Tuesday, June 29, 2010

God's Epilogue - The Result of Choices

So that was the history, the introduction to God's epilogue....  You had to understand what had just been happening.

So there I was, sitting in a meeting, a gathering of more than just our team, and it was a time of brief sharing.  When it was this man's turn, he got a little more time because of what had just happened.  He briefly shared the events of the last days.  Then he stopped, looked around, and his voice grew gentle.  Then he said,  -

"When I was over there, and phoned my wife to talk before I tried to go from here to there, she told me that Ellie was with her.  I felt so comforted and loved that my wife was not alone.  She didn't have to wait alone to find out if I would be safe or not."

Then he paused, and his voice broke before he continued:

" I have to confess something.  When Ellie's husband was in trouble, we thought alot, but did not act, and we never went to see Ellie.  That was not right.  But she was there for my wife the whole day and the whole night so she had comfort.  She knew what my wife needed and was there for her."

Tears began to roll down his cheeks and he looked over at me and said, "I'm so sorry we didn't come to be with you.  We should have.  We were wrong."

Aww... nothing more needed to be said.  These are my friends, closer than my siblings.  And he suddenly saw...

God's Epilogue.  His perfect way of solving the problem.  All He asked of us was the simple (didn't say easy!) choice to continue to love, and He had His solution.  So, with that, the pain from the rift was gone.  Forgiveness is easy when the choice to love has been made since love leaves no room for bitterness.

Still waiting for God's epilogue in regards to the team leader, but he is one I only have to deal with once or twice a year, and one with whom we have never been close.  So there is little pain of a friendship ruined because there never was a friendship.  Also, the knowledge that we are not the only ones who have struggled with interpersonal issues with this man.  There are some people who you just step away from and develop a thicker skin knowing that they may simply lack some interpersonal skills that are common to others.  Just as we can not expect a crippled man to run a marathon, so we can not expect some people to use the sensitivity and awareness of others  that they do not possess.  Then it becomes something we can take less personally and simply realize that not all people are skilled in compassion and care.  His actions and reactions do not reflect on who I am, but only on who he is.

God's Epilogue - The Introduction

I was sitting in a meeting and writing out the notes for the conclusion of this story - the end where God had brought me to.  I was beginning to get back my sense of wholeness and peace, feeling like a buoy beginning to right itself after a storm, but still with lingering hurt over some of the things people had said or done.  Then God stepped in with His epilogue.  Right when I least expected it.

But in order to tell you about God's epilogue, I need to back up a little bit to the events from the "Here We Go Again" post until the weekend that I sat in that meeting.

A coworker had ended up in trouble.  Similar in nature to my husband, his life was at risk.  We heard, and we immediately came over to be with his wife.  We phoned the prayer chain teams still in practice after my husband's crisis, and then we gathered our kids and headed to her house.  We were the first to arrive.  We hugged her, made tea, and tried to talk carefully - aware that there were many small children with us.  Hers were watching their mother to see if they should copy fear or faith and ours who had just recently been through it themselves.  After a short while, the kids all headed to an outdoor covered area to play cards.  Then we sat down with her and listened to the story - what we knew at that point.

It was then that another couple arrived.  We stayed about an hour and then my husband was speaking in church that evening, so we had to go.  We left our two oldest because the distraction was good for their kids.  First we quietly called our kids to us and told them the situation.  They were to be there to help their friends and their auntie by playing, but not being demanding.  They understood.  Their eyes widened, their laughter quieted; then they took a deep breath and agreed.  I trusted them to be helpers, and we left with her toddler and our youngest ones.

Quickly before church started, my husband briefed the church and asked for prayer.  Then the service began.  At the end, we left immediately and picked up some food on our way back to her house.  To our surprise, she was alone again.  The other team members had left, she said, right after we did.  She had been left alone again.

We ate together, and gathered our kids.  I told her I had to go home to quickly get my kid's outfits laid out since they had a dress up day at school, and then I would be back.  I also wanted to get my computer and headphones so I would be ready to go to work on his behalf if it was needed.

I returned just as fast as I could, and sat with her through the night.  Together, we watched for news.  Together we sat as her husband phoned to say goodbye before he left a place he was to attempt to get to where he could leave where he was.  Together we sat and watched the clock.  About 1 AM, we received one call.  We should have received another in about an hour, but no call came.  We didn't know if that meant trouble or only phone trouble - the phone had not been working well.

Around 2 AM, she went to bed.  I lay on a blanket on the floor with my computer with me - still watching.  My husband skyped me and we both lay beside our computers waiting for a message, a call, any word.  Either he had made it safely to his flight at this point and we wouldn't be hearing anything for several hours or he hadn't made it safely through and we wouldn't hear for.....?

So we waited.

Twice in the night, my friend stirred, and I crept up to her room to see if she needed someone with her, but she slept on.  I lay quietly.  Finally, around 4 AM, I dozed fitfully for two hours, waking often to check for news.

By six, we were up to silence.  No word yet.  Together we drank tea and waited.  We got the kids ready for school and waited.  The call should have come hours ago if he had made it safely out, but there was only crackling tension and more silence.  An hour later, a skype message came through third hand that he was safe but that his phone was not working.  The tension broke, and we hugged each other, cried, and thanked God. 

Still, his wife needed to talk to him - to hear his voice..  So I took her kids to school.  When I returned, she was finally on that long awaited call!  I called out a hello to him and let them talk.  Then I spent the day helping her with something I had already promised beforehand.

That afternoon, we met as a team again and I watched as people made plans for his first day and as his wife feebly protested that he might be tired and need one day alone to rest.  I am much more vocal when defending others as I am at defending myself, so I backed her up and forcibly said that people could wait one day.  He was arriving in the late afternoon, and people could wait until the next morning!

On the way home, I told his wife that in the next few days, her job was to care for her husband.  That was her priority and she shouldn't feel bad to tell people no - and we would back her up.

Later, I learned she had done that, and I was proud of her!  The very person who incessantly called us initially, she firmly told that her husband was in the shower and unavailable that night.  He waited until morning to call them back.  Atta girl!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tempered Steel

I lost my journal that I started during our crisis this spring.  I didn't find it until today.  As I thumbed through it, I thought I will post this one last thing before I move on to the Epilogue, and then close the chapter on this time and move on to my not half so exciting daily life.

I think because it is from so long ago, I will just copy what I wrote in my journal that day:

God is talking to me about tempered steel - not exactly sure what it is about tempered steel.  Perhaps I need to look it up and study what goes into tempering steel.  So far, I have learned that steel is tempered by reheating it over and over until it changes its very form, making it stronger and able to withstand changes and loads.

I feel like that is what Gos is doing with me - over and over again putting me through the fire.  I don't really like it.  But then I see myself respond in ways that are not best showing who God is and I am disappointed in myself.  Slowly, slowly, God is working on me through these times, slowly changing me.

Like tempered steel becoming stronger.

Only I am afraid of fire and greatly dislike pain.  When I think about me, I don't like the tempering process, but when I think about God and His purposes - so greater than mine - I realize that in order for Him to use me, I need to be strengthened and changed.

Company's Coming!

We've got company arriving!  It seems that we pick up teenagers.... which is odd, since I m slightly nervous around the things! :)

Let's see....

We've had my husband's niece who at that time was the ONLY grandchild and slightly spoiled.  Yet, the love she felt and saw had her in tears often.  Her parents were going through a divorce because of abuse, and our home was a shelter for a summer.

Then we had a friend's son who stayed with us while I was 8 months pregnant with my first baby.  He was a pretty good kid.  His only vice was knowing how to quietly slip away from housework without telling anyone.  The most memorable incident with him was following a hiking trip.  Sometime in the middle of the night, the poor kid (who was NOT used to hiking OR all the junk food my husband had fed him) threw up.  Yeah, well... there was NO place to throw up where he was sleeping, so he did the pest he could, but IT got plastered up and down a wall and floor.  The kid was tall, so it was pretty high up, too.  Then, to make things worse, he walked into our room in the middle of the night, without knocking.  To give him credit, he walked in sort of like a lost little kid whimpering for his mom, but I was young, newly married, and not used to tall boys walking in my room in the middle of the night!!  He scared me!  But then, we discovered what was wrong, and I took full advantage of being pregnant and sent my husband to clean up the mess!  He's turned into a fine man who likely has cleaned up his own kid's messes, too, and we have plans to reciprocate and send him one of our teenagers at some point. :)

We've had one girl whose parents dropped her on us because she was recovering from a mental breakdown and they didn't know what to do.... would have been stressful enough except that she arrived two days after I gave birth to my third child which was a complicated birth resulting in some injuries to me.... and the fact that my grandpa was dying, so when the baby was only two weeks old, we packed up and drove three days to say goodbye to him.... and by the fact that we had already agreed to another teenager staying that summer...

That teen, the one without the mental problems,  was a delight - fun to have, helpful, enthusiastic, patient with the mentally unstable one, and just fun.  (I have to say good things about her - she is my friends' daughter!  No really, she was great. )  And unlike her brother, she did not throw up at all!

Then came a boy - my husband's young cousin.  Ah, he was an interesting one!  His parents had decided to do a social experiment and see what happened if you raised a child and never told him no.  Well... imagine his shock at our house when he found that word was a part of our vocabulary and well as a four letter one: W-O-R-K!  Poor kid!  But he learned a lot, and we sent him to a Christian camp... where they also used that two letter unfamiliar word.... and where he occupied the entire time of one counselor, but was favorably impressed by "those religious wierdos".

Then there was the very young teen who flew out to "over there" to stay with us only to find out that a member of our family had contracted TB.  To our amazement, her parents still let her come.  She endured a lot, usually with a cheerful attitude, including sharing a room with two young (6 and 4) boys because air-conditioners are in short supply and we have to share in the summer.  She adjusted, even to the point that late one evening, she said, "Hey, it is really pretty cool tonight" only to look at the thermometer and find out it was well over 100 degrees still!

Then we had the younger sister of the one who had had mental problems.  She was pretty fun to have around, and pretty adaptable.  We were on deputation, so appreciated the extra hand with the kids, and she got to see the US.  The funny thing with her was that it was the year that Hurricane Katrina came through the Gulf, and when her parents heard we were driving across the US (the NORTHERN half), they panicked.  Being from Europe, they had NO idea about America, and were worried that she might get caught in bad weather and drown.  When we finally reached the other side, she phoned her parents and told them she was safe, and then we giggled to hear her say, "Mom, you have absolutely no idea how hugely big this country is!!  And mostly empty!!"

I think I am missing a few we've had for shorter periods, but those are the memorable ones.

This summer, we are getting another young cousin of my husband's.  Thankfully, this one was not raised as a social experiment, but as a responsible person in society.  She should be a delight.  We've known her for years, and she has been wonderful.  My prayer for her this year would be the same as it was for the other cousin - that what we believe would make an impression on her.  Thankfully, we are now in a team of people from her country that will welcome her and share their homes and meals and hearts with her.  Pray that her heart would be open.

So I am cleaning house.  Needing to move two boys in to a room together and clean a room out for her.  She's sleeping in the middle son's room which resembles a natural history museum, so let's pray she's not freaked out by insects and bird's nests!  Before I moved him out, I needed to clean out the first son's room which looks like a mad scientist's room.  He forbid any insects moving in with him, so let's see how long this lasts.  If only they would go into genetic engineering, they could work together!

Here we go - another teenager.... pray for patience for me.  I grew to love them all, but I also struggle with the loss of my "alone time" which is difficult for me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Things They Say!

My daughter helped me clean my room today.  She carefully hung up clothes I put on hangers.  Two of the boys were in the room, too.  They noticed that my closet is crowded, and I told them that is because daddy and I share, and we have more hanging clothes than they do.  I reminded them that they each get their own closet, so should be thankful.

My daughter has a sweet heart, so she was silent thinking.  Then she suggested that I share her closet.  She has very little hanging up, so it is a reasonable idea.  I thanked her and said I might just do that later on.

We continued to fold clothes, and then she had another question.

"If you share a room with me, will it still be ok if I listen to my story tapes at night or will that bother you?"


No, no, a closet I may share, but I am still sharing my room with daddy!!  I would just use some of your closet space!

Funny that she would think I would move with my clothes.  As her brother said, "Um, no, you don't quite get it yet!"

I am still plugging away at my goal of decluttering the house.  It is slow, and has many setbacks when I turn round and discover that they have messed up an area I cleaned already.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How Did This Happen?

A very short time ago, there was this:

Today, I took that same kid on his eighth grade graduation trip.  How did that happen?

He is not taller than me yet, but only because he has not yet hit that growth spurt.  It is coming.

As we drove home, and his friends hollered and teased each other in the back, he quietly began to ask me for a clearer picture of what is going on in "our country".  What the situation is.  What the history of this new church God is planting has been.  What effect these new tensions will have on it.  And in the end, what danger we would be in where we are.  Likely none, I told him, but the rare possibility exists, so I told him of the new safety steps we've taken.  He nodded.

Then this one who just yesterday weighed barely six pounds told me, "Don't worry, mom, I won't be frightened.  Anyway, it would be a honor if we were to suffer for Jesus' sake."

When did he suddenly grow up?

Friday, June 18, 2010


I had finally begun to quiet down from the crisis and the aftermath of it all, and was beginning to take time to be quiet, to think, and then to begin life again.  We were healing.

Yet some of the pain lingered as we went on.  Able to deal with life, but at times shadows of pain flit across the sky - the wounding of the abandonment and attitudes of those in ministry with us during the crisis.  The pain of all that had happened still there.  Then we went into one church on this trip which had a sign language interpreter.  I love watching signs, watching words translate to motions and seeing the meaning behind those motions.

For example, the sign for forgiveness is wiping off both palms, one after another - washed clean.  I can not speak sign language, but there are some signs I have picked up and combined with my own that I use at times.  There are times I pray quietly with my hands to God.

That particular morning, I sat in that church and watched the sign for "acceptable".  It was something like reaching out and bringing close to oneself.

As I watched it, God brought a verse to my mind.  "God's will is good, acceptable, and perfect."

Acceptable - able to be embraced and brought close.  To be accepted, not rejected.  Not to be horrified at what He places in our lives, not to heave at what He lays in front of us, not to be hated.  To be brought close, embraced.

Yet Jesus struggled in the garden - struggling with this very concept, acceptance.  So struggling to accept, to bring God's will close to us to a place with no defenses is not a sin.  There comes a time in that struggle that no one can go with you - alone with God with friends nearby.  How did Jesus feel when His disciples slept through His struggle time - as if they were unaware, uncaring?

But after struggle, God's will is able to be accepted, brought close to oneself,  close to one's heart.  Even suffering.  Why?

I learned something.  I learned it in the sudden heart-wrenching news that my daughter had died.  I learned it through the slow years of marriage trouble and enduring the inaction and personal attacks in response to my pleas for help.  I learned it again in this crisis which threatened to take my husband and again in the confusing and painful reaction to the crisis by our very own team members.

God's will is able to be accepted and brought close to our hearts because God steps in.  He gives a quiet ability.  I saw Him do it.  In the sudden crisis, in the deep grief, in the long-lasting trouble - He's been able to give the quiet ability to walk through.  He hides us in the quietness near His heart.  He makes marvelous His goodness to us in a besieged city.

After I've been through these things, I've seen and can say that while there is pain - yes, real pain!  Pain not to be belittled, pain that scars - yet I am left with an amazement of God.  Of His lovingkindness which was marvelous to me during all these difficulties.

He can be trusted.

So, I've come out stronger, not because I am stronger, but because I am learning to trust; and as I learn, I find He can be trusted.

I've added a phrase to my title: "learning to trust".  It's my memorial to these times - to proving that He is able to meet us where we thought we would not be able to walk.  In the Middle of Nowhere - learning to trust.  That is where I am and that is what I am doing.

In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.

For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.

I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
Make Your face to shine upon Your servant;
Save me in your lovingkindness.
Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You.

How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, 
Before the sons of men!
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
As for me, I said in my alarm,
"I am cut off from before Your eyes";
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You.
O love the LORD, all you His godly ones!
The LORD reserves the faithful
And fully recompenses the proud doer.
Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD.
Ps 31 (condensed) 

This then would be the end of the story, but with God life is surprising!  So there is an epilogue to come. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rejoice with Those who Rejoice?

A friend of a friend was expecting a baby recently.  The baby had some serious health conditions and it wasn't known if she would survive once she was born or immediately die.  We were asked to pray.

I prayed.  As a mother who lost my first daughter, I prayed. 

She was born.  And she lived!  Today she is still living.  She is struggling, yes, and we continue to pray, but these parents have held their daughter in their arms alive!  I cried tears of joy for them yesterday.  I wrote them and told them that I had prayed so much for them.  I had prayed as one who had lost my first daughter, who knows the fear, and was so delighted to hear that their precious daughter survived.

Thee is in me a quiet knowledge that God doesn't always chose to do the miracle.  So I don't know what I expected with her birth.  Others wrote that they were so confident that she would live.  I wasn't.  I just knew that God was thoroughly in control.  That He could save this little girl's life, or He could take her to be with Him.  Whatever He chose to do, He would be with the parents in it.

It is not that I always expect the worst.  Another friend of mine was expecting a baby, and I completely expected her to live, and she didn't.  It hurts.

I just don't have a confident expectation that God will always do the miracle.  When He does, it surprises me.  He surprised me with this tiny girl's first breath.

Then I worried about that fact that I had even written to them that I had lost my daughter so I knew how special this was to them.  I hoped that they didn't feel guilty.  I hoped the question of "Why did our daughter live and not theirs?" never cross their mind.

Because as I heard of her birth and life, I was thoroughly, absolutely, completely delighted.  Tears of joy ran down my cheeks.

Not once did my mind go to the question, "Why didn't God save my daughter?"  Never.  Didn't even think about it.  Instead I thought, "I am so glad they don't have to walk that path!"

I faced that question of why the day my daughter died.  Settled it with God.  I looked up at Him and said, "I will not question Your decisions, but know that You are good, You know what is best, and You deeply love me."  I have not wavered from that firm commitment since the day I made it.

Have I hurt?  Oh, yes!  Have I cried?  Still do!  Have I thrown myself and my pain against God? Ah... so many times!  I've cried out to Him that I just wanted once, even just once, to hold her.  I wanted to look into her eyes...  I long for my baby girl, my first daughter.

But I never blamed Him.  I never asked, "Why did You let her die?!"  No.  I chose to believe about God what I knew about Him - He is good.  He knows what is best.  And He loves me.  He knows my hurt.

Those choices left no room for bitterness.

As I worried that these friends might feel guilty when they look at those of us who have an empty ache in our hearts for the babies that God did not do the miracle for, that quiet voice that I have learned to listen to spoke.  "So why do you have a sense of guilt that I gave you your husband back when others lost theirs?"


Then another question.  "How do you think they felt when they heard he was home safely?"

They probably felt like me when I heard this brand new baby took her first breath - absolutely delighted.

Then came peace.

It doesn't mean I don't grieve their loss.  It just means that we grieve together and we rejoice together.  I grieve with her.  She rejoices with me.  Together we look up to God and know He is completely in control and is good.

I wish my friends didn't have to face that pain.  I do.  My heart cries for them.  My heart breaks as I look at the photos of my friend's kids and know that they live without their daddy.  And her heart delights that my kids got their daddy back.

Today, I cried.  Able to set down that feeling of guilt.

Today I understood and accepted her love of me during the crisis and her genuine joy with me hearing that my husband was coming home safe.  It was a hard gift to receive from a young widow still grieving the death of her husband.

And as I write that statement, I realize that the other person who has been the most sympathetic with me during these months is also a widow.  One who lost her husband way too early also.

Our pain... enabling us to better comfort.  hmmm...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Lesson in the Sunset

We drove home the other day through fields bright with late spring - wheat and corn growing, houses, cows, vehicles - a land full of color.  Such beauty after a long dreary winter!

Then, the sun, hung low in the afternoon sky, began to set.  The sky turned orange, then streaked with a glorious display of purples, pinks, mauves, and oranges.  It caught my eye as we drove.

Then I turned my eyes back to the brightly colored fields.  It was then I noticed something.  It was not dark enough yet for there to be only shadows, but the colors were gone.  Muted.  The beautiful colors of late spring completely eclipsed by the glory of a sunset.

A verse came to mind as I sat staring out at the scene.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Not worthy to be compared.  That bright spring beauty which I admired was not worthy to be compared to what was going on in the heavens.  No eye would remain in the things on the earth once they saw what was going on in the heavens.  Whether is be suffering or delight, difficult times or wonderful - all are not worthy to be compared.  A far greater glory that will be revealed.

 A quiet reminder from the God who holds my heart and knows my pain to look up.  Look up at what He is doing.  These sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory of what He is doing.

Before and After

It is such a difficult thing to pick up normal life since the events this past spring!  I can be ok, I can be fine, I can be not traumatized beyond repair, but I have walked through something that has profoundly changed me just as the death of my daughter changed me.  It becomes an event that you count time from - before Lydia, after Lydia died.  Now it is: before the crisis, after the crisis.  I'm ok, but I'm different.  The problem is that I look the same, sound the same, walk in the same circles - circles that are relatively unchanged.  But I have changed.

So to pick up and go on is a difficult thing.  It reinforces the two lives that I lead - one here in the present where I currently live; the other a life aware of another place, another way of living.  Two awarenesses running at all times - ever since I was small.

Yet in some way, it has also has me more aware that this life here is temporary, not the real, not what is of substance, not eternal.

So that makes me constantly aware of three places... part of me living where I am now, part of my heart living where I am not now, "over there", and part of my heart just plain longing for heaven when God wipes away all tears and puts all things right.

Back to the Story

I'm really sorry to write the story and then come to the ending and just stop for awhile.  It wasn't meant.  It wasn't because it was difficult or for any reason.  We just had/have some unexpected problems going on.  They are still going on, but they are becoming our new normal... things we have to learn to live with.  Oh, they still take up time, energy, prayers... but the stunned shock is wearing off, and we are learning to ask ourselves "How now do we work?"  In the work we do, we have had to ask ourselves that a few times, so I do not despair, but hope.

You see, way back when my husband got out and was coming home, the day I left very good friends to meet him and then fly home together, a song began to play in my head.  Over and over and over this song played for the next three weeks - through the pain, through the confusion... I could not stop it.

But I began to listen to it and began to pray.  There are times that God quietly tells me something.  This song both encouraged me and made my heart heavy.

It was the song, "God of this City" by Bluetree sung by Chris Tomlin:

You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

Why was my heart heavy?  Because I have lived long enough to know that when God begins to do greater things, that there is often a greater counterattack, an increase in persecution, in difficulty, in troubles.  The enemy does not give up ground without a fight.

So my heart was hopeful, but watchful.  Wary.  Praying.  For weeks, while struggling through our recovery, I kept my eyes on God quietly watching.  "What are You doing?  What is going to come?"  And praying... quiet, watchful prayer for our country.

Greater things are still to be done in this city.  I watch and pray.  And realize that greater things mean greater persecution, too.  It has begun, and my heart is heavy for brothers and sisters in pain.

This was the reason for the silence.  It was the silence of watchful prayer.  Please be praying for those of our family all over the world who are enduring hardship as followers of Christ.  Many of their stories will not be told until we are together rejoicing, but they need our prayers.

I know that now more than ever, having been given a glimpse of their road that I was not asked to walk.

But, I'd like to return to my story here, too.  Because the end is always the best part, and we follow a God who brings good out of pain.  Who comforts even what seems inconsolable.

And I'd like to tell His story.

The Things They Come Up With!

Since not everything they do is on a Sunday, I need a new title for the kid's funny things.  (Actually, half the time, we go through a Sunday without a hassle!)

This morning, I decided to wear my off-white capris.  I hadn't worn these since a trip to meet women from many countries.  That day, a lovely Egyptian grandma walked up some stairs behind me and then told me, "You shouldn't wear white pants.  It makes your butt look really big, you know."


Thank-you.  I really needed to know that.  Yeah.  I feel really confident now about standing up and sharing my heart with you.....

Today, though, I decided to make peace with the size of my derriere and wear the white capris.  I thought I looked fairly nice, but when I turned around to view that same back view, I realized that wearing my nice undies with the bright flowers on them was not a good idea.  So I went to change to plain white.

At this point, my daughter came in my room and asked why I was changing.  Seizing on the teachable moment, I shared my wisdom  "Because the flowers on my undies show through with when I wear these white pants, so you need to wear plain white undies with white pants."

She replied, "But they are pretty.  Mommy, the flowers are really pretty, so it's ok if they show through.  People can't see all your undies - just the pretty flowers!"


All the same, I'll keep my pretty flowers to myself, thank-you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pieces of the Puzzle

I went back to work today covering for someone who quit.  Some people are such that when they leave, we gather for a meal to say good bye with them.  Other people are such that we wait until they round the corner and throw a party that they are finally gone!  This one was one of the latter.

But it meant that I was working with my old crew, people who had been there over the last several years with me.  One is a lady who hated me when I came, but grew to love me.  We are good friends - now... years later.  It was she who volunteered to work any overtime to take my shifts when we got back if I didn't feel able to yet.  She is a widow whose husband died of cancer the year before I began to work there.

Today she saw me and asked how I was.  I said I was good.  Still later in the evening, she walked into a room alone with me and asked again, "How are you really doing?  Are things good?  How are things at home?  Have you really recovered yet?"

And you know what?  Today, I could answer her that I have.  Yes, I'd doing ok.  And she smiled and said, "Good.  You look good, you know.  You look like you are recovered now, not like when you first came back.  You're looking like yourself again."

I smiled.  I am.  I'm feeling good.  Normal.  (yeah, would still like to get my house back to normal.....)

I think today while I was thinking about it, I figured out one more thing - one more piece of the puzzle, and figuring it out set my heart just that little more at peace.  There was something I had wanted after this all, and because of what happened in the immediate aftermath, it was something I did not get.  A small thing, but one I so very much wanted.  As time went by, I began to question this one... why is it such a big deal?  Why do you see it as such a loss?  It didn't seem to fit - the weight of the feelings of loss much greater than the actual loss itself.... so I talked it out in my head... trying to explain to myself why I had wanted it... what I would have felt if I had got it... then I realized where it came from.

 A loss from years ago.  It was something I lost a long time ago.  This loss at this time was a reflection of that... something that I long for because there is already an ache in me for this.  That ache has nothing to do with the events that happened this year, but from long ago.  So this thing I did not get became big... the weight of former pain behind it.

Now I understand it.  It doesn't take it away, but it helps me to understand.  I then can be honest with myself - about something I don't think I had ever put words to before.  "I lost this... that day... and I miss it."   "I thought I would ease that ache with that... but when I did not get a chance to have that, it hurt."  The hurt then is down to size... it was a small thing really, but a small thing with a big ache behind it.

What to do with the big ache?  Bring it to God.  I've been here before, and I know this path.  Bring it to Him, acknowledge it, lay it before Him, and sit back watching.  I've never had Him fail to meet me in my pain.  Never - even when I thought there was no answer for some hurts.  He's had a way.  So I bring it to Him.

"I haven't had this since.... and I miss it... Part of me aches because I needed this.... I still need it..."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lost In Translation

I'm not feeling that great today.  I woke up with a headache, perhaps a little of allergies.  I wasn't awake that long before I found out that I was fighting another bladder infection.  Then later on, I got the chills and feel like fainting.

But this provided a little laugh this morning.  I was combing out my daughter's hair in front of the mirror this morning, and my husband poked his head in to say goodbye.  He kissed me and patted my rear - nothing major.  But because I knew I had the bladder infection, I joking told him, "Don't get any ideas!"  He smiled and walked away.

Then my daughter wrinkled up her forehead and asked, "What do you mean 'Don't get any ideas.'?  Do you mean don't get any ideas about kissing other women?"

Ah - what is lost in translation to her little mind!!  I restrained my laughter in the face of my daughter's puzzlement and told her, "no, I meant don't get any ideas about kissing me any more right now because I am combing out your hair."

What else could I say?  The things that go through their minds!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Pause for.....

I will come back to write the final thoughts I had after the crisis we went through (don't go away yet, it was just getting to the good part!) but it won't be for awhile.  We are pausing right now....

We're busy.  Our thoughts are elsewhere.  We watch and we pray.  Friends are going through a difficult time right now, and all we can do is watch and pray, so we want to do that well.

Someone used to tell me that in every difficulty is an opportunity.  There is opportunity in this difficulty, possibly great opportunity, but it is coming at a great cost, too.  My heart is heavy and I watch from afar and pray.

Funny that no matter how close you are to someone going through something, you are far away.  The line between suffering it and standing beside one suffering is always a vast space.  I think of Jesus praying in the garden in a time of great suffering, and His disciples not too far away fell asleep - tired of watching.  The distance between being in and being nearby.

So we are watching and praying with heavy hearts for great opportunity to come out of a situation with great cost.  Will you pray with us for our country "over there"?