Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stepping Into Trust

When I was flying yesterday, I was reading a book, Walking Taylor Home. It is a book I blogged about before. I’m taking it to give it away, but I wanted to read it one more time. It is a book that deeply touched me.

About an 11 year old boy and his fight with cancer.

I read it while I flew. When the first attack of fear hit as the plane lifted off, it was Taylor who caught my heart. He lived in the face of death. He trusted through the fear. Through the pain. And he died. Trusting, he died.

I was not going to be whupped by an eleven year old boy!

I have the same God.

I learned something from Taylor as I reread this book again today. Trust is not “trusting God to keep us safe”. We all learned it was in Sunday School. But it isn’t. Trust is trusting God to keep us, to walk us through. Sometimes walk us home. Not about the end result. Not about safety. Not about that at all. It is about the process. About the whole process, each step. Trusting Him to take us in, to be in it with us, to order what comes, to hold us, and to bring us out or bring us home. Trusting God means trusting Him to allow pain, awful, gut-punching, undeserved, raw pain. Pain that devalues us. Pain that misunderstands us. Pain that can never be completely healed from. Pain. Not “stick a bandaid on it” type of pain. Real pain. Trusting that even this comes from Him.

I look back at some pain and don’t know why He allowed it to happen. Again and again. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been badly hurt. I’ve had people who were supposed to protect and care for me hurt me. I’ve had people who were supposed to be there for me turn and call me horrific names. Smear my name with false accusations that would take your breath away. I’ve lost ones dear to me. Even my own baby. God has allowed hurt that I would have run screaming from.

I don’t understand this. Tears still pool in my eyes when I look up at Him. I want to believe that now that I am “better”, He won’t allow these things to happen again.

But I can’t. He’s never guaranteed me that. In fact, all He’s promised me is that there will be more. In this world, you will have trouble.”

Thanks. I wanted a God who would keep me safe. He wants me to be willing to walk into pain.

I don’t understand.

Actually, I may understand just a little now. Maybe. It is something God has been quietly whispering to me over the last months. Calling me up to stand by Him and get a glimpse of His view.

It is not all about my safety. Not about me feeling secure. Not at all.

It is about Him. He looks at a wider view than I do. He sees other people in pain. His response to that was to come and experience it with us. Even death.

For by the grace of God He might taste death for every man.

He tasted death for me. In fact, I think it wasn’t just a small sip of a taste. It looks like He took a pretty big gulp.

And, perhaps, in ordering my life to be full of pain, He has allowed me to taste just a sip, just a tiny sip of pain so that I will be able to know. He’s called me to minister to a hurting world. The women He’s called me to suffer unbelievably. He’s let me taste their cup.

It’s awful. Raw, ripping, shameful, degrading pain. Wounds with no healing.

It is really not about me. The view changes when He calls me to stand beside Him and look out.

Light and momentary afflictions. That is all they are. For a moment. And He never abandoned me in the middle of them. God abandoned Him, but He did not abandon me.

He’s called me to share His cup. To taste. Trust is not about keeping me from pain, not about delivering me out of pain. It is about walking me through it.

Today, I met someone I had spent time with over the summer. We had sat in her living room and laughed at our babies, now growing big. I told her the story of Lydia, and she honoured me by listening. She listened to the lessons God had taught me about Himself with one hand resting on her pregnant belly. What she did not know that night was that that baby that her hand rested on had already died. She didn’t find that out until the next day.

She told me that today. Chills ran down my spine and my heart broke for her. But then, through the tears, she looked up at me and said, “God had you there that night telling me your story. When the storm broke the next day, you had already shown me the path I would have to walk. It is still hard, but that was a blessing that God knew I needed. No one else understands unless they have gone through it themselves.”

Let’s not be afraid to trust. To taste the cups God hands us. He will be with us through them. He may break our hearts, but His was broken. Do we not celebrate the broken bread so that we might remember? God has called us to brokenness and pain because He wants to reach into brokenness and pain.

I begin this year more broken than I was two years ago when God put a job into my hands – to reach women whose stories are hard to even imagine. During last year, I thought that I was a failure, that I was worth only to be thrown away, unable to minister. God is whispering to me now that that is not true. I just wasn’t hurt enough to have tasted their cup yet.

I worry when I write this. Worrying that I should be careful. That I should not say it. You see, when I was raw with my own pain at different times in my life, having been used and abused, desperately seeking comfort and hope; well-meaning people would say to me things like this: “Maybe God let this happen to you so you can comfort others.”

I felt like punching them. Screaming and hitting them. Now, not only had people used me, now even God Himself was “using me”. Not caring about me at all, but just using me. Hurting me because He wanted to help others. I wasn’t important enough to Him to protect, but simply a thing to be used. It took years to get past that.

The conclusion I’ve come to, twenty years later is the same. But oh, so different! You see, now I know Him. I know His heart.

This is a point I needed to come to on my own. It is maybe nearer the end of the road of trust, not the beginning point. So don’t tell this to hurting people standing at the beginning of that road. If you do, I’ll punch you for them!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't Tell

I hate flying. I tell people that I hate flying because I hate to be confined to a small seat for so long.

That is a lie.

I hate flying because I am terrified of flying. Just don't tell, ok? Missionaries are not supposed to be terrified of flying. We do it all the time. It is supposed to be no big deal.

I'm afraid of it.

You'd never know if you see me in a plane. I never grip the handles, never look scared. That's because I'm afraid of embarrassing myself.

Even more afraid of that than flying.

I know I shouldn't be afraid of flying. I've done it so much. I've been taught how an airplane works. My dad flew, so he taught us. I know that it is so much safer than driving to the grocery store. I know all this.

But I am afraid.

I think part of it was reading a book with graphic detail about a particularly horrific airline disaster. Part of it is that I am simply terrified of heights. Planes fly pretty high up, you know. I also struggle with balance problems and easily get dizzy.

So they put me way up high in a tube that hums and messes up my ears and it turns, wiggles, bumps, and moves - throwing me way off balance. What's not to be afraid of?

Then today, I flew out of an airport where not too long ago, on a same flight that I had taken only weeks before, a big plane just suddenly fell from the sky, exploded, burned, and all were killed. The thought of falling paralyzes me with fear. My second biggest fear is burning alive. I joke about it often saying that if I burn to death, at least people can be assured that for once in my life I was FINALLY warm enough!

But I am afraid.

So we got up, high up, in the air this morning and hit turbulence right over where that plane went down. I smiled and relaxed - more afraid of looking stupid, but my insides tightened down. I'm good at hiding pain and fear. I resigned myself to a few hours of being frightened.

But wait.

I know God. I do. I know Him. He called quietly to me. See, He's been working on my handicap - the trust issue. And I stopped, right there in that plane, and spoke aloud to myself in my mind, "Wait." and then "God, I am going to relax and put myself in Your hands and relax. You've got Your hands underneath me, and in You I am safe. Even if the plane falls from the sky, I'm in Your hands. You've held me all through my life - the good and the horrible both. I choose to rest in Your hands. I know You."

And I did. Relaxed. Reveled in the conscious presence of God, in His arms holding me.

Still afraid of flying. (please don't tell!) But not afraid of being in God's arms. I'm learning this trust issue step by step. I used to tell God I trusted Him, but only up to a point because He did let me get hurt and I didn't understand that. I'm learning to trust Him through the hurt now, not just up to the hurt.

I had a relaxed flight - both of them. Sure, I reminded God that He was holding me a few times, but I was relaxed. Sure, I still had to sit down in the walkway for a few minutes after the plane landed to regain my balance, but I trusted. I trusted! And I relaxed while trusting.

I know this might sound strange to you - especially when you think about that I am ok with trusting God for some pretty big things, like the recent traveling my husband did and other things, but that I cramp up in fear about flying. Ok, I am strange. I know that.

But I am learning to rest in His arms. He's been there, yes, even through the pain He's asked me to walk in. He's always been there.

I know His heart.

I'm Going!

Hard to believe, but I'm doing it! Going off on a trip without husband, without kids... really just for me. Yeah, sure, I'll see people, and some of those support us, but no speaking, no presentations, no kids to watch... just meeting old friends.

I am still surprised I am doing it.

Today... I'm thankful for friends. Sat with one for an hour this morning talking, and as she left the parking lot, she rolled down her window, poked her head out and called, "bye friend!"

She was one of the few here who I have talked to about my struggling to have friends, to fit in. And she said that very deliberately, on purpose. It started my day with a smile, and I have continued to be blessed by friends throughout the day.

Still smiling.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finally the Tears Fall

I still cry. Not always. Not even every month anymore. There have actually been one or two years when I made it through without tears.

But I still cry.

I still miss her. Today I missed her on the playground when my daughter laughed and said we had to bring her best friend home because, "no, mommy, we have five kids!"

We do. And my heart caught in a sob. Then my daughter with the simpleness of children turned to her best friend (without any comment from me) and said, "actually, we do, but my sister is up in heaven. So can my friend come over to play?"

I think one of the biggest comforts in my life are my children. They seem to be the only people not afraid to speak of my daughter I lost.

Adults don't. My husband doesn't. My family doesn't.

I think people are afraid they will remind me of her and make me sad.

As if I could ever forget.

I see her laughing face flitting between my kids while they run giggling up the hill to meet me after school.

I miss her. I still do. There are days I still look for her, wanting to count to five, not four.

And I delight in the simplicity that her brothers and sister talk about her. They are not afraid of her death. She is alive, and they know that. So we talk about her.

Not always. But when she comes to mind. We smile. We talk about her. We mention, "actually, I have a sister, but she is in heaven."

Ah, the comfort in those simple words... she exists. Someone else remembers her. And we miss her.

We will see her again. Run to hold her. Collapse into a giggling heap of siblings who all talk at once wanting to share all that they missed just like they do after being separated for week at camp or somewhere. We'll all lie down together like kittens draped over each other and be silent at last. We'll be together.

There are days I don't cry. I think I shouldn't. Not still. Not twelve years later. My heart fills up with unshed tears that I try to keep in. Waiting until I am alone.

Then, finally the tears fall.

Daughter of mine, I miss you.

A Child's Wisdom

My kids were asking me questions about some families they know. We were/are hunting for someone to come stay with them for a week, and it is not looking good. So I suggested one older couple, grandparents to a friend of theirs. The kids wondered why the last name was different.

I decided to answer honestly. After all, they are getting older. This child has a different last name and a different daddy because he was born before marriage. I explained that people sometimes make choices that were not the best, but that I know his mother and I know that she has dealt with anything with God years ago, and she deeply loves God and He loves her. The kid is loved by us all. They know he goes back and forth between homes, and they know the other kids in the family don't. There is a time for honestly.

So they asked about a different family with a mix up in names. No, that one is different. That is the result of a divorce and then a remarriage. Simple explanation.

I believe, now that they are older, in speaking the truth to my kids. I also believe in grace and forgiveness. I want to be the one who explains these concepts to them simply and easily. Yes, they are things we don't want to face. But it is not the end of the world. There is grace. I want my kids to know that no matter how badly they mess up, they haven't run so far that they are out of God's loving welcome.

Trying to communicate a healthy fear of sin and a healthy realization of grace. Both are needed.

My daughter thought about it for awhile. Then she showed her wisdom, her simple wisdom.

"So mommy, it is like if you take two pieces of construction paper, like one pink and one blue, and you rip them each in two. Then you try to stick two halves together so you have a half pink and half blue paper. That is what those families are like."

Yup. That is it. That, and well loved by a God who both mourned the ripping and still delights in His children even when there has been damage and pain in their lives.

I want my kids to know about God's love. I grew up in a "sin one of these big sins and you're out" type of religion. I want them to know that they live as damaged people in a damaged world and the reason God came into this world was to interact with damaged people and spoil them with His lavish grace, not to judge them and proclaim them fit only to be second class Christians.

And I want them to have a healthy fear of sin.

I want them to know God - in all of who He is - holy, merciful, just, full of grace, loving,.... there is so much to tell them....

I want them to know that the Creator of the world sings over them in His love. Even when they mess up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News of Travelers

My big news today is that I heard from my husband. He is still gone for one more week, but he is out of the country (and situation) that he had been in and it in a different location altogether.

I'm so happy to have him out and that much closer to us already. Thanks for all your prayers for him. It had to be one of the more stressful of his trips recently!

Maybe It Is Us Who Need To Learn

Becky wrote and said there is a time for everything. She's right. There is a time for everything.

And my years of working with dementia patients have only cemented in my mind that when it is my time to die, let me go gently with dignity and love when I begin to go naturally. I'll fight with everything in me for life if I am young and my kids and grandkids need me, but if I have dementia, let me go when I first begin to go. Give me that much dignity.

That saying, I love caring for dementia patients. I see in them God's image, and I value and respect them for building the world I live in. I minister to their needs with as much gentleness and love as I can in the time they have. That love may just show itself in a hug, a goodnight kiss, in dignity while helping them in the bathroom, or singing to them while I shower them. I may laugh at what they say when I am not with them, but with them I show them the respect and gentleness that I would love to be shown even if I can't remember that toothpaste goes in my mouth and not on my hair.

My grandma died of Alzhiemers, and I was impressed by the love my grandfather showed her even until the day she died. He was there every day, all day. When the nurses told him one day to take more time off and don't come in because she doesn't remember you anyway, he looked them in the eyes and gently but firmly told them, "She may not remember me, but I remember her."

It is these families who never visit until someone is dying and then are horrified and insist on fighting hard only to go back to never visiting again once the person has pulled through it that bother me!

But I have been sickened also by watching families, even Christian families, drop off a parent and stop visiting once dementia sets in to a certain stage. Even to the point that we can't get them to respond when their parent needs new clothes. Many of our patients would have no clothes if we, the workers, did not buy them clothes from our own money because there is no one there and we get tired of dressing people in rags! We do it because we care about them, but we fume over families who don't.

It is one area that I wonder if the "over there" people have it much better that we do "over here". They may lack skills, but generally they hold on to respect and care even when their family member is old.

So this is a place God has me working temporarily while we are "here, not there". Where He puts me, I seek to be a blessing. And very soon, I get to take a trip "over there" to teach some of the same caring skills I use over here. I may teach skills, but I suspect I could learn from their attitude.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Saved A Life - and wondered why

I did, you know. Last night. I saved a life.

He was old. He's been confined to a chair eating pureed food for almost a year now. Unable to move himself. Just sitting.

Last week, he stopped eating. Then he stopped drinking. This is more common earlier on with men than with women for some reason. Usually, they stop. Then they become weak. Then they get weaker. Then they die.

He had stopped eating. Then drinking. He was at that slipping point - beyond where he would no longer respond. We who work there were ok with it. It has happened so many times before. But his family came in. Here is where I simply wonder - who are they thinking of?

I am not pro-euthanasia. Not at all. But I am for death, just as much as I am for life. When I come to die, if I am old and losing ability to do anything, let me die. I am going into the arms of my Father. Into life, not death. To see and hold my Lydia. To live. Let me die so I can live.

But it is a subject families grapple with. Some see it, and come and sit and keep someone company while they go. Others know it is coming and "can't bear to watch and to remember him like that", so they ask us to phone when it is over. These irritate me. I want to shake them and tell them that it is not about them and what they want - it is about the one whose trip through death into life it is. They can do what they want next week, but their father or mother might want them this week.

Then there are those who panic and fight it. At the last minute, they want us to pull out all the stops, transfer to hospitals, aggressively fight, and stop the inevitable. We can. In fact, we often have to when families insist. But for what? So he can sit in that chair eating pureed food for another two years and you stop by every two weeks for twenty minutes? For that?

It is not my call, though. I can only do what is requested. I may share my views if asked, but that is all. Last night, I was asked to save a life.

So I did. I spent hours coaxing liquid down a throat. Slowly pouring in thickened juice, talking, sweet talking, rubbing the neck under the chin to induce a swallowing reflex. As the evening went on, he became more alert. The liquid and the sugar giving him a boost. I worked hard at it, getting yogurt and then a meal replacement to just the right consistency and carefully getting it down him. He was already cold and mottling, but he perked up, and he will pull out of it.

I can do it. I am one of the better ones for doing that, having patience and skill. But why?

I think the answer to the why was simple. It is what I told him last night, "You need to drink. You need to get some energy back. Your daughter is not ready for you to go yet."

It is what she is ready for, not what he is. He will fight, hang on, and suffer more until she is ready. He was ready this week, but she wasn't.

When I am ready, let me die. Let me die, so I can live. So I can see face to face. So I can throw off suffering once and for all. So I can run and scoop up my daughter and give her the hug I've been longing to give her. Let me live.

I ate enough pureed food when I was a baby. Wore enough diapers then, too.

Telephones and Fingernails

Telephones - I grew up part of my life without one. I still am not that fond of talking on them unless I know someone really well. But there was once that I got my own phone. I had my own little apartment, and I got my own phone. That was even before the cordless phones were common (read cheap) so I had this extra long phone cord. It could reach everywhere in my apartment.

Suddenly communication was no longer something that tied me down, but something I could do while doing anything else. Yeah, I had a pretty good dance figured out around the apartment with the phone cord! My best friends and I would phone and talk for hours. While we talked, I cleaned the kitchen, ironed my clothes, swept the living room, folded laundry, cooked dinner.... all with a phone attached.

Now the phone is not my main source of communication. Now it is my computer sitting on my lap spilling the world out at the touch of my fingertips. So much simpler, so much wider ability. The one thing it can't do, though, is move about the house with me as I do housework. No more chatting with best friend as we each scrub out our toilets or wash our windows. No. The computer has made me a messier housewife.

I think it is time to move back to the telephone with the long cord.

Fingernails - I am going somewhere special this weekend. Yay! All by myself! I still can hardly believe it. I'm off to see old friends and meet up with people I used to know. So of course, I am trying to make myself slightly more beautiful - like all of us would. I wouldn't want people to know that at the grand old age of 37, I still bite my fingernails.

No. Not me.

So I stopped. I can do that, I think. For two weeks. I am not the chew on fingernails type - I just bite them cleanly off. So they looked ok, just really short. But I stopped. It's been a week.

They are driving me nuts! Why in the world do people do this? I feel like I have foreign objects attached to my fingers! They are in the way. They catch on things. They make it hard to type. They hurt when I scratch my eye.

It is not the not biting that I miss - it is the having useful fingers that are like I am used to!

But I am determined. At times, my finger slips up there, and I run the edge along my tooth, dreaming about taking it off, but no. I pull it away. Not even going near.

I'm learning about temptation. The easiest way to stay away is perhaps to stay away. Getting as close as possible to it only makes you think about it more. There is no discussion on my nails. My mind is made up. I don't like them, but my mind is made up. I think I discuss sin too much at times, playing too close, thinking about it. Not a simple - no. My mind is made up.

But they do make typing a pain. So I am sure they will come off after the weekend. Maybe I will leave them for my husband to see. Then off they come! I need my fingers back.

So now, off to do housework with these weird things on my fingers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

That's My Kid!

My oldest came home today with a MVP medal for his school's soccer team. He played goalie, and believe me, the kid earned it!

What was much, much harder work for him was the second thing he came home with - all the words on his spelling test spelled correctly! Wow! (If it gives you any hint, he carefully labeled his notebook "Speling") Spelling, as well as reading and writing, have been this kid's hardest battle. He used to get in the range of 2-7 out of 20 right. So this is a big deal!

We're proud of him.

I've worked with him over the year to get him to say the word, say the syllable, listen to the syllable, write it, read it, and progress to the next syllable - then back to reread the word. We work orally most of the time letting him move while he spells. I also write the words on colored paper with some organization to the color - on blue, all the "er" sounds are using the "or" ending like professor. On yellow, all the "er" sounds have an "ar" like dollar. We try logic, the meanings of roots (he is a logic kid and hates the irregularity of our words). We find patterns and "building blocks" that repeat. We pull our hair out, but we work at it. Trust me, when you work with words, if can get frustrating when your child can't see the sense in words! So we just keep trying - both of us, and this week, he surpassed even what I imagined!

The problem now... I told him if he got a 100 on a spelling test, that I would run a mile. He is smart - he clarified my requirements. I have to run (or work up to running) twenty minutes a day until I can run a mile.

Off to lace up my shoes....

Time to Pray

I've often thought as we went through the awfulness of the last year or two that while it was our own sins at times that got us in that mess, I often thought that also we were under severe attack.

See, we had just helped to complete a Bible, and we were doing other things that were going deep into enemy territory.

Now our marriage is much better. All better? I don't know. We'll see.

But now that our marriage is much better, we are heading back deep into enemy territory. I told you that we were definitely up to something. Actually, about three big somethings.

And now that our marriage is much better, we are still under attack. It is hitting in a different area today, but we are under attack nonetheless. Today, I feel like radioing back to base for more cover.

Prayer cover.

See, this battle is not fought where we are. Not really. It is fought where people pray. And now is a time to pray.

And I am at peace. Aware of what is or could be going on, but at peace. You see, I've seen God take us through other attacks. They have not weakened me, but made me stronger because they have shown me who my God is.


I've been reading through my Bible looking at the story of women. I'm thinking of writing about the women in the Bible, of the lessons we learn from them. Thinking of how to answer a culture that believes that women have little to nothing to do with God.

But as I have been reading through, I'm stuck by a few things. I'm beginning to think we were taught wrong in Sunday school. We learned about women, but I think we missed something about God. We were too busy looking at the "right" women in the story, and missed how God treated the "wrong" women.

We hear of Sarah and Hagar, and we are conditioned to dislike, even hate Hagar. She was Egyptian, not of the chosen race. She was not even married to this man. She was not of the promise. It was a wrong act, and her son caused problems. We still struggle today from the problems caused by her son. So we have strong feelings against Hagar.

Is that just? Is that the attitude God had?

As an adult, able to be trusted with more information (like where babies come from - a big taboo in Sunday school), I look at the story again. Hagar was a slave. She wasn't a paid housekeeper who could go look for a secretarial job if she didn't like mopping floors after a few years. She was owned. And she was told to do something. Ok, in the system of the time, there was no big deal about giving your slave to your husband. But... it likely wasn't her choice. She had no say in the matter at all. So blaming her would be on level of blaming a rape victim. Yet, through the years, we have done it.

I have always felt a sympathy for Hagar. We, because we are raised traditional American Christians with a strong bias for the the promised people and against the children of the slave, always look at that situation and deeply resent her child's presence in the story. "If only" we say to ourselves, "If only he had not been, we would not have the trouble we have now." It is the way we think from early on. We are taught as little kids when we hear this story - this is the trouble which happens when we try to do something ourselves instead of waiting for God.

But what we miss... this was not Hagar's fault or Ishmael's fault. Being a woman, and knowing slightly something about jealousy and envy and competition.... well, let's put it this way... Hagar would not have had to do much more than smile as she rubbed her round belly to tick Sarai off enough to make her mad. And yet, it was not Hagar who put herself in this position. She probably had no say in the matter at all. Yet it is her that gets kicked out i
n the desert alone and pregnant.

"The God who sees". This is her name for God.

A God who saw how she got here, and who sees her now. And what does God name her son - Ishmael, perhaps the first person outside of Adam that God names?

I, the God who sees the unjustness that put you here, also heard you.

I have a deep sympathy for Hagar. She had little choice, and had little say in her life. She was used wrongly and punished unfairly. But neither she nor Ishmael himself asked to be in that situation. The God who sees - it is a good name for God for many of us who have been abused and then also as a result of that abuse suffer unfair judgments. And I love God's answer to her. "Not only do I see, I hear." Yes, He did say go back and keep submitting, but "I see and I hear".

"One woman", people sometimes say, "what is the big deal about one woman, just turn your back so you don't see. It is not worth it. It is perhaps better not to make a huge incident over it
. Just one woman, and not the most important one."

But God saw and answered.

Thinking about words said.... I have heard this too in her case. I have heard people almost say, but they don't want to argue aloud against God, but almost say it would have been better if she had died in the desert before the child was born. It is a powerful thing to hear people say one would have been better off dead. Not only as if she was unwanted, but as if people would have preferred she had died. Her value was so little.

The women I minister to are often told this - that is their worth, little to nothing and at times better off dead.

Where did this start? How do women believe it and what does it do to them? And how do
we change these thinking patterns? It is at times good to see these things, and to see truth?

God never said this.

Look at Hagar. Even with God being outside of time, and knowing full well what would be the results, He did not turn His back. No one would have seen Him, judged Him, or said anything to Him if He had. He didn't. He answered her. Outside of talking with Eve, I think it may have been the first time God talked to woman. The first one He talked to was Hagar, about whom even Abraham had said, "I don't care, do what you want" .

God never said "I don't care". Not even about the wrong woman. Not even when He knew what this child she was carrying would mean to His plans. Not even then.

This is what we need to be able to tell hurting women. The truth. The world may still say wh
at Abraham said, "I don't care, do what you want with her."

But there is the God who sees. And when we cry out to Him, He answers and says, “I hear.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Waiting Game - Back on Radar

Good news. I heard from him again! That is always nice. We actually got to TALK today. I even hung up on a good friend to talk to him. Life has changed!

He's got another two weeks to go, but I'm glad he is back where I can at least contact him again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Waiting Again

This is the difficulty of this blog and being anonymous. There is only so much I can say. Frustrating at times.

But it is enough to say that I am waiting. My husband is out of contact right now, and I hope to hear from him safely tomorrow mid-morning. He phoned quickly to say he loves me before he went off the radar again.

I miss him. I sit here tonight wide awake now. I was going to drift off just now, but now I am awake. I'll have to make a conscious choice to lay it down once again and lay my head down in peace. It isn't always easy, but it is what God asks of us - to trust Him. Back home too many people assume that we trust God because He makes things work out good. He never says so. He says to trust Him because He is good. There is a difference there.

So trusting Him, I'm going to sleep. But if you are up, pray for my husband to come back "on radar" tomorrow safely. You see, I kind of like him now, and would like to keep him.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I was in my kid's school assembly today. They've been learning about creation. So the teacher asked what the animals ate when they were first created. As a hint behind him on the power point was a big picture of garden vegetables with cucumbers right in the foreground.

A kindergartener raised his little hand, looked at the picture again while he did a few "umm, umm's" and then he had it:

"They ate pickles!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wait a Minute - That's the Wrong One!

I've been reading quickly through my Bible looking at the story of women. I'm thinking of writing about the women in the Bible, of the lessons we learn from them. Thinking of how to answer a culture that believes that women have little to nothing to do with God.

But as I have been reading through, I'm struck by a few things. I'm beginning to think we were taught wrong in Sunday school. We learned about women, but I think we missed something about God.

I saw it before in the story of Sarah and Hagar. Today, I saw it again in the story of the two sisters, Rachel and Leah. I learned those stories off the flannelgraph. I know them. But as I read them again, with new eyes, trying to see them in the culture I work in, I wonder... I missed something about God. Something I wish I had known because it would have comforted my little girl's damaged heart years ago.

God has this habit of picking the wrong girl in the story.

Not the heroine. Not the "right" one. He steps in most often for the wrong girl. For Hagar. For Leah. And others.

Good to know - because I've known for a long time that I wasn't the heroine in anybody's fairy tale!

Only During Service - What?

This Sunday, it was not my kids.

Do you know how wonderful it is to write that? Not mine. But the kid sitting behind us.

The pastor had launched into one of his infamous illustrations that he was pushing a little too much, and he knew it. He even admitted it, saying "Ok, I'm working that one a little too much, aren't I?" Then took a breath to go on.

In that half second of quiet while he drew his breath, the loud, clear voice of the little boy behind me was heard.

"Mommy, what is he talking about?"

We all laughed, even the pastor. He said, "And that is about what everybody is probably thinking right now!" And again he took his breath to start, and again, right before he said the next word, the confused boy spoke up again:

"Mommy, I don't know what he is saying!"

I felt for the mom, honestly I did, but I giggled and enjoyed the little voices - especially since they did not belong to MY kids this Sunday!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Change is Never Easy

I've done enough moving in my life to satisfy any gypsy's heart. I'd say I'm done with moving except that I would not want to settle here. It is not my home - no matter how much I grow to like it. But there is another type of moving, too. Moving on. Moving into new roles, new ways. Change

I hate change. Really do. I dislike it more and more each time, not less. I long for stability and comfort. Liking to hang on to what is familiar and what works. I'm the type of person who would put up with things that are not the way they should be if they are comfortable. If they are stable. I even hang on to things - strange things - that represent stability or familiarity to me.

But there are times that things you hold on to actually hold you back. Patterns you keep when you have grown out of them, hinder you. Not that the patterns were wrong - perhaps they were needed... for a time. And then you move on. If you don't move on when you need to move on from these patterns of behavior, you become stunted by them. They hold you back.

Right now, my teen-age son (oh, how strange that is to write!! He is just barely a teen.) has some patterns that are needed for him. He needs to check in with me, to get permission, to be reminded of things like homework, chores, chewing with his mouth shut. That is normal right now. But in ten years, I won't be still reminding him of these things. He won't be asking for permission to go play in the park. If he was, it would be strange. He would be stunted. (Must say I am nervous embarking on this journey from child to adult....)

The problem with me is that in my longing for security and stability, I will hang on to good patterns when they become no longer necessary. I will even hang on to them when they begin to stunt my growing. They are familiar, comfortable, known. I hate change.

I've spent some time these last weeks thinking about this and came to some decisions about it. Can't say I was thrilled with the decision. No. Not at all. But there is a time to move on, and that time had come. To change the pattern of some relationships. Not to leave them, but to change the pattern of them.

I am trying. Did I mention that I hate change? Did I mention that I like the comfortable, the familiar? I don't like doing this. I'd find it easy to hang on to my comfort zone and never grow out of it.

But I am trying.

And it is not easy.

I spent a few nights quiet and hurting. Feeling alone. Feeling like I just walked away from something I held close. Sad.

Quietly peace seeps in, but it seeps in among the sadness that still lingers. It is time to move on.

During the last year of the tension and stress in our household, I had patterns set up that worked for that time. There were others in my life who were my primary people with whom I talked, destressed, and leaned against. A few of them. Now things are going better. They are going well. I still worry because I am a type of person who worries easier than others. But I have spent some time the last weeks talking to God about trust. Learning to trust deeper. Taking down that wall of "I trust You up to here, but You didn't keep me safe there." Beginning on that journey was change enough for me. Did I tell you that I am not fond of change? But where that journey led me was not where I expected, and honestly, if I had known where it led, I likely would not have begun to walk there.

Learning to trust deeper led to an honest look at my priorities and loyalties. Those patterns set up for my safety last year during the turmoil are not the best patterns for my life during my now. If I cling to them, they will hold me back and stunt the growth that has begun between my husband and me.

Even writing that makes tears fall. I am not unhappy about the good that has happened. I stand in awe of God's working there. But... moving on... it hurts. I am a loyal person, built into me.... and it means walking farther away from several people who are very close to me. No, I will not leave them as friends. No. But I have to create distance. I have to reorder my loyalties, rearrange my friendships, and leave room for my husband now that he wants back in. Thrilled about him, but tears still fall because change is never easy.

Save Me a Seat

It's been two weeks now that my husband has been gone. And two weeks plus a few days still until he comes home. I miss him.

I know we talked about this and knew that it was a long time, but that there are reasons that long trips are better than short, but it is a long time.

It is not like when I was home with little kids and lacked adult conversation. I do see people - picking up and dropping off at school. Coworkers at the nursing home I work occasionally in. Friends at church. But here is such a different place. People do not drop in and visit. Dropping in on others to visit is considered unusual. As a result, visits are planned and formal. Because of that, they are less.

I miss my husband. I miss sitting down at the end of the day and talking about what happened, who did what, what we thought, what we plan for tomorrow. I guess there are places I could do that. I have friends I could phone or write, but I'm saving that spot. I don't want to fill his spot so that when he comes home I have to readjust, having been fine without him. Saving him a seat.

But I am lonely without him.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When I am Old, I will Wear Purple

This was the name of a poem we had to read in nursing school. I wear purple anyway. It is my favorite color. The idea was that when we are old, we will throw off inhibitions and just do as we like. Sounds great, but when you think about it, it is only as great as what lies beneath those inhibitions. If all it is is a desire to wear purple, you've got it made.

We watch this extremely boring video series in a group we are in right now. It is so boring that when we have guests, I want to apologize to them! But, one thing the man did say recently was that he has often heard that once people get to a certain point that their faculties don't work so well, what is really inside them comes out with no filter.

That might be true. I've seen cases where I knew that that was true. I have worked with dementia patients for years now. Then there are other times that I wonder if that was really inside of them or if it is just the brain disintegrating. It is an intimidating thought, though.

I've had two nurses recently who have been my patients. One was a head nurse, and boy was she awful! Demanding, critical, impatient, angry. The one who took her place when she passed away is a delight. She is just a total delight. She tells me, "whenever I fit into your schedule, dearie, just let me know." I told her that at 99 years or age, she is allowed to tell me what she wants and I will fit that into my schedule.

Then I had the "sweet Christian man" who would read the Bible and sing hymns with his wife every afternoon, but when I gave him a bath every Tuesday - whoa! I have never heard such vile things come out of my most wicked male patients! I once tried to stop him by telling him I was married, but he answered, "That is ok. I won't tell my wife, and you don't need to tell your husband." His contrast between holy and vile made me cringe. Then there was the day he was tired of my stock answer of no. (believe me, I tried many different types of no - "no, I am just not attracted to men in diapers." "yup, seen that before. I've got four boys at home." "shut up." Nothing worked.) So one day he attacked me. I kicked him, mid transfer, just booted him into bed. (no, not abuse, just a hey, get off me and get into bed, and not gently, either!) After that, he got cold baths. Doctor's orders were to soak for thirty minutes for a sore rear, but no doctor told me it had to be hot. The guy needed a few cold showers!

I think of this man when I battle with thoughts in my head that no one sees. Whether it is irritation, impatience, or anything worse, I think of him. There may come a day when I still am with it enough to have these thoughts, but not with it enough to have a filter between what I think and what I do. Sobering thought.

Then there is the downright hilarious that happens at work. We have a 103 year old lady. She is a bit obstinate. I have this theory about old people - they don't get to 100 without being a character! Well, we were trying to convince her to swallow her pills. She didn't want to. We kept trying. I tried to get her to drink chocolate milk. It is a treat, so perhaps the pill would go down with the milk. Nope. She didn't want that at all, and quick as a wink, grabbed the glass from my hand and threw it in my face and down the front of my uniform! Then she laughed. I served supper that evening in my skimpy little tank top I wear just because under my scrub top. Rinsed my top and left it to dry. And it is COLD! She giggled all supper when she saw me. So did many other of the old people. Funny how dementia didn't take away their sense of humor! And it is amazing how the sight of a skimpy tank will wake up sleeping men! I put my scrubs back on as soon as they were remotely dry.

At dinner, we had a problem with two ladies. One has a mental problem and she talks to herself. Talks, answers, giggles, laughs... it is a bit odd. She will get herself into a belly laugh for hours at times. Then we have another lady who is always worried and always talks. She makes some sense in that she talks about what she sees or thinks, but she just never quits. She is the "please help me" lady. We solved the problem - put the two of them at one table. They both talk and are both thrilled. Well, "Please help me" lady was worried about her pie over the weekend. She kept muttering about it. "It was cold. It was a cold pie. My pie is cold. It is a stone cold pie. Pie is sometimes hot, but this pie is cold." This went on for at least five minutes until I heard from her corner, "well, I've eaten cold pie before, and I'm still here." So she began to eat.

So, if you ever wondered, cold pie will not kill you.

One of my saddest patients is a lady named IC. She used to go to church where I used to go. We were in Bible study together. But then dementia began to set in. Two years ago, I took my son with me to work just to hang out with the old people and visit. IC spent the whole evening witnessing to him. She couldn't remember what she said thirty seconds ago, so she just kept having the same conversation over and over. Got to hand it to my boy - he stuck with it.

"So, boy, do you know Jesus?"


"And are you a Christian?"


"Oh, that is wonderful!"

five seconds later, "So, boy, do you know Jesus?"....

IC was a great lady. But now she has declined more. She has also developed an interest in a older man who also lives in the home. Unfortunately the man, while very polite, does NOT have dementia, and he is married! But IC likes to sit beside him and hold his hand or stroke his leg.

I tried last week to get her to stop. I went over and whispered in her ear, "Oh, IC, don't do that. That man is married." She giggled up at me, "but I don't have that philosophy!" and reached over to pat him some more. I decided I would intervene - the poor guy looked uncomfortable and not sure how to handle it. (besides, he has other issues, and punched another patient's lights out the day before, so I didn't want to take chances!) So, I took IC's hand, and pulled her up to walk with me. She looked over at me with disappointed conspiracy and said, "oh, I wish you didn't. I was almost to it."

Ummm, yeah... ummm... that is why we are walking the halls hand in hand right now. To keep you away from it!

But after a few steps, she turned to me again and asked, "Are you getting yours?"

Hoping she wasn't asking what I thought she was asking, but following my normal pattern of answering dementia patients in whatever vein of thought they are in for that second in a vague and cheerful way, I responded, "Yes, I am."

She then smiled a huge smile, and swung my hand up and down wildly a few times like two girls skipping, and said, "Well, goody for you! Goody for you!"

I give up. I think wearing purple will be mild. If that is all I do when I am old, I'll be delighted!

One last one. My Scottish gentleman who used to be a doctor. He is alternatively very with it and also hallucinating - but knows he hallucinates, so he is fun. He has a dry fun sense of humor and has always been very respectful of us helping him. But he also has one of the worst cases of diaper rash I have ever seen. It hurts. Washing it is very painful, and he tries to grit his teeth and take it. But every so often, he reminds me, "Be careful. That is a very delicate piece of equipment, you know." I'm used to that by now, but when this week he then looked down, clicked his tongue, shook his head slightly, and said in the sad tone of someone talking about a favorite car, "It hasn't seen much action recently, though, no it hasn't.", I almost lost it!

yup, I'll be happy if I just wear purple when I am old! One of my coworkers says we could write a sitcom based on a nursing home.

PS - my daughter is in bed with me, so she just sat up in her sleep and said, "we should flee... we need to flee from..... " Stretched a little more and groaned, and then said, "...doggies."

Ok, at least I should be dead by the time she hits a nursing home!

She's Turning Into A Girl!

Amazingly, my daughter of the "Mom! Can't I just wear jeans?!" is turning into a girl. No, she still will not wear skirts or dresses without a fuss, but there are signs of hope. I saw a knitted pink shawl with flowers on the bottom and showed her expecting the "aww, mom!" remark again, but she liked it. I bought it. And she actually wears it! She likes it. She takes care of it, and decided not to wear it on the playground "so it won't get wrecked". Knock my socks off!

So today - I wished the camera had charged batteries! I would have at least snapped a photo from the back. She was all decked out. Long black waist-length hair tied in a low pony tail with a bright orange print ribbon. (Orange looks great on this kid!) Pink and purple striped shirt with the pink flowered shawl over that. Embroidered jeans. Black and neon purple shoes. Topped off with a deep red cowboy hat! Wow, she was all that!

She's impressed with her cowboy hat. See, we had a visitor recently who wore bright red cowboy boots.... yeah... well... I'm a Texan by birth (don't go trying to place me on that... there are at least six states that I could lay claim to being my "home state".) and I love boots as much as other Texans... but... there are rules about boots. Umm... there just are. Primarily with what you wear them with... for example, not sweats and a dress together.... umm... yeah. And not usually garish red boots... not unless you are dressing as the rodeo queen for a day with a matching deep red shirt. But, they did make me smile. I love boots, but don't wear them here. I wanted to have time to find mine this summer thinking I might just thumb my nose at everyone and wear my boots - but with jeans! At the very least a jean skirt! I didn't have time, though to find them in our storage.

Anyway, my daughter was impressed. She looked at herself in the mirror with her "I'm all that and then some" attitude, smiled, and said, "I look like Auntie ******!".

Yup. She did bear an uncanny resemblence right then. But I did not laugh. No. Any, any steps she takes towards being feminine are highly appreciated. We can sort out her fashion sense later on.

That saying - I do like this lady. Really like her, in fact. But,... just the boots! They made me both cringe, giggle, and rejoice all rolled into one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friends - Now, which box did I pack them in?

I'm in a new stage in my life where I have been in one location now for almost five years. For those of you who do not know me, that is a record. If I were in my home country, I would officially call this place "home" now. Except that I'm partial to the place which we have chosen to call "home". It's got mountains, sky, rivers, lakes, and beauty.

But this is a record. I've never physically lived in one place for so long. What makes this more interesting is that four of those years have been in one house.

Now, we did switch churches two years into the five, so some switch in friends.... I'd be happy to switch churches again, but we shouldn't. We went to this one because friends said it was good, and it has good things, really good things.... but it lacks some things. If we were going to be here for two years, the lack of those things would be insignificant, but as we go on into year three and there is no change in front of us on the horizon, I am less and less content with the lack of those things. I miss joy. I miss singing out of delight. I miss transparency and small groups where we are NOT instructed not to share our lives because "this is time for serious study of the word, not a sharing time". Of course we were all told, "if you have a problem, you can ask to talk to the pastor." No. No problem. It is just that I wouldn't mind getting to know people and being able to say that, "hey, this week was a hard week because I am struggling with a pulled muscle in my shoulder, can you all pray?" I miss singing. I miss singing. Oh, and did I say I miss singing? The church sings. They've even gotten adventurous last year and got a guitar to play along with the piano. But, I miss singing. But I am not going to church hop again. We are here. I might, however, sneak off on Sunday nights and go to a church which sings. Maybe they even share their lives. Who knows - I might even find some people who are not already in a clique.

But that brings me to what I wanted to talk about in this post - friends. I'm struggling right now with friends. It is not that I don't have any. I have a lot of people I am friends with. But it is not easy. And I am afraid if I talk about it in my circles of friends here, that I will be labeled "that MK" again. I'm too old to be just a MK with issues. I don't think that is all there is to it.

As I thought about it this morning, I wondered if it is in a large part my fault. I've moved so often now. At least every few years. I wonder if I've just gotten tired of making good friends. Yes, I have friends, but... I know if I make a good friend, a best friend, that I will just end up leaving her. That will hurt me and hurt her. I wonder if I keep a distance on purpose.

Then there is the other issue that I find it hard to fit in. For all of me to fit in. I fit in well, but that part of me that doesn't fit in... people might not see it... but it is part of me still, and I feel different. I feel like parts of me no one can understand. Yes, I get excited about a sale at the shoe store, and might stop by to get my daughter some Sunday shoes, but part of my mind might also be on events happening on the other side of the world. You know, that part that the rest of my friends might think about for the five minutes it is on the evening news. When I wake and read the headlines of "Another Bomb Blast Blows in City", I don't think, "yeah, yeah, again, where is the creamer for the coffee gone?" Instead my mind stops and thinks back to explosions I have seen, and I stop to read which city, which country, where in the city... It is this part of me that my friends will never understand.

This last week was a tough one for me. I said goodbye to my husband as he went to travel, and this time the travel was not as safe as usual. We had a solid reason to be concerned, but we both agreed that we can not back down at every threat or breath of wind. But that day that I took him to the airport was a heavy one. The week after he left here, but before he went there, (he visited another place first) was hard on me. Wondering. Waiting. It was that week I struggled in my relationships with friends. When I felt very alone. My friends listened, but they could not comprehend. It was outside their realm of experiences. And they tried. But they tended to respond with, "wow, and I thought I had things to worry about!" That is not what I wanted them to say. I don't want to belittle their worries or struggles. I just needed to reach out to someone and have someone reach out to me. In the end, it was my son's piano teacher who knew what to do. One day, she just walked over and said, "I just don't know what to say, but I know this has to be hard on you. Can I give you a hug?" yes. A hug was wonderful.

But I felt alone. I still do as I wait out the time until he returns. I am more at ease now, but still aware. Aware that things still do happen, but more at peace now. But I feel alone. This is a part of my life where I have no connection with the world of friends around me, and I feel alone.

I wonder if I don't make close friends because I am tired of goodbyes or if it is because part of me just can't connect, or if it is some combination of the two.

Or is it because we are out of a normal group of other missionares where we are, and if those would be the circle where I would draw my closest friends from.

Or is it that I am so new still into these people's lives. My history with them is short, and they have grown up together.

I don't know, but part of me is lonely. Wishing for one good friend.

I think I can find them. I found one once when we stayed somewhere a week. Amy and I hit it off immediately. We did crazy things together. We escaped late at night when our eight kids were sleeping to go load up on cokes and chocolate and watch Mama Mia together. Since it was so late and the theater was empty, we laughed too loud and danced in the aisles. I wish I lived near Amy. We'd have fun. But Amy was a pastor's wife and I was a missionary's wife, so we were both so happy to put down our role's expectations and just enjoy life.

Part of it is that I am in a different culture here. It is so different than my home. So close, but so different. It has a different rule set for making and being friends. I don't know if I've figured it out yet. On my team, I am the odd one out and in my surroundings I am close enough to not be too different, but different enough not to fit in well.

Long post. No clear question. But how does it work with you? Do you find after being out for several terms that you are able to keep close friends? Do you make close friends easily? How do you manage that?

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Well, I heard news tonight. Good news. Today's wait is over, ending well. It took longer, much longer than I expected to get the news, but it finally came.

(The reason I had to wait is that, since I was working, the news was passed to someone else who was supposed to pass it to me, but... but.. who knows? .... thought it wasn't important right now. Argh!)

Now is another waiting game. This one is longer. Now we wait and see how the whole time goes, but the first step went well. One step at a time, one day at a time. We've done it before, but there was more stress this time, so the wait was tougher. It still will be tougher for the next while, but the first step is over.

Thanks for praying.

The Waiting Game

Today we wait. I wait for news. I won't expect any news until tonight at least, but I know that I ought to hear news tonight. So I wait.

I'm cleaning house today. Then I go to work. I'm doing things. Keeping busy. And waiting.

We wait. We pray. We trust. We hope. And we keep busy. Like to get a nap in, too, but don't know if I will have time.

Right now, my kids are fighting. They didn't think the job assignment was fair. So they are all in their rooms for a time to calm down before we begin again. Today it is hard for me to have patience with them, patience with their grumbling and fighting because my mind is not on it. My mind is waiting. Waiting for news.

Flying solo is not difficult at all. It is not hard to manage the home on my own. What is harder is just the waiting. Hoping everything will go ok.

So I wait. And keep busy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Things They Say!

Ok. One day I will get in trouble for saying "unmissionary-like" things. But....

My daughter was sleeping in my bed last night, after crying for two hours that her daddy is gone too long. (It has only just begun.)

Finally, the sobs subsided, and she lay in bed, and her mind turned to.... nursing.... why, I don't know. But she asked, "When I was a baby, I used to sleep in your bed and drink my milk from you?"


"So, all girls can make milk?"

"Well, mommies do."

"So, if you grow up, and you have a baby, and that baby comes from your tummy and you didn't adopt it, then if there was a farmer, he could milk you."

Ok - I don't know where she gets these strange ideas from! But she went on, using her hands to show a milking process.....

"....but he would go, (squeeze, squeeze) 'squirt, squirt, oh yuck, oh yuck' because he would have to see a n*ked woman every day, and he wouldn't like that!"

Hmm.... well.... seriously, where does this child get her ideas from! I just told her to stop talking and go to sleep.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting to Know Me

I read your blogs. I enjoy photos - looking at them, knowing what you look like, seeing how your houses are done.

But I have a rule on my blog - no personal photos. There are reasons for that rule. It means, though, that you don't get to know me. No picture to go with the words.

I decided to fix that today. You might not get to see my face, but you CAN see my coffee cups. If you came over, you might get to drink from one of them. I say might because I am pretty protective of these three. There are enough cups in my house that I don't have to share. But, if you are ever here, and I hand you one of these to drink out of, know you are special to me! Even my kids have learned that mommy doesn't like people to use her cups. (I am not mean - I gave them all their own special cups!)

I do let some people drink from these. But if I do, it is an equivalent to giving them a hug.

So - here is my newest one:

I bought this one second hand. I didn't need another cup. I saw it one day and admired it - one of four. Daydreamed how nice it would be to own four of them. That daydreamed clashed with my goal of decluttering. So I resisted. But... I am an addict... I guess... the cup kept reminding me it existed every time I went by the store. Finally, I gave in, and went to buy them. There were no longer four left, just this one.

It belongs to me now. Why am I so attracted to this cup? It is big, solid, dependable. It looks like blue jeans - and I love blue jeans... not always allowed to wear them depending where we are, but there is nothing like a comfortable pair of blue jeans. Then it has this beautiful design on the rim. I love beauty. The design is feel-able, raised. I am a tactile person. If it was not socially un-allowed, I would run my hands over faces to feel. I feel things - soft laundry, rough tree bark, smooth stones. I love this cup that lets my fingers feel the design even when I am not looking at it.

This cup reminds me of comfort. A new stage in my life. One I hope stays. But it is my comfort cup.

Then there is this one:
This one was a gift. Given by someone who believed in me. Who gave me liberty to go another way on a path they thought was good in order to bring hope to other women. It reminds me that I have value and the ability both to hang on and to minister to others. It reminds me of my worth.

It is also big, comfortable, solid. (Seeing a pattern? I crave solid comfort, stability.)

This cup reminds me of hope - in a corporate way. There is hope for me, hope to pass on, hope to hang on to.

Then there is this one:

All of my kids have special cups that I bought for them when they were babies. They all have some picture on the inside of the cup, too, and all are of finer china. The only problem was that after having one beautiful baby girl after I had not only lost one baby girl, but been told I would have no more babies, I just could not find a cup that expressed my delight in her enough.

When she was six, she finally asked me when I am going to get her "her cup". Ah... yes... how to tell you that there is no way to find one to match who you are?

So I went shopping. I looked and looked, and finally settled on one. It is like a shadow compared to her delightfulnes, so I got one in black, white, and greys - elegant, fun, but a shadow.

But while shopping....(don't too many stoies start like this?)..... I saw this one. I tried to walk away. I do try! But... I loved this one. Tulips. Finer china than my comfort mugs. A tulip inside. Pinks. Spring time. Hope.

Now I am a bit partial to tulips. I have some growing right beside my door (no, not now!) that are exactly that color - a gift from friends. So I bought this one. It reminds me of hope, yes, but it also reminds me that I am loved. There have been times this last year that it was hard to drink from this cup and other times that I clung to it for the sheer reminder it gave me.

It is finer china. It feels delicate, breakable, worth taking care of, needing gentleness. I hold it and remember that I am not common, but of value. Personally of value. Loved personally, individually, with gentleness. Given hope - hope just for me.

It reminds me of the same things as my orange one - hope - but in a much more personal way.

It also reminds me that I am loved just because, actually in spite of... and that gives me joy.

This is the cup I am least likely to share if you come to my house. It's mine.

Those are my cups. The "face" on my blog. Drop in for coffee sometime!

Flying Solo

Well, my husband is gone for a month. Despite my young friends's concerns, so far I am managing fairly well. Of course, it is only two days, and I do miss him... but...

We've done this so often that it seems like a natural part of fall. We've done this so often that we have an established routine for "when Daddy is gone". There is a normalcy to it.

We do miss him. This time, more than ever, I both miss him and am concerned about him. But, we are settling into our default mode for when Daddy is gone. Time for simpler meals, settling into the year's routines with school and homework, cleaning out summer stuff and pulling down winter things, perhaps a fun project to surprise him with when he returns. We keep busy, but low-key busy. Even the child-care issues for when I need to work are less. My community around me knows the routine, too. They expect and are willing to take my kids for my work weekends. The kids are also old enough that they can be home for periods by themselves. That is a huge relief. Just the ability to run to the store to get eggs without dragging all four along is so much easier.

But... evenings are longer. I go to bed earlier just to get away from the long evenings. Or I get work done. Or chat with friends if it works out. I'm flying solo for a month, but I've had some experience doing that, so the day to day of it is easier.

I just have to keep my mind off the "what if's". I don't go there. I can't let myself think about them. But it is a time to pray, to be praying. In a few weeks, I'll write a new post when there is an "all clear", but now is a time to be praying.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday

I've long given up expecting anything for my birthday. My husband even asked this year what I wanted, but I couldn't think of anything. I'm satisfied with my life, with things I have... not wanting anything - except perhaps a clutter-free house. So no gifts. That saying, he did give me the chance to take off a weekend and fly out to a reunion. That is a big thing I am looking forward to. I guess that would be my gift. I'm more than happy.

But this year, two things happened for my birthday. The first made me laugh. The second made me cry.

I was with a group of people on my birthday. One was a young woman whose husband had been on a short-term, two week trip once. He wants to go again. She heard that my husband will be traveling for a month and came to question me. How do I cope? Well, my kids are older now - we do fine. She still looked puzzled, and walked away, but then came back with a very direct question, "but how do you go so long without ___?" (insert a three letter word that I shouldn't put on my blog, the one starting with an s and ending with an x)

Ok. That was direct. I answered her respectfully since she asked honestly. But I was tempted to say, "well, I just do... I mean, what option is there?" But I tried to keep a straight face. It was asked honestly.

That would have been fine if it had stopped there. But then she sighed, looked at me, and said, "Well, it's different for you - you're older!"

Happy Birthday - you're too old for ___. Thanks! 37 is not THAT OLD!!!

I felt like looking at her with a little bit of pity and saying, "honey, you think it is good now, just wait." But I didn't.

But I am still giggling over that. So are my other "old" friends. I guess that is how 23 year olds view 37 year olds.... (Ok, I know I am going to get in trouble for this post. I can see it coming.)

The second made me cry. My grandma wrote me a birthday card.

Now comes a need for a slight trip into history. About two years ago, when we went to visit a relative, my two boys threw rocks through a window of a vehicle which they thought was trash, sitting out in the fields behind a barn. It wasn't. We paid to get them fixed. We disciplined our boys - they paid the entire contents of their savings (saving for three years towards a camera) to help pay for this. They learned.

Anyway, this summer, we had to stay near my grandma, so we phoned and asked if we could stay a few days. She said no - grandpa was sick.

No problem. I understand that.

Well, she wrote me my birthday card. And wrote this, "well, I said no because grandpa was sick, but not only because of that. You remember that incident with the rocks a few years ago? I wasn't sure I wanted you to come after that, and honestly, I am not sure we will ever have you stay here."

Wow. Happy Birthday - we don't want you.

I cried. Off and on all night, I cried.

I could argue. I could say a lot of things, but... there is nothing much to say.

Why? Why in the world, even if you felt like you HAD to say that, why in a birthday card?!

I've decided I don't really like birthdays.