Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What you learn in the split seconds you never want to have....

A fire broke out behind our house yesterday, due to the high winds. A man who has been helped by some in the church a few times asked if he could store his car there while away on business - and we said sure. It caught on fire as an electrical line went down due to high winds. I heard it and went to look - and saw the car just go up quickly in flames...then some trees caught fire, and the neighbor's barn. It all happened so quickly. I realized that we were going to be next in line, along with our neighbors, as we were downwind and the treeline connected both of our houses to the flames.

I think most women, in their minds, at least, mentally prepare for these moments. The fires, or the car accidents, or the funerals. Whatever the scenario, we try to prepare as best we can. Reality didn't play out as gracefully as my imagination always had.

Those split second moments really tell you a lot about yourself.

Get the kids dressed. I realized later I only put one shoe on Julia.

In the meantime, call 911... wait and wait and wait for them to answer. They were swamped. We weren't the only ones with a fire, I discovered later.
Be transferred to the fire department....wait even longer. It was not my calmest moment. Eli later related to Jason that he could tell no one was answering the phone when I called for help. Yeah....

Got to tell the neighbors. Make sure they're out.
Wait.... got to get the fire department first to get them on the way. The phone wont reach.

Got to get out of the house. Got to get the kids safe.

What do I take?

Put the kids by the door, next to the car.
Run back.
Get insurance files. ( Why have I procrastinated so long about getting important papers into a safe deposit box?!) Threw them in the car.

A man on a motorcycle drove up & banged loudly on the door. I opened it and he ran in - yelling at me to get the kids out of the house. Somewhere in in there he apologized for running through my house. I think I saw him run out the back to the fire, but I don't remember for sure.

And somewhere in there the phone rang.. and I answered it. (?!?)
Thank goodness it was Theresa - she understood when I just said there was a fire and had to go & hung up... and she hung up and came over to see if if she could help. Never saw you but I love just knowing it is like you to not sit still.

I ran back to take one last look. What else do I do? I stood for just a second I am sure, but it seemed like 10 minutes. I looked around, at all that would be gone, I feared, in just a few minutes. That picture... looking around.... is stuck in my mind.

That was my clearest, calmest moment. I can't describe the fact that I felt intense peace in that exact moment.... that it was okay to lose everything. I thought about the picture albums - but there were just too many, and I had the real things standing at the door.

I grabbed the video of our daughter Jessica's life and funeral. And two bibles.

As I ran to put the kids in the car, I knew whatever happened, by that evening we would have more than enough offers of a place to stay. I knew we would have clothes on our back and food to eat. I knew we would be surrounded by people who loved us. His people. His provision. Nothing we owned compared.

Looking back, I don't know why I grabbed the video. I never watch it. My family has copies I could've had. I had to waste time to dig for it.
I think, like the bibles, it represents one of the closest connections I have to our God. That experience defines why I trust Him now. Why I could trust Him in the midst of this without knowing the end or what would happen, and feel peace. With her, I thought I had to know the end. I thought it had to be "good". I didn't realize that sometimes the most painful things you go through become the most treasured parts of your life. Those most unstable moments have the potential to catapult you to your most solid state of belief and confidence in Him.

So I put the kids in the car and we pulled out of the driveway.

The fire department got there. They started to put out the car, then realizing it was beyond saving, moved to the barn.

Only later do we realize that this move was critical. That barn, which was already on fire, was filled with gasoline tanks and paint.. for the neighbor's lawn business and rental houses. The fireman told Jason late last night that he knew everyone thought they were crazy for letting the car burn and trying to put out the smaller fire on the barn, but they saw right away that if the barn went up, our house and the neighbors house would be gone. They would not have been able to stop it for the winds. And that was before they knew there were flammable materials that would have caused an explosion.

(Our neighbor said he had a box of smoke detectors and CO2 alarms for his rent houses just pumping their little hearts out with beeping in the barn - but no one could hear. The irony struck us all funny.)

The fire department sat out there for six hours around the lines that still were sparking, until the electric company could get away to shut them down. Others are still fighting fires tonight. Some lost their electricy. Some lost their homes. We ended up losing neither. Humbling isn't an adequate description.

Fred's car is gone. He showed up unexpectedly today, after being gone for 4 weeks, and after much discussion about how to contact and tell him. The car was all he had. The only other possessions he had were in the truck he drives. Thankfully, the burnt papers we tried to save were unecessary - he had the important ones with him. But everything else is gone. He didn't cry, but from what Jason said, he thought he wanted too. He had to be in Oklahoma City by 7 pm, and had just stopped in to check on it. So he just had to leave. Jason wrapped a heavy winter coat around him.

The contrast burdens me.

Jason and I are nobodys... to have this grace is beyond us. To have confidence in Him that we could have nothing, and it be okay, is peace. To have confidence that we are surrounded by so many who would refuse to let us remain with nothing, brings my heart prostrate before Him.

But Fred has nothing... and noone, as far as I can tell. That aloneness is what Christ rescued us from. How desperately I want him to know that what we have is for him too. How much I want him to want that for himself. God may use this dark moment to bring him there, if he will allow it. Satan's voice is loud in this world.

May God's, even through us, be louder.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I am cooking for Thanksgiving!

I am cooking from scratch. ( Well.... except the bread and stuffing and sweet potato casserole, and pie.) But I made Buckeyes from scratch. Jason said he was impressed that I didn't use a box. It was a very genuine and heartfelt compliment that I gladly accepted.

I'll be honest. I'm feeling pretty domestic. Doesn't happen much in the cooking department for me.

Have a great THANKFUL day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thankfulness behind bars

"Do not blush or be ashamed the, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but ( with me) take your share of the suffering ( to which the preaching) of the Gospel (may expose you and do it) in the power of God." 2 Tim. 1:8

In studying this week, I am just struck by Paul's statement to Timothy. This letter is probably the last communication he will have with this man who has become like his son. He misses him. He is lonely, and while not afraid, is aware that his physical death is approaching.

Over and over I keep thinking of what it is like to pass on your life's passion and work to someone else, as in essence that is what he does in this letter. And he knows that what he has given his life to is not just another job. It' is God's offer of real LIFE to people.

But this world is volatile. They don't always want life or light.

Sometimes, I realize I get so comfortable being here, or being with people who do want life, that these words don't ring as true and as necessary to my heart as they should. Timothy had to soak this up, even as his heart was overwhelmed with emotion. When one believes in you as Paul did Timothy, it changes your life. When you've lost someone like that, you take every task they commend to you to heart.

"Take your share of the suffering...."

It is a given.
It doesn't take away constant joy, as Paul's life proves. But it's presence, none the less, is expected.
It's uncomfortable to think suffering has a place of measuring in my life, but I believe it should, if I hope to be transformed like Him. It's absence may tell me more than I want to know. It's character may produce more of who I have always longed to be.

So my thoughts of thanksgiving this week make me want to be faithful to the One behind all I am thankful for, no matter what the cost.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Kid's a stand up.....

*** Warning*** Objectional matieral to follow. Those without kids might not want to read.

I've debated over putting this up - but know there are a few of you who will appreciate it despite the context.

I'm cleaning the bedroom, and Eli comes out of the bathroom with no pants on.

I look at him, confused, and ask him "What are you doing?"

He replies "I had to go poopy."

Still confused, I ask "Do you need help wiping or something?

He cheerfully answers :
"No thanks. Dad already got to the bottom of it. "

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is that Webster's phone number in your little black book?

We have been married over 10 years.

Then today, in the middle of a conversation.... out it comes.

I've never heard of it before, now. Never even had a hint it was going on in his head.


I don't know if I spelled it right. I don't even know what it means. It was such a shock, I can't even remember the rest of the context of the conversation to help me define it's meaning.

You would think, after ten years, you would have a good working knowledge of the repitoire of your spouse's vocabulary.

But no. Out it comes... like he's always had it in his brain, like it has been an acceptable conversational word to use all of our lives.... like everyone knows what it means.

He asked if I thought he was having an affair with a dictionary.

I'm just saying the evidence speaks for itself. Come to think of it, I have always been a little suspicious.....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

sweet ,innocent ,political prayers

I have been crazy tired for the last couple of days - but had to blog this. Eli has prayed for the last couple of nights a unique little phrase that just cracks me up.

".....thank you for my family, for everyone You made, for every thing You made, for Your fruits of the spirit, thank You for Your ten commandments, Your laws and Your bills. "

I think he watched our "Schoolhouse Rock" Congress song too much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I think I missed the point....

My husband and I had a argument over unity a couple nights ago.

We were grappling with real issues and real emotions. I mean, Jesus prayed for this to be an identlifying mark of us to the world!

But you know, the ridiculous idea that I got up and went to sleep on the couch, because we couldn't agree, somehow made both of us laugh.

No wonder whole churches struggle with it.

Thankfully, we all keep trying.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

With so much smarts, how'd you end up THERE?!

Okay ... I'm so excited. Some might think it is bragging... but I assure you it is pure joy!

A few weeks ago I nominated my son to be tested for the gifted and talented program at school. It was a move filled with a lot of insecurity, because I felt like some of the staff would laugh behind my back at the mere suggestion, considering that is not usually side that they encounter with him. I didn't even know if he would be able to take it with some of the other issues going on, but I nominated him anyways.

We got a note last night - he qualified!! You have to score in the top 5% of your grade or the test. ( His non-gifted and talented parents couldnt read the test scores, so I'm not sure. ) I am so excited for him!

I also found out he locked himself in his locker yesterday.


As Eli told me, I just began to crack up. ( He was offended.)
Jason also suggested that my laughing was inappropriate, as when Eli recounted the story to him afterschool, he was still tearing up & shaky about it. But it was just so funny! Eli did start to laugh, after I couldn't control myself. I think he'll need therapy, but then again, laughing at yourself saves a world of hurt later on in life.

I asked him why he did it.
Because he saw another girl do it, and it looked fun.

I asked him how he got out.
He said he started banging and yelling and crying until his teacher came out and found him.

I asked him what happened to all the other kids that had been around.
He didn't know. He couldn't see them.

Now doesn't that just crack you up too?

I think all of us have an appointment in the gifted and talented program, but at times take detours and lock ourselves in a locker.

Both moments define and shape who we are, praise God.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Loving witches.....

We have a friend & former classmate who is a missionary in Uganda. It is an amazing life he and his wife live there in honor of Christ, and I am constantly challenged and encouraged by them. I want to share a brief story of his from an email I got today. It is just so powerful. I'll let it speak for itself:

There is woman that I have noticed sleeping on the streets. She stays next to the road and is camped out near a stump. I have had strange feelings about her. No one will approach her. They are afraid of her. She stares hard at me whenever I pass by.
Because of these strange feelings I asked around about her... I was told that she is a witch and she was sent away/banished from her village because she ate her children. wow she really needs prayer....

I wrote this message a few days ago. While I was writing this I felt strongly that I should go and help the woman who ate her children.The verse "think of others as better than yourself" kept coming to mind.Think of a witch who ate her children as better than myself?

Ok Lord.

Several years ago I saw a homeless man in Portland who was curled up on a park bench in the cold. I debated with myself as to whether I should help or not. I didn't help him. I did like everybody else and I ignored him. When I got home to my parents house I felt terrible. I decided to sleep outside on the deck. It was cold! I stayed up all night praying for Portland. I deeply regretted not helping that guy. I didn't want that to happen again.
so the other evening when I felt moved to help the woman in the cold I didn't hesitate.

It was about 10:30 at night and I got in the truck and drove to the stump that she sleeps next too. The city council wanted her to leave that place so they cut down the tree that she was sleeping under. She didn't leave. There are actually two women who live there. (Both are said to be witches)
As I drove down the quiet dark streets I thought...the Lord loves this woman. She may be a witch, a murderer and a cannibal, and Lord may hate what she has done but he loves her.
I got out of the truck and saw the old woman sit up. I greeted her in Rutoro and told her that I am a Christian. I commented on how cold it is. She told me that she loves Jesus and that she prays to Mary. She showed me her rosaries.
I handed her the two thick blankets and she was very thankful.
She told me in Rutoro that she paid 1000 shillings for a thin bed sheet and another 1000 for a piece of plastic to wrap up in. That was all she had to keep her warm, a thin bed sheet and a piece of black plastic. She has no more money. She told me how cold she is. She thanked me over and over for the blankets and for caring. She sat there smiling.

Just thank the Lord.

I knelt down and we talked some more in broken Rutoro and Swahili.She told me that her two children had died and now she lives there.I shook my head that I knew. Everyone knows. These two women are the outcasts of Fort Portal.

I told her to sleep well.She wrapped up in the blankets and thanked me again as I got in the truck and turned on the heater.

Thank you Lord for encouraging me to do this.
While she was a sinner...while I was a sinner...Christ died for us.
The love that God has for us is so amazing.
She is made in the image of God.

The Lord has been working on my heart and it has come from this...

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Phillipian 2:3-5 NIV

...This has been a tough challenge for me. I don't have a problem getting out there and helping people. Or spending time with the poor or sharing Jesus with my Muslim friends. But humbly thinking of others as better than myself ...that's tough.

It all comes down to my attitude, my heart and my pride.
We can do the things that Jesus did but not do them like Jesus did.
I want so much to have the same attitudes that Jesus had (and has.)That is where this struggle lies for me...

If we are willing to learn the Lord is willing to teach.
Isn't it amazing how the Lord can use those in society that people see as worthless to teach us valuable lessons. What is the Lord teaching you?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Teaching and learning more from God....

Okay - one more praise to God! Your responses to the post on Eli's teacher made me think I really should share that with her. Today, I got a letter from her that made my heart just swell with how God works, and I wanted to share part of it with you. Isn't He just amazing?!?

I will be honest, I was really struggling before school started this year and I wasn't looking forward to starting in a new school for the third year in a row. (Last year I was the last one hired so when they cut a job at our school, that teacher took my position.)
I wondered what God's plans were in placing me not only in a different school, but such a drive from our home. (Funny how we complained about the same thing !) When I first met your family and you gave me the letter on Eli, I knew why I was at Eliot. I got chills when I read your letter as I have written a similar letter myself as I dropped Robbie off when he was little. I still keep in touch with his first teachers that not only helped him, but brought me out of the hole I had fallen into. We became very good friends and we finally got a chance to teach together the last year I was in Iowa. ....
Today Eli had a great day, so I had the other kids cheer for him at the end of the day. :-) He loved the attention. :-)

I just love our God. And I love the indescribable blessing of friends like you who praise Him too, and in doing so open more doors of blessing and influence. Thanks.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Okay. You all win. Cinnamon Rush has currently replaced the Lemon Ice toothpaste. I like it. ALOT. It does remind me so much of Big Red gum though that I have to remind myself that my teeth ARE clean.

And I have a new diet technique. Berry Blast dental floss.

Seriously. Usually, I am not hungry - I just want something that tastes good in my mouth. Sooo.. dental floss works GREAT! Taste it. Throw it away.

Don't knock it till you try it. :)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Parent Teacher Conferences

Tonight was our first official kindergarten parent teacher conference.

I was anxious, irritable, and bordering on depression. And that was before we got there. Jason kept trying to lighten the mood, which only made it worse for me. ( And I guess for him, in the long run, too.)

I knew what she was going to say, and I just didn't want to hear it again. So I was in knots. And she didn't say it.

Oh she said some of it, but differently than all the others had.
She started out with what she liked about him. And she was genuine.

I feel like I've watched people lie about this so many times I can tell it right away. She didn't lie.

She addressed what she knew we already knew, as simply she could, knowing that we are doing what we can.

She said she had sat through meetings like this with her own son, listening to people just take away hope, and she vowed to never do that to another family. (It's the most passionate I've seen her be in telling a story.)

When we made it officially "off the record", she felt free to share what she thought we might be dealing with, confirming what we've been trying to figure out for the last 4 years.

And she gets him. She gets his heart. She know what he wants to be (right now, not just when he grows up.) She wants him to succeed, and knows he's going to have a rough road. She doesn't mind being tough on him. And she doesn't miss for a moment the beauty in him for all the annoyances and tiring behavior. She is invested in him.

God knew how much I needed this lady to come into our lives, and especially his.

Just a few of you may remember his issues with fingerpaint from when we first moved here.
He just doesn't do it. Freaks him out. He's been put in time out, lost points, etc, for not participating in projects involving fingerpaint. Doesn't matter to him.

Well, she wanted him to paint a pumpkin, and let him have a brush instead, while the rest of the class dove in. She kept her eye on him, even as she worked with the rest of the class. He kept working, eventually letting a finger touch the paint, then two, back to the brush, then a finger again, etc, etc.

Eventually, he did it. Brush down, both hands moving in big circles in the paint. And when he looked up & called to her, surprising himself and wanting her to see, she was already there, digital camera in hand, grabbing the moment.

She put the picture on their class website. He loves it.

To everyone else it just looks like a kid holding up messy hands at school. Looks like a lot of other kids. Which for him, is not so common. To Eli, to her, and to us, it spoke major victory.

And she was invested enough to not only know it, but to care and be ready.

Now THAT is a teacher. God is so good.