Monday, December 18, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40 And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
I have been thinking about the pivotal moments in my life when my thinking about the world was drastically and permanently changed. The first time I can really remember was when I was in high school and I read Night by Eli Wiesel. I knew about the Holocaust, of course, but after reading this book, among others, I KNEW. It was this knowing that changed me. I could no longer be the same person that I was before. My thinking about the world, human nature, and God was profoundly affected.
The second time, I have mentioned in this blog previously. When I watched the beheading of an American by Islamic terrorists, my KNOWING grew again. I would never view the world the same again.
This enlarging happened again this week when I read There Is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene. It is hard to put this book into a nutshell, but basically it is the story of AIDS, Ethiopia, and an ordinary woman's fight to save a few. I knew about AIDS in Africa, of course. Especially in the last few years, the issue is getting more and more attention on the world stage. Literally. The big 8 concerts were in response to it, the Red campaign is trying to help, and I just read this week about Rick Warren's church working on a big program.
But, you see, I did not KNOW. Now I do and I will never be the same, I hope. It is hard to put into words how something impacts your very innermost being, and yet this book did. Not the book, actually, but what the book showed me. The plight of the people in Ethiopia and all over Africa, is- well, there are not words. One only has to look into the faces of the children affected and you will understand. It is not my purpose here to explain the issue, yet, or what the book covers, but I feel that I must call attention to this issue in any way I can.
I was thinking last night, that if I had found out that the Holocaust was happening RIGHT NOW, what would I do? Would I feel very sad and even cry? Would I tell my close friends, and us all mourn over a cup of coffee? Or would ACT? I hope that I would do everything I could to make a difference, to help and to save. This is what we are facing right now- travesty on a scale that is too enormous to comprehend. Of course, the issues are different, but in some ways the same. There is no evil empire killing the innocent and filling the world with hatred (well, ok, there is, but it is Islam, not Nazism), but there are millions of people dying horrific deaths, millions of children living with no hope except to die themselves very soon, and it is in our lifetime. We must act.
The problem is, however, that AIDS is not the real problem. It is the absence of salvation. I was so profoundly moved by the stories of the few lucky children that were "saved" into the loving arms of a family. But what were they saved into? The scourge of disease, famine, and war is terrible, but living with no hope for eternity is worse- unbearably worse. I want to change the world; I want to save the children; I want to heal the people. But so did Jesus. He did offer them healing of their bodies, and even food. But more importantly, He offered them TRUE hope. One that does not fade with the reality of death. One that can make a dying person smile with hope for the future. No AIDS program can offer this, nor can adoption. But we must still do these things. We must just offer the real healing and hope of Jesus foremost.
So what am I going to do? Well, for starters, adopt as many children as I can. Next, pray for those that are helping, healing, and teaching about Jesus. But what else? This I do not know. But I will be seeking God's face on this issue with my whole heart. Will I move to Africa and run a hospice or orphanage? Or will I just raise the ones I can and sacrifice so that I can give to organizations like Samaritan's Hope of Gospel for Asia- people that are doing exactly what I am talking about? I do not yet know. But I can tell you- I will be beginning AT LEAST these steps today. God help us.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Another interesting thing to see is this Youtube look at the capital city on Ethiopia, Addis Ababa- Addis in 4:30. I can't believe that God willing, we will be going there.
I have bunches to do today, but that should be enough to keep anyone busy for a while...
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The cats have been hanging around much more now that it has been so cold and I took pity on them and fed them again. I had heard that you should not feed them very much so they will catch mice. So I only gave them a little, and I did see one of them eating something small and animal like. I am just afraid it was a KITTEN that the mother knew would starve because I wouldn't feed it. So its back to the good life and cat food two times a day.
So back to my nice Saturday. My sister and I went Christmas shopping for seven hours after E. got home. We had a blast and really found almost all the gifts we still had to purchase. I ordered half of my stuff on Amazon this year, and I can't wait to get it all. I think you can buy ANYTHING on that site. Really it is crazy. E. told someone I had ordered a slave, which I thought was worth looking into...
After my success shopping, I did feel a little weird. I always feel this way after I spend large sums of money. I hate the feeling of greediness that comes over me. I am not being exactly greedy, because they are not gifts for myself, but I think it is the whole attitude of buying so many things that none of us really need. Thinking constantly about our new sons and the conditions they face in Ethiopia, makes the mall seem horribly stupid and unimportant. I do love giving gifts, and it is truly the thinking about what would really bless someone I love that makes me buy things. I wish I was just more creative and could think of something better. I love when people give me gifts that show they love, know, and thought about me, but I wonder if I would feel the same if we did like some do and donate the money that would have been spent of. I know this is a horrible tangent, and I really did have a wonderful time picking out all the gifts for those I love, but still, something gnaws at the edge of my mind that makes me think about this more.
I just spent an hour reading a blog about a family's adoption journey to Ethiopia. They started blogging about their experience last year, and they just brought their two daughters home on December 7th. I was so touched and amazed that this will hopefully be my story soon. Seeing the struggles they encountered and how the Lord provided for them, and then the pictures of their beautiful daughters, made my heart just overflow with longing. I know that this blog will probably be taken over at some point with our adoption, but then, so will our life.
E. is drinking a beer all alone in the loft, so I think I will go and join him. I am so thankful for my beloved, our family, and the One who gives us breath, and the hope of our salvation. Goodnight.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I am really having a hard time with our kids' school situation. Since we live out so far in the country, my middle daughter rides the bus for 3 hours every day. To make it worse, the bus monitor yells at the kids and makes her life miserable. I can not take her every day because my oldest gets home before I could, and the ride would be an hour each way for me and the youngest. The situation is bad, and I don't know a way around it. She loves her school and her teacher is amazing, but I don't know if it is worth it.
My eldest daughter goes to a different school and does not seem to be getting a very good education. We were doing more advanced stuff this time last year in Kindergarten! And she tells me she has done NO science the entire year. The school is very poor and overcrowded. I know her teacher is trying very hard, but with no help, few resources and 25 first-graders, she is set up for failure. I am amazed my daughter has learned anything under the circumstances. She loves her teacher ( I would too- she is the PERFECT first-grade teacher) and likes being very social, but is this worth it either? I think we will have to go back to homeschooling next year.
My beloved is working on our wood stove AGAIN, and it is getting late. I am getting good at keeping a fire going and we can heat our whole house with the one stove. I feel like Ma Ingels and hope that E. can fix the noisy motor so we can have a snuggly fire tonight. By the way, I have to mention that the best thing I have bought in my whole life is my new flannel sheet set. I love them and look forward every night to climbing into the amazing softness. I am imagining it right now, so seeing as it is late, I am sick, and the sheets are calling, I will go.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We went and shot skeet down by the river after supper, which was fun, but at least for my part, nearly futile. I hope that someday I will be able to hit something with a shotgun that is right in front of me. I did manage to hit a tree with Dad's revolver, but about seven feet higher than I was shootin' for. So if I am ever in a situation needing to shoot a very tall person, I will aim for the feet.
On Wednesday night all the youngin's came over and watched a movie. It was bad, but made me think about a good movie that I seem to have forgotten- Memento. The only thing I remember is that it was cool and the main character forgot things much like I did the movie. I will have to watch that again sometime, and if I remember, I will tell you if it is good.
On Friday, a bunch of us went backpacking. I had never done this, so it was great fun for me. I succeeded in starting a fire, and cut down a tree all by myself. My campy husband has taught me well. He stayed home with the girls, so he earned big points for letting me go. G. and I froze in our tent, so I am never going in the cold again without a down sleeping bag. But what an amazing experience- I felt like a hobbit on a journey with all my stuff in someones else's pack. Yeah, my analogy breaks down, unless K. from Ireland is my Sam and carries all the pots. I only had a small bag with food in it, but it still felt cool...
I realized on Friday that I have too much stuff. I hate the feeling of knowing that I have totes full of mysterious stuff that I never use, but still need for some reason. I had a shed full of stuff, not to mention a house full of stuff in cabinets and closets, and a barn full as well. So yesterday I cleaned out everything that was in my house that I don't actually need. It feels great. E. and I did the shed on Sunday, so now its just the barn, and away it all will go. I am going to donate it all to an organization that provides for the poor here in Jessamine County. I feel so free and happy for it all to be gone. Now when I look around, all I see is things we need or use regularly. I should have done this ages ago. But the bigger question is, why did I collect all this stuff anyway? And how do I avoid id in the future? Well, at least for now, this will do, but I am thinking about how I want my life to be much more radical. I don't know what form It will take, but I want to make the most of the short time I have to make a difference in the Kingdom. I don't want all that crap I just got rid of to be the sum of my reward. So here's thinkin'- watch out for the new rad me.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Ever since I was six and saw a black baby doll at the fancy department store, I have wanted a black child. Then when I was older, the famine in Ethiopia became world news. Seeing the starving children there watered the seeds in my heart and gave me the dream to adopt children from Africa. Since I have become an adult, I have seen the need in so many parts of the world, but the faces of African boys have stuck in my mind. When you read about the culture in many parts of Africa and its effect on men there, it makes you want to do something. The practice of having several families in different parts of the country as a result of traveling to find work, gives men little sense of accountability for their actions. Couple this with the still circulated idea of curing AIDS by sleeping with as many virgins as possible, and you have a recipe for disaster. And so many boys are being taken into militia groups that teach them to kill, rape, and destroy. There is little hope for a boy in Africa to grow into a godly man with these influences, and it is a miracle that so many do. But the plight of orphans is even worse. Knowing that so many children there have no hope for a good life here on Earth saddens me, but the knowledge that they have no eternal hope is the worst of all.
Adoption also reflects the heart of God. He uses this metaphor to describe our relationship with Him. We are adopted as His sons (Ephesian 1:5), and given an inheritance and a hope. He also cares for the orphan, and anyone practicing true religion, does to. (See Isiah 1:17 and James 1:27). I think that when you understand (as much as we can understand) the heart of God toward us in this way it drives your heart toward adoption. I know that many people do not feel a burning desire to do this, but we are all called to care for orphans.
In the Old Testament, God made provision for orphans and widows part of His law. His character is the same today, and so I know that He still desires this. That is why I am not as afraid as you might think about coming up with the $30,000 that we will need to adopt two sons from Africa. You can join with me in praying that God would provide this money so that we can show two boys from the other side of the world that there are people who love them, and most of all that there is a God who still provides for orphans in their distress. You can also pray for the boys; they might be alive already and their suffering may be terrible.
There are many needy children right here in Kentucky. It is hard to know how to pick which child needs us the most. Children in the US that are disabled or addicted to substances at birth are also falling through the cracks. They may end up in a good foster home, but they could be subject to neglect or abuse. This is an option for us, so we will have to pray for wisdom regarding the direction we choose. I hope that you catch our vision and will pray with us.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I got a towel and snuck out the back door. When I rounded the corner to the front porch, it began to scamper frantically about. It lept off the porch, with me in quick pursuit. It ran up inside the siding, and then fell out. At this point, my husband was out cheering me on and attempting to corner it. Finally, I was able to capture back on the porch. We could not believe it. I had it in my hands, whatever it was. After taking it into the house and putting it in a pot, we decided on a large clear tote for its new home. Yes, it was so adorable that the man of the house began to beg to keep it! I heard "No, honey, it is a wild animal and it belongs outside where it can be free." coming out of my mouth.
We looked it up on line and discovered that it was a Southern Flying Squirrel. They are not rare; in fact if you were outside looking in the trees for flying squirrels at night, you could probably find one. It was eating lichen on our logs which it appears, is a meal of choice. After waking the girls up to show them our latest midnight capture, we decided that we needed to hold it. We took the tote outside and carefully put our hands inside. It was so silky, and crawled up on E.'s hand. So I decided to actually grab it. This is the point where you begin to wonder about me, unless you know my history of catching wild animals that began when I was a little child.
I first remember capturing a "wild" parakeet. Then came various injured birds, a baby squirrel without hair that fell from its nest (it died after my mom agreed to take it to the vet!), snakes, several rabbits (one snatched right out from under the noses of a few dogs trying to kill it), and lots of frogs and turtles. I always feel a twinge of excitement when catching wild animals, but now I have even more fun showing them off to my girls. E. likes to do this too. One night he woke the girls to show them a tiny toad. They all liked it except for the youngest who said "Daddy, Mama doesn't allow us to have things like that in the house!". This morning, my middle girl asked why I had a band aid on my finger and I told her the flying squirrel had bitten me. She replied that she thought that had been a dream which made me wonder if waking the girls in the middle of the night to show them wild animals in the house is that great of an idea.
So, the squirrel- the FLYING squirrel, bit me and had to be let go. E. watched it for a while, took some pictures and actually got to see it glide while I looked up rabies on line. Too bad that by the time you show symptoms, there is nothing to do but chain you to a tree. The good news is squirrels don't get rabies (at least it is very RARE, which is hardly comforting). Now, I can add a new creature to my list, and wonder what else we will find in the dark.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
A trip to the Gap outlet helped me to realize that I was having a mid-life-crisis. I hope this isn't really my mid-life, but going out at 60 wouldn't be that bad. So what do I mean? Well, I have begun to realize that I have moved beyond some very big things in my life. I think as a child one looks to the future and imagines falling in love, getting married, finding your work, and having children as the big milestones. After all these have happened, have you not really already experienced the best of what life has to offer? I mean, even my body is beginning to fail me. Not only am I experiencing the pain of aging, but the side-effects as well (like wrinkles and hormone problems). O.K., I know that I am just now 30, but THIRTY, come on. So I have begun to see that I have already done all the things that I looked forward to.
So where does that leave me? Do I just die now, or ride the downhill train in resignation? I now see that this is not it at all. If my hope is in this world, then yes, it is all downhill now. According to our cultural standards, I am no longer the model of beautiful perfection I once was, so I might as well just give up, or look to money, or personal gratification (like retirement) at this point. And I guess that would be true, except for one big thing. And this is THE THING- I am not created for this world. I have these deep longings- to be the beautiful princess who has great adventure and romance and lives happily ever after. And this desire is not bad, in fact, God gave it to me- for heaven. I know I am not saying this very clearly, but I think that in my own life a remarkable awakening is occurring. I am seeing the need to cut the strings that tie me to this world, because my hope is not here. This world is beauty, love, and joy- yes; but it is also pain, heartache and bitter disappointment. So how can this be fine with me? How can I realize that all that I hoped for and dreamed of is not going to happen? I am not fine with that, because it is going to happen- when I finally am free of this world and its sin.
I just imagine how this might someday affect my life. If I truly realized this down to the depths of my soul, I would be a different person. I would not life for myself. I would think of each day I had on Earth as an opportunity to affect eternity. I would serve; I would give; I would love without fear. I would live out reality, not the illusion that this life was what I was made for.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I do get very confused sometimes as to when old people are telling me truth or fantasy. I remember not realizing that the outrageous stories a lady in my Grandmother's nursing home were not true until the nurse told me. I just don't have much experience with the process of dementia and I wonder when the lines between memory, wishful thinking, and escapism become blurred. A lady last night asked if my girls were adopted (granted they look nothing like me, but they are the spitting image of their daddy who was standing next to me). She then confided that she had adopted her daughter, but that she didn't tell everyone that. She told me it was long ago and that she hadn't brought any money to give the people, but that she just gave them candy. Huh? Was she now talking about tonight's festivities, or had her experiences from long ago (real or imagined) become entwined with the present? I just smiled and squeezed her hand and told her adoption was wonderful.
Sometimes this aspect of aging scares me. What does it feel like to not know reality? But considering that so much of how we perceive reality is really a product of our own minds, maybe it is not so scary after all. In the end, what difference does it make if our memories get screwed up? It just seems like it does make a HUGE difference. It is our life, after all, and by the time I am that old, more will be in the past then the future on this Earth. And not being able to identify how that life was lived is sad. What if I can't know that the faces I see love me? Or that my life was lived for anything worthwhile? But maybe, they don't know that they don't know and life is great.
I would like to forget all the dogs I have failed in my life. First there was Odo. He was "great", but made the girls cry in abject terror, so off to a farm for him. Then there was Elsa. I could just never like her, and neither could anyone else. She wasn't bad, just weird and distant. She is on at least her fourth home, and she's not sticking there either. Then there was Caspian. He was adorable and sweet but dug up my plants and puked on the floor in the middle of the night. After stepping in a big pile at 3 in the morning, I gave him some Imodium AD and sent him to his next home. (They love him, so that was a good thing.) Then came Jack (who I am determined to keep), and now Jill. I am in the process of failing her. She chased the neighbor's horses (and they will shoot her), she tears up things, teaches Jack bad habits, and makes me miserable. Miserable because I like her so much, but she exasperates me. After she made a poop pile on the carpet again this morning, I just felt that I can never win with dogs. Who else has had this many dogs in only 3 years? I thought I was a dog person, but maybe I just need to admire them from afar. I hope someday I remember that I was a dog champion and ran a rescue or something. That would be great
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Today is Halloween and I have been doing a great deal of thinking about relationships. That does not seem to follow, but many issues are being stirred up in my mind right now. It is so hard to know the right way to handle all the different people in my life. And I must be different for each person. My eldest daughter just started sobbing when she was told to pick up her room- and then proceeded to stomp upstairs and take out her anger at me on her youngest sister. Should I try to work it out and be in the middle? Or do we have to sometimes let people handle their own emotions and relationships. It is hard to know when to confront, and when to watch. This dilemma is true in all of my relationships. Do I attempt to continually strive to make things different and "better" or do I sometimes accept what is, and be a peace with that. I do not know.
Today it is raining, so the wasps and lady bugs are hidden for the most part. But just knowing that they are somewhere, waiting to take over, gives me the creeps. My man said he would try to help the problem, but I am just waiting right now for the first big freeze. This makes me sad because after it freezes, so much of the beauty of living in the country dies along with the bugs. I guess the melancholy of the day is affecting my perspective because every where I look today, I see life leading to chaos. Nature taking over my house, apathy my relationships, cupcakes my figure, and naptime my motivation for change. But then my littlest one comes into the room like a ray of sunshine, with her cheerful made-up songs about life, and her enthusiasm about the future. Why do I lose that so often? Yes, this life runs to destruction, but I have hope of a new life- one that will never disappoint. My hope is for life eternal, where I will not have to strive, for the victory is accomplished.
Somehow this letter turned into a shallow look at the nature of life. I don't know how that happened. But my time to write is up. I have to get back into the struggle, make decisions, take a shower, and teach my children. Even if it is just about how to share your new birthday toys with a cheerful heart, the lessons are endless, and of eternal consequence. I am off to trick-or-treat and to fight the good fight.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Just in case someone besides my few friends and family ever read this, I live in an old school by this name out in the country. My brother has likened it to Egypt (the swarming vermin) and I have alternated from delight in the views and peace, to abject horror of the new life I have chosen. Coming from the city to the country has been very interesting, and considering that I have enough anecdotal happenings to amuse at least one other person than myself, I felt I could share in the blogging world.