Monthly Archives: January 2008

Finding Beauty

Standard

img_1138.jpg

Recently my mom told me she hoped I would find a moment of beauty in my day. I confess that I don’t see much beauty in the winter. It seems like a dreary, yucky time of year to me. And since we don’t have the beautiful snow of the mountains of Colorado, the rain and mud here don’t really speak to me in the same way!

But I have been looking for beauty in my days. I have been lighting candles in my living room and kitchen… the smells and soft light bring a peace to the room. I have been playing music more… the sounds are soothing to the soul. And I have been asking God to show me beauty, small bits of it, in my day.

This morning, I sat down in the kitchen after breakfast with my computer to catch up on some blog reading and turned on some music. Before long Jadyn was dancing at my feet. As I looked at her she smiled and grinned, lifting her hands up to the sky. The song was “The Glory of your Name” by Watermark (oh how I miss Watermark! When the kids are grown I pray they will make more albums!) I picked her up and we danced around the kitchen, singing. She has the BEST giggle! After I was out of breath, she said “Mo! (more)” and we did it all again. What a beautiful moment. I said, “Look at mama” and she gave me a sweet, secret smile with her chin tucked down as if to say “We have a special secret, mom, in these beautiful moments.” Oh how I love my beautiful daughter… what a gift!

The Cream Application- A revelation

Standard

tube-of-medicine.jpg

Our friends Bret and Meredith have a 3 year old son with cancer. They live in KY and their son Crosby is a trooper. This little guy is in the second half of 22 weeks of chemotherapy treatment. Mer has been writing about their experiences and keeping us updated on their prayer needs online so we have had a day to day glimpse of their ups and downs. She wrote this week about the “magic cream” application that (from what I understand) they do several times a week when Crosby has his port accessed. The port is under the skin of his abdomen where Dr.s can quickly give him meds. The cream acts as a numbing agent so the port access is painless. But over the weeks, they have found the cream application has been a difficult and painful regimen. Even though the clinic has told them the application should not hurt, Crosby has often screamed and cried in pain.

There are similarities to this cream application in our relationship with God. When we are in pain, hurting, in need of His healing, it is easy for us to push Him away and try to work things out on our own. And the pain and hurt can grow inside of us like a cancer. I know… I have a pain inside of me that has been growing for two years. And do you know that I only came to that realization tonight…. it has really been two years since that small seed of pain began inside of me. One small thing that has grown and grown to an overwhelming size that even allowing God to touch it at all is painful. That initial cream application has me kicking and screaming all the way. I know it will help the healing process, but I don’t want to take that first, very painful step to allow Him access to the inner most places where I hurt. But when I do allow him access (even kicking and screaming), His soothing balm washes over me and refreshes me. It lessens the pain of the healing process He is doing deep inside. And I need the numbing effect that the painful cream application gives me, And you know what? I am a lot like Crosby, in a little while, I forget all the pain that the cream gave me and I can watch the needle of true healing pierce me deeply as the Lord gives me the real medicine I need. And it all is still painful. The hurt is deep, the wound is bleeding. I am still crying, depressed, grouchy, waking up at night, yelling at the people I love… sigh…. thank God His grace abounds even for me. Time won’t heal all wounds, but He will.

One of my favorite passages for time of dispair and hopelessness is this, from Lamentaions

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Lord, I am waiting.

An orphanage visit

Standard

Yesterday we went to our friend’s house for dinner. Bob and Cathy (and their 4 kids ages 10-17) are from Washington State and are serving as the house parents at the Bethany Christian Center Orphanage on the outskirts of Tirana. They live in an apartment on the second floor of the main building which houses about 40 orphaned babies under 12 months. As we were waiting for dinner to cook, Cathy took me downstairs to visit the babies. There was a large play area with about 10 -12 babies crawling or laying around on the floor or mattresses. PRECIOUS! Words are not enough to describe the feelings you experience when you hold and love on these babies and see their faces light up with delight as you play and interact with them. As I moved from baby to baby, Jadyn was getting a little jealous, trying to sit in my lap, or pull on my leg. She did NOT want to share her mommy or any of the toys she selected. I wondered if she has any memories of her own time in the orphanage or other children she might have played with while in the care of her foster family. It was truly heartbreaking to leave the children because one will always be crying and there are not nearly enough hands to hold and stimulate all the babies in the way that they need. Please pray for forever families for these precious ones. Bethany’s goal is to place them with adoptive families or return them to their own home by the time they are 3 years old. But the Albanian adoption process is long, expensive and tedious. (Even more so than China!)

Electrical Heaven

Standard

It is amazing the things I take for granted in America. We just naturally assume we will have electricity all the time. Just recently several of our friends were without power in Oklahoma due to the ice storms. We know some people who were without power for 8 days. Now that is extreme, but imagine if you did not have power for 5 hours of the day and you are living like the average Albanian.

BUT… and I hesitate to write this down at all for fear of jinxing it… we have had 24 hours of electricity for the last month. In my small and relatively insignificant opinion, it has been a little slice of heaven in our otherwise basic existence here in Albania! I am waiting for the moments when it will go out again. Some times just the waiting will stress you out… will it be today? It is intersting to me the mental strength it takes to keep up with the what ifs.

So there are these few verses in Matthew that apply to me today!

Do Not Worry

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I also love this quite by Elisabeth Elliot….

“Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”

Lord, help me not to strain my spiritual eyes, but simply see what is required of me now.

Morning wake up call

Standard

dsc06205.jpg

Today … a little known tidbit. We have a standing morning wake up call at 6:30 or so. Our bedroom window is above the “garage door” to the coffee shop of our landlord. When he opens the shop we get a creaking metal garage door shriek as the alarm. In the summer, he was coming even earlier… as soon as the sun was up! Since we sleep with our windows open in the summer it was quite startling! We do a little better now… most days I can sleep through it. 🙂 Bright and shiny! This is a picture of the door to the coffee shop and our window above!

The story of stuff

Standard

story-of-stuff.gif

I stumbled onto this website today about the story of our “stuff”.

http://storyofstuff.com/index.html

It is a 20 minute video about all of our stuff. Where it comes from and where it goes in this world we live in. In my ever increasing efforts to reduce “stuff” in our life, from junk toys, to unneeded housewares, to the overstuffed closet that I always seem to have…. I was very interested in what “The story of our stuff” might have to say. Now, I do think this is activism at its best (or worst… however you might look at it), but I think it is a though provoking conversation starter about the stuff we buy, the stuff we have, the stuff we don’t use, the stuff we throw away and the new stuff we want. Since we sold or got rid of 1/3 of our stuff before we moved here, and we stored 1/3 of our stuff in my parent’s basement (some stuff I just couldn’t part with), I am realizing that I still have plenty (and in many cases too much) stuff. And “stuff” has really come to Albania… it is everywhere and people here are only in the beginning stages of learning what kind of “stuff” is available to them from all over the world. So let’s talk about it. What stuff is really important to you? What do you do with your used up, worn out stuff? Do you need all the stuff you have? Interesting and thought provoking!!!