Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Go To Bed

Exhaustion ... why you need your rest and should not let yourself get to the place of ... no turning back ... insanity. Years ago when my second child (known to many as Sophie ... but to me she was Fia Mia) was first born ... I learned a great lesson about how and why one should learn to say NO.

When I was prego with Fia, I was teaching middle school on Guam. It was hot and humid and the closer it got to my delivery date, the harder it got to remain sane. Nine months pregnant and I was having trouble lasting more then a couple of hours. After about 30 minutes of teaching a classroom full of prepubescent and beyond pubescent ... 7th and 8th grade brats ... I was way done. So in late May, two weeks before school was out ... I took an early maternity leave.

Did I mention, I had a (almost) three year old little boy ... David or boy boy as he was called then ... and that John was working swing shift so we didn’t have to put our son in child care (this means I was a full time teacher and a full time mother, and housewife...no nannies or mama’s little helper) Did I also mention...we moved back to the island just six months earlier...stayed at my mom’s house ...until we began to wear out our welcome...and then in mid May moved temporarily into a friends house to house sit while they went on vacation...and did I mention I was tired and it was hot and oh by the way...I was clueless about how and why and when to say NO.

So a couple days after taking leave ... I caught the flu which caused premature labor and I gave birth two weeks early to Fia. Well I had planned on giving birth the second week of June and so months earlier, I had agreed to carve a watermelon into a whale and fill it with a variety of fruits ....I think ... or maybe it was I agreed to carve two watermelon whales...and a watermelon basket...regardless...I felt like a watermelon I know that much ... and so proceeded to stuff those babies with fruit for a wedding shower. Noooo problem....less then a week and a half after giving birth...and I am up carving watermelons and fruit...no problemo ... except I was exhausted.

That night, John went to work and here we are in a strange house and it is sweltering hot and so I put David and Fia to bed with me and we crash until about 2 am. Then I suddenly wake from a very deep sleep to the sound of Fia choking and struggling to breathe...her face was turning deep red and I went into immediate overdrive. I jumped from my bed picked her up and could not for the life of me think of what to do. I immediately called 911 and begged for an ambulance. As I was waiting for them to arrive I started pacing and crying and yelling for God’s divine intervention (with poor little boy boy following me in horror).

I walked outside and promised God I would go to Africa if he would just save my baby girl. As I am flipping out and still waiting for the ambulance, John pulls into the driveway (as he just got off work). He immediately goes into a panic as he sees his crazed wife crying in the front lawn with his children. I jump in the car and tell him to race us to the hospital. We struggle to get the emergency lights on as we drive...(we never did figure it out) and as he drives at break neck speed ... and mind you no seat belts or car seat... I am holding Fia in my arms as she is struggling to breathe and I am hysterically begging him to get us to the hospital before she dies.

We finally arrive at the hospital and I run into the emergency room holding Fia and crying my eyes out...and little Fia Mia is breathing just fine thank you. The guy that helps me with my dying baby ... gives me a once over ... with a, ‘how pathetic’ look on his face and sends me to an observation room to sit and collect my wits and dignity.

Well, as I am sitting in that little room with Fia and boy boy, by my side....I hear my husband talking to a nurse. She is a very attractive fellow Yapese and oh by the way...someone he use to date. I hear him outside the door explaining what happened and then he asks her, if she would like to meet his wife. It is at this time I start examining myself.

I am sitting on a chair without shoes...I have bright blue pants on that are not buttoned or zipped...because I just gave birth and I can’t zip them...fortunately I have a blouse over the pants that covers this disaster...unfortunately it is a white blouse and I have no bra on...fortunately the blouse has ruffles. My hair was tied up when I went to sleep...its all over the map at that moment and mascara is smeared under my eyes. David is standing next to me with no shoes and no clothes except for his underwear...as I said it was a very hot evening. Fia is in my arms with a towel from the hospital...because she is also naked wearing only a wet diaper. John however, just got off his job at the hotel as a front desk clerk and is formally dressed in slacks and shirt and looks great. Yeah like I really wanted to meet Miss Yap!

Morale of the story....go to bed and get some sleep...or its one long nightmare for you and a traumatized family. Seriously, when we are beyond tired, we are more likely to mishandle things and to hit the hysteria button in record time....and when we are exhausted we are not the only one that pays the price...our family suffers right along with us. The key to staving off exhaustion is learning when to say No. It really is okay to say ... I just can’t do that ... sorry I’m a wimp...please keep looking until you find a superwoman that is more willing and capable.

We hear it preached all the time, there are many good things our church could be doing but we have chosen to focus our limited resources and time on what God has called us to do...evangelize, plant churches and disciple men. Well, there are many things you as a child of God and a woman could do...but you are called to love (and respect) your husband, raise your babies and maintain a sane nurturing home for your family. Everything else is possible ... only when it is not at the price of your family.

Unless of course you have a special calling to carve whales at midnight ... in which case occasional insanity is forgivable... just don’t make it a habit ... and please get some sleep... sanity is a precious thing to lose and I hear a good nights rest will keep you young, skinny, smart, lovely, witty, wise, happy, and did I mention...cool way cool.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blind But Now I See

This morning, as I walked the Patton Middle School track I closed my eyes to the blazing sun...and which is often my habit...I prayed and talked to God. Unfortunately my habit of walking is worse then my habit of praying and so the Lord does His best to speak to me in whatever way He can.

I am easily distracted...and so I momentarily forgot my prayer and instead focused on walking within the track lane with my eyes closed. Childish I know...but my mind wanders and I am amused and challenged by the simplest of ideas.

Nothing catastrophic happened but it did get me thinking...or perhaps it gave the Lord something to work with. I am so dependent on my sight I could not stay within those lines without wandering into the other tracks. I have been walking for over 50 years and I don’t think about walking, I don’t think about where or how I get my bearings or keep my balance. I just walk with my eyes wide open and it is as much a part of me as breathing...

So what would it be like to lose my sight? If I had gone suddenly blind I would have struggled to make it from the track to the street. I would need help not only from the very beginning but I would need help continually from that day forward. I would not be able to survive without someone’s help or intervention. I would need to use a cane so I could sweep it across the sidewalk as I walk, I would need to learn to listen for directional cues and I would have to memorize how many steps it takes to go from one destination to another. Without someone to take me further, my world would be very small, very difficult and largely confined to my home.

Life can be like that. Their are moments in our lives when we are cruising along and then in what may be a blink of an eye or maybe a slow nightmare tumble to the ground we are blind and it is dark and all reference points have been taken away. I do not believe the Lord creates these moments but He does use them to teach us about who He is and how desperately we need Him to take our hand and lead us.

Think about Paul the apostle...stopped....by a flash of light, a tumble off his horse, a voice from heaven and then blindness. His men had to lead him to where the Lord instructed and then he waited until the Lord sent someone to restore his sight. We know from the Word that Paul was no longer the same but became a believer...His sight was restored both physically and spiritually and I suspect his eyesight though restored was never the same. He may have been healed and restored to perfect sight but he no longer looked at the world and his Savior with the same eyes...he had been transformed.

On the way to our destination, life happens. Its not necessarily good or evil...life just happens and we either trust God with those moments of blindness or we don’t. You either find your way out of a cold and dark room or you stay. Often in life we have to ask ourselves...Can I take hold of His hand and trust Him to lead me where I have never been and can I honestly say, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff they comfort me?

Life happens and as life happens and you are stumbling in the dark and the Lord is holding your hand... the question is not only...will you hold onto His hand...but when your sight is finally restored whose eyes will you have? When you finally pull through and are able to look back and then you turn and gaze into the eyes of those who know you and those who don’t...when you gaze into the eyes of those you love and those who frustrate you and those who pass you on street corners and greet you at empty counters with empty stares...when you gaze into the eyes of strangers and those who sit next to you at church...when you gaze into those eyes and you look and talk and move just as you always have....whose eyes will they see looking back at them? Will they be yours or will they pause and search your face and say...I never noticed this before...but...you have your Fathers eyes.

Life happens. John and I pioneered two churches and in between the two we went home to our mother church and let God lead us. We had passed through a few valleys over the years and many times our blindness was our own doing...but always the Lord was there. I wrote the following poem during one of those valleys. The poem is not so much about children but about the child in each of us and at the time it was about the child in both John and I that God was so desperately wanting to heal.

The Arms of Mercy - 1998

Face without name, forever bears the cost, Innocence lost

Guilt thinly veiled can not mask, poisoned past.

Oh wounded heart, shattered dreams

Who can bear your silent screams for mercy

No place to run, where can I hide

Who can bear your silent cries

Who can bear those pleading eyes

That bruise me, rip through me

Oh shattered fragment of a child

Your eyes, they do accuse me.

White washed smile, fading in the shadows breaking

Embittered heart, bound and chained

Bears the guilt and the shame without mercy

The Lords mercy

Oh wounded heart, shattered child

Pray your heart no more defiled

Pray He hold His wounded child

Forever, in His torn and bleeding arms of Mercy

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flowing Through My Fingers

Seasons...I have been thinking about seasons.  Our modern world sometimes seems so disconnected from the natural ebb and flow of life.  Pages and chapters of our lives quickly turn and we are not cognizant of the passing of time.  There are no markers, nothing that causes us to pause and take notice.  We don't seem to grasp the minutes and hours and years that flow through our lives like a child's silky tresses flowing through our fingers.

Modern technology and lifestyles spin around never ending opportunities and everything is quickly within our grasp.  The world’s mysteries can be explored within a days jet ride or with a press of a finger and the miracle of the Internet.  Our disconnected lifestyles are built on quickly sifting sand and we don’t understand why we are so discontent.  Days and weeks pass…and we fail to see a child’s small hands opening and closing as they master what is easily within our grasp… cheerios and rose petals and crawling bugs.


We were created to move with the tide as it ebbs and flows and to the rhythm of passing days measured by the rising and the setting of the sun.   A God who measures our days created us and teaches us through His word and His creation that life has seasons.  Yet much of what we do is too much to do, about nothing.  


It is so easy to get caught up in the complexity and demands of modern life.  Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.  The most precious moments in life aren’t planned, manipulated, carefully choreographed or documented.  They just happen.  You gently take a child by the hand and walk away from all the should of and could of and would of and you embrace a cherished moment of unconditional acceptance and love that only a child can give this side of eternity.


I am not nor have I ever been a perfect mother to my children.  I have often failed them and I have often failed myself.  I’ve missed opportunities, forgotten birthdays, failed to provide home cooked meals and never canned a single jar of strawberry jam.  I have let the sun go down on my wrath without an apology, never packed a lunch for my husband to take to work and still struggle to maintain a consistent prayer life. 


I have fallen short of every demand I have placed upon myself and every delusional dream I have entertained about the perfect wife and mother.  Almost thirty years of marriage and four grown children and despite all my shortcomings I am at peace with who I am because I have been loved by my children and I have loved my children to the best of my ability…and they know it.


I wasn’t always there for my children, but through God’s grace and His shaping of my character through the seasons of life… I have often over the years…stepped out of the world of possibilities and stopped the craziness, closed my ears to the voices of obligation and duty and responsibility, looked my child in the eyes, held their face in my hands and listened and watched and prayed and let life happen.  Seasons will come and time will ebb and flow.   Love those babies with everything in you…love them and hold them and pray for them and when they grow up and leave your home… the seasons will change and one day life will flow through their fingers like the silky hair of a sleeping child… and they will remember you.


Years ago, I wrote a song...and I won't include all the verses but here is the chorus...

In a hug, in a word, in a husbands smile, in a look, in a touch, in the eyes of my child.  In a prayer, in the dark on the night I cried.  In a heart, in a life, in this child's eyes.  Through the smile of a friend, in mama's hug, in a look in a word, in my child's love.  He is there. Jesus is always there.