Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Promotion

I just want to take a minute to promote my friend's photography. Hilary has been one of my dearest friends since elementary school, and has been taking pictures at least since then. I remember all of her photography entries at the 4-H Fair, and she usually one the biggest, bluest ribbons. Well, now she gets to make a business of it!
If you know anyone in the area who is having a wedding, a baby, or any other special moment to take a picture of, consider calling this lady! Her pictures are so gorgeous, and I just know you will be happy with the results.
Click on photographybyhilary.blogspot.com on my blog list on the left to see some of her pretty pics!

In Her Sparkly Glory

Monday, October 27, 2008

Everywhere were Princesses

We had quite the eventful weekend...pretty much everywhere BUT in the parsonage. Sometimes the sweetest moments happen at home. Sometimes they happen everywhere else.

Friday night, Abigail and I abandoned Paul to go to my mom's house. Dad was away on an Emmaus Walk retreat this weekend, so Mom had three nights all by her lonesome at home (I think she kept pretty busy, too). So, we went to her house, armed with our pjs and "Enchanted" on VHS, because between my mom and me, we have no clue how to work a DVD player. Sad, I know. We immediately got into our jammies and Mom made these super-yummy crab cakes and we introduced my mom to the world of Giselle. Who, if you have not seen Enchanted, is the princess. And Abigail would pick her hands-down over any Disney princess any day of the week. Which, technically, she IS a Disney princess, since Enchanted is a Disney movie, but we've yet to see her face on 712 random things at WalMart, so I guess she hasn't been invited into the club yet. Abigail managed to stay up until midnight somehow, because we all three slept in Mom's bed, and like a dog circling around to find a good spot, Abigail has to jump, crawl, roll and such for two and half solid hours before her little body gives out on her. That is not a usual bedtime for her, before any child protective services are called.

When we left Paul at home that night, he was getting dressed to participate in our town's haunted house. The room he was going to be in was a Haunted Prom theme, with ghouls in a graveyard dancing in torn and bloody prom attire. Paul got to be "Disc Shockey", the prom's DJ, and his artery in his neck was severed by a CD. And he was wearing lipstick. He said he made a little girl cry, which usually would make you feel pretty bad, but I guess in a haunted house, it gives quite the feeling of accomplishment.

During the day on Saturday, Mom, Abigail, and I went to visit my grandpa for his birthday. His 94th birthday. No two ways around it, a 94th birthday is pretty awesome.

Then that night, we got Abigail dressed in her Halloween finery for the Frolic on the square. She still remembers being in the halloween parade and costume contest last year, and has for an entire year called the square "Halloween." Paul says even a broken clock gets the right time twice a day. I guess if she calls it Halloween long enough, eventually she will be right again. She dressed as the prettiest little bride. Hey, we had to get some more use out of that white flower girl dress somehow! She looked beautiful, but lost the contest to a kid in an aquarium and a girl made out of cotton candy. Pretty just doesn't beat original, I guess.

After church yesterday, we headed over to the big city of Terre Haute for Paul's dad's symphonietta concert. They played show tunes, and we had a front-row seat. Abigail especially sat up straight and focused for the two ladies who sang "Night and Day", "You'll Never Walk Alone", and "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina."

Because she has a true appreciation for Broadway music.

Or because they were wearing sparkly ballgowns, and she called them Princesses. And even better was when a troupe of ballerinas came out to dance a waltz. About ten seconds into the dance, Abigail said, "I want to be a ballerina." So maybe princesses aren't all that they are cracked up to be.

It was an exciting weekend. Monday always seems a little bit of a let-down. But I think Paul is taking us girls out to lunch, so that is something to look forward to, for sure. I wonder if there will be any princesses there....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Insights from the Mat

This is a post I have been thinking about for a while, cultivating the thoughts and words in my head. Although there are many scriptures that I love to read and draw comfort from, there are two, well, maybe three stories in the Bible that I find myself relating most to. Maybe you could say they are my tried and true favorites.

First would be the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead in John 11. I'm sure we can all think of ways, even today as you sit reading this, when God didn't act according to "your" timing. You thought He would do things one way, and at least for a while, you were disappointed that He didn't do things the way you thought He would. I love reading Jesus' words to His disappointed and doubting friends..."Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" I have heard more sermons and studied more of this chapter (in Sunday School) in the last six months that I probably have in my lifetime.

But I'm not going to talk about Lazarus.

Also, I really love, love, love the story of Mary and Martha preparing for Jesus to come visit. Martha is twittering around the kitchen, probably slamming around the pots and pans and sighing pointedly as she feels like her sister is leaving all of the hard work up to her. But there sits Mary, as the feet of Jesus, listening to all He has to say. And she chose what was better by far, and it could not be taken away from her.

But I'm not going to talk about Mary and Martha.

Last spring at a retreat, I heard what was probably one of the best messages on Mark chapter 2 that I have ever heard. It resonated in me then, and I had not even experienced all that we have had happen in the last year. In Mark 2, Jesus is speaking at a house in town, and it is wall to wall with people who have come to hear him....literally, packed and overflowing. There was a man who was a paralytic who wanted to get to Jesus. I don't know what his faith was expecting...a healing touch, comforting words, just a glimpse of this man called "Messiah." He was put on a mat and four of his friends carried him, probably miles and miles, to this house. Once they got there, they realized there was no way of getting inside. Some would have given up, turned around, and gone home. Some may have sat down outside the house and waited for Jesus to come to talk to them outside. But not these friends.

After carrying the dead weight of their paralyzed friend all the way to the house, they continued to carry him up the outside stairs to the roof. The roofs in this day were flat, and considered a place to "hang out"...kind of the front porch of our day. Despite how tired they were from their trip, they got down on their hands and knees and started digging through the roof. I guess as I have read this in the past and read that they "made an opening" in the roof, I picture them getting out some handy saw or power tool of some sort to cut a neat little window in the roof. Not possible here. This roof was made of mud, dirt, straw. It was dirty. And these four friends were getting dirty in it, probably clawing away an opening with their bare hands and desperation for their friend.

Once they made an opening, they lowered him down. Can you imagine being there inside the house listening to Jesus? Maybe you were a lucky one to get a good spot right in front of him, or even lucky enough to sit in a window and catch a fresh breeze as he spoke. Either way, there is no room for moving with all of the people there. And then, you look up and see the roof starting to cave a little. Dirt and dust start falling on your head. And then, well, somebody better move, because there is a grown man being lowered on top of you.

And Jesus notices. He notices the faith of the friends to go to that extent to bring their friend to Jesus. And he notices the faith of the man to allow his crazy friends to do what they just did. He notices....and he acts. He heals the man, first of his sins, and then of his paralysis. He heals the man's sins first, knowing that until that happens, none of the other acts will be noticed or appreciated for the miracle they are. He heals the mans sins because the paralysis of his heart is greater than the paralysis of his legs. He heals the mans sins first, and then so the people in the house would truly "see" and believe, Jesus heals the man's legs. Because sometimes we need that much of a visual to understand what Jesus is truly doing.

I love this story, because even though I have heard it many times throughout my life, I have realized that sometimes I am one of the four friends. Sometimes I am carrying one of my friends or loved ones to Jesus, tired, weary, and desperately doing anything to get them in front of Him. To get them "seen." Sometimes we have to get down in the dirt with our friends, right where they are, and get dirty with them in an all-out attempt to help them see the face of the Savior.

But sometimes, I am the person on the mat. Sometimes I am being carried when my strength is gone. When my will would not matter on it's own, because it is so weary. There are those times when I can only look up from my jostling mat as it is carried, grateful that there are people who love me so much to make that trip. Grateful that people care enough to get dirty for me. I know that there are the times when my mind and my heart want to get to Jesus, but the road is long, and my legs don't work like they should. And so, I am carried.

I am grateful most of all for my Jesus, who sees me being lowered down, distracting so many from His sermon, likely stopping Him mid-sentence, and He stops to stoop down and see me. He knows that I would gladly jump up and hug Him if I could, but sometimes the healing I need is more than even I realize. I need Him to heal my heart first. Once that is done, I can gratefully appreciate when He heals all the rest of me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This Week's Normal

I guess I am getting a better picture of what grieving looks like over these last few days. To say it is a roller coaster would be a comparison, at least. After I typed that blog on Wednesday afternoon about this great time I had at the Covered Bridge festival and that I was doing better, I must have spoken a little too soon.

Wednesday night I went to help at Awanas at our church, and oh, I don't know how to describe it except that is was "too normal too soon." I don't think I was ready to sit and help kids recite their Bible verses. I worked with two little boys, first grade-age, and usually I really love listening to God's Word come out of their little mouths. But, I also like to explain what these verses mean to them. I think to a first grader, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" might need a little understanding help. I mean, to them, what really is "sin"? And what does "falling short" mean, since that is not a term they are likely to hear regularly? And what is the "glory of God" in first-grade terms? Anyway, I was walking through this verse with them, and I got the following questions thrown at me in rapid fire:
Is lying sin?
Do you lie?
What kind of lie?
Do you still lie, or did you just used to lie?
(As you can tell pretty easily, one of the kids equated sin with lying. And that is all.)
Does God lie?
God's perfect? Are you sure?
Is Santa Claus real? (not sure where this one came from. But I quickly said we weren't going there, because a guy I went to high school with still claims that my mom as his substitute teacher was the one who broke the news that Santa wasn't real, and he maybe was still mad about it.)

Those were just a few of the questions. All mixed in with me leaving out the words in the verse, expecting them to fill in the blank (Abigail learns this way pretty well, why couldn't a first-grader?). Except every time I would make the blank be "sinned", he would fill in "God". So it was "All have....God." Sunday school answers, I know. So, I left there a little frustrated, feeling like I made NO difference in their learning that night. I went up to join prayer in the sanctuary, and could immediately feel tears welling up in me, and told Paul I was just going to go home. And in the 45 seconds it took me to walk across the yard in the pouring rain, I was bawling. Like, probably the biggest cry I had had since Friday morning. I sat on our front porch in the dark, watching the rain, and just cried. It was probably the first time I had an "I don't understand" moment with God. I was just telling Him how I felt like I had not gotten anywhere with those boys, that I had made no difference there tonight, and had just left frustrated. And that I couldn't take one more person asking me "Are you okay?"

Because that night, I wasn't. But today, I feel like I am. Like I am accepting it more. Handling it better. Today, I feel okay. Yesterday, I felt okay. See? Every day, every moment is different. But I guess I just need to let it be different and not expect to feel any one certain way at any one certain moment.

Yesterday, I had my ultrasound at the hospital to see if I will need a D&C. From the sound of things, I don't think I will. It's hard to decipher, because the ultrasound tech really can't tell you anything since they are not your doctor. They just have to send it all to your doctor and let them decide what to do. But he was training a new ultrasound tech yesterday, so I could pretty much tell by the things he was telling her that everything seemed okay. I hope so, anyway. This was the same guy who did my ultrasound three weeks ago when my hormone levels were a little low and they sent me over to have everything checked out. It was with him that I saw a baby and a heartbeat. So this was a very different experience with the same tech. He is a very gentle and soft-spoken man, and I really think he is good at his job. This, compared to the tech I had last week who acted nervous the whole time, like he didn't want to break the bad news to me. Of course, who would? Anyway, this ultrasound was very different. He didn't show me anything on the screen, but I guess there was nothing important to see. I have no need to see my ovaries or endometrial lining. I'm okay with his assessment of it all.

Afterwards, Paul, Abigail, and I went (again) to the Covered Bridge festival. I was so happy to have talked Paul into going with us. It was a very enjoyable afternoon, and a beautiful drive through winding, tree-lined roads. I adore time with my family, and especially at times like this, crave it even more than usual. It was so nice to stuff ourselves with festival food and buy things we never really need, like chocolate peanut butter fudge.

And, as a side note, to show that I am not walking around in doom and gloom all day, I will segue into something lighter....Have you all seen the commercials for Sham-Wow on tv? I admit, I am easily sucked into a good infomercial, and watching the guy with the Britney Spears mic on his head talking about..."Made in Germany! And we all know the Germans make good stuff, right?"...well, I cannot turn it off. There was a lady in Bridgeton who was demonstrating the Sham-Wow, and I was literally impressed. I saw it do all of the things they claim on tv. I didn't cave on the sale, as we really wanted to save our money on a giant pretzel, but I'm just saying if you do cave on the sale on tv, I don't think you will have wasted your money.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How Precious Life Is

To catch everyone up on the last couple of days, things are going better around here. "Better" being a relative term to the situation. Monday was when I actually miscarried, so it was tough. I think I had had those few days to prepare myself mentally for what was going to happen, so I was not caught off guard. I called Paul home from church afterward, and my sweet, sensitive husband said some very kind words....instead of trying to understand what I just experienced physically, or trying to say "just the right thing" to make it all better, he said this:

"Do you want to go outside and water the tree?"

I thought it was about the most understanding thing he could have offered me at that point. It felt so right to go outside and add life-giving water to this little tree, when I felt life leaving me. It was such a simple thing, yet so healing. I cannot even explain how this little tree, without a single flower, has given me so much comfort. I find myself looking out my kitchen window as I do the dishes and just loving that tree and all it stands for.

Each day has gotten easier....I guess "easier" meaning "less emotional." I got to go to the Covered Bridge festival with my friend, Angie, today, and we had such a fun day. It was a beautiful fall day, and I loved pointing out the changing trees with her and watching the leaves fall effortlessly to the ground. God gives those trees ultimate beauty before their leaves fall. The kind of picture that catches your breath, even though you know in just another month, those trees will be bare. We are such a grateful people to have a God who shows us LIFE and the cycle of life all around us. Who shows us colors so vivid just before they fall to the ground. Just like hearing a baby's heartbeat only days before it is gone. I have no explanation for it, but it is precious.

I have been listening to song lately that has spoken volumes to me. It is by an artist named Andy Gullahorn. We saw him perform in Terre Haute last December with Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God" tour. He performed this song there, telling us he wrote it for friends of his who had lost a child. Obviously from the lyrics, his friends were further along in their pregnancy than we were...far enough along to identify the gender on the ultrasound. But I do relate to these lyrics. You can also go to his myspace to hear the song. Here are the lyrics to "How Precious Life Is":


We moved the desk out of the office
Took down the college picture frames
Painted all the walls yellow
Because it goes with anything
Put those guards on all the outlets
Found a safer car to buy
Did it all for your protection
And your mama’s piece of mind

I couldn’t see it ‘til now
You were teaching us then
How precious life is

I saw you in that picture
When they said you were a boy
Though I swore I had no preference
Those words filled my heart with joy
My mind raced ahead a decade
It had us camping near a fire
Where you’d tell me all your troubles
And I’d make everything alright

I couldn’t see it ‘til now
You were teaching us then
How precious life is

God willing if we have another child
I’ll see it for the miracle it is
I’ll be hanging on to every blessed breath
‘cause I can’t forget
How precious life is

I thought I knew what pain was
But I really had no clue
Until the hope was disappearing
And there was nothing we could do
I was too tired to shout in anger
Too scared to run and hide
I just stared there at your mother
And thanked God she was alive

I couldn’t see it ‘til now
You were teaching us then
How precious life is

Thanks for going here with me these last few days. I know they have not been the sunniest or funniest of blogs to read (good Lord, I hope not). But having my friends read this, and share emails and comments with me has shown me those who rejoice when I rejoice and mourn when I mourn. And for you, I am thankful.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Something for the Spring

Today after church, our friend Angel asked us to come outside. Paul, Abigail, and I walked outside to find many of our friends from our Sunday School class standing by our porch. They had gotten us a baby flowering Dogwood tree to plant in our yard. Tony had already dug the hole (the hardest part), and they asked if we would like to help plant it.

We stood in a circle, held hands, and prayed. Our family was prayed for, and we asked that this tree be a sweet memorial to us. Through tears (of course), I told them I had no clue how to plant a tree, but I'd try. Mainly "planting the tree" was just Paul and myself shoveling the dirt back in the hole.

I love that our class thought to do this for us. That our sweet friends did not overlook this moment to reach out to us in a tangible way. They gave us a gift that I only hope will be something to hope toward, something beautiful in the spring. My hope is that it will be flowering beautifully around the baby's due date, May 4th.

I wrote in an email to my friend Charlotte tonight that God has enabled me to see so much tender beauty in some of the darkest moments of these last few days. It is only Him that would give me those eyes...eyes that can see moments to cherish, to feel how strong all of these arms are that are wrapped around us right now. I am able to see beauty in these moments because that is what God is showing me.

I look forward, through the upcoming winter (and oh, how long it can be!), to the Spring, so that I will see the flowers on that tree and remember. Remember for these ten weeks that I was a part of something beautiful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

If Only

If only this had been a normal day, it would have been wonderful. It probably ranks to me as "The Best Worst Day Ever". Well, Day 2 anyway. If this day had been my birthday, or my anniversary, or a random fall Saturday, I would have blogged about how wonderful it was. And in light of yesterday's events, and my sadness, it really was a good day.

Paul got up with Abigail this morning and I got to sleep until 10 a.m. That alone usually starts me off pretty happy. Then my friends Amber and Elizabeth came to see me, yielding beautiful flowers from Amber's yard and a gift basket of chocolate, bread, lotion, and goodies. I continued to get thoughtful emails and phone calls from friends throughout the day. Then a van full of fun came to my house.

Three of my Campus Crusade college friends came all the way from Indianapolis to spend time with me. And even a fourth one showed up later! One of the friends brought her two little girls to play with Abigail, which made her happy as could be all day to have little friends here. And these are the girls who have been through about every up and down together I can think of. We talked it through until I literally just didn't have any more to say. I had said every thought that has been in my head since yesterday morning. We talked about my relationship with God, we talked about what true comfort is, we talked about needing versus not needing an explanation for it all. Oh, and they brought brownies, too.

Then after they left, Paul came home (he had escaped to find some guys to hang out with once he realized it would be estrogen central in our living room). He and Abigail and I carved a jack o'lantern on our front porch. Abigail scooped out the goo and we got a lot of good pictures. And the current smell coming from my oven of roasted pumpkin seeds is very appealing to my senses.

Paul and Abigail went to get some things from the store. When they return, we will eat pumpkin seeds and watch a movie I have not seen in over 20 years. My mom used to get a movie, I think made by the BBC, called "The Electric Grandmother" from the library. I used to have my best friend, Angi, over to watch the movie and we would just watch it over and over and over. It is so early 80s and wonderful. I have never found it again at a library, but my sweet husband found it and got it for us to watch together.

See? Were all of these people pouring love on me today because it was my 30th birthday, it would have been over-the-top great. A day where you sigh at the end of it in satisfaction. But unfortunately, all of the loving people were not coming to see me and showering gifts on me because it is my birthday. They are coming to love me and grieve with me. I hate that this is the reason why this day was so great. But I know that God knew it was just what I needed today. I may need something different tomorrow. Maybe I will need to be left alone. Maybe I will need to get away. Maybe I will be happy or angry or sad or in pain. I've kind of felt all of those today.

Well, except for angry. I don't know why, but it is not in me to be angry over this. I just am not. Yes, I know it is okay to be if I need to be. But I'm not. I don't need an explanation of "why" from God. I don't need to yell at Him, although I'm sure He would handle it just fine if I did. I just feel much too secure in the character of my God to be mad at Him. I know that He is the same God in a miscarriage that He is in a birth. He is a God who loves me and my family and who really has plans to give us a hope and a future.

Anyway, it really was a good day today. Did I cry over my kitchen sink as I separated pumpkin goo from pumpkin seeds? Yes. Did I cry when I read the poem my dear Lori sent to me? Yes. But did I laugh when Abigail, sounding so much like me, said "Ewwww" as she placed her hands inside that pumpkin for the first time? Yes. Did I laugh with my friends over things totally unrelated to the events of their trip? Yes.

I love my life and understand that these things, awfully hard as they are to go through, will hopefully make me more into the image of Jesus. Oh, how I hope they do.

Because today really was a pretty good day. And I am thankful for it.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I'm not sure why I feel the need to type out a blog in times like this. I have no explanation except that "writing" for me is cathartic. It is my way of getting all of the emotions in my head, heart, and otherwise in some sense of order in black and white. It is something I can look back on in those days that I need something to process further. Or the days when I just need a good cry.

As most of you probably know, as I believe most of my blog readers are my dear friends (unless there are readers out there who would like to make their identity known). So, most of you heard our news today that we are having a miscarriage. Again.

I know blogs are one of those public forums where some people think "why does she feel the need to share all of this? It's too private." But for me, I am sharing my feelings for me. I love to write these feelings out, and if the people I love and care deeply about want to take the time to read those thoughts, then I really don't mind.

I have no idea what happened. It has been a seemingly good pregnancy so far. Blood tests have been fine, 8 week ultrasound was fine, heartbeat this week was fine. Then this morning when I woke up, it was clear something was wrong. Although it hasn't "officially" happened yet, all of the signs of miscarriage are inevitable. That is such an ominous word...inevitable. Like no matter how hard I try to stop it, no matter how badly I wish it weren't true, that bad thing is just going to happen.

It is times like this, however, when I realize how deeply loved my family is. Our family, our friends, our church, have already in the first day surrounded us with emails, phone calls, time off of work (thanks, Mom), a rose waiting on my doorstep, a dinner brought to our house (complete with Pumpkin Pie Blizzards), and the prayers. Oh, I sense the prayers. I have to just gasp out a thank you to my God for how overwhelmingly loved we are. It is a wonderful feeling in spite of pain.

On the way home from my parents' house this evening, we were listening to Abigail's lullabye cd in our car. The song "Baby Mine" by Allison Krauss came on (the song Dumbo's mommy sings to him in the movie), and the words just caught in my heart:
From your head down to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me, sweet as can be
Baby of Mine

I know it is a Disney song, but it just meant so much to me at that moment, and the tears flowed freely. This baby may not seem like much to some out there, and may not have had a name or identity in earthly terms, but I know firmly that this baby has been seen by God from the beginning of time, before the foundations of the earth were laid. This was no mistake, and it did not catch Him off guard. I have no explanation for it. But this baby has a heavenly identity, and it is so precious to it's Mommy and Daddy.

Thank you for loving me today, friends, and praying for all of us. I don't know what the next few days and weeks will hold as I experience this physically, but I know that we are held in loving arms right now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Here Comes the Bride

There are certain things in the life of a toddler that never are forgotten. For example, after we had Christmas ten months ago, she proceeded to talk about and dream about Santa until...now. When the Fair came to Marshall in June, it stuck in her little memory permanently, and at night she still prays for the "fair that went bye-bye."

You know how it is. There are things that, once they are experienced, are embedded in their little brains forever, and are still coming up in conversation several months later.

Which is why I know we are just at the beginning of her being a bride. Well, she did get to go to a wedding last October, and whenever we pass the church where the wedding was, she says, "There's Lindsay's wedding!" But with Jason and Adrienne's wedding just a couple of weeks ago, it is once again all fresh in her head.

This morning she has been wearing her skirt from India with all the sparkly little silver discs on it. She is carrying around an Easter tree as her bouquet of flowers. And her head has a piece of cotton filler from her baby bed on it as her veil. And the conversation goes like this:
Abigail: Mommy, let's get married. I'm the bride.

Me: Okay. Do you Abigail take me Mommy for all of your life? (whispering, Say, I do.)

Abigail: I do.

Me: Now say, Do you, Mommy, take me, Abigail, for all of your life?

Abigail: Do you, Mommy, take me, Abigail, for all of your life?

Me: I sure do. Now give me a kiss.

Abigail: Now we gotta dance. (Because to her, this is really all weddings are about anyway)

So we dance. She dips. We hum Pachelbel's Canon. What is more wedding than that?

Abigail: Now we gotta say our wedding verses.

Me: What are our wedding verses?

Abigail: (with some mumbling mixed in as she makes it up) I pledge allegiance....to....and the kitty....and ride the horsey....forever and ever....Amen. Now let's dance. You can hold the flowers and wear the hat. But I'm still the bride.

Man, and I thought my wedding was good. Hers is much better.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thoughts of Missions

I just finished reading Big Mama's blog today about her recent calling to go on a trip with Compassion International to the Dominican Republic next month. I read several blogs of people who are connected with Compassion, and love to read of their trips and heart for sharing Jesus with a lost world, one adopted child at a time. Reading Melanie's blog reminded me so much of our own experiences with missions, and identifying the call to "go."

When Paul and I were engaged, he had already been on one trip to Indonesia, and was wanting to find another short-term trip to go on. Being a faithful and idealistic fiancee, I thought it would be a great pre-marital thing for us to go on a mission trip together. And it was. But figuring out the call, the place, the time...it was no easier just because he was going with me than if I were going alone. I was scared. I had never been to another country, especially one considered "high security" toward Christians coming to share Jesus. I had many reasons not to go, and yes, I even made a pros and cons list of all of them. I knew I would be missing out on work for three weeks, money we needed to prepare for wedding plans and marriage. But you know? I don't remember most of the things on my list of reasons not to go. They don't matter now. I just knew, glaringly so, when I looked at the list that my reasons not to go were reasons I would not be trusting God to provide, and my reasons to go would test my faith in new ways.

So, Paul and I chose to go to Morocco for three weeks, returning just shortly before September 11, 2001. Just to show you how different things became within a couple of weeks time, when we were leaving Morocco, one of the guys on our team...you know the guy (maybe you ARE the guy)--the one who DOES NOT check baggage, and carries on his entire life of belongings....had a huge souvenir Moroccan machete in his carry-on bag, and actually MADE it past security in Morocco, and didn't get caught with it until the airport in Paris, where they just kindly told him they would put it with the checked baggage and he could get it when he returned home. And he was mad! Oh, I shudder to think what would have happened only a couple of weeks later, after September 11th. Anyway....

It was a great trip. Actually, it was a trip I am sure we appreciated much more after we returned home that we did while we were there. But I'm sure that is the case with most mission trips, and you have time to process what you learned and what God did after you return. If nothing else, it gave me a heart to see the world, to SEE the faces of those who do not know Jesus and need desperately to know His love and salvation.

Paul went on two more trips to Indonesia after our Morocco trip. One of the trips was when Abigail was only 6 months old. I'm not sure if it was harder for us to send him across the world for two weeks, or for him to be away from his baby for that long. Either way, it was not so easy.

But that is what God calls us to do. Leave the things we love and cling to. Leave the things that are so easy to hold fast to instead of trusting Him. Maybe it is for a lifetime, maybe it is just for a week or two or three. No big deal in the grand scheme of things. I remember telling our college students a couple of years ago to go NOW. It really is so easy when you are in college and just free to go. When you are out of school, working, married, having kids...it is not as easy. That doesn't mean we shouldn't ever try. There is just so much else to work around. The freedoms are not so great. I told them this while holding a squishy, precious ten-month old Abigail in my arms. Of course, my greatest desire was always to be a mommy, and I hope to be the best I can be. But when you are raising small children, the option to just drop everything and go is not as easy. So then you consider your other current options...praying for missions, giving to missions, encouraging others to go on missions...all important as well.

I love hearing about people's calling to go on mission trips. Hearing that it is sometimes hard to discern. Hearing the sacrifices they have to make. Hearing how clearly God calls them. Hearing how many people work together as the body of Christ to make these trips happen. Hearing them come back, more changed than the people they went to help.

Here on some quotes on missions that I love. I love knowing that these words came from the very hearts of people who want to see this world changed. And they know it will not be a politician, an election, or even a country that will change the world. It will be people allowing God to break their hearts for the people He created and cares about. The people God loves so much that He would send His only Son to die on a cross, to pay the penalty of their sins that they could never pay themselves. I am encouraged by these words, and hope that you will be, too.

"Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us." -- Keith Wright

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." -- C.T. Studd

"No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once." -- Oswald J. Smith

"Let my heart be broken with the things that break God's heart" -- Bob Pierce, World Vision founder

"The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet." -- Unknown

"I wasn't God's first choice for what I've done for China… I don't know who it was… It must have been a man… a well-educated man. I don't know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn't willing… and God looked down… and saw Gladys Aylward… And God said - "Well, she's willing."
- Gladys Aylward

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't."
- John Piper

May our heart for missions expand through our hands and feet, our prayers, our giving, so that worship of our God will exist where it currently does not.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Date Nights and Scary Faces

Tonight I had the pleasure of going on a date with my sweet husband. Date nights for us, as we realized tonight, are few and far between. Oh, we have plenty of "family dates". I think Thursday nights are some of my favorites. We usually don't have any church activities going on, and we go out and do fun family things together. But not tonight! Oh, no. I told my husband over five days ago that I wanted a date night tonight. Mainly because he had surgery three weeks ago, and our last three weeks have consisted of me draining things and bandaging things that I don't usually see on a daily basis. Scars and such, you know. And we've had my brother's wedding. And we've had revival at church. But no real "us" time. And I claimed it early.

My very gracious parents (Memaw and Papa) watched Abigail for us tonight, which she never minds one bit. She thinks Memaw and Papa's house is pretty much a carnival compared to ours. They don't have just ONE cat, they have THREE. And they don't say "That's enough lotion on your hands", they say, "Here, try five more scents!" And they (well, Papa) go buy chocolate to have in the freezer just because she is coming! And it is just the absolute, most wonderful place any two-and-a-half-almost-three-when-Santa-comes-year-old could ever imagine spending a Friday night.

Paul and I went to dinner at Exotic Thai in Terre Haute. I'm not sure "exotic" was the descriptive word I would choose, but it was a very good dinner. Unfortunately, we have been spoiled by a little place called "Thai Smile" in Muncie which had some of the most delectable food in the genre, so Exotic Thai did not quite reach our level of Thai palettes from the, oh, two Thai restaurants we have been to. But it was good.

Then we saw the movie "Fireproof." Wow. I won't describe the whole movie here, but I think it would be beneficial to any married or engaged couple to see. It is all about saving a marriage before it ends, and it is extremely edifying for believers. We had tears several times through the movie, and were just very pleased overall to see a movie of this level of character and message make it into the mainstream theater.

THEN, we went to one of my favorite places, Coffee Grounds. Paul usually goes there to make me happy, not because it is his first pick for an evening out. But, oh, how I love their iced mochas. Those iced mochas got me through many a morning in college after my 8 a.m. Shakespeare class (YAWN) and through my afternoon slump of one of my Literary Criticism classes. I could have said "Lit Crit" right there, but it would have seemed so college pretentious. Anyway, my college years were filled with gallons of iced mochas from the Coffee Grounds, and I have never found it's equal. So, that was the perfect way to end our evening.

Actually, I guess the perfect way to end our evening is for me to write a blog about it, and Paul to catch up on Season 5 of Smallville from the library.

As for Scary Faces, Abigail has had more than her fair share of exposure the last couple of days to all of the Halloween goodies out and about. At WalMart last night, we pressed every button of every ghoulish thing that cackled, shrieked, raised it's head off it's shoulders, or had glowing eyes. She didn't seem to mind it last night. Then today, we dropped her off at my mom's work on the way to our date. My mom works at an assisted living home, and every hallway was decorated with similar ghostly, skeleton-ly, witch-ly things. Mom said she shied away from some of them. Then when I put her to bed tonight, she told me that there was a witch in her room. I explained to her that witches are pretend and we just see all of the funny ones out for Halloween decorations. I also told her that Cammie, our kitty, would not allow any witch into our house (that may have been a stretch).

Then, she called me back into her room, crying, asking me to remove two little bear toys (Happy Meal toys) and a plastic pink piggy bank and take them to the living room. I asked her why she needed them out of her room, and she said, "Cuz they're so scary." I replied that they were not, and she said, "Uh-huh. Look at their scary faces."

So I grabbed them and showed her that they were just plastic toys and nothing to be scared of. Then I told her that Mommy and Daddy would protect her, and that God always keeps her safe while she sleeps and that she is too brave to be scared of any ol' toy. I think she may have believed me, but she still wanted them out of her room.

If anyone has any good ideas for not being scared the entire month of October, I'll take them. I've heard of "Scary Spray" where you just give them a little spray bottle and tell them it has magic stuff to spray the scary things away. But I have a feeling she will be seeing many ghoulish things over this month, so she needs to cowboy up. Or, toddler up. Whatever, you know what I mean.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Prayers for a friend

My dear praying friends who read this blog...and I'm pretty sure you all are....I am asking for prayers to go out like ripples in the water when a rock is thrown in. We have some family friends who have been dear to us for several years. The Burke family lives in Terre Haute and Paul met them when he started attending First Southern Baptist Church while in college. I still remember him telling me about this really sweet family who took such care of him at one of his hardest moments, when his parents were divorcing after 37 years of marriage. The Burkes reached out to him in his new church home, and truly showed him the hands, the feet, the love of Jesus to his aching heart.

The summer before he started seminary, he didn't have anywhere to live, and they even cleaned out some space in one of their rooms at home, and told him to move on in. That is who this family is. They are precious. Kim Burke (Dad) and his daughter Lindsay sang in our wedding. Paul married their son Kyle and our sweet Kim Cherry, one of our dearest BCM students. They are a wonderful family, and currently in need of prayer.

To do a quick summary, their daughter Lindsay, who is now Lindsay Goodwin, just had a baby two days ago. She named him Burke. :) It has been a tough pregnancy (this is her second child) as she started leaking amniotic fluid at 18 weeks, and was put on 12 weeks of bedrest to maintain her fluid levels and keep her body a safe, watery home for baby Burke. Can you imagine??? Three months on bedrest!! Not able to lift her little Ruby, not able to cook dinner for her family, not able to go to church to see her friends, not able to prepare her new baby's room before his arrival. It's been a tough, but teachable, three months for this family. They have rested on God's faithfulness. They have seen His goodness. They have seen how very powerful He is to sustain this baby.

Burke was born Monday, kind of unexpectedly. Lindsay went in for an ultrasound and came out with a c-section scar and a baby. They are both doing well, but Burke is in the NICU for being born at 32 weeks. He is currently needing help to breathe. Lindsay is much better at explaining all of this. I always say there are some words that are just not meant to roll off a parents tongue...big, long medical words that only enter your vocabulary when you are intimately familiarized with how they are affecting your child.

Their stay in the NICU may be one that lasts a while. They have several prayer requests. Lindsay and Mike keep a wonderful blog that explains their journey and their current situation. If you only read the last three or four blogs, it will catch you up on everything with Burke, as he is only 2 days old. Their blog is www.not2us.net. All prayers for this young family would be appreciated! To God be the glory!