, what if the fireworks blow up the moon?" I assured her that they wouldn't, but she was not totally at peace. "I know they won't mommy, but what if they do anyway?"

Then these last few weeks, she's had a problem with wetting the bed. Why? I don't know. Perhaps lots of koolaid and late nights. Anyway, tonight we watched a semi-scary movie for her, so she was worried about nightmares. I said she could sleep in my bed.

"Mommy, what I am hoping is that I don't pee in your bed." I agreed that I would prefer that, too. Then she went on, "but if I do, do you want me to wake you up?"

Umm... yeah! If I don't already wake up. We settled on the blanket on the floor by my bed as a good option.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Glasses Arrived

Wow! They got here. Six pairs of glasses for us all - one good one, and one sunglasses for all of us. All exactly what we ordered, and all just wonderful. They look great and fit well.

Number 3 wears is well and looks so serious with them on. Number 2 hates his glasses and makes a big deal of trying to hide them, so of course everyone looks. He will get used to them soon. I am forcing him to wear them, so now I am "mean", but I assured him that I do know how he feels!

My new glasses are wonderful! Not scratched up like my old ones, and my new sunglasses are... wow! nice!

Some good. I got the website from junglewife, so THANKS!

If you want to look at the site, it is


I know I keep promising an update. I know. It is just that that last weekend with people who were supposed to care, and then their letters informing me that it is best to simply be silent sort of put a damper on me. I still feel stung and saddened by it all, not wanting to communicate not because I agree with them that it is best, but simply because I am tired of it all. Wondering what is the use at times.

And, honestly, for a month, things have been going pretty well. Not great, but pretty good. I was even beginning to sort of like being with my husband and having him around. Not sure I really trusted him to stay nice, but things were peaceful. I was even beginning to wonder if I should begin to trust him. Feeling bad about the settled apathy that has come to live in my feelings.

But then there was tonight. It was a little thing. A slightly late supper, which I had phoned to warn him about. There had been an urgent matter which I was helping a coworker with and it did not go smoothly, so took longer than I wanted. And dinner was a little late, and he was rushed to go somewhere to play. So he was acting ok, but then number three, being his normal distractable self, didn't follow directions quickly enough. I think the little guy was trying to, but he just opened the wrong cupboards, and that was enough to get the full brunt of his father's caustic tongue. I made the mistake of telling his father that he was trying to obey, but was confused since I had just told him that what he was looking for was not in that cupboard, and then his father asked for something different and pointed to that cupboard. The little guy opened the one next to it instead. I asked him to look at his son, to see the tears in his eyes, and to let it go - the kid did get what you wanted; and he was only confused.

So I got accused of sticking up for him and teaching my kids that their daddy is mean. And now he is angry. No, not out of control, but angry. Quiet anger again. I tried to talk when he came in from his game, but it isn't working. I failed him, and he only pointedly repeated all that I had done wrong from the late dinner to the sticking up for the kid. Along with several other offenses that I have done in the last while.

I'm tired.

Then - ha. We are supposed to meet with the pastor tomorrow morning - the meeting after he has met with him for three weeks in a row to work on controlling his anger. Now we are to meet and work on going on. That ought to be interesting.

So why the post? To ask for prayer. I fully expect slip ups along the way, so am sitting here very disappointed, but at the same time trying to count the good things. He did not yell. He did not go on and on beyond the two discussions we had. I think the count only goes up to two. But it is two things. I expect slip ups, but I am hoping for progress still. So, while I sit here tired and discouraged, I am hoping that later tonight or tomorrow, there might be a softening. One can hope, even if only because we know God can.

But I am tired.

So pray for tomorrow's meeting. For this to be resolved. For wisdom for me in what to say and do. For comfort for number three who tends to be a rather sensitive child anyway.

And then, my friend had a baby today. A little girl. I'm glad I will get to see her. I had just told her last night to try to get that baby to come before we go.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Difficult Questions

I didn't post about this for several weeks because I found it hard to handle and didn't know how to talk about it. I came away very discouraged.

Our group here recently had a weekend conference/retreat for the whole area. We all gathered at one place for meetings, rest, and relationship building. I was looking forward to it.

When we arrived, we were greeted by different people. I guess I'd have to admit that I have been puzzled over the last few months that while our mission leader for this country lives only two hours away from us and he was aware of the situation last fall from the beginning, I never heard from him or his wife. What made it even more confusing is that two years ago, I made the trip alone to their house to ask for help about the growing problem, and was told that they would be praying. I never heard back from them then either. Not even a phone call to ask how things were. Never a visit.

So we greeted our other workers and smiled at everyone. Then walking the paths alone, I bumped into our leader, and he and his wife met me with a cheery, "Hi Ellie! Nice to see you!" Nothing more. No questions about how things are. No word that they've been concerned or praying. Nothing. The evening of the next day, I mentioned to them that I hadn't heard from them for a long time, and they looked a bit surprised. "Heard from us? Hmm... are you on facebook? If you are on there, you'll hear more when we put out little updates."

Yeah. Facebook is not exactly what I was talking about. I mean, when you have a missionary that you are directly responsible for living only two hours away from you and their marriage is in such a state that they are temporarily separated, I'd think it was time for slightly more communication than facebook.

Smiling through this retreat would have been difficult enough in the situation, but then we were doing a book/video series on top of it. The topic? Being real with each other. Putting down our masks so we can really help each other.

I sat through the series and the discussions afterwards slightly bewildered. Why are we saying this is such a great idea and we don't do it? Or is this just for others and not for ourselves?

On the last day, I asked to speak with another person in the main office who I know slightly better since we have some location history in common. He also knew that there were problems, so I asked for a minute. He was concerned, saying that as he watched me that weekend, he knew that things were not good. So I asked him simply if we do have member care in our central location and who am I supposed to talk to about that. (Maybe I had picked the wrong person when I talked to the leader.) He said that it was the leader and also he is just beginning to join that responsibility. I told him I was disappointed in any member care since in nine months since the crisis when my husband was out of the house, I have not heard once from the office there. Not so much as a phone call to ask how we are doing.

He understood that. He said, "Obviously we have failed; and what makes it even worse is that your expectations of us were pretty low to start off with, and we abysmally failed even that." He promised to check in on it and get back to me.

I felt encouraged by that. I didn't expect them to do much, but at least a call to see if things are ok.

A few days later, I got an e-mail. It briefly said that their position is that the "here" pastor was working with us, so they saw no reason to get involved or take control over from him. In the interest of discretion, they did not want to discuss it or to get involved and felt that silence was the best option, but that I should feel assured that their prayers and concern are with me.

I wrote them back that I felt that a phone call to ask, "how are things and are things working out working with the pastor or do you need anything else from us?" would not be taking things out of the hands of the pastor, but an appropriate way of expressing concern.

I heard back from them a few days later with a two sentence e-mail where they again expressed their concern and said that they are in regular contact with the pastor - except that they got his name wrong, not a little wrong, but totally wrong.

What do you say? I just felt discouraged to the point of throwing in the towel. At times, I feel like phoning up our old support base in this mission - where we used to be connected to. At least there, we had a person who was responsible for us who took that responsibility seriously. She would phone regularly just to see how we were - and that was when things were good!

But I am discouraged. Is this the Christianity we are preaching? If it is, I am not sure I want to have any part in it. Is this the love that we want to teach others? I feel like a hypocrite to tell people to come to Jesus - that there is real love and care in the church. Is there?

At this point, I would not recommend to anyone that they join our mission. Well - let me qualify that - not this location, not this team. Our other location was very different. I'm burned. And I was pretty loyal - having grown up not exactly in this mission, but seconded to it, working closely with it all my life. We are/were "lifers". But I feel betrayed.

It is not really that hard to express real concern in a phone call - at least once in nine months.... or even once in the two years you knew there were problems.

I left the retreat broken. Hurt. Not even sure how to understand that or express it.

I still hurt when I think about it. I've gotten to the place where it doesn't doesn't fill my head as much right now, but it still hurts my heart.

My son's teacher gave me a book to read recently about forgiveness. It is a secular book, but still good. It was God's timing, because the truths in that book helped me deal with this weekend. It talks about "unenforceable rules" that we have which cause us pain, and teaches us to change those into "hopes".

I looked at the situation and was able to say to myself that I had an unenforceable rule. It was "mission leaders should really care about those who they are responsible for and should take steps to show that care in practical ways." It didn't happen. I can't make it happen. I think it would be a great rule, but I can't enforce it. So I can change it into a hope. "I had hoped that the mission leaders would care about those under their care and show it in practical ways." It didn't happen. I can accept that I feel hurt about it. I can also accept that their actions were a result of their flaws (for lack of a more politically correct word) and not directly aimed at me to hurt me. Those actions likely have hurt others before me and will hurt others after me, too. I am not alone in this. Because of this, I can forgive them. They did not mean harm to me, but they are flawed individuals. And I can survive, and learn from this, and perhaps even make a difference in life from what I have learned. I can also feel hurt from it, but I do not need to let the hurt consume me nor focus on it most of the time.

So I don't. But when I do think about the hurt from that weekend, I think about it in the terms of how to fix it. Part of who I am is that I love to teach. I love to see things, share them with others, and together figure out ways to improve, and teach those ways. Another part of me is that I love to stand up for the hurt and mistreated. So when I do let myself think on the hurt, I think about ways to stop this from happening to others. Ways to answer the question, "How can we really care about each other on the field?" and "Where can we really be real and help each other?"

In reality, I am surprised at how little it really does take to show real concern. I've had a few people do it, and it doesn't take much. A simple question while really looking at someone, "How are things really going?" Or a, "I've been praying often for you the last month or two, are things any better?" I know because a few people in my "here" church have done that. A few in my school have done that.

It is only my mission which has been conspicuously silent.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I wanted to make myself a skirt, too. Whatever possessed me on my first attempt to try to do pleats, I don't know. Pleats are nice to wear, but they're sure a headache to make! I worked hard at them yesterday only to try it on and find out that while the hips fit, the waist was no where close! Argh!

So late last night, I had another thought on how to do it, and worked on it. Then this morning, I put the waist band on praying it would work, and ta-da! It was done. I like it. Light, airy, and cool. Now, on to make matching top, and then with the leftovers, I'll whip up my daughter another pair of shorts with a top to match.

All thsi inspiration is due to two things - Joy who did the "wear a skirt for a week" posts, and me finding one skirt that I really liked at a store that I should not even walk through... too expensive to shop it. I've never worn this length of a skirt before; just stuck to longer lengths, but this feels fun to wear. I'm at the place where I think that shorts just don't look that great on me - not for visiting, but capri's are at times too hot. So a fun length skirt seemed like a cool alternative. I like how this one turned out.

Panning for Gold

Last year, when I met with our pastor to ask for help, he wanted to talk to us about relationship issues and communication. He said things like, "You both need to take steps to move closer to each other." and "Let's figure out how to communicate better." I agreed that these would be good steps to take, but I told him that the explosive anger was a big issue for me and the kids. That the anger needed to be addressed.

His take was that it was not such a big deal and we would talk about it while doing other things. We didn't. Not really. I don't think he ever saw it as a big deal.

I begged him back then to talk about the anger, to take it seriously. I told him that I am interested in getting closer and working on "meeting in the middle", but the way things stand right now, it is like asking me to walk across a mine field with my kids in my arms. The anger is like land mines. We will get hurt. I needed him to do some mine clearing before I wanted to take that step to walk across that gap.

But that was not seen by him. And I felt pushed and shamed into doing what I was told and getting closer. It was "unChristian" to refuse to take steps to get closer. It was "ungracious" to keep focusing on things that had happened and not forgive.

So we did. To be honest, my husband did take some good steps, and I was proud of him. But I worried still - the anger had never been addressed. Not really. So the danger lurked in every step.

Then, in May, we stepped on a mine, and there was damage.

Now, I sit here in the beginning of July, looking back at the last few months. There were some rough patches there. I am becoming more and more discouraged about the ability of those in missions to respond to their own problems and struggles. The attitude of "be quiet and keep working" seems to often prevail. I'm behind on my blog because I simply got tired of communicating, struggling at times to believe the things I was told or things that just did not happen in our leadership.

Yet, through the rough times of the last two months, we've come out with a few good things. Like the little gold flakes left after all the rock and dirt is panned away.

I thought I'd blog about those right now. Things I have "gained" out of the bad.

The first is that our "here" pastor finally realized that the anger was an issue. He still objects to turning it over to someone who has more experience in it, but he did begin to meet with my husband one on one for a few weeks specifically focused on the issue of anger. That built some safety for me because it was being dealt with and i did not have to be in the sessions and get "dumped on" every week.

The second is that our "home" pastor phoned in, and I feel like there is finally someone in leadership who is not trying to tell me to shut up, that I am crazy, and that the problems are all my fault because "he doesn't act like that around anyone else, so it must be something you do."

Then the other good thing is a bit of peace. I've learned to walk with a limp. Let me explain:

For the last few years, I've been working and working on issues in my own life and growing. It's been hard work at times, but I've enjoyed growing. Then, there is my marriage, which is beyond what I can do. I've fought, struggled, pushed, encouraged, begged, and wanted growth here. I've wanted my husband to deal with some things, like the anger, late nights, semi-depression, and other things so that we as a couple could begin to grow.

Well, it seems like he was not interested in change at all. Not one bit. In fact, his side grew worse. Worse anger. Worse habits. Worse treatment of the kids and me. Still a great "ministry face", but at home, less and less involvement and care.

So we lived under anger. And I could not grow there well. Every few weeks or months, there would be an explosion in the mine field, and we would be wounded.

I cried out to God about this, begging Him to step in. He didn't. For years this went on. I thought if I do more, God will be more happy with me and stop it. He didn't. I thought if I am more this, He will. He didn't. I looked up at God hurt. Why not? How long? How can I grow to be whole and beautiful and pleasing to Him when there is this core relationship in my life which is so damaged? I struggled to make it better. To try to be a better wife. To communicate more. To respect. To whatever it took.

Nothing worked. He did not want to deal with it. In fact, he told me that the only problem he has is me.

One of those dark days, coming home from school after dropping off kids, I was in tears again. I told God, "I feel like I can never be healthy or whole in my life because of this marriage. I can't change that. I have no control over it, and yet have to live in it. I feel like I'm trying to run with a limp. I'm in this life married to someone with a problem he won't deal with, and it handicaps me. I want to run and dance, and I walk with a limp."

I don't know what it was about this small exchange between God and me that day, but with it came some peace. Because it is true. Because of my marriage, I walk with a limp. Some days it is not bad and I enjoy life, and other days I can barely make it.

I can't fix this problem. I can't get away from it. I can't ignore it.

And I cried to God, my sadness in wanting to run, wanting to please Him, wanting to be whole... and that not being a possibility. But God simply said to me something He has often said, "but you are My child, and I love you. You are no less pleasing to me because of your limp."

Then, as I rounded the corner towards my house, I smiled. The sun began to dance on the flower and green grass again. It is true. I might limp, but God is still completely delighted in me. Not because of what I do, but because of who I am. I'm His.

So I smiled that day and decided that however I can move, running, walking, limping, or crawling, I will keep moving towards Him. Yes, I might limp. I might have a handicap, but His glory can still shine out of me, despite of me.

I want to become perfect, the shining example of what God can do. I may never be that. But, in my limping, I'm at peace knowing that God is completely delighted in me, and I am perfectly loved by Him.

When I accept that, I can go on with life. I can move past the anger with the situation, the bargaining, the objecting to it, the pleading, all those emotions of trying to deal with something you don't want. No, this is not what I wanted for my life. There is hope that it won't be my life forever because God is able, but it is my life now. I can accept that, and go on with life. It is not my dream, but it is my life. I walk through life hurt and limping. Time to focus now, not on how to change that - I can't - but on how I can best live in the circumstances I am in.

This is me. I walk with a limp.

Keep praying for the situation. My husband has been meeting with the pastor for a few weeks, and he has remained fairly calm. Next week we meet together, and I will know more then. And thanks for your support.