Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's our anniversary

It's our anniversary, and to break out of my blogging slump, I want to write a post about my man who is definitely God's gift to me.

If you read our story I started to chronicle a couple of years ago, you can learn about how we met and the first few years of our marriage.  It's a good story and one I hope to continue when this brain freeze is over.  Right now there's window open for the man I love.

He is gracious.  Truly gracious.  He never nags me about the stuff on the floor, the piles by the bed, the dust on the blinds, the stains in the carpet, the laundry not folded, the lack of food in the house, the to-do list not done.  Never.

His is generous.  If someone needs his help or wants to borrow his truck or is looking for a piano player, he almost never says no.  He only says no if it interferes with our family, in which case, that is definitely a good time to say no.  If he knows of a financial need, he wants to give as much as he can.  If I ask him about giving towards a certain need, he always says yes.

He is smart.  Let me give you an example. Way back when he decided to get a job in computers, I freaked out.  I freaked out because at that time I knew more about computers than he did and the job he wanted required way more than I knew (which was plenty, by the way).  He bought some books, took a month or so to read and study, and then went and got himself a computer help desk job. And he continues to learn and grow and work in the field some fifteen years later.

He is loving.  He has worked long hours at jobs he hasn't always loved to provide for us the very best he can.  He comes home and eats dinner with us most nights, even when I know a lot of times he'd rather crawl into a cave somewhere and be quiet.  This is most remarkable since dinner at our house is the opposite end of the spectrum from cave and quiet.  He listens to me and rarely tries to fix me.  He goes to marriage classes, parenting classes, and finance classes with me and occasionally reads a book on those subjects so he can see where I'm coming from.

He is sexy.  I'll just leave that one right there.

He is my husband who I could continue to go on about, but errands call and I still hope to get to some of those piles of stuff and dust in our bedroom before he comes home from work...

I love you, hon.  I'm so glad to be on this journey with you. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

When hopelessness and discouragement are loud

I went to the home school book fair yesterday.  It's an annual event for me - 2 days with encouraging speakers and tons of vendors with amazing products.  I've been going for 10+ years, or so my name tag says.  All this means is that I am a veteran book fair go-er.

This year is different in that I didn't attend any of the speakers and only walked the vendor floor for the afternoon.  I bought very little (in comparison with previous years), and I have little-to-no clear plan for our upcoming school year.  Heck, I'm just trying to finish this current one up well and graduate my first student.


Except yesterday as I perused books and manipulatives (subconsciously looking for that magical item that will make next year amazing, thrill my kids, and entice them to love, love, love learning), I was feeling anything BUT success and a sense of accomplishment.

I felt like a failure.

All of my mistakes and mishaps and insecurities loomed larger than life, and discouragement and hopelessness walked close behind.  I know better than to partner with them, but I will say that the battle was fierce.

It only increased when I got home.  Children left in the care of my oldest had been sent to their rooms twice because of fighting in my absence, and that intensified into a major meltdown by one of them as I imperfectly addressed the situation.  Escalating with each passing minute, it was everything I could do to not pull out the old tools of anger and intimidation to manage the chaos in my heart and mind and circumstances.

I went to bed exhausted and discouraged and woke up feeling the weight of past mistakes, the most recent ones of the night before stretching way back into the past.

As I was processing all of this with the Lord this morning, He spoke this to my heart:

You are imagining an outcome void of My Presence and My redeeming power.  You are seeing your perceived mistakes and failures as being bigger than Me at work in and through you. That "weight of past mistakes" is a false burden.  Did I not die to take your place? Does that weight ever rest on your shoulders? Do these cares and worries not belong to Me?
And as these words are washing over my heart and soul and  mind, His peace enters in.  Those vain imaginations [1] were taken captive and the truth of His Presence ever present with me throughout, of His power at work within me [2], of His promise to never leave me [3] and to be my children's Teacher [4] settled back into place and set my heart at rest in His Presence once again.

Hope was restored to its rightful place.

My hope does not rest in an outcome or temporary event (although, obviously, sometimes it does get misplaced there).  It rests in God who is the Author and Perfector of my faith...and of my children's lives.

He's got this.  He takes it all and makes it for my good and His glory.

I can rest secure in His unfailing love.  It never gives up.

1) 2  Corinthians 10:5 "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
2) Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"
3) Joshua 1:5 "I will never leave you nor forsake you"
4) Isaiah 54:13 "All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lines of Girls

It was the day we had to go to Ethiopian immigration for my nieces passport appointment that we saw them: hundreds of people, mostly young girls, waiting in lines.  Because we were foreigners and because we had a baby, we were sent to the front of every line.

And so we walked passed these young girls who, my sister had explained earlier, were waiting for the necessary paperwork to allow them to go to some Middle Eastern country for work.  A very few of those girls will actually be employed in a legitimate job.

The vast majority of them will be trafficked.

My nephew's biological aunt was one of those girls that was given a legitimate job with an American family living in the Middle East.  She worked for them for three years.  The girl who worked for the family next door was not so fortunate.  Auntie could hear the girl's screams and so devised a plan to rescue her.  And she did.

But those lines of girls?  What could we do with all of those hopeful girls thinking that somehow this would be their ticket to success?  We argued that surely the stories had gotten back, the stories of girls disappearing or not disappearing but wishing that the ground would swallow them because somehow their hope had turned to horror... Surely at least some of these girls knew the risks, had heard the stories, so maybe they were escaping an already horrific story to something that may be tolerably better.  Or at least get paid.

My heart hurts still when I think of the lines of girls in colorful scarves, young faces waiting patiently as we walked by.

We prayed.  Prayed for delays in processing paperwork and Divine intervention and protection and Aunties who hear and are brave and rescue...

The airport was more of the same except these girls, they have their paperwork and are walking away from home to the unknown and how my heart ached and aches still when I think of them standing there waiting, hoping, going...

Only prayers, which in that moment seemed insignificant and not enough, could be said.  But that's a lie, that prayer is not powerful or effective.  I choose to believe that because three sister joined in prayer for these girls in lines, their stories have now changed TO stories of hope and redemption.  Somewhere along their journey, these girls will be rescued and in turn will rescue or will be like Auntie and be safe but save a sister from bondage.

Pray for these girls... and find a reputable organization you can partner with to help bring an end to human trafficking.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Elsa lives at Kidane Mehret, an orphanage run by two Maltese nuns who have been working in Ethiopia for over 40 years.  They have had her since birth, and she is now nine years old.

What makes Elsa's story extraordinary is that she has hydrocyphilas and was not expected to live very long.  But here she is, a living, breathing example of the power of selfless love being poured out day after day after day without fail.

There have been families who have wanted to adopt her, but because of her condition, she would not survive a plane ride, and so the sisters continue to care for her.

They tell me that Elsa is blind, but she can hear.  An Italian family donated a small cd player that sits in her bed w/ the radio on so that she can listen to music (or talking or static...whatever happens to be playing at the moment).  They are careful to move her around, giving her floor time on a pad or to the tv room for cartoons or outside for some sunshine and fresh air.

She stays in the baby room with the other 20+ babies, some with disabilities and some with none.

But, oh, how these children are loved!  The sister explained to me that they have tried to perform surgery on Elsa 3 times to place a stint so that they can relieve some of the fluid build up in her skull.  And each time has failed.  And still Elsa lives.

Her bed is close to the door of the baby room.  Any visitor who walks in will have opportunity to meet her.  It's not easy.  She forces you to come face to face with a hard reality.  And yet, I think she stays there loved and cared for so that visitors like me can come face to face with love lived out in such an incredible way.

It's hard to visit an orphanage.  I image, though, that this orphanage is easier than others.  The love there was so tangible, so present in the way the sisters greeted us when we arrived with Tizita, the way they showed us around the compound, the way the children ran to us and greeted us and loved on Tizita, the concern in their voices when they told us about the newborn that had to be transported to the hospital last night.

These sisters live out love in a way that rocks my world.  I didn't come away from there with a hopeless feeling because of the need (and it is great) and the broken stories (and there are many).  I didn't come away discouraged because the atmosphere was full of the hope of Jesus and His power to save, redeem, and rescue.

What a privilege it is to be a part of this story and to be changed forever by these women and all of their helpers who spend their lives caring for the least of these. 

I am so challenged.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"El que invita paga."

A couple of weeks ago, Roger Cunningham, missionary to Chile, spoke at my church and challenged us to "cross the chicken line," to take risks, to go on adventures with God, and to remember that "El que invite paga" or "He who invites pays."

And don't you know that's true.  When God invites you to go on an adventure, He pays.  He takes care of every detail and gives me the job of listening and trusting and walking in faith.

Little did I know I would have a chance to trust Him in such a big way so quickly.

Last Thursday, I received a text from my sister who is in Ethiopia going through the adoption process for her little girl.  In a miraculous turn of events, she is able to bring her daughter home much more quickly than expected and has decided to stay on and wait for the paperwork to go through.  Meanwhile her husband and son must return home.

She asked me (and my little sister) to go to Ethiopia to help her.

We said yes and that began a crazy ride of a God story where plane ticket money and itineraries and unplanned breakfast with our dear German sister and standing in lines to get our visa and walking through customs and immigration into the airport where our sister stood waiting with our new niece.

We said yes because my sister said yes and here we are sitting in the guesthouse listening to street noises and cats meowing and children and families.  We've dropped into this international community of Danish and Italian and Dutch and American families who are choosing to be forever families to these children needing love.

I am amazed.  I am in awe.  I am so humbled by the generosity of HE who invited me to come on this journey to Africa and into the lives of the Ethiopian people.

And, oh, it is so true...El que invita paga.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Falling forward

When I read this blog post, I grabbed on to this idea of "falling forward."

So much time spent falling back, looking back, stuck back there in the past which keeps me from being present in this moment with this life I have right now.

I still struggle with inability to tackle smallest of piles without largest of overwhelming feelings washing over me and I am so ready to be done with that.  I have a choice in the midst where I can go with the overwhelming feeling of failure to accomplish what I want and need to or I can stand and declare that I'm falling forward into His grace and mercy that says: "I work all things together for good."

And what do I have to truly complain about?  Nothing, really.  Just so, so, so much to be thankful for.

This year I will keep focusing on falling forward into gratitude and thanksgiving and a life lived in the moment however messy that moment presents itself to be.