Friday, June 15, 2012

a slow summer day

Lucia and I poked around the yard snipping flowers and filling small vases while Gypsy (our border collie) and June finally made nice. After chasing bugs and hopping through bushes, one tired out kitty made her way to my bed, and there she is now -- curled up like a snail on a feather cloud. Hmmm. Maybe I should go wake her up or tonight won't be quite so peaceful. Steve and the girls think it's funny how I dote, seeing that I don't like cats and all. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meeting June

Emma has checked kitten books out for months. Very serious naming discussions and downright harassment of this NON-cat person has finally resulted in a kitten named June joining our crazy crew. :) This summer promises to be full of long, happy visits with family and friends. Can't wait! My dear in-laws are in town for a couple of weeks and have enjoyed kid's recitals, tea parties, nature hikes, and a day at the shore. This next week, another recital, a treck to Mt. St. Helen's and the Portland farmer's market. Berry season in the NW really is something to look forward to and Oregon strawberries in June can't be beat (except by raspberries in July and blueberries in August). Am I tempting you to visit? Hope so! I think I might just snap out of my blog comma even!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

be back soon...

Steve has the week off work! Yay! This little blogito is going on breakito!

Friday, March 16, 2012

assurance

{A moss covered plum tree dips blushing blossoms outside our picture window.}


A couple of things have been needling me since I shared the story of my faith in crisis (here). There is, as there always is, a broader scope to the story but things can only be written by bits, as I have time and brain space. Grace transformed me during that time in a way that eludes my attempts to tell. In retrospect, I view the timing of that spiritual free fall as His kindness because it was during a season of safety, when Caleb was still well and before stronger torrents. That slippery mire of despair and doubt His hand rescued me from? Well, it was over. Settled. Not that I wouldn't ,or don't, wrestle with trusting Him but it was as if He reassured my spirit with a rainbow of promise that I would never again be at that place of extreme doubt. No matter how dark the valley, how crippling the hardship, I would not suffer such disbelief. Not because I am faithful, but because He is. And throughout Caleb's great suffering, in my grief, and amidst all other trials, faith remains. God is profoundly good.


In a different post I wrote that He does not give us a stone for bread as we ask of Him. When the answer feels and seems to me very much a stone, I can know there is a more real knowledge that Christ Himself is my bread. He answers with Himself. Poured out, broken, and risen. This is how the gospel goes deeper and deeper into my soul. From impossible stone to living Bread. No pat answer, but a Person. I AM. I don't need to understand, I worship. His beauty, so ravishing, makes even rocks cry out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

peace

Grandpa was in the Pacific Theater in WWII and received a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. For twenty five years, he coached varsity basketball at Northern Arizona State University while raising my dad and his sister, Patty. After my grandmother passed away, he met Sonya, his darling wife, at the mailbox (we had fun teasing them about this) and she made his last years sparkle with her delightful humor and warmth.

There was brief recognition as my parents held his hand and sat with him Saturday afternoon. For the last three days and nights, my dad stayed at his side, reading, praying and gently talking of life... In the night, he slipped away...

There is everything and nothing to say. What peace that all things are in God's hands.

Monday, March 12, 2012

meeting Emily...

"Who are all these wonderful people in your life?" inquired a new friend the other day. I had to smile. It's true! The frosting of my life is thick, rich friendship. Like a crown of wild flowers, each one is an interwoven story of grace.

Kindly indulge a little reminiscing story then, as I tell of how I met my friend Emily over fifteen (FIFTEEN!) years ago...

It was a meeting of hearts. My mom still claims the credit, and I won't disagree for, indeed, as mothers always are, she was perfectly right. She met Mark and Emily, this "cute couple" on Sunday morning, after their class had wrapped up and a mingling handful gathered around my parents, the missionaries to Russia now home for their grandson's (Caleb's) precarious birth. They introduced themselves and bantered about missions a bit, about Emily's sister, Michelle, who was then in Nepal, also with TEAM (their mission organization). Mom promptly decided to inquire if they had dinner plans. She's emphatic that her match making decision was, in fact, immediate -- before a word was spoken.

Plopping her purse and then herself on the couch, Mom cheerfully (and cheekily) announced that we would be having dinner guests and I might as well not give her that look because she simply knew we would be fast friends. She had a feeling.

Emily surprised herself by tearing up while helping to set the table. Not because our table was grand but the reverse, in its simplicity. Having married and moved from Colorado six months prior, life in Arizona (well, in Scottsdale, an affluent city where they attended church) so far hadn't remotely resembled the nourishing, "earthy" home culture she'd left behind. A pot of white chili and corn bread centered our old oak table like the yellow of a daisy. Something there, amidst honest food and conversation strummed familiar and lovely tears sprung to her eyes. What I adored (and recognized) was that Emily did not hide them but rather expressed her thought and allowed us to enter her feeling. I loved her instantly from the heart. I glanced at my mom. How do mothers do that? That evening we laughed, passed the honey, shared our sweet baby boy's story, passed the butter, learned about their families and ladled more than bowl and belly to the brim.

Lord God of us



"Were our mouths were filled with a singing like the sea, and our tongues awash with song, as waves-countless, and our lips to lauding, as the skies are wide, and our eyes illumined like the sun and the moon, and our hands spread out like the eagles of heaven, and our feet as fleet as fawns. Still, we would not suffice in thanking you, lord God of us and God of our fathers, in blessing your name for even one of a thousand, thousand, from the thousands of thousands and the ten thousands of ten thousands of times you did good turns for our fathers and for us". (Excerpt from The New American Haggadah)

Haggadah means telling --the story of the Exodus that is read aloud every year at the Passover to commemorate the Israelites delivery from slavery.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

green







Wednesday, March 7, 2012

song in the night...



For 231 days, terrorists held my dad in captivity on the other side of the world. Waiting for news laced hope with dread since news translated to wild demands and threats. The psalmists words nourished us day and night. Waiting on the Lord is difficult work. To be still and know that He is God, rather than wringing our hearts, does not come naturally to me. I'm still amazed, then, how singing in the very face of terror, is a flame that spreads peace and strength. It blazes deep within and without, proclaiming love and truth to my soul while surrounding us with flames that cannot be overcome by arrows of fear and doubt.

"On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night,
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I stay close to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm. 63:6-8

Wherever we are today, whether within the surging storm or upon a day of gentle breeze, let us sing in the shadow of His wings... As for me, I want to remember that while the world can understand praise in fair weather, it is confounded by sounds of adoration when all seems lost. May the call ring true and clear...come join the song of sinners and angels...

Praise to our glorious King!

Monday, March 5, 2012

in prayer...

As we spend the next days, awaiting our young friend, Thomas', CT scan on Wednesday and Mark's procedure on Monday, we are intensifying intercessory prayer. Join us? Knowing that God goes before them, that they are His and He is theirs is a deep, abiding comfort. We long to co-labor with them, to shoulder their burden. To labor and pray. (Ora et labora). Oh Lord, have mercy...

My unbelieving grandfather, today is being moved to my aunt's home in Arizona, away from his sweetheart wife, Sonya, so that hospice care may be provided during his last days upon this earth. He is suffering greatly, in body and soul. Please pray, friends.My dad will be flying out to sit with him, to comfort and to tell, again, the beautiful story of grace. So we pray, Lord, have mercy...

While physical distance feels vastly limiting, and despite my weak-willed nature, I turn to a realm more real than eyes can see. In prayer, I want to be found faithful. In this too, Lord have mercy...

I know even as I ask, that He IS full of mercy, He has always been merciful, and that He assuredly will be, so these days I petition His mercy even as I thank Him for it.

He does not give His children a stone for bread...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lulu's vocabulary list


The world is her oyster, no doubt. Never short on words, we think Lucia's language spins are very clever (we might be a wee biased) and too funny!

smooshmallows = marshmallows

jumpoline = trampoline

yoyuck = yogurt

hunkacheese = slice of cheese "Mom, I'm hungy, can I have a hunkacheese, pweese?"

snugglufugus = "Mom, will you cuddle me? You can be my snugglufugus!"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It is well

It was an Arizona winter in 1997...

Having been invited to sing special music for our church's worship service, I'd asked Emily, my dear friend, to accompany me on the piano. My selection -- It Is Well with My Soul, a moving old hymn written by Horatio Spafford upon learning that his four daughters had tragically perished during a shipwreck. This grieving father had penned the words as he traveled over the darkened waters where their ship had gone down. Knowing the story, I wanted, so wanted, his words of strength and peace in God to be my song.

Our son, Caleb, was about four months old then. Although a delicate three pounds at birth, he'd so far disproved gloomy predictions by becoming a happy, pudgy baby. Content, he nursed well and flirted adorably with his mama. Diagnosed with a devastating and rare genetic illness, our boy already had a shunt placed in his brain the day he was born due to hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). His arms were missing the radii which caused the ulnas to bow like small half moons. Both hands were missing thumbs but he had eight perfect fingers. We were smitten with our blue eyed baby and thrilled that he had arms at all since several ultrasounds mysteriously indicated he would be born armless. Nevertheless, specialists asserted that despite his apparent health, his bone marrow would, without a doubt, fail him at some point in his early childhood.

I craved information about the new and unwelcome guest of ours, this shadowy figure with a strange name called Fanconi Anemia. But the more I learned, the more furiously black clouds gathered and the outlook went from worse to worse, to worse yet. Caleb would be extremely susceptible to leukemia and other cancers, he would have complex endocrine (growth) problems, viruses that were relatively harmless to most would likely annihilate his immune system. There was no cure. With each cruel wave, the current swept stronger. Why... WHY?! was there not a flicker of hope?

Out of desperation, I called the respected geneticist in New York who had identified a chromosome fragility which lead to Caleb's diagnosis. I must have hoped that since she was on the forefront of FA research, she would have something, anything, helpful to offer. (Unfortunately, I discovered that there is a good reason she, a PhD, does not normally see or interact with FA families.) From her removed, sterile lab, she pulled up my son's file, took inventory of his "anomalies", crudely rattling them off under her breath. But then, before I could catch my own breath, she continued, "Your son won't live much past the age of two by my estimation." Blindly, I managed to thank her, slowly moving my thumb to the OFF button.

Closing Caleb's bedroom door to practice my song, I tried to mean the words I sang. It was no use... on hands and knees, one sob followed another. "It's not well with my soul, Lord. It's not only not well, it's writhing agony. I can't sing this because I'm not sure I can mean it. Oh God, if you are even really there....I want you to know that I'm no Abraham. I cannot offer up my son. In fact, the most shattering truth is, that if I were given a choice between my relationship with you, Father, or my son's life -- I'd choose him. My son."

From the time I was a little girl, I've talked to Him. I had known my dear friend to die as a young teen which was truly life altering, but mostly had not experienced severe, lasting pain in my bright young life. When Steve and I had learned that our baby still developing in utero had not formed normally, I had sensed a warm wave of love from above -- as if we were loved enough to be entrusted with this child. But now, I couldn't hold on to it. The soft rug underfoot had been yanked, pitching me into unknown territory.

Immediately, I sensed the shift. What if God was a figment of my imagination and all this, my life, Caleb's illness, was not a part of some larger purpose or redemptive plan but a random series of circumstances? I confided in Steve and in my parents with how bitterly I wrestled, how my heart stormed. Without a glance of disapproval, they listened. Silently. And they prayed...

I struggled now to direct my prayers to Him. The lights had gone out completely, the night became starless and I threatened to suffocate on gray blankets of despair. There was no comfort in a godless world -- it was a shifting sand, mean, purposeless and vain. Void of eternal hope. Beauty dimmed as my sight wavered. I couldn't take this either, I soon realized. No, this, this place without God was far worse than pure pain or heart-piercing sorrow. This place was a loveless pit not unlike hell. Each twenty four hours the longest descent imaginable. And so I turned back, bowed low and called out.

Oh, how He came. My God heard me... I told Him that I wanted faith but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't conjure it. He had to be the one to impart this faith-gift to me. Would He? I didn't want one single night more without Him, without the warmth of His face. I couldn't know what cross I'd be called to bear but if He stayed with me, helped me, I wanted Him more than relief. I'd discovered that His love truly was better than life. "I believe, help my unbelief!" was my cry one day. I'm unable to describe the soul crafting that the Potter did within this brittle, cracked vessel, but He set my feet back onto solid ground. He healed my disbelief and covered me with blankets of down, balming my sore soul as a sore throat with honey. I cried good and well. It was well with my soul.

Standing beside the church piano, I'd sung up to the refrain, And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight. My voice caught now though, my heart so full that only tears flowed. Emily paused at the piano. Gaze shifting from the rafters to the faces before me, I saw then that everyone, every beautiful saint in that room was on their feet. Weeping with full abandon we sang,

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

horrors

Last night I started reading Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge, one of my very favorite authors. Why do I smile every time I think about this line,

"And she vastly preferred writing a letter and walking with it to the post to using the telephone and hearing with horrors her voice committing itself to things she would never have dreamed of doing if she'd had the time to think."

The story of my life (well, the last bit anyway). :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Amen, Amen

Taken in the Arizona desert, a nondescript shoot until viewed from above,


Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust."
Ps. 103: 13-14


"And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground." Nehemiah 8:6

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday tea


"Daddy! I have a pic-in-ic all ready for the two of us in my room." And she did -- dainties, doilies and all. A little mouse snuck in for this pic and about expired from the cuteness.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

looking back and forward...

An entry from Caleb's online progress journal dated Dec. 12, 2001 (from the hospital),

"Have you ever held a glass ornament so frail you thought just breathing on it might cause it to shatter? I put into words such feelings today while I pondered Caleb's life.

Isn't it interesting that we often feel a sense of security in the presence of health and vitality? The reality is that we really have no control over life at all! Caleb's life isn't any more uncertain than mine or that of our other children. They are all numbered according to His plan. Why does that scare me? And yet, it shouldn't. There is freedom there--"wide open spaces". And life is not a glass house about to crumble but, in Him, a firm and solid foundation. Pray that I would learn this heart lesson
."

.................

(On the day I wrote this entry Caleb had had a "good" day. He felt some pain relief and was delighted about the Christmas season, at a visit with his toddling sisters and in his new red mittens, sweetly made by a favorite nurse.)

He met Jesus face to face, breathed celestial air, exactly four months later.

Eleven years and still, I feel his hands like imprints on my cheeks.

What I wrote then is as true today. I need not live in fear or guilt. I have wondered at times how I could mother our girls well in the midst of grief. Loss has instructed me in love but I don't always live out what I know. The comforting truth, however, is that real joy has never left us, friends. Joy and sorrow are nested together. Because our God Himself has never left us, we live. We more than survive because our daily lives, our relationships, our work, these are sacred gifts. What's more, we celebrate because our grief informs our hearts that we await the wedding feast. That the best, the superlative BEST (for all words fail here) is yet to come...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

our Ayisha


A musical ear that is off the charts, with a lovely voice to match...laughter that is catching...unstoppable physical humor...so brave (this girl receives monthly injections without a flinch)...patient with her bossy little sister...gentle toward the feelings of others...charmed by fancy dresses...enchanted with babies.

Perseverance is her steady companion.

Miraculous is her story.

Friday, February 17, 2012

thoughts on hope...



" We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers." 2 Cor. 1: 8-11

When my son's illness took his life; During my father's long captivity; While my little girl lay comatose; In a life layered with sorrows; As I see my heart's disability in loving well...


In the apostles familial letter, I discover understanding for the depths. His words are not "should feel or shouldn't feel" reprimands. They were written for my heart, in my weakness --that I might know Christ and His hope. And the more I know Him, the more I do trust Him. I set my hope on Him again and again.

With redundancy I have heard it spoken that God does not allow more than we can handle. Offered as encouragement and sometimes as an exhortation to cheer up, I do not believe this spiritual cliche is helpful or even true. Quite the contrary. God often allows more suffering than we can bear alone. He allows us to feel the sentence of death, to despair even of life. To be broken, that He might bind, to be devastated that He may alone be the source of life. By removing my soul crutches, He allows me to see that I cannot stand on my own. I need Him desperately. This is His severe mercy. In my sorrow and loss, because of my very inadequacy and fragility, I hear Him, "My power is made perfect in your weakness". Right here, in the dark -- a resurrection I can't wrap words around.

Ultimately, it is through Him that I am even able to set my hope on Him. He is my Brother, my Friend...the beautiful Lifter of my head.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

from extrovert to introvert


I once believed that personality types didn't change. Maybe they don't, but like a trained branch, the pressure of circumstances alter one's natural bent. The difficult events of our lives have pretty drastically altered the margins I require to be "re-energized", or even to feel normal. As much as I love a great conversation with a friend and value transparency (that much hasn't changed), the inner dialogue must percolate a great deal longer. While it is sometimes good to push through feelings of withdrawal, mostly I've realized I should heed them. They are my red flags. Regrettably, I've learned that if I place myself in social situations prematurely, the filter over heart and mouth slips and I'll say things I don't ultimately mean. Rather than helping anyone, the burden becomes heavier. Does that make sense?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

older or just dumber? (don't answer that)

Lest you imagine it is all poetry and deep thought around here, let me assure you -- I am just as shallow as the next gal, likely more so. Not a proud admission, but true. Sigh.

Story # 1

Thanks to my tea habit, which is not being given up anytime soon, I've noticed my teeth aren't pearly white these days. A girlfriend was coming to town several week-ends ago, and that Saturday morning I thought I'd pull out some whitener I had purchased last year, but had never used. The whitener, applied via little trays, was supposed to do the trick in a few hours. So I went about my business, noticing that my gums were burning a little. Then a lot. I ignored it (dumb, I know) until my mouth just felt all numb and weird. This all took probably 45 minutes or so. I took out the tray and, horrified, realized that my teeth weren't white, my GUMS were. White! Opaque. Panicking a little I remembered that once my mom's herbalist friend had said that the best thing for gums was cayenne pepper, organic of course. Supposedly, it pulled the blood or something and sped up healing. Frantic, I rubbed spoon fulls of cayenne all over my gums and teeth. My eyes smarted with the heat, my lips throbbed. I finally rinsed, half convinced that my quick wit had saved the day. Gummy smile in the mirror. No, now my gums were bright ORANGE! Rinse, swish, rinse swish...still orange. I'm talkin' UUUGLY. I called Steve, "Look at me," I said smiling casually. His eyes widened then narrowed, "What's wrong with your mouth?". "Oh, nothing I think I JUST KILLED MY GUMS FOREVER!!!" To which my dear husband bit his lip, hard. For about one whole second he contained himself while I gave him my growliest,"Don't you dare...I'm dead serious, Stephen. This is SERIOUS!" He was swaying now, no longer able to contain his ridiculous laughter. "What am I going to DO??!!!" I wailed. "I know! Colloidal silver!" Now he was howling. What, is he a hound?!! The gall! (Insert: In this household all wounds are treated with this stuff -- Steve insists it's my "Windex"). For the rest of the morning, friends, I spritzed that colloidal silver on those babies every few minutes. I practiced smiling gumless in the mirror. (Am I really admitting this?) I told Steve I wasn't leaving the house like this. "Ok, he smiled." "Oh, shut up", I said giving him my evil eye. "This is SO humiliating!". "U-huh", he sympathized. Right.

P.S. Just because I know you're dying of curiosity, my gums literally peeled (crazy!) then healed within a couple days. Lesson learned?

Story #2

When I was twenty I loved having birthdays because I was convinced that the older I got the more people would listen to my fount of wisdom! The fount ranneth over and over, I'm terribly afraid. Oh boy. Well anyway, almost two decades later, I'm not so thrilled. And I'm not so wise. And I've got wrinkles, friends --not beauty lines. Last week, I remembered that I once purchased a special wash cloth, a microdermabrasion cloth (see a pattern?). I hadn't really used it so I put it in the shower so that I would benefit from this facial miracle. It doesn't feel like much. It's smooth, not rough. I scrubbed my face with it. "Maybe I should rub a little harder", thought I. Once out of the shower, peering into the mirror, I noticed that my face was SO shiny. "WOW! That thing really works. Huh!". A little later I noticed that my face was a bit red where I "scrubbed". Seemed pretty harmless. But by the end of the day, you'd have asked me, had you run into me, if I'd vacationed somewhere beachy -- and forgotten my sunblock. The next morning my pink face was flaking -- peeling off! Make up didn't help (it only looked like the creeping rot). What in the world is going on around here?! Really now , women, do all sorts of things to themselves! All I do is try to whiten my teeth and scrub my face a little! We're not talking surgeries, botox, or days at the spa! I give up! At least until the next time.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jesu Juva

I read recently that Sebastian Bach not only signed each of his scores with the letters S.D.G, Soli Deo Gloria at the end, but he opened them with J.J. Jesus Juva (Jesus help).


Jesus Juva

Jesus, help. Breathe life and beauty into my work.

Jesus, help. I can't do this without you.

Jesus, help. As the Israelites in the desert willed their gaze upon a bronze serpent.

Jesus, help. As I beseech this cup to pass.

Jesus, help. As I pray Your will be done.

Jesus, help. As I take Your yolk upon me.

Jesus, help. As I tend my flock.

Jesus, help. As I run the race, fight the fight, live my faith.

Jesus, help. And haste the day when my faith will be sight!

Jesus, Jesus....be glorified.

friendsick


There is a Portuguese word that doesn't have a direct translation to English. It's kind of frustrating not to have a suitable word, actually. The word is "saudades" which translates something like "missings". One would say, "I have missings". Doesn't work. I'm forced to choose other words like homesick but that's not it because it's about people. I don't just miss people I am a bit heartsick about it -- not to be overly dramatic. So friendsick, my own made up word. Really, why do we have carsick, homesick, heartsick and not friendsick?

It's hard not having history even if the new people you meet are wonderful. I sense the promise of friendship and trust the Lord with these seedlings. But the sheltering trees, the fortresses that shared experiences have built amongst these towering pillars, a beautiful source of nourishment... these, I miss.

A simple question like, "How many children do you have?" can be a bit angsty. I don't want to be that way. After all, I have dealt with this for a few years now --just not to this degree. And not without softer places to fall, places of understanding. Of knowing.

I'm ok. I just have missings.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

classic

Me: I have a surprise for you!
Him: Is it food?
Me: No, it's a poem-- for your birthday
Him: Oh! A poem!

Him: chuckles, "That was such a neanderthal question-- was it FOOD?!!"
Me: Heehee, "And I'm such a girl, "It's a poem (said with a squeak).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Seen


He cups my face;
Takes my taste to his lips
O self, close your eyes
and see

*"What sacred delight
What infinite wonder
I am precious in your sight
You love me like no other
"

At sink,
wiping down a days grime
Close your eyes to see
a Man washing dirt
off disciples feet

At table, not overly wise
to laugh, to share
his day and ours
O self, see?

Not eloquent as the world perhaps
Rather, a sight other-worldly

At break of dawn, a man who prays
not proud (or loud) but sure
of heart

I see
His very self,
inscribed with love
for me


*stanza in bold is the chorus to a song by Sunday drive, entitled Sacred Delight

Monday, February 6, 2012

stream of consciousness...

Words gather then scatter to the winds and I wonder what in the world is worth saying.

For a homeschool writing assignment, I will sometimes ready the kids with a prompt, set a timer and "GO!" There's no stopping the pen for ten minutes or so, just write, write, write until the timer dings. My girls usually beg for more time, the rush of words blowing strong so that they don't want to stop. They can lift their eyes brave and proud to read out loud because I don't look, just listen, and hear them, see them, not their mistakes. Later, we will choose which freewrite to revise and edit. At that point, their spelling and grammar will be tackled but by then their ideas have heart. They are invested and much happier to hammer it out.

Anyway, I am assigning myself similarly. My prompt is a real e-mail I received recently with "What not to say" (when a beloved friend is suffering) in the subject line. Specifically, as our mutual friends tred through the minefield of cancer with their teen son, Thomas.

The last line of my response to her follows:

"The truth is, as long as we are motivated by love, I think it is all we can do. And it is enough."

During our family's trials, we have received such an outpouring of love and grace that to mention the few things that might not have been helpful seems downright irrelevant. Not to mention that I have walked away kicking myself more than a few times for my rather obtuse insensitivity to the pain of others over the years. I certainly am no authority on what not to say! More convinced than ever that love overwhelms all things and covers a multitude of thoughtlessness, I believe love redeems the offenses that curiously accompany greater afflictions.

Still, there is something to note in the fact that Job's friends initially did well to sit silently with him in his sorrow. It was when they opened their mouths that they went askew. Miserable comforters they are called. They compounded the pain, multiplied it even, with their opinions too freely shared. It is enough warning to clasp my hand over my mouth and cry, "Please, Lord, have mercy and shut my mouth!"

It is my experience that loss begets loss. In other words, there are ripple loss effects to the heavyweights. Relational casualties are a sad reality. Perhaps if expectations are harnessed, naivety to pain acknowledged, opinions stemmed, maybe, just maybe there will be one less.

Looking back, aside from Steve and our other two children, who were too young to understand, I struggled to manage the expectations or relational needs around me well, once our son started showing signs of bone marrow failure. We prized the days together like pearls in the hand. I would allow little else to distract the eyes of my heart, apart from the battles that waged upon the soil of my soul. In the hospital and at home, I needed to be fully present with my own. However, with a sick child I dared not leave, a man to hold, children twirling, tugging at my legs, there was never enough of me. Time to myself was also scarce but afforded a safe place to fall apart. The Spirit of God soothed and fed me, strengthening me continually. In the seven months that Caleb endured on a bone marrow unit, I was rarely undivided. Grateful that my parents were with our babies, I still found there to be a pulling -- such a tendency to guilt. One of the greatest gifts others could give me was time and space, void of guilt. Having said that, I don’t mean that I did not genuinely need or want anyone around me. I did! The hard truth is, at times I wanted a particular person present, but not others. It wasn’t a reflection on them and I felt it a kindness when my dear friends could be thankful that there was someone that I wanted or needed, a confidant that was a comfort in the situation --even if it wasn’t them.

Does this sound hard? It is. It all is.

Please hear me, sweet friends. Faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love. It is more than enough.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

pruning season


Is the tree that's pruned
preoccupied with pain?
standing with its wound
in the wind and rain....

gently transfigured
as sap begins to flow
flowers, leaves,
choicest fruit...

How I'd like to know:
Is the tree that's pruned
preoccupied with pain?

by Ruth Bell Graham


I don't know much about tree pruning but now that we live in Oregon, there is plenty of opportunity to learn! An old, gnarled apple tree in the side yard, highly favored by my children, reminds me of a grandmotherly woman surrendering herself knowingly to the seasons. Well acquainted with the shears, maybe she no longer fears them? She must know that fruit will follow in its time.

At times I feel the familiarity of loss, that cold current. Along with it, flows a reassurance of Christ's steadfast presence. I want more of Him. I wouldn't know Him, that He is wholly trustworthy if not for the pain. Do I welcome it? Not quite. But I welcome Him.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

love is a secret





In Cry The Beloved Country there is a dialogue between Kumalo, a pastor and father who has lost his son, and his good friend.

“ — This world is full of trouble, umfundisi.
— Who knows it better?
— Yet you believe?
Kumalo looked at him under the light of the lamp. I believe, he said, but I have learned that it is a secret. Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering. There is my wife, and you, my friend, and these people who welcomed me, and the child who is so eager to be with us here in Ndotsheni – so in my suffering I can believe.
— I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi. For our Lord suffered. And I come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering. For he knew that there is no life without suffering.
Kumalo looked at his friend with joy. You are a preacher, he said.”

I first read this book by Alan Paton ten years ago, the year Caleb died, and have re-read these lines several times since. Always I am moved because they have proven so very true. I want to encourage you that your love matters. The selfless kindnesses poured out to a heavy-laden soul, matter.

To me Christ imparts hope in the cloud of thick, choking despair. This is a secret. The love of those in my life has kept the candles lit in the pitch of night. This is a secret.

Of this thing I am certain, this is one secret worth sharing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

on Thomas and experiences shared

(Thomas and little Theo, his brother, in the CO Rockies. We love this young man, our godson.)


I saw a sign once that read, "BE GENTLE. Feelings are everywhere!" And so it is with trepidation but conviction that I pen the thoughts and feelings that mostly lie unvoiced. Thoughts on hardship, loss, and deep grace. A love story really. The story of our lives.

I have been asked a few times over the years what I found helpful (or not) during the times Caleb's marrow failed. What got us through the long trying months on a bone marrow unit. I've been asked how faith survives the loss of a child, how a marriage grows. Steve and I are regularly approached regarding adoption. There are some that wonder what life is like when your child has significant disabilities or medical needs. For years, I've contemplated sharing our life experiences but my attempts have seemed either too puny or my heart laid too exposed. It is much easier to delete or stuff the pieces into the back of my chipped desk drawer!

Very recently, as our dear friends, the Maedas, have had their lives capsized by their son, Thomas's, cancer diagnosis, some of you have thoughtfully asked to glean from our experiences. If you are reading this and don't know them, please pray for them. You can follow Thomas' story at http://shapingheartshome.wordpress.com/

My fierce love for them coupled with the psalmists assertion in Psalm 40,vs.10

"I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation."

has become the impetus to write more about the realities, the comforts, the difficulties with you, my friends, that God may be glorified. Likely, the posts will be incremental. The words may be slow in coming, so perhaps one sentence at a time. :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

12 and so sweet


For their twelfth, a fun day downtown with the whole crew (Steve took the day off). OMSI ( Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), coffee from Stumptown (caramel lattes for the birthday girls), Powells City of Books (and cash to spend at their leisure), dinner at The Flying Pie (gluten free pizza that rocks), and ice cream cake at home! Perfect.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

waking


I love the toddlerness. Maybe its the wedgie, the hair, her outgrown pjs, or her crazy-loved Bunny. Maybe its that she raced to the window to check on Fred (her snow-friend). Or how she stood, wide hearted and hushed.


Monday, January 16, 2012

And winter's now come fairly





We enjoyed our first snow flurry yesterday and made quite a to-do. Ayisha preferred the view from inside so no pics of her here. Fred, the nut eyed snowboy, has since been checked up on and prayed for faithfully by a chatty three year old. :)