Sunday, February 21, 2010

Still Around

I am still here, doing well, enjoying my time.  My heart is full, my mind is full, and I stand in awe of what God is doing.  But I am here, and busy.  Just checking in and I'll write when I am back home again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On the Road

I'm off traveling.  I don't know what access I will have to the internet or how much time I will have.
I'll see you when I get back in three weeks.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I took a break while things were rough from teaching the kids in our small church meeting.  I just couldn't manage it last year.  This year, I started up again.  I wondered what to teach and took a look at my class.  I realized that they were toddlers when I started teaching the ones who are now in middle and high school.

Time to start again.

We begin again with Genesis.  I firmly believe that without a good grasp of what happens at the beginning, the rest of the Bible doesn't make complete sense.  So we begin again teaching the elementary kids.  I have a class of six.  I like that size.  In a few years, I will need to begin again with the babies, when they grow.

So we spent a few weeks going through creation learning who God is, who we are, and the first things.  We saw the temptation of Adam and Eve.  The silence of Adam who stood with his wife at the tree and said nothing.  We learned many things.  Maybe one day, I will write these lessons down.  I usually never write my lessons, but just teach.  I take notes afterwards for review.  I teach differently.  If I have a thirty minute time spot to teach, we will spend twenty minutes on review and ten on the new lesson.  Each review starts again at the beginning - God was, God never ends, God was before time; He is eternal.  My goal is when we get to the end of Genesis, the kids can tell the whole story themselves.  Review is so much a part of the lesson.  It is the lesson.

Today, the kids did well.  They are learning the story and what each tiny bit means.  Then we moved on to the story of sin.  I taught about the first reaction to sin was shame.  Adam and Eve's first reaction was to cover themselves - with leaves!  I mean, get real!  Just try that - I'd love to do it for a summer camp activity - try to make something to even partly cover yourself made of leaves and vines!  All man's attempts to cover their shame fell apart.

Then there is the runaway train that we get on after sin.  Sin - Shame - Fear - Blame.  The whole fear behind the runaway train is the fear of punishment.  We feel shame and we fear punishment, so we blame.  But in reality, this runaway train always end in a train wreck - smack into punishment.  Always.

Interestingly, when God appears the first time after the sin, what does He do?  He asks questions.  Why?  I mean, He knows everything!  Why?  He is giving man a chance.  That is God's first action - not immediate blame and punishment and anger.  His first reaction is giving man a chance.  A chance to tell the truth and ask for help.

The exit off that runaway train of shame - fear - blame- punishment is simple.  Truth.  Telling the truth.  God gives them the chance to do that.  More than once.  They don't take it.

That interested me.  We think, "Must not let God know!  Watch out!  He's waiting to punish me!"  The way out is the simple truth - "I did it."

It is the devil that does the accusing.  He entices us to sin, and then slams us when we do.  "Oh, oh, now you've done it!  Better hide!  God is going to so punish you!"

Lies.  Truth twisted to lies!  The truth - God will always punish sin.  Always.  He is holy.

So, the blame game is played and then God begins to deal with sin.  This is what blew me away today.  I should have seen it before, but I didn't.  It blew me away.  I'm sitting watching the Olympics opening, and still stunned by this, still in awe of God.

What does God do?  He punishes the serpent.  But, BEFORE He even speaks a word of punishment to man, He PROMISES.  I guess I knew that the promise came at the very beginning, but I think I had sort of thought of it as punishment then promise.  "I'm going to get you, but I'm going to provide a way out."  No!  God FIRST promises salvation BEFORE, BEFORE!!! He speaks a word of punishment to us!! Wow!  What does that say about the heart of God?!

God's actions are seen like this:

Man sins - God gives chances to speak the truth - God promises salvation - God judges - God covers shame and in the very act of covering provides the first picture of His promise.  The covering for sin requires the shedding of blood.  He shows Adam and Eve that in His very dressing them - the first picture of His promise.

Wow.  What an amazing God.  All this fear of God being out to "get us" - those are lies!  Yes, truth, God is holy.  God always punishes sin.  But God began the very first dealing with our sin by promising an answer.  One who would bear our punishment.  One who would take away our shame.

I sit in awe tonight, my eyes much more on the beauty of that thought than of the excitement of the Olympics.  Why do we doubt and struggle to trust so much?  Do you see what God is like?!  Wow!  My heart is finding peace right here.  I can trust this God.  He did not punish and then provide a way out.  He provided a way out BEFORE a word of punishment was given to us.  Wow! 

I love teaching.  When I teach, I learn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Tummy Bug

My kids have had it.  They are on their way to recovery now, thank God.  My daughter is the only one still a little worn out.  We did some cleaning up today, and the boys were helping.  My girl got tired half way through, so she lay down on the couch and watched us clean up.

After a few minutes, she turned to me and asked, "Mommy, when did I eat a bug?"

I thought quickly.  A bug?  I know her brother once ate half a slug, but I don't remember my daughter eating a bug.  "What do you mean?"

"You said I have a tummy bug.  But when did I eat the bug?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Needing Prayer

We may just have to go around that wall.  The person holding up what I need has been told to "just do it", but now time is a factor.  It just may not get done.  I'm coming to some peace about it, I think.  If I have to go in without it, then I go  in without it and just keep going!  I think that is the key - not quitting moving forward.

But we still need prayer.  I have now three of my kids still very sick with a tummy bug.  My oldest has been on clear fluids for three days and is still throwing up.  He's 13, so he is also moaning about wanting to eat.

A few years ago, well, nine to be exact, I gave birth to my third son.  There were complications in how he decided to come out, and as a result, they broke my tailbone to retrieve him.  For three years after that, I had sciatic nerve pain that would last for months at a time.  I also had a lot of pain in my tailbone area.  After three years, the frequency and severity of these attacks have lessened, but I still get them.  A week ago, it started up again.  It is about as bad as it has ever been.  Sitting is very painful.  Standing is painful.  Everything hurts and there is little relief even with drugs.  And I am about to step into a plane for two days of travel.

I need your prayers.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Running Into A Wall

I'm supposed to leave on a trip on Sunday.  I'm gone for three weeks.  I'm mostly packed with tickets in hand, so I am relaxed about that.  I even now have someone to meet me and somewhere to go, so things are really looking good.

The problems right now are at home:

Three of my four kids are throwing up today.

The house is a disaster and that bothers me.  I can't leave with it like that.

Four kids have major school projects that need to be done before I leave because they won't get done while I am gone.

My husband is a little stressed because we are going through an audit at work.

Something that was supposed to be done and in my hands to evaluate before I go is not even started.  We're running into resistance from one man who simply says he will not do it.  I don't know what to do about this, and feel really discouraged.

Oh, and I'm feeling sick like the kids, but I don't throw up.  We've got splitting headaches and upset tummies.

Not even sure how to pull off this trip feeling like this.  We're supposed to be starting something new, something to reach out to women who have largely been ignored in what we do.  And today, I honestly feel like quitting.  I'm not going to, but I feel that discouraged.  I don't know how to get past this one man who insists he just won't do what he is supposed to do.  If my husband was not caught up in the audit, he might have time to deal with him, but he's too busy right now and will be until I leave.

I just want to curl up in bed, pull a pillow over my head, and try not to puke.  Not feeling like going into a fight to get stuff done.

But I know that God has led here, and I am not going to curl up in bed - well, not for more than a nap, at least.  Then it is up to finish and get ready.  To send out prayer requests that we get past this last hurdle.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Only During a Funeral Service

I will preface this by saying that the boys sat through a two and a half hour funeral service fairly well.  A friend of ours died.  His wife was the kid's adopted Grandma when we first came here.  He died fairly suddenly of cancer when he was too young.

We took the boys to the service.  My daughter was invited out already and I wasn't sure she was ready for a funeral.

They sat fairly well.  Towards the end, they got restless, so they entertained themselves by following the Order of Service printed in the bulletin.  Right at the end as the last prayer was ending, my middle son poked me and whispered, "Mom, what is a 'prostitute?"

What?!  Prostitute?  Why now?!  SHHH!!!

But he poked me again and pointed to the Order of Service, "See, mom, it says it right there!"

I looked down.  POSTLUDE... ummm. a little different than prostitute!!

Later during the lunch, I shared this umm, misreading, with our adopted grandma.  She giggled.  We only wished he was hear to hear this unique mistake... he would have howled and said, "THAT'S what I get at the end of my funeral?!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

How Could I Choose?

For the last few weeks, I've been watching with everyone else the news unfold in Haiti.  My heart goes out to them.  One day, when the kids are a tiny bit older, my husband and I have talked about setting me free to do some disaster response work.  It is something I could do.

For now, I sit, watch, and pray.

But there is something else going on in my heart - the small knowledge of that awful fear of a serious earthquake.  Facing the decisions that a mother has to face in the precious few seconds one has in a shaking building.

Several years ago,  - but when I did have four children - , my husband was out of town one week.  It was close to 2 AM, and I groggily awoke to a banging noise.  The headboard of my bed was banging against the wall.  The shutters on our cement house clattered loudly against the windows.  It took me only a few seconds to know what was going on - earthquake!

I jumped, grabbed for my glasses without which I am blind, but they had fallen to the floor.  I gave up on seeing, and ran wildly to my kid's room.  Running through their door in a violently shaking house, I faced the worst decision I ever had to face in my life:

I could only grab two.

I ran into that room knowing that, and my stomach heaved at the decision.  My kids sleep deeply, and would not wake even to yelling or shaking.  I could only carry two.  Should I grab the two on the top bunks and hope the solid metal frames of the bottom give some protection to the two sleeping below?  Should I pull the older two to the ground yelling at them, grab the younger, and run hoping the older two might somehow miraculously awake and know to run for the door?  Which two?  No time to pause.

I did make that decision.  I will never tell anyone - absolutely no one - what my decision was.  I never want my children to hear what their mom's decision was in that horrible millisecond.  But it still haunts me - was it the right one?  On what basis did I make that?  I feel guilty for that choice.

Thankfully, that decision lasted only half a second.  Then came the pounding of my father's footsteps.  He had only paused to wake up my mother who had taken a sleeping pill that evening, and then burst into the room and ran for the the other beds.  Just then, the shaking stopped.  We collapsed against the walls, hearts pounding.  It stayed still, so we left the children fairly undisturbed.  (They are solid sleepers!)

A quick check of the house showed nothing too serious.  Broken glass, things off shelves, and opened cupboard doors.  A few cracks in one wall, but it wasn't in the sleeping area, so we cautiously returned to our beds.  I did not sleep at all that night.  I lay in bed and sweated the weight of that decision.  Angry that I was ever put in that position to have to choose.  Terrified the earth would shake again.  Desperately wanting my husband.

I watch the news these last few weeks and think of all those mothers who had to make that split second decision and live with it for the rest of their lives.  My prayers are with them.

It's All in What You Wear

I'm packing today, and decided I had better try on some of my clothes that I had gathered earlier.  (Thought I was doing this trip in Nov.)  I wanted to make sure I still fit them.  (Not going to tell everyone on my blog that I've gained about ten pounds since Nov. - nope, wouldn't want to say that!)  Thankfully, they all still fit - what do you expect with loose, baggy clothes?

So I put them all on, carefully draping myself in the layers of material required to be "decent".  I wasn't sure how the total effect looked, so I walked down the hall to where I have a larger mirror.  It was then I noticed:  I was walking differently.

It's all in what I wear.  An hour earlier, I had joined a friend for a new adventure - a kick boxing class.  I enjoyed it, although the fact that I am coordinationally challenged shows horribly.  I came home feeling on top of the world, full of energy and confidence.  Then I tried on my "over there" clothes.  I walk differently.  Eyes down, cautiously.  Gone was the bouncing confidence and brimming energy.  I'd taken on a whole new identity.

I've lived with that identity for many years, but being "here" for several years now, much of it has left; and I am quick to giggle, easily meet stranger's eyes and smile, and walk with big, happy strides.  How strange to put back on that whole identity again!

I'm thinking today of Jesus.  He who laid aside one thing to take up another.  This is nothing compared to His laying aside, but a tiny picture of it for me today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tickets in Hand, Bags almost packed

I know.  I don't leave for a week and a half, but I like to be prepared.  Calms me down.

Oh, if anyone ever offers to send you the movie "Hoodwinked", say NO!  My kids are constantly singing, "I've got horns to hang my keys, horns to ...." and ending it with a loud triumphant, "I WAS PREPARED!"

Enough said - just don't watch the movie!

But I like to be prepared all the same.  So today was a good day for me.  We also dealt with the issues that cropped up.  After a long visit, we determined that the stress of the upcoming trip is likely affecting this one person - she doesn't handle stress well... (pray for me - I have to take her with me for two weeks!)  She spoke wrongly in a tense situation from stress.  We can settle it all down, I hope.  There are larger issues in her life that would be great if she would deal with, but we can go on through this.  Blowing it up now and demanding an accounting for her words might not be the best choice right now.  We can come back to the principles we as a team want to have in communication and validating each other at another time.

I'm wiped out, but feeling more on top of things, I think.

Except for the kind friend who tried to encourage me yesterday by telling me just how many people are killed every day where I am going and all the possible things that could go wrong.  Thanks - I was having trouble thinking of all those myself! :)  Actually, I'm ok, not frightened, but didn't need her fear dumped on me either.

I've picked up my knitting again.  It's calming and repetitive.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frustrating Things

Today began so well and disintegrated from there.  Possibly the result of lots of tiny things that piled up.

Tiny hurt feelings nursed grew big.

Tiny slights taken personally clouded views.

Tiny opinions which became heated attacks.

Tiny glitches that got thrown in other's faces.

It is a big knot now.  We're in the middle of it (thankfully not the "nursers" or "holders" of the grudges this time, although that has been me at times!).  We're responsible for untying the knot, healing what can be healed, and insisting on what needs to be done.  It's a big responsibility.  It's an added headache in a busy time already.

(Did I mention that I am trying to get ready for a trip?  Yeah, going on a "work trip" for three weeks... haven't done this before so it will be interesting... I have to do research on something that I have never done research for.  I have to teach something I have never done to people who do it very differently than me.  I have to learn from very experienced people who will see me as a very un-experienced person.  I have to leave my husband home with four kids on his own.  I'm nervous.)

I think a problem with working with people on more creative realms is that there is so much subjective.  Math and science is so much easier.  No matter how much you don't like me, seven times seven is still forty-nine.  So we just deal with facts.  But creative outlets are so subjective.  Different people like different things.

Today one person stepped over the line in expressing their opinion of another's work.  Sparks flew.

We need to sort this out.  Sort out the feelings behind the sparks.  Some is perhaps my fault - I asked an inexperienced person to do what an experinced person would have normally done.  I did it intentionally.  I wanted a fresh take on this one, some new feel to the thing.  I explained that to the experienced one.  Of course she has more experience but we want to train this new one, and it would be good to have someone new in this task.

But I likely offended.  And, you know what?  I don't think we are going to back down on it.  My reasons stand the same, and I think that we need to not back down to emotional blackmail.

The problem is that it is others who will likely suffer if we don't back down.  Our two newest members will "get it" as my kids would say from the more experienced ones.  So pray for them.  We'll back them up and support them, but we'll not give in to this fighting for "seniority" and prestige.

Funny thing - I'm going through some of the same things with my boys.  The jockeying for position.  We won't give in there either.

Keep us in your prayers.  Tomorrow could be a tough one!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good Things

Just Random:

I cooked the national dish of my husband's country and did an awesome job!

I found an exercise buddy and worked out for an hour and a half today and have a "date" to repeat it on Wednesday.

My house is clean again!  I had a guest who I enjoyed, but who leaves a disaster after him and distracted my kids from their routines.  He left, and order is slowly returning.  I function better in order.

I almost have tickets.  I always feel better about trips when I have tickets and my bags packed.  My bag is almost packed.

I had a good day at work and got commended for a job well done.  (Not telling you what that job is as it would be a little embarrassing.  It causes my coworkers enough giggles that "the missionary" and another coworker, "the pastor's wife" are the best at this particular skill.

I passed a review standards test without having to go to the training.  I convinced my boss to let me challenge the exam and passed with flying colors.

My son sang during the service yesterday, and his voice sounds so good.  He's growing, and he made it through a whole song without it cracking.  The new "big" voice sounds so good.  Proud of him.

My #2 son helped me cook and get things ready for company tonight with no incidents of grumbling.  Thankful for small steps.