Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I stepped out onto the road. I could see a black dog wandering the street; I prayed he would cross and not disturb me. I started walking toward Maktab 2, the school where I would be teaching. It was 8 blocks away. Clutching my bag full of books and pamphlets from the Peace Corps, I began shaking my head.
What am I doing? I'm not a teacher! I'm scared to death! Oh Jesus, I just want to go home where I can be loved by my fiance and my family. Where I can be comfortable. Jesus what am I doing here? I am so...lonely. So far away from everyone I love. From everything that I know. Even you God, even you seem different, like a God I don't even know. I'm too far away. Did you come with me? Are you the same God in Uzbekistan that you are in Minnesota?
In an instant I knew. The same God that had thoughtfully carved out the lakes in Minnesota had also lovingly created the mountains I was now gazing upon. These very mountains were touched by the Creator. God, I've never seen these mountains, yet you created them. Have I seen a part of you many have never seen? God's heart for Central Asia. His love for these people. This land. You are with me. But I am afraid...and lonely. I am doing a job I don't know how to do. I am surrounded by people I don't know, who don't know me, and worse, who don't know you. I don't even have familiar food, language, or even bathrooms to make me comfortable. Help me, Lord.
Then a song rose in my heart...
I lift my eyes up to the mountains
Where does my help come from
My help comes from You
Maker of heaven, creator of the earth
Oh how I need You Lord
You are my only hope
You’re my only prayer
So I will wait for You
To come and rescue me
Come and give me life
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Every morning as I stepped out of my family's gate in Gazalkent I sang this song to myself. And the Lord was faithful to strengthen my heart each day. Two months later we were all sent home with many stories to tell and thoughts to process. Many things have I kept fondly in my heart. One of these is how this song and the scripture it is taken from drew me into the bosom of the Lord. Now when I sing it, I see the mountains tinged with pink and purple majesty. I remember how weak I felt. And I recall the faithfulness of the Lord. And I am filled anew with life.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Sometimes I don't know where she gets it. Abigail has such a sweet spirit, and yesterday she gave an example of a servant's heart.
We've been trying to teach her to "put away" her toys at the end of the day or before naptime to some success. But I've never had her truly clean up after herself. Babies make messes. Alas, she has the motor skills of C-3PO. I certainly don't expect her to be neat and tidy. Well yesterday she exhibited that she is maybe ready for some more challenging helping chores.
Yesterday she brought me her sippy cup of milk and set it down on the footstool. It tipped over and a few drops of milk spilled out onto the footstool. She pointed to the droplets with concern. I nodded gravely, "Yes, you made a mess. But it's ok." It's ok - the footstool is full of milk and peanut butter spots anyway. Abi waddled over to her highchair, climbed onto a nearby chair and reached, reached, reached onto the highchair tray. She grabbed something and climbed down. She started to toddle back to the footstool with a wash cloth in her hand! She placed the wash cloth on the footstool where the spots had been (by this time they'd already soaked in) and gave the stool a few good scrubs. Then she handed me the wash cloth, picked up her sippy cup, and zoomed off to go play! Needless to say she received lots of hugs and kisses for her effort!
That's my girl!!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Remember last spring when David Cook won American Idol over David Archuleta, the teen heart throb? Maybe you don't; it isn't what I'd call the most thrilling moment of my life...or even the most thrilling moment of that day. But to some pre-teen girls out there, it was the worst day of their young lives. I found a video on YouTube of a group of girls and their reaction to the news that their puppy love had lost American Idol. Watch and laugh, I mean, uh...mourn with them.
I definitely laughed and laughed. And then I realized that someday my little Abi might be throwing a similar fit over something just as trivial. Oh yes. It's inevitable: someday, I, too will be the mother of a pre-teen girl.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Abi loves putting on all her hats from the hats and mittens drawer.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
I want to premise this post by saying I will not be endorsing any candidates or amendments or policies here at this time. I'm not George Clooney or Matt Damon so my opinions do not weigh as much (so funny, yet so sad). If you want my opinion, honestly, then I will give it, but not if all you want to do is attack me. I used to be very good at being a pit bull, but it seems mommyhood has made me a bit of a softie and I take things to heart pretty easily. But as the last few months have worn on in campaignville, I've seen and heard some things that need to be addressed. I am here to remind us that there IS hope.
With all the campaign ads for Senators, Representatives, and Presidential candidates, I found myself getting caught up in the "fight for your life" attitude. When an attack ad would come on against my favorite candidate, sometimes I felt like screaming at the TV, "Stupid! He's taking this out of context! What a joke!" Then I would call up one of my comrades and fume with them about how so-and-so had better win the election because I can't believe what kind of mess we'd be in if such-and-such was elected. Please, dear God, in your mercy, don't let it be HIM (or HER as I prayed fervently, fervently). But lately, I've been stepping back and looking at the cost of all this fighting. Even the church is fighting, fighting amongst themselves about who GOD'S choice is. First of all, God's choice would be that GOD would be president. Maybe I should write Him in. (I wonder if He gets many votes?) And second of all, actually, there is no second of all. First of all, God is KING.
"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes." ~Psalm 118:9
My friends, let me tell you there is hope! After the 2004 elections, if you were to ask any Kerry supporter how they felt, they all answered one and the same: they were despairing, fearful, and angry. Their hope was in a man, and that man had failed them. Many people who voted for Bush in 2004 are feeling the same way. This man they voted for disappointed them. They feel betrayed, despairing, and afraid. This will always, always, always be the outcome when we put our hope in men (and women). Even good men and women. We all fail, we all make mistakes, and we all make choices that make ourselves feel good without thinking about our fellow man from time to time. I can promise you we will be disappointed with our next president, too, in some way at some time. He's going to make a promise he can't keep; he might even make some terrible moral taboo that degrades the office. If our hope and peace come from knowing we have a good leader in a good government, then I'm sorry to say that we will be disappointed all our lives.
I have three groups of people I want to address here, so bear with me. First of all, if you find yourself thinking, “That’s me. I’ve been let down and I’m sick of putting all my hope in one man every four years only to be disappointed time and again,” then I want to encourage you that there is someone you can put your hope in that promises never to fail you. That person is Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life and allowed himself to be sacrificed. He did this in order that we, as imperfect human beings, could have a chance to be reconciled to a righteous and holy God. Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” All the good things I do still don’t make me righteous and holy. To come to a righteous, holy God, we need to go through a righteous, holy intercessor, Jesus Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” ~ 1 Peter 1:3 Jesus promises never to leave us nor to forsake us. Our hope is secure when it is placed in him.
The second group is a group I myself belong to. It’s the church. Our hope comes from the Lord. But I think we've strayed or forgotten the focus. We as the church have neglected our duty to reassure our fellow citizens of this hope. We aren't sharing this hope with people who are afraid and despairing because they've been let down by our government. Have we become so engrossed in our "evangelical issues" that we've forgotten the most important command from Jesus Christ himself? “Go and make disciples of all nations!” Share the love and hope of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting, lost, despairing. To a world that is clinging to a few moderately decent men who can really only give them either free health care or some tax cuts. Instead of focusing all our efforts into the campaigns of men who we don’t completely agree with, let’s focus our efforts on the campaign of God whom we serve. Be the peace the world so desperately needs and spread it around. Also, let’s not fall into the trap of vilifying our brothers and sisters in the Lord for their poured-over, prayed-over decision on who to vote for. I know wonderful people who are whole-heartedly serving the Lord on BOTH sides of the political field. Jesus prayed three times for unity in the church. Let’s not do as the world does and so stir up dissension and strife. When all is said and done, someone will be president, and God will still be God.
The third group is those of you who are still waffling over which candidate to vote for. The best you can do is ask God what are the issues on His heart. And what are the issues on God's heart? We read in the Bible that God has always been an advocate for how we treat the poor and the aliens, justice for the innocent, loving our neighbor, making disciples of all nations and baptizing them, praying for peace in Jerusalem...notice that the global economy wasn't on this list, nor were tax increases or big government. As a Christian, I need to pray that God presses on my heart the things that are breaking his. Pray for God to guide you, and know that your conscience will be clean before him.
I believe it is our civic duty to vote and give direction to the nation we live in. What a privilege! It’s a privilege my father and my husband have both fought for, put their lives on the line for. I’m a true patriot and I love my country. That being said, my heart belongs to my Savior, and it’s in Him that I place my hope. I pray for everyone who reads this, that they might choose the same.
In His great HOPE!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
This weekend I went on my first camping trip with mom and dad to Whitewater State Park by Rochester, MN. I helped Mommy pack the food box. I brought the apples.
I think I will taste it to make sure it is good enough for my first camping trip. Mmmm!
We took our camper and Papa's truck with all our stuff. I started to get bored in the truck so I cried. But after a while I got bored with crying so I took a nap. Then I felt better!
This is our first hike. Daddy carried me on his back because he is so strong! We went up lots of stairs. I helped by singing a special song called, "We are climbing the stairs." No one sang along, so I don't think they know it. I will have to teach it to them.
Mommy kept holding me so I couldn't walk around. I was very frustrated! I just learned how to do this, mom! Give me a chance! That edge looks very interesting. I want to poke it with my finger. Mommy showed me a fuzzypillar and I poked him with my finger instead.
We looked at all the pretty colors! Daddy pointed out reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and browns. I also learned about Ironwood.
Here is my daddy. In a few minutes he will jump over that gap. Wow! I didn't know he could fly! I tried to fly later while getting my diaper changed on the picnic table. And again when I was sitting in mommy's chair. And again when I was napping. I concluded with the same results every time. How did daddy do it without landing on his head and crying?
Here I am napping. Mom and Dad played Texas Hold 'Em and that is mom's unbelievable World Record setting tower of (banana) chips. It was here that I attempted my first flight. I saw my favorite book just out of reach. So I leaned over the duffel bags that mom put around me as a hedge. And I leaned a little more...a little more...and that's when it happened. I tumbled out of bed. But I got my book!
This is an ancient historical site. Daddy told me about how Han Solo drove the Millennium Falcon into the cliff many years ago, and this is all that is left of it.
Aaah, some relative liberty. I chose to quote some Bonhoeffer for us while we rested. Mom and Dad didn't seem to react. Maybe they are unfamiliar with Bonhoeffer. I will try Dante next time. He's a little more mainstream.
This tree was a mess. Here I am trying to straighten it out. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful. This is just some of the debris left from the big floods that happened down here after I was born.
This is looking a back at the Hall of Kings. My dad and his brothers named it. Like how mommy named the Meadow of Elephant Feet near our house.
This is where I found a pretty ladybug. He crawled around on my hand and my finger. I was so interested in him, so I tried to talk to him. He told me he wanted to be in my mouth. But mommy took him away before I could do what he asked.
We had lots of good talks and lots of good cuddles. It got so cold at night that mommy slept with me in my blankets. She held me all night and I stayed nice and warm.
Then we climbed 634 steps and got to the top of a bluff. We climbed up 150 more steps to get to the top of the firetower! I rode in the backpack again, but I got a little scared this time. So I sang my song "We are climbing the stairs" and this time Mom and Dad laughed the whole time! Next time I will teach them the words so they can sing along!
That was our trip! Mommy made lots of delicious food and Daddy too! He made potato-eggs this morning which I really liked. Mommy made cocoa, too, but I only got a little sip. I tried to tell her I wanted more, more, MORE! But she didn't give me anymore. Maaaaaaamaaaaaaa! I think I'm tired and need to go to sleep now! Where is my billy goat?