Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Today after a topical teaching time at our church for ladies, I was chatting briefly with a friend I have not seen in person in years. I keep up with her via blog. (Yeah, yeah, I know it's not personal, but it beats completely losing touch!) I commented on how I still totally feel like I lack in Bible knowledge even though I am trying to learn. I referred to a study we had done together back in the day, and how I went home after one of the early meetings feeling drained, more than a little beat up, and in some despair of ever having an understanding like she and our other pal had. She looked at me like I had just said, "The moon is made of green cheese!" Then she laughed.
Apparently this gal was leaving the study time feeling that she was the one lacking. (Now it was my turn to laugh.) Seriously, this lady has a testimony that is jaw-droppingly "God-is-so-awesome!" She is a true scholar who seeks after God's word on levels that I cannot fathom existing while I am still clutching John 3:16 and repeating blindly "For God so loved... the... uhhh, world..."
Isn't it funny how we see ourselves so differently from how others see us? It goes a long way in explaining why the idea of "grace" is so hard to grasp. If we cannot even see ourselves as others see us, then how can we possibly comprehend how God sees us through the covering of Christ?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Concerned Women

The phone rang, and I answered it without looking at the caller i.d. because I will still answer it even if I don't recognize the number. (I don't like to listen to voice mail. If I answer the phone, people don't leave messages.)
Caller: "May I speak to Mr. [insert correct pronunciation of spouse's full name here]?"
Voice in my head: Mmmm.
Out Loud: "May I ask who is calling?"
Caller: "This is Susie with "Concerned Women"."
Voice in my Head meet Out Loud: "And you are calling for Don [last name]?!"
Caller wisely guessed that she had the Mrs. on the phone. I think Caller took Mr. [insert full name here] off the phone list at my request.
Later, Don informs me that he has figured out why women have more than one baby. (Voice in my head is back with an interested, "Really? Do tell.") He has worked out that during labor all the unpleasant memories of pregnancy are somehow squashed by the downward pressure exerted to expell our young. This leaves only the pleasant, fun moments... like baby faces on sonograms, butterfly movements, and freedom from sucking in one's stomach even if you're only at 2 days gestation (and look like you're due next Tuesday). So there we have it. Women can continue to reproduce because our bodies and minds are acting in concert so that unpleasant pregnancy memories, "Get smashed." Okay then.
I'm thinking Concerned Women may have had the wrong list when they called here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Almost May

Huh. It will be May at the end of this week. I was thinking May was a little farther off. Yesterday I was surprised to hear that I could not be part of a potluck dinner being planned for May 18th because I will be in Poland. Say what?!
That's about the craziest thing I have ever heard. I am going to Poland. I am going to Poland in two and a half weeks. Hee. I probably should be less surprised by this news. Actually, I am not so much "surprised" as "still amazed". How odd to find that I am going to be going anywhere, much less a where that cannot be reached by car! I keep thinking that my general wonder will begin to fade, but it has not yet.
There was a little glitch. Our tickets were ordered a while back. The confirmations never showed up in our in-boxes. Lisa discovered that our ticket orders had fallen into some cosmic electronic crack in the universe a few days ago, but she was a little busy at the time since her husband John was preparing for surgery! John's surgery went well, and that poor man endured the wise-cracking of a wall lined with mouthy women like a champ. (We entertained ourselves by claiming to all be his wives as an offshoot sect of FLDS that wore pants.)
Surgery behind them, John spent Saturday morning resting while Lisa tackled our ticket order again. This time we are going through Washington, D.C. to Frankfurt, Germany. Then it will just be a teeny hop to Poznan. (Yay! Yay! Yay!) We are leaving a day sooner. We will fly out the morning of Thursday, May 15th and arrive a little over a day later in Poznan.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I love the title of Robert Fulghum's book It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It... It just begs for more information doesn't it? Except sometimes I don't really want to know the details. It is better and easier to not know what "it" was or why on earth one would lie down on "it" when it was on fire.
Tonight was that sort of night with our kids. They made a pact to all hide their gameboys. (We confiscate them so the kids can focus on school during the week. We're big on book larnin'.) They hoped to play video games during the week by simply not being able to find the players when we asked for them. Except that somebody left open bread, cereal, and other food packages in a trashed-out kitchen... and someone turned the heater up to eighty. Soooo.
We arrived home to discover the house was a tropical paradise that will show up on a future energy bill. Our children were griping because they were hot. The kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off. Food packages were wide open and there were some haphazard spills. Don was not happy.
Evan was thoroughly ticked off because Erin ratted him out immediately over the gameboy plot. (His sisters rat him out fast when they think there might be slight advantage to be gained. You'd think he would learn.) Evan felt that he should not be in trouble because he didn't succeed in pulling off the gameboy caper. (Riiiight.)
Don was hot, and getting hotter by the moment, and he pretty much told all the kids to get into bed. They opted to "explain" instead. (My Daddy used to say on occasions like this, "Either you're stupid, or you think I am." He has a way with words that just gets right to the point.) There was yelling.
I stood in the hallway between the bedrooms wondering if dousing the children with Calgon would take them away. I calmly said to those children, "I am very disappointed." I held up my hand to silence their attempts at further explanations. Shutting off their bedroom lights, I began backing out of the hallway shaking my head in wonder that they could possibly have continued to think they would be able to talk their way out of the mess they created. It's always easier to be the parent who deals with the aftermath rather than the immediacy of "You did what?!"
Don was standing in the kitchen completing the clean-up. He headed back to the bedroom to stare at the t.v for a while. I think he will be okay since none of his blood vessels seems to have burst. The children have wisely opted to go straight to sleep tonight. I suspect any contrition they feel will have evaporated overnight.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wait For It

We cannot seem to find a birthday gift to mark Katie's 11th birthday today. Usually we have some special something stowed away weeks before the big day rolls around. Not this year. We have followed several rabbit trails in hopes of finding just the right gift to mark this birthday, but each time we find ourselves waiting.

We went to pick up an acoustic guitar per Katie's wildest dreams wish list, but the guitar in question turned out to be perfect for Erin instead. Sooo... Don is now teaching Erin how to play guitar, and himself how to teach someone beginning lessons. (I think that's great. Really.) I loved watching the two of them sitting together with Don challenging Little Bit to repeat the motions and resulting sounds. I will love it even more tomorrow.

Because right now, I am facing the expectations of my Katie that her parents will present her with a pretty near perfect gift which we don't have yet. We do not have it, because we do not know what "it" is yet. Everything that we have looked at seems to have a "Wait." or "Not this one." message for us. Today is her birthday. Surely, it is past time to be waiting?!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The joys of hearing and making my own attempts to join the wonder of the sounds classified as music began to taper off as I received messages that either said I didn't have the discipline or the talent to play along through movement, vocals, or instrumental accompaniment. By the end of middle school, I had moved from any interest whatsoever in classical music having had it made clear that those hallowed halls were beyond my limited scope of understanding.
The wonders of electronic and "dance" music coming from the clubs and found extended out on 12" vinyl... well, no one seemed to have any requirements for either listening or moving to this music. The classical and country listeners seemed to really dislike it, too. All the better.
As years passed, I have continued to sing with the radio when no one is around. I have maintained the rebellious streak that allows me from time-to-time to burst into song or dance just because I can even if it is not "right".
Katie has never discouraged me from opening my mouth in an attempt to sing. Throughout her infancy, I sang to her to soothe her with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", the ABC's, or "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer". (It eventually reached the point where I could hum those tunes in my sleep for brief periods.) As she has grown, Katie has had many of the same opportunities that I had as a child to experiment with dancing lessons, guitar lessons, children's choir, and music class at school. She has not shared my feeling of being shut-down as each avenue closed off. No one is telling her she lacks discipline or is tone-deaf. She is being given wings, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to watch this wild young bird spread those wings and test them as she discovers and develops her talents.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Miss Katie has been taking guitar lessons at the church for the last couple of months. Her instructor Mr. Phil says our girl is doing well. Kate is already looking forward to the next round of lessons that will be more intensive during the summer (three lessons per week). We're thinking of starting Erin in lessons this summer, too. Katie has a guitar of her own. Erin has my brother's old guitar which is not quite in good repair, so I asked Kate if she would be willing to share her guitar with Erin for lessons. I saw the immediate desire to shout "NO!" run across her face, but she hesitated before answering to ask if I had seen what Erin had done to Uncle Jim's old guitar. (Hee. I also saw what Katie did to my old guitar before she received the one she plays now. I did not point that out though!)
Katie has been seeing how giving works according to God's provision rather than the common fear of being "taken". She gave all she had to an offering recently, and she lost nothing by giving. (Rather than saving for a bike, she received the bike of her dreams as a gift from her grandparents after she gave away her savings to charity.) I asked her this morning if she thought that God was big enough to provide her with a replacement guitar if Erin did something really terrible to her instrument. She thought about it for a moment more, but in the end she grinned and agreed that if we could not come up with a guitar for Erin to learn to play that she would share with her sister.
That was a huge concession because Katie already shares so much with Erin, and she really does enjoy being able to reserve her two prized possessions (the guitar and her bike) for personal use. Yet, when it became a possibility that Erin might actually need the use of one of those possessions, Katie chose to hold on to the guitar with an open hand rather than a death-grip. She may not need to hand the guitar off to her sister during the summer lessons, but if there is not a separate instrument for her sister, I know Katie will follow through to share so her sister can also learn to play.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yard Art

While not the classic yardbird or lawn gnome of yesteryear, I think our choice of lawn decor is a bold choice. I found it highly entertaining to return home from Wal-Mart to discover a potty in the front yard. Be still my white-trash heart. I could practically hear "Sweet Home Alabama" playing somewhere...
Okay, so the toilet was only in the front yard temporarily because Don was replacing our 20 year old (manufactured in February, 1988 per the date stamp inside the tanks) toilets with newer, more efficient potties. It's not exactly a glamorous home-improvement project, but I am curious to see how the new potties affect our water bill.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Special Olympics

That's my boy. Evan was sitting under his jacket when we left him at the field today with his teammates and the staff attending the Special Olympics Track Meet. He was upset, but we hoped he would cheer up when his turn to race came. (We went over to the track to watch Evan run at 10:00, but we finally left an hour-and-half later with his heat yet to come because the races were a bit behind schedule.)
The boys were all chasing each other around and having a pretty good time during the wait for their events. Evan became upset when the other guys kept playing after he decided he was ready to stop. (He did not mention to the others that he was no longer playing, so I am uncertain how they were supposed to know he had reached his threshold.) I wished we were not leaving him under his jacket, but Don needed to get back home to work. *sigh*
Evan phoned about 45 minutes later to say he had just run his heat, but that he does not yet know how he finished because there are more heats still to run in the 100 meter dash. As I am finishing this post, he calls back to say he has tied for fifth place! He is disappointed, but I think he did just fine. A fifth place finish is GREAT because he ran! Whoo-Hoo!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Lisa and I have our flights booked for Operation: Prayer Surge! The weakening dollar is not doing us any favors as our in-country costs rise a bit and fuel for the planes that will haul us over the Atlantic gets pricier by the day. Still, a puny dollar is one more opportunity for a big God's provision to shine. It's less about a financial setback, than an opportunity in my mind.
Sure enough, yesterday I had word of a shortfall in my support. Rather than fret over that, we purchased plane tickets.
This morning, I heard from the same source who had communicated the shortfall that it was much smaller than originally believed due to a slight miscalculation. An hour later, a friend e-mailed to say her husband would be round with a check they had been meaning to give me toward the trip. See? It was not a shortfall. It was just an hour of anticipating what rabbit God would pull out of His hat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

D Word

"D" words. Words that start with "D". There are a few loaded terms that can shake a family (or a society) to its roots. Drugs. Death. These are words that start with "D". Yesterday Miss Katie reported on the way home from school the introduction of just such a word. Divorce. She has had a friend or two who came from families where Mom and Dad had previously divorced. This is the first time she has been needed to care for and support a friend during a divorce. She was a bit subdued, but she eventually bubbled over spilling out the sorry details as reported by her friend.
It's a classic tale of He said/She said with this young lady and her brother caught in the middle while Mom and Dad wrangle over the sorts of things that erode a marriage, as well as the scene-stealing final act that brought down the house. I tell Katie that she needs to keep her friends tale of woe and dismay private, and caution her to please not repeat the words her friend entrusts to her. I also listen, because there is some scary stuff for not-quite-eleven-year-old ears and hearts to hear. Moms and Dads can fight, and sometimes they don't make up. Sometimes they not only let the sun go down on their disagreements, but they pull down the shades, lock all the doors, and close themselves up in a lonely, bitter world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The boy just phoned. He was calling to be sure I knew that Special Olympics is this Friday. (Smart of him since we totally spaced on his sister's art show reception last Thursday.) I was totally unaware that this Friday is the day when the athletes will meet on the track field for Special Olympics. Evan is making sure that his mother who fails to keep time knows about the big day.
He was also looking for a commitment from me. "Mom, Mrs. L says you can meet us at the school and ride the bus with us." Ummm. No. ("Bad Mom" whispers that voice that sometimes infiltrates my heart and head.) I am trying to think of what is scheduled this week, but I am coming up blank. I ask where the event will take place to stall for time. As Evan answers it occurs to me that today is infusion day, and I am not at my best right now. I tell him that I won't be giving an answer right now because I am getting my infusion. He knows how that goes, so he backs off. ("What kind of a mother won't give her child a commitment to attend his big event!" says the Bad Mom voice. "The kind who doesn't disappoint her kid by making a promise she is not going to keep!" I retort.) I get off the call and continue to try to straighten out the week's schedule in my fuzzy head so I can give the boy a yes or no answer.
Retrieving my coffee cup, there is hope that the swallowed warmth will bring clarity to my muddled thoughts. Wrong-O. Somewhere between that phone call and the end of the middle school day I will have to determine whether or not to attend. I think I will take a pass on riding the short bus, but I will make it a point to be at the field. He wants me to come cheer him on, and I know that he's not asking for all that much in the grand scheme of things.

Bicycle, Part II

We did it! Don and I rode bikes to the grocery store! (This was actually the plan for the bike I was given from the first.) On Saturday, Don cruised Craig's List while I was out a Women's Brunch at church to find himself a bike so he could keep up with me. The fellow who sold him the bike also had one of those baby carriers that hook on to the back of a bike for hauling little people along behind. Don thought the baby buggy-thing could be the answer to my quandary regarding exactly how I could carry a load of groceries on a bicycle. He arrived home with both a bike for himself to ride and the baby carrier-thing for me to haul groceries. (Our "babies" are old enough that I do not know what to call this brilliant thingy. We were not active when we had babies, so if these things were around then I would not have cared.)
Yesterday we finally got around to attempting the ride up our moderately busy neighborhood thoroughfare. Fortunately there are wide sidewalks running the length of the street from our little enclave to the grocery store a couple of miles away. It took us fifteen minutes to get there, we filled our cart with everything we remembered needing, checked out, and rode back home in a slightly extended 16 minutes. (That extra minute was me. I refused to ride any further uphill at one point, so I got off and walked along for a moment. Stubborn much?) The whole trip took about 50 minutes. By car, similar trips take about 45 minutes.
I'm cautiously excited about the prospect of decreasing one of our areas of dependence on the car. The baby buggy can hold up to 100 pounds, and we just stuck a small cooler with ice in it for cold and frozen items so it should work well for our repeated supplementary trips throughout the week although "big" trips will still be made by car.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Long Robes

I don't know how many times I have made comments to my kids following some public display of bad behavior or poor manner in order to teach them correct behavior despite the evidence they see around them of what is acceptable. In today's bit of scripture taken from Luke, Jesus takes a moment to teach the disciples as well as those who have been standing about observing the assorted religious leaders who attempted to challenge Jesus to battles of words and wit.
45And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples,
46"Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,
47who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation." (Luke 20:45-47, NASB)
I could explore several tangents (and have done so this morning), but my attention today is caught by the "long robes", "respectful greetings in the market", "chief seats", and "places of honor". I certainly like to go out of the house knowing I look my best. Who doesn't enjoy being "made much of" from time to time by those they meet? The "best seats in the house" are always sought after. That's all sounding pretty good! Sign me up!
Or not. All that glitters is not gold, after all. What sort of rot has to be on the inside to "devour widows' houses"? Why would one wish to consume what is needed by another? Publicly, none would wish to do so. "For appearance's sake offer long prayers" is not solely limited to prayers, but can be expanded to include outward acts of piety based not on love for God, but on the love of self. This inner rot was not limited to the temple of Jesus's day. It very much so lives on in our modern world.
Anybody remember a televangelist beloved by millions including his wife who cried a televised river of mascara when his deeds off the air became fully publicized? His eventual imprisonment
and the legion of jokes cracked at his expense fit neatly under the heading of receiving "greater condemnation".
My own robes are not designer creations like Tammy Faye's, the shows of respect I receive are not likely to be televised, and my choice seats are in small venues unlikely to receive much notice. (I cannot remember the last time a news crew showed up to film us seated at the dinner table where I enjoy the hostess's seat.) Still, I hold to Jesus's warning to "beware", for my heart is susceptible to capture by appearance and honors.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Oh my. There are two bikes I distinctly remember from my childhood. Both were blue, but one involved a banana seat and the other was a ten-speed. The light blue one with yellow trim and the banana seat was the learning tool. I can remember my Dad running along behind with a grip on the seat as I learned to balance and ride. The deeper blue ten-speed Schwinn came along much later, and I still have no clue what my parents sacrificed to provide that gift. I rode that bike all over. I criss-crossed our area for years at cruising speeds some days and racing speeds on others. Eventually, the two-wheeled transportation was put aside in the garage as I grew older.
Yesterday, I picked up a silver bike from a friend who was storing rather than using it. Upon hearing that I was considering the purchase of just such a bike, she immediately offered her scarcely used two-wheeler. I was wearing a dress when I stopped by to pick it up, but I hopped on to roll out of the driveway on a test-ride despite my flapping skirt. As I went about the rest of my schedule for the day, I would allow my thoughts to skip back to my few minutes on the bike periodically with a sense of anticipation.
Five hours later, I changed into shorts and sailed right out of the driveway and off down the street. I waved at Mr. Art as I shot past his house. (I think he laughed. He doesn't do that often these days.) Don was waiting out front as I came to a stop and parked suggesting he give the bike a whirl. Don rode back and forth n our street a time or two while I spent a few minutes with our neighbor in conversation about our first bikes and how we learned to ride back in the day. (His "day" was probably 30 or 40 years earlier than mine, and I had training wheels available while he did not. We both had Daddies running behind us and shouting.) Much of the afternoon was spent racing along with the kids as we all rode around the neighborhood.
I am rediscovering my old love of cruising around on two wheels. It's reminiscent of that sense of freedom that I found as I pedaled furiously along down my childhood street on a bike, and that same sense that I felt again a decade later as I sat behind the wheel of my Dad's car.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Things are a little more interesting around here than I would like. Waking to the warning sirens and the crazy weather at 4 a.m. as thunderstorms and high winds whipped through the area wasn't enough excitement for today. The boy had to fast so he could have labs drawn this morning. (I think we had more fall-out from the denial of his breakfast than from the storm.) The traffic lights were blinking, so we enjoyed the excitement of crossing a highway as if it were a four-way stop. (Whoo-Hoo!) Evan opted to actually watch as the lab tech stuck him... and scream. I pointed out that he might want to look at me since he doesn't like needles. Because he objected to any sort of portable breakfast, I ran back home so he could inhale a bowl of cereal before returning to school. Before Evan could be driven back to school, our three-year-old male lab Buster had a seizure. That was new. Enough already.
Sylvia mentioned checking out the backs of her eyelids... I think she might be on to a brilliant plan!

Help Wanted

I read an interesting question this morning. In relation to Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan, where do we find people with needs? The examples suggested were prisons, nursing homes, and similar settings. From the suggestions, I was reminded of our long days with Miss Erin at a Children's Medical Center following the need for her to be transported from our local hospital on Christmas Eve because she just couldn't breathe on her own. During those days as we sat by our infant daughter's side waiting, we were never alone. Christ was with us in every moment, and His people came in waves that buoyed us. Our meals and a place to sleep and shower were provided for us when we simply could not have provided for ourselves. Family members traveled to sit with us initially, and took our older children back home with them for a makeshift Christmas. Friends drove many miles on icy highways throughout the holidays to sit with us or phoned. There was help to prepare our home for Erin's return in the New Year, and a hot meal delivered to our door that evening. That was a crisis situation, and our needs were both great and fully met.
Yet, it is not solely in great crisis that we need the "Good Samaritan". I think of our sweet next-door neighbors who need Don to come change the light bulb in their garage-door opener. On a daily basis, we are talking with one or both of the precious pair who inhabit the home next door. I take a dog over to visit a couple of times a week because the gentleman living there is no longer able to care for a pet of his own despite an undimished love for furry friends. Don trims their hedges from time to time. I spend hours listening to the lady of the house as she expresses the difficulty and uncertainty of the crazy new life they lead now that her husband has had the dreaded cancer and a series of strokes that have required a transfer of his responsibilities to her already overburdened shoulders. Whatever they might need, Don and I provide availability. We are so blessed to have this couple living next door to us, and we have discovered a couple of new ladies of retirement age who also need an ear (and occasionally a fellow for a bit of "Honey, do...") as they try to navigate the uncertainties of a different retirement from the one they planned.
I believe that people with needs are all around us if we just take a moment to pay attention. If I stop to ask the simplest of questions or make the most basic observations I will see the needs of others. Whether the need is for a meal, a babysitter, or someone to really listen there is an opportunity there.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Waiting Places

Waiting places are what they are. The term "Waiting Place" is from a Dr. Seuss book my Mom gave me titled Oh, The Places You'll Go! as a graduation gift. In the book, the waiting places don't look like very fun places, but looks can be misleading. Waiting Places are filled with questions, anticipation, hopes, dreams, and the occasional trickle of fear or stab of anxiety. (I know those last two are not what Christ calls me to, but they still happen.) There are so many avenues that I could go down right now, but I am not sure which direction will be the route I take out of this Waiting Place. (Yes, I know that is cryptic, but the decisions to be made are in the hands of people who have better motives and more wisdom than I... and I need to keep my mouth shut in public forums like the internet until given permission to speak.) The very existence of many possibilities and the very uncertainty of what lies ahead is what makes a Waiting Place exciting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


It seems like the whole world is on its ear. There is change in much of our lives right now. I want to say, "Stop that!" and hang onto a policy of normalcy, but much of the change is potentially for the better ("the better" does not necessarily mean "my version of better".) Change requires people to stretch... and I m not feeling very flexible today. I will just wait on the answers that will come in the weeks and months ahead. Transitions are always interesting. I think people tend to start waving their true colors when the ground drops from beneath them. I hope I'm flying a white flag of surrender.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Christmas Comes Again

I've been occupied putting away a batch of treasures that arrived over the weekend. In response to our Christmas tree toppling several months ago and my drama over my Christmas Tree china being outsourced to China and Malaysia, my aunt made a decision. She, who is personally responsible for my love of Spode Christmas Tree, pulled out her own treasured pieces and sent them along with her Christmas tree decorations. As I was sorting through the ornaments, I came across a box that looked familiar. My favorite ornament that has always graced our family Christmas tree (a gift to Don and I from my Grandmother the Christmas we were engaged to be married) was among those broken when the tree went over several months ago. The duplicate ornament was very carefully tucked away in the original box in my aunt & uncle's ornaments. I know it is a thing, and that possessions are not our lives, but I still cried over that ornament. What a gift!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Give It Up

It's all in the grip. How tightly I hold onto relationships, possessions, and desires seems directly tied to whether or not they wriggle free to escape. If I hold lightly to all I hold dear, then God multiplies and grows... our marriage, the relationships with our increasingly independent (though still far from ready to fly) children, possessions and finances have all shown this belief in practice. If I hang on for all I am worth then objects begin to hold too great a priority, I waste the present on the future, and the people I love feel trapped and overwhelmed. Here's to letting go.

Speak To Me

I have not actually given up on learning a few words and phrases in Polish in the next few weeks. I think the desire was sitting back-burnered after discovering the level of difficulty involved in learning that particular language. (My lack of ability to comprehend Spanish after 34 years in Texas might have colored my thoughts on that!)
Evan and I were in our favorite used book store yesterday. I have looked for books that are in any way related to Poland with very little success there in the past months. Yesterday was different because I found a computer program that claims it can teach me Polish tucked away in the software section. I picked up a copy for myself and one for Lisa. Evan and I dropped Lisa's copy by her house and heard a quick update on Ralph before heading back home with our bonus Polish audio cd carefully pronouncing words and questions. The sounds still seem strange to me, but I am hoping that they will become more familiar in the weeks to come.

Friday, April 4, 2008


When was the last time you cleaned out a closet in your home? I can honestly say I cleaned out the closets two weeks ago. (Don and I made a run to Goodwill with multiple bags of clothing and some household goods the same day we hauled our super-funky old carpet to the dump.) I would think between leaving at least one bag for every charity that comes by our house and our trips to specifically pass along usable items to friends that we would have an empty home. Nope. Not even close. (Uh-oh. What does that say about our consumption around here?!)
If you have not seen us in many months, Don and I lost 100 pounds between us since last June. That means we replaced every stitch of clothing from underpants to overcoats culminating in a swimsuit purchase last week. (I actually giggled while trying on a swimsuit--- probably because I was pulling it on over my clothes in the middle of Sam's.) I keep thinking that I have cleared all usable items to go to someone else who needs them. I started by giving away everything in a size 24. (Yes, a 24. No, I am not 8 feet tall.) I eventually realized that the 18-22 sizes were long since too large, and those items were donated or given away. I admit to hanging onto the 1X-2Xs because those items might be needed. (There's that pack-rat trying to justify hanging onto stuff!)
This morning saw yet another search for clothing to be donated. I was floored to find my arms filled with items that someone else could be wearing that are in excellent condition--- much of them in reasonably current or classic styles and colors! I will make yet another trip to drop off these items as I continue to fight the good fight against the accumulation of an overabundance of possessions.

Language Barrier

I had a chuckle this morning at my cluelessness in yet another area. Joan Stockdale who serves as a missionary in Poznan, Poland is excited about a prayer meeting that will be for native English-speakers. She is looking forward to the freedom of praying in her native language. I am familiar with the concerns of the missionaries there with the ability to speak Polish, but I have not ever thought about the challenges that can present in a prayer meeting.
I have been in prayer groups with Spanish-speakers, but they have always been fluent in understanding English. That's a good thing since my Spanish is sorely limited. Unless we were praying (in a really bad accent) for "Greetings! Beer window kitchen please pregnant warning. Good-bye!", I would be at a loss. I have honestly never considered the challenges of prayer and worship on a regular basis with believers who speak a different language, despite the fact that our church offers a growing Spanish service on Sunday. (I'm having a bit of a "Duh!" moment.)
The question of my inability to either speak or understand languages other than my native English created questions early in the plans for OPS. I thought it would be good to be able to offer greetings and say good-bye as well as the basics of "Thank You", "yes", "no", and "please". Shelley had a good-natured laugh over that initial idea because she has been immersed in Polish culture for years, and she is still learning the language. (She very kindly did not point out my unwitting arrogance in thinking I could just "pick up" a bit of Polish.) Polish is utterly different from the English I have always spoken, read, and understood. I found just the alphabet daunting with 32 letters in the Polish alphabet (and that doesn't even include Q, V,or X!).

Thursday, April 3, 2008


A friend recently posted a video for Casting Crowns' "I Know You're There". Our Erin LOVES this song. The little one has a very big voice that is incongruous with her age and size. (It shows when she sings this particular song rather than the high-pitched sing-song we typically hear out her during play.) The song is an anthem of faith, and this morning it speaks to me, a bit of scripture out of Luke whispers to my heart, and a pair of other moms with "special" kids confirm what I think I am hearing. All these voices speak to the continual grief and hope of trying to train and teach a special needs child toward autonomy.
I made the statement this morning without really thinking (So, what's new, right?) that, "Our children are not extensions of ourselves, but they are entirely separate individuals." That seems like such an obvious reality; yet, when one has nurtured a life, there is an inextricable link. It is easy to make that sort of declaration, but far harder to genuinely recognize the autonomy of our children. It is further complicated when the child in question shows himself or herself incapable of meeting responsibility that needs to be accepted to gain greater freedom and independence from Mom and Dad.
Last weekend we had multiple less-than-admirable incidents with our son. I was horrified to hear he stole from our hosts Sunday night, lied about it, was disrespectful to the sitters who were charged with his care, and followed all of that up by running after a group of little preschool girls with a pair of scissors. (The scenario is just wrong on so many levels.) I admit I was mortified first, but not one person looked at me with condemnation as the rotten parent of this out-of-control child. I was concerned with the risk to and fear of the little girls, and frustrated that Evan showed such a lack of sense and restraint. I wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere, and let Don deal with this round. So I did. I was just past my ability to know what to do or say after a series of maddening issues throughout the weekend.
So this week we study God's provision. Literally, God will provide our physical needs for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care (!). Our God is bigger than our physical needs. He meets the needs of the heart and soul. He hears our sad, angry, bereft, broken inner-most being crying out for relief. He hears the voice that cannot speak, and the words I do not utter. I am thankful that I am not in physical want, but I am down-on-the-floor awed that needs I refuse even to recognize because they feel shameful ("What kind of a mother...") and cannot put into words are met.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Take It Back

What a relief. The insurance company has taken back their original denial of my January IVIG claim. I am so much more okay with meeting our deductible than trying to pay out the $5,000 total bill, and getting hit with more to come since we have already done two more rounds with February and March behind us! I get tired of having to fight and/or beg for insurance claims that are well within our stated coverage to be paid.
If I walk into any retail store and want to buy something, I will be expected to pay the seller at the point of sale. The grocery store won't let me waltz out the door with food that I have not paid for because once it is consumed, the food is GONE. It cannot be returned. Well, guess what?! Neither can the blood product the nurse runs through my IV every month. (That would be one bizarre attempt at repossession.) It's just completely silly.

Up and Out

I woke up in the middle of the night, and it was that full-on BAM! wide-awake. No point in trying to roll back over to stare into the quasi-darkness, so I rolled out of bed to ponder the thoughts of Ralph Adler that had awakened me. It's a weird world when I wake up thinking of Ralph. Now that it is actually time to be awake, I am irritable. That will probably change in the next 20 minutes. I'm out the door for this morning's breakfast with a friend I have not seen since October.

We haven't really had the opportunity for a heart-to-heart one-on-one time in far longer. She's the kind of friend who I can not see or have any communication with for a year, but the second we are in contact it's as if no time at all had passed. I love those comfortable, long-time friendships.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Waiting Room

The future of OPS is that we are waiting. Our team has two precious members in crisis. Even as we prepare to travel thousands of miles to pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of Poles, we also pray for long-term missionary Shelley, our short-term companion Lisa, their Mom Tammy, and their large family as they wait to see if the medical measures taken to preserve the life of their father will be successful. It would be such a small thing for God the Almighty to heal Ralph, but the hopes of many may not be God's plan. Healing is my wish, but I do not lack for hope because Ralph's future is certain. Salvation leaves no room for doubt, but offers the surety of Eternity free from earthly cares to worship God.
Paraphrasing the words of another, "It is our honor to stand in the gap for our fellow believers."

April Fools

Ahhh, April Fool's Day. My favorite April Fool's Day in retrospect was the one when we found out we were (Surprise!) expecting our youngest child Erin. It's ironic that she herself is quite the comedienne. Eight years ago, our GP called up after running some blood work following a nasty allergic reaction I had to congratulate us. He thought it was just the greatest thing ever to be calling up a couple who was not "trying" to give the good news on April Fool's Day.
April Fool's Day was my maternal great grandparents' wedding anniversary. I think that would get my vote for second favorite if I were in need of a runner-up favorite.