Thursday

To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children- 1

The horrendous musky smell...

How I despise hospitals...

the walls, once white, were now stained yellow.  The room filled with desperate people, somber and pale, no joy, no laughter, not even a light-hearted conversation.  Hospitals fill me with sadness, and the place I had to be this night, the emergency room, saddens me most of all.  In this room time stands still, in this room hope hovers, unspoken, as if to acknowledge hope would make it flee, in this room dreams die.

Those who are there for trivial reasons, like us, join in with the quiet, sullen mood as soon as they enter.  Talking seems taboo, smiling seems heartless.

I whisper prayers for each person there, smile at those I make eye contact with, breaking the unwritten rule.  Husband and I sit, holding hands, his minuscule injury not important, not even painful, but required by his employers to be examined. 

TVs in the corners play the same news program, no one is watching.

She catches my eye.  Young mother, 19 or 20, so thin, so pale.  Her long, brown hair in a disheveled pony tail, her face filled with fear and a twinge of annoyance.  On her lap sits baby, 8 months old, my experienced mama self determines.  I can see sweat on his bright red face, as he cries his "I'm a baby and I don't know what's going on or why I feel like this" cry.  And I see this mama struggling.  She struggles to help her baby, to comfort, to calm him.  All alone.

Faded circular clock on the wall ticks slowly by.  You literally live each minute, watching the red hand move second to second.  It feels never ending, and you know you have been here forever, but there are so many more people who have been here longer than you... how long?  ten minutes? two hours?

Sick baby keeps crying, wailing his pain so we can all hear, and no one comes to help them.  It's not their turn yet.  Young mama holds him in her arms, trying so desperately to help him, and I see the pain on her own face... the pain of helplessness.  And I know that pain, I have felt it myself as a mama, but I have never felt it alone

In my moments of helplessness I have cried, yelled, and questioned but I have known I am not alone.  Remembering the Comforter, the Prince of Peace, the One who takes our burdens upon Himself, I have had His promises to rely on. 

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. 29 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 30
 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11: 28-30
And I watch her, and I see the pain, and it hurts to wonder what it would be like for me to feel the pain of helplessness, and feel it alone.  My throat is throbbing from want of crying, that which I am determined not to do.  And I can't open my mouth to whisper prayers for fear of sobbing, so my mind whispers them for me, and I pray for this mama and her baby.

I pray and I want to run over and hug her.  I want to rock her baby for her so she can rest.  I want to love them, and show this mama she is not alone.  I want...

finally they are called in, and I breathe deep as I watch her carry him through the big doors which slowly close behind them, and my prayers continue...

I think about this mama, I think about her helplessness, I think about her... alone.  

Can I share my heart with you?  It will take me awhile, maybe quite a few posts.  But I would like to tell you what has been breaking my heart lately, the need that I have seen, a way to reach out and be His hands...

If you will kindly bear with me, I will write more at a later date.  Please ponder this scripture, as it speaks what is on my heart...

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, 
and the hearts of the children to their fathers
Malachi 4:6 


Monday

To fight bitterness

The sun streams from the window onto my bed.  Twins bouncing next to me, baby cooing in his crib, these are the signs that it is time to rise. 

I glance at the clock, 5:30, the usual time I meet the day with my three littlest beauties.  I know husband has not left for work yet, we will have about fifteen minutes with him before he goes. 

The four of us hustle downstairs, two little curly-haired angels tripping down the stairs in their nightgowns, and this tired mama carrying the extra large 5-month old.  A typical morning finds me whispering thanks to God as I walk these stairs, but this morning my heart feels heavy... and I realize it has a lot lately.

Instead of giving thanks and praise, I realize I am complaining, that my heart is filled with bitterness, that it is flowing out of me, directed towards the One who loves me, the One who has blessed me so richly, and I want to stop, but this feeling...

My husband greets us with a smile, glad to see us before he leaves for his long day at work.  Little princesses run and hug his legs while yelling, "Daddy, daddy, daddy!"  Sweet baby grins his huge grin that is reserved for his daddy.  I struggle to smile, try to look pleasant, but it still bursts out of me, "Ugh.  Another day?  How late are you going to be today?  How many jobs today?"

His glowing eyes and soft smile disappear, and he looks sad.  "I'm sorry.  I know you hate this job, it's not my favorite either.  But it is what God has provided for us right now, and I am going to do my best, and glorify Him.  I am trying to have a good attitude... please don't make it harder on me."

I feel horrible... I know I need to change my attitude... I know I need to encourage him...

But the bitterness is creeping out of me...

why can't we just...?
why won't God just...?
why do we have to...?

He smiles again.  Looks sweetly at me, "Life is beautiful.  Things are good.  Look at all we have to thank God for."



And I breathe deep.

He is right.  I've been counting my gifts lately, but I've been counting my bitterness too...

Now that I have realized it, I can fight it... and only count my gifts...

62. a husband who speaks such wisdom

63. waking up to beautiful babies

64. every new day

65. a good job for my husband, one that provides

66. a family to cook for, to clean for,

67. a God who gives the answer to bitterness

68. beautiful messy faces



69. piles of books to read to prepare for next homeschool term

70. children who love everything in God's creation, and a table full of their collections to prove it


71. this amazing girl who hoola hoops while she reads, just for fun


72. brief moments of quiet

73. long times of loud and chaos

74. loads of laundry to wash and fold for the loads of people who light up my life

75. hearing people tell me i have my hands full... i am so glad.


holy experience

Thursday

To not meet ann voskamp

Tucking myself into bed, I found myself whispering her words.  "Slow down.  There are few emergencies."

The day had been too much for me, I had failed in so many ways, and tears were falling on my pillow as I tried to sleep.  Ann's words kept coming back to me, and I found myself crying out to God, "Help me Lord.  Help me slow down.  There is no emergency.  Help me relax." 

Eyes getting heavy, the words still on my lips...

And then someone is tugging on my arm, pulling me out of bed.  I am sure it's a child, but I just can't wake up... and then I see her.  The mama of six, the farmer's wife, the one who writes daily words which touch my soul.  She is trying to get me out of bed. 

I rise, and she runs, and I run alongside her.  I hear her whispering, and her whispers are prayers, and her prayers are for me. 

And then we are no longer in my house, we are now at the beach.  Still running, still praying.  She is so fast, I can hardly keep up. 

A wave is coming.  An enormous wave, and I see ducks.  The wave engulfs me and washes me out to see while she keeps running on the beach.  Now I am swimming in the ocean, alongside the ducks. 

The writer of beautiful words stops, sees me and pulls out of her pocket.... of course, a fishing pole.  She casts her line, it hooks me, though without pain, and she reels me in.

Now I hear a voice, "I have to go pee pee."  Can't find where it's coming from.  "I have to go pee pee."  My eyes open, and a precious two year old is standing by the side of my bed.  As I take her potty, I am confused, thrilled, and a bit intrigued by my dream I just woke from.  Oddly enough though, I am in such peace.  No more sadness.

I wondered whether I would ever tell this dream.  It was a  bit strange.  Then I saw this writing assignment at High Calling blogs, and read this beautiful post, and decided it was the perfect time to tell about not really meeting Ann Voskamp.

To have compassion and grace

Sitting in the living room, clean, perfect, the walls covered with pictures of their family...

His voice talking, constant, passionate... anger, frustration, laughter... all coming from his mouth one after another.

I am literally biting my lips to keep from opening my mouth, to tell him to stop, to tell him he is wrong.

I glance at my loving husband who is looking at me... his eyes filled with understanding but also with a gentle reminder...don't.  Don't open your mouth, don't say anything, I know it's awful but keep quiet.  Don't cast pearls to swine.

These words he has told me often before, I know they are the message he is sending with his eyes.

I sit quietly, I endure...

The father of this home is a police officer...and a christian.  He professes the name of the Lord Jesus.  He is my brother in the Body of Christ.  I do not want to think negative things about him, but...he is making me sick.  His words are making me sick.

He is talking about the people he pulls over.  He tells us how awful they are, the lies they tell.  He takes pleasure in ticketing them.

Next he tells us about the kids he meets in juvie.  About how messed up they are, how they are so disrespectful and nothing will ever change them.

Moving into the gang members, how they are all the same, they don't want to change, they won't change.

My heart is pounding as he speaks....I want to yell at him.  My husband continues to look at me with love, understanding, trying to keep me quiet.

Before the conversation finally moves onto something else, he informs us how pointless jail ministries are.  The prisoners don't care, they only go listen to the pastors because it gives them something to do.  They won't change, they will get out of jail and go right back to their life of drugs and crime, even if they "accept" Christ.

Oh how I am fuming inside.  My heart breaks... I want to weep with the woman who was given a speeding ticket, which now she must pay, though she can't buy food for her family.

I want to wrap my arms around the kids in juvie, the kids in the gangs.  I want to tell them they are loved.  I want to bring them home and let them have a family, let them see they are something, they are special.  I hurt with them, for the lack of love they have been given, for what has drawn them to this life.

I want to go to the jail, tell people there is another way, watch them choose Jesus, be their friend and advocate when they are released.

"Mourn with those who mourn..."

And I want to tell this man how terrible these things are that he is saying, I want to ask him where his love is, where his compassion is, I want to ask him how he can love Jesus and ooze judgment all over His created people, the ones He loves.

But I don't.  I hold my tongue.  I know better.  I have spoken up before, I have been met with arguments, stubbornness, denial.  I know he won't listen, I know it will only cause problems.

On our way home, still fuming, I ask my husband, "How can you listen to him?  How can you sit still and hear him and not say anything?  Don't you feel this anger that I am feeling?  He is awful, just plain awful.  He is supposed to be a christian!  He has no grace, no compassion, none.  NONE!  He claims the name of Jesus, but he has NO GRACE for anyone!"

Kindly, gently, my husband puts his hand on mine and asks, "Where is your grace for him?"

I am silenced.  Oh Lord, how did I miss this?  I was so wrapped up in his lack of grace that I became the one with no grace.  I am no better.  How prideful had I become, taking pride in being compassionate?

Praying for him, asking for God to help me to have grace on this man... asking forgiveness for my own lack of grace, my pride, my foolishness... Oh Lord, help me take this sty out of my eye.  Help me show grace to him, and when he is given grace, help him to give it to others.

Sunday

To be broken

Jesus why do I still have days like this?
Why does my heart ache?

You have set me free
You have made me whole
And yet I hurt...

I cry...

I raise my voice at a beautiful precious one...
then I feel defeated, ashamed...
I find no forgiveness for myself from myself

I argue with the one You gave me...
it's all my fault, I know I am wrong...
stubbornness overwhelms me and I just can't admit it...
I'm wrong, but the words won't leave my mouth...
he just wants to hear how sorry I am...
and I...CAN'T...SAY...THE...WORDS...

How wretched I am...

You are so good...

How lost I am...

You are so merciful...

How blind I am...

You are all I need...

Here I sit, broken, crying out to You

And You hear me, and You comfort me...

And in my weakness, You come

And as I weep, You remind me of Your goodness and I thank you for Your gifts to me...

45. Forgiveness...again and again and again

46. A new day

47. Sweet, sweet mercy

48. the quiet at the end of a long day

49. having loving arms holding me tight, even when I don't deserve it

50. six beautiful young ones to kiss goodnight,

51. reading to them

52. praying with them

53. tucking them in

54. being told I love you, five times

55. nursing the sixth who says I love you with his eyes

56. a night full of stars

57. temperature cooling down so I can sit in the night and feel...

58. Your amazing breeze,

59. hear Your creation making it's summertime night sounds,

60. speak to You in this stillness, find...

61. peace

We all continue to have days like this,
but love overcomes
and in Him is peace,
and now I can move on...

Thank You Jesus.


holy experience

Friday

To be reminded

As I am turning the corner which leads to the store I see her sitting on the curb.  Her head is hanging down and her long brown hair is falling over her knees.  It only takes a moment in my quick, drive by glance at her to notice the dirty torn up clothes she wears and my heart tears a bit for the aching I imagine happening inside of her.

Only a fast trip into the store, one small thing I need to pick up for dinner.  It will just be a second.  I will talk to her on my way out.

Five minutes later, driving slowly to the parking spot nearest her, I see she is gone.  Looking around me, trying to find her, she's not there.

And I feel heavy.

Maybe I could have helped.  But now I won't know.  I say a prayer for her.

Then I think of Molly.  It was years ago.  But Molly's story reminds me who I need to be.

Her smile was radiant.  Wherever you were in the church you could find it.  She stood out from everyone else, a loving wife and mother of three, a woman filled with joy and always willing to take young women under her, teach them and guide them.  This is how I met her.

I was 18 and had only been a christian for six months.  I had such a desire for constant fellowship, for learning and growing, and Molly met me there.  After church one afternoon she invited me out to lunch, and I gladly accepted.  Of course I did, I was overjoyed.

And I went home that day broken inside.  I went home with an anger that I hoped was a righteous anger. 

Molly told me about her childhood.  An only child with the most loving, doting parents.  They were killed when she was eleven.  With no other family she was sent to live with an unknown uncle and his two sons.  The uncle was nice enough, but as a truck driver he was gone a lot.  And little Molly was left alone with the abusive sons and their mother who was too afraid of them to do anything.  Molly drew into herself.  She never smiled, never spoke, never laughed.

By thirteen she could not take it any longer and she left.  To the streets of Los Angeles.  Eating out of trash cans, never changing her clothes, cleaning herself only rarely.

She met other street kids and hung around them for protection and a bit of companionship, but she was ashamed of who she was.  She hated being there, but she felt she had no other option.  It was better than where she had been.

Three years went by, and Molly could not resign herself to a life on the streets.  Sixteen years old, she knew she had once been a happy, loved little girl, and she wanted to be again.

If only someone would notice me, she thought.  If only someone would acknowledge that I am not just some stupid, homeless nobody, I am somebody, then maybe I could make it.  Maybe I could get out of this.  Someone remind me that I am a person, please!

Molly remembered going to Sunday school when she was little, and how happy everyone was there.  The families, the friendships, the lessons.  She even remembered Jesus said to love people.  She thought that surely there she would find hope.

Being homeless in LA, she knew there were lots of churches that helped the homeless, many rescue missions.  She had eaten in many of their soup kitchens.  But that is not what she wanted.

Molly wanted family.  She wanted acceptance.  She desired to just be loved like the little girl she was, to be treated as a person, not a charity case.

So one Sunday Molly walked  two hours to a nearby suburb.  It was a very nice neighborhood with a beautiful church right in the middle of it.  Families went to this church.  People walked in wearing nice clothes, holding hands with their children, smiling.  It was like the church from Molly's memory.  No filth, no homeless people, just a loving, family church.

Molly sat outside, against the church building, and waited.  She knew she smelled horrible, her hair was greasy and she hadn't changed her clothes in a month.  She wanted to look kind, but she was still so broken that her face wouldn't turn out of its downcast state.  It was okay though, she decided, these people knew how to love anyway.

Finally she heard people leaving the church.  She heard laughing, talking, lunch plans, play dates.  Down the stairs they were coming, they would see her now.

One by one they looked at her, and one by one they quickly turned their heads.  She even saw some parents, when they were walking in front of her, pull their children to the other side of them in order to keep them furthest from her.  Molly's heart was sinking.  If only one smile... but no, not one.

She was devastated, confused and angry.  But somehow she was resilient, and she did not give up.  Every Sunday she walked the two hours back to that church to undergo the same treatment.  Two months.  Finally, she could take it no longer...

One Sunday, she walked in.  They were in the middle of service and no one noticed her standing there, in the very back.  But she heard, she saw...

A man up front was showing pictures of children.  They were dirty.  They were hungry.  They were in need.  He was telling the people what his organization would do for these children in their respective countries.  He was passing papers around to fill out if you wanted to help.  Almost everyone was filling out these papers.

And Molly was glad.  She wanted these children to be cared for.  She was so glad these people would help care for them.

But then she started crying... What about me? she thought, I'm right here.  Why won't you help me?

Finally, someone noticed Molly.  Someone smiled.  Someone spoke.

And Molly became the woman I had lunch with.

Before we finished lunch that day, Molly pleaded, "Don't forget.  When you are loving people, when you are supporting missionaries and sponsoring children internationally, don't forget.  There are orphans and widows here at home too."

And I do not forget.  Next time I will stop and talk to the girl before I go into the store.

Wednesday

To be restored

Body aching, weak, unable to walk.

Stomach hurting, head pounding.

Unable to eat, the body getting weaker.

This mama has been sick, 4 days sick.

The fear set in early.  I knew things would be okay, I knew children would be taken care of, but I wasn't quite sure how baby would do.  Lying in bed upstairs, I had visions of him crying, no one able to calm him down, because they were not who he wanted.

When it came time for him to eat, husband would bring him up to me, his baby face wide eyed and smiling.

"I think he's hungry," husband whispers, "he's starting to fuss a little."

My achy body slowly fights to sit up, reaches out for little man, and nurses him and loves on him desperately because this is all I can give him right now.  When he finishes, he is asleep and I am exceedingly grateful because now I can just lie down and hold him.  I watch him while he sleeps, so beautiful, so peaceful.  My body hurts, my head hurts, but my heart is in such peace, I am in love with this infant, so amazing.

After awhile he begins to stir, and opens his blue eyes, looking up at me, smiling his wide smile.  He becomes playful and squirmy, and I can no longer snuggle with him on the bed.  Husband comes to get him, he tells me what a good boy little Moses is being, how sweet and happy.

My fear subsides.  My illness continues.

In turn, I fear for everyone.  The twins will need me for this.  Josiah will need me for that.  Layla will need something. Ian will get tired from doing too much.  Can my husband do it all?

Yet every evening, when I pull myself out of bed and crawl slowly down the stairs to collapse on the couch, to spend a bit of time with my family whom I miss so intensely, I see... things look normal, people are okay.

There are things on the floor, but it's mostly clean.
Dinner is being served...meat, veggies and another side.
Some children will eat, some won't... and that's normal.
Children smile and hug me and tell me some things about their day.
Twins snuggle with me on the couch, then bigger kids too, and my weak body is covered in love.

I make it back into my bed, and now I can rest.

I mumble delirious prayers of gratitude...
for a husband who will take all upon himself so I can rest
for a teenage son who will do whatever he needs to do so I can rest
for children who are okay in difficult circumstances , and
for a God who makes all things so because He knows that we need to rest and sometimes He will allow the circumstances so that we can and He will make sure all things are taken care of so that we can... REST.


Today I awaken, completely rejuvenated.  I begin tasks... folding four loads of laundry (washed but not folded over the past four days), wiping counters, sweeping crumbs, planning meals... all with a restored attitude.  Singing with my daughter while she helps alongside, I am so glad to be up and doing these things for my family.

And I pause, and remember... REST BRINGS RESTORATION.

1 "Come, let us return to the LORD.
       He has torn us to pieces
       but he will heal us;
       he has injured us
       but he will bind up our wounds.
 2 After two days he will revive us;
       on the third day he will restore us,
       that we may live in his presence.
 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
       let us press on to acknowledge him.
       As surely as the sun rises,
       he will appear;
       he will come to us like the winter rains,
       like the spring rains that water the earth." 

Hosea 6: 1-3

My joy has been restored.  And gratitude flows...






holy experience