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Thursday, March 29, 2012

purple heart.

i really should get one for this week.

for the first time in 25 years, i took a 5-year-old to school, dropped her off, AND LEFT HER THERE.

and went somewhere else- every. single. day.

i am so much softer- and wiser- than i was when i was 40.

it hurt. it was scary. this child- this precious gift- is my heart. she's been an appendage for 5 and a half years. literally. only 2 nights has she been away from me in her whole life.

for so many nights- 365 times 5 1/2 whatever that is- she has slept beside me.

i have loved her so much better than i did my other 4, just because i'm older. they were the losers, really, although i did my best. one is so foolish when one is young.

so.

i took her to school...(she's just been accelerated in kindergarten for the final sem of the year)

and was sweetly advised by her young teacher that 'we will see how emma does on the playground all by herself today?'

smile and nod. smile and nod.

and walk away with a heart thumping.

and get in the vehicle and drive away.

oooooooooohhhh.

i should have gotten a purple heart.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

when thunder rolls

tonight the house trembles.

the clouds crash their mighty armored chests against each other 
and tear the air apart with roars of fury.

high voltage ricochets between sky and ground-
for a millisecond the CRACKKKK breaks the world in half.

(the storm is unusual- it's summertime, dry season,  and we seldom have rain, much less thunder and lightning.)

(and shouldn't it be lightning-and-thunder...)

the sky shudders and sobs and the thirsty city tilts its tired face upward
 and drinks, drowning in the sudden unexpected flash of heavenwater.

cool and quiet the spent exhaustion of the atmospheric aftermath...

surfeited, the grass lies sodden beneath the gentleness of the final benediction...

trees bow their heads and murmur softly as their hair drips the last of the downpour onto the jungle floor...

steaming streets smell of wet asphalt and their burgeoning gutters gasp 
and gurgle past the last swallows of the overflow...

stranded motorists and stalled traffic file along the freeways in 
furious-yet-grateful windshield-wiping, tail-light flicking madness...

such a night.

all i can do is say "thank you" to the great Master Conductor 
who orchestrates the chaotic disciplines 
of the heavens.

so then...

"thank you."



"Listen to it! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. 
He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon, 
lighting up the earth from pole to pole." Job 37.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

beneath the surface

sometimes things are not what they seem.

today we watched the children in our orphanage scamper and giggle and cling to a group of loving adults. they swarmed the visiting ministry team like little leeches...little hands reaching, eyes bright, voices clamoring, little hearts grasping for attention and physical touch.

"isn't it sweet how they're bonding with the team?" someone said.

i paused and thought carefully before i answered.

"actually," i said gently, "it's not".

the tragic reality is, these children are exhibiting an absolute failure to bond. an emotionally healthy child who is securely bonded to a primary caregiver, will not quickly 'bond' to a temporary visitor.

mine was the task of explaining to our visitors how rootless children, grown accustomed to a high turnover of attentive adults, will develop emotional ADD of sorts, and cling to whomever is in front of them at that moment. the lap-snuggling, hand-holding, 'you're my best friend' behavior are all symptoms of a child who has not attached to one person and so is on the look-out for ever-changing surface relationships.

children who grow up in orphanages develop a coping mechanism for the constant roller-coaster of people coming and going. shift changes in the care-givers...visiting teams who stay a few days and then leave...nobody who is permanently close to them...the little hearts begin to believe that everyone is only temporary and they must drain to the dregs whatever bits of attention they can get.

but it's not healthy. visitors cannot discipline them. short-term workers come and go. caregivers leave at shift change and another mother figure appears. who is there for them to deeply attach to? no one. everyone is mobile. each person who loves them is only temporary.

this sadly often further grows into 'reactive attachment disorder'- ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_attachment_disorder ) to one degree or another. the 'bonding' the team saw today was the disinhibited form of RAD. it appears to be beautiful- but it's not.

precious little hearts. so hungry, so wounded, so insecure.

i look forward to the day when there is no need for orphanages.

i look forward to the promise fulfilled- "i will not leave you as orphans, i will come to you..."John 14:18.

and when He comes, He will never leave.

Friday, March 16, 2012

once a sister...

always a sister.


milli may.

my youngest sister. i have 2 others, but she's the baby.

14 years between us- and half a world has separated us for the past 25 years-
with just a few precious visits here and there

but tomorrow-

tomorrow-

i get to hug her! 

she's here!!!

in my adopted homeland!!!

once a sister, always a sister.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

forgotten corners

day after day passes by with me in my garden,
planting, weeding, pruning, and harvesting. 

the tomatoes have collapsed under the weight 
of their sweet red globes. 
they lie sprawled on the peanut grass, 
arms cracked and torn,
ripening recklessly in the heat of the noonday sun.

the last of the brave lettuce has folded in on itself,
and a new crop planted.
rotation, rotation, rotation...

the feathery baby carrots need weeding, 
since i foolishly put fresh-mown hay on them 
in desperation for protection from the sun,
 and the tiny seeds of the weed grass have sprouted 
along with the carrots...

the black and yellow caterpillars on the fragrant spikes 
of the lemon tree 
have to be monitored. 
they will turn into beautiful butterflies, 
but too many of them munching will devour the tree- 
i only squish them when they have truly overrun the leaves. 

i fight a daily battle with scorching tropical sun
 and strong easterly winds. 
the banana trees are leaning hard to the west, 
but mightily reproducing- 
how does one stop a banana tree
from pushing up babies all around itself???
i had no idea they so vigorously propogate 
deep beneath the soil...

yesterday i happened upon a corner of the garden 
that i don't often get to.
there are no vegetables planted there... 
it's in the very back behind the eucalyptus trees.
i gasped in delight as i pushed my way past the silvery branches- 
there are sunflowers blooming! 
i'd almost forgotten i planted any there. 

they've been neglected- 
getting just a spray of water now and then...
no weeding...no pruning...no staking...but there they are,
their happy yellow faces following the sun from east to west 
with never a hint of reproach for the fact that 
their beauty is hidden and ignored.
they bloom in glorious dismissal
of their neglect.

just another reason why i love sunflowers.

they remind me of people i know- 
precious souls who are 
what we'd call 'low maintenance'. 

Lord, make me a 'low-maintenance' person 
who thrives and blooms in my hidden corner of the world. 

help me lift up my trusting face to your sunshine love 
with no thought of what i need or what i'm missing. 

let me be content to bloom where you've put me, 
quietly rejoicing in the hidden corner of the garden,
with no reproach for what might have been.

"but godliness actually is a means of great gain 
when accompanied by contentment..."
-1 Timothy 6:6 (NASB)


Friday, March 9, 2012

where i'm from

(inspired by ann voskamp of aholyexperience.com)

i'm from an unpainted wood-fragrant little house on vast plains of farmland edged with blue hills misty in the manitoba mornings.

i'm from old houses filled with antiques and sloped ceilings and patched walls and dusty cupboards and wood stoves.

i'm from secrets, whispers, hidden things, sorrows screaming in silence, close-lipped people, bee-hives and honey spinners and barns and the smell of wheat.

i'm from moonlit nights of brilliant snowshine, hayrack wandering down rough trails, shouting children bouncing on and off and hot cocoa after. i'm from swimming in the river before may 1, beautiful summers with bible camp and weeding in the garden, and glorious autumns in the bush. i'm from winter and woodstoves and fire escapes.

i'm from prairie sun and winds, thunderstorms, blizzards, forces of nature that terrorize and enthrall. i'm from gentle summers and long bitter winters. i'm from manitoba.

i'm from school, precociousness pushing me forward on an ever-increasing tilt. i'm from classrooms and loving the smell of crayons and paper and books and the delicious thrill of learning and reading and grasping facts and translating 'les miserables' from french to english and always being the youngest in the class.

i'm from church. 3 times a week church. long church. i'm from pentecostalism, glossalalia, ecstasy, miracles, dancing in the aisles and running-the-pew preachers. i'm from church.

i'm from children- big families, hand-me-downs, tired mamas, working-away dads, simple basic poverty that didn't starve but didn't feed.

i'm from alberta, transplanted giddily to the foothills of the rockies and the exhilarating throb of an infant city on the cusp of explosion. i'm from deerfoot trail when it was just a side road. i'm from the heart of downtown calgary when there were no skyscrapers, and the tower was just a blueprint.

i'm from yet another transplant- to a small tropical island just after a revolution, where bombs still fell and the government rocked insanely from one coup attempt to another. i'm from starting a life with husband and children in a wild, hot ancient city where nothing was easy. i'm from learning that tears and laughter and fish and rice go together and that taxi-rides make your prayer life better.

i'm from mothers and babies- learning to be 'with woman'- a midwife. i'm from delivery rooms with gloves and the lingering smell of alcohol and the sweet scent of fresh babies tucked in with weary mommies. i'm from sleepless nights and years of exhaustion.

i'm from a place where inner strength comes from years and years of the slow gentle work of Holy Spirit, where like water dripping constantly on a granite rock, infinitesimal changes take place in the hardness of my heart and i begin to see with His eyes.  i'm from stubbornness turning to obedience. i'm from the big yes and all the little yeses that come with each day.

i'm from young love, early marriage, ups and downs, tough years, sweet years, and walking into the sunset hand in hand with the one i gave my heart to. i'm from living with my choices rather than making changes. i'm from deciding that this is how it's going to be, and learning to be content and grateful and -yes- joyful. i'm from choosing to fall in love over and over again with him and with life.

i'm from songs my mother used to sing- 'i found the answer'...'great is thy faithfulness'...'leaning on the everlasting arms'...i'm from pianos and guitars and scratchy records and choirs and out-of-tune singing in a country church. i'm from boy bands and keyboards and back-up singers and drums and strobe lights and -gasp- hillsong music.

i'm from children, my only legacy to the world. i'm from 'you can do it if you try' and 'because i said so' and 'do you see my lips moving' and 'there will be no more of that, thank you' and 'i love you so much i could just squish you to pieces' and 'sugarbabybuggybear' and 'goodnight, sweetheart, thank you for the whole day'...

i'm from drinking water, natural foods, brown sugar and homemade bread, my own recipes, and supplements.

i'm from teaching- over-studying, TMI, from loving the thrill of seeing a student's eyes light up and catch the truth.

i'm from being the oldest, the responsible one, the poetess, the singer, the piano player, the choir director, the shoulder to cry on, the giver of advice and reproof, the protector, the planner, the valedictorian, the over-achiever, the advocate. i'm from my birth order programming my life.

i'm from a white house on a green yard, sunflowers and banana trees, a little black-eyed girl and cats and dogs and butterflies and the scent of flowers in the morning breeze. i'm from grace- from His gifts, all for me.

i'm from life. i'm from me.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

challenges and catching up

my little girl is so adorable.

i can take no credit for her looks, her personality, her charm- she was conceived in and birthed from another's womb.

sometimes daddy asks her, "how did you get to be so cute?"

and she answers, "jesus just made me like this!"

true.

but i think we have shaped her to be a happy, secure, contented little person who faces life with courage and joy.

now come some challenges.

little girl has been assessed and deemed ready to spend her last semester of this school year as a kindergartener.

this means she needs to catch up! catch up! catch up! from the chaos of pre-K with a 50% ELL student ratio, to a real classroom where everyone speaks english and sits still!

she needs to learn about 40 new words, a bit more math, and the cambridge style of handwriting.

if she gets it all done, and done successfully, she will go into grade 1 in august.

so...

for the spring break, and for summer vacation, guess what little girlie and i will be doing?

that's right! catching up!

we are so proud of her. she will be right on track for her age. i know she can do it. despite her motor skill issues, and her immaturity at the beginning of last school year, she has made great strides in all areas. what other children do naturally in terms of jumping, climbing, running and balancing, she has to try really hard at. academically she is on track, but some physical things are just a struggle for her.

but she's improving and being so brave. she is, in her own words, 'conquering fear' every day.

and when miss Z, the kinder teacher, met with us last week and said to her, 'i'm so excited to have you in my class!', little girlie smiled up at her and said, 'i'm more excited than you are!'

you go, little girlie.