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pulled Home…

i just downloaded Andrew Peterson’s new album Counting Stars. i have been listening to it while cleaning the house , and i have one word for it…BRILLIANT! (and i haven’t even had a chance to really dig into the lyrics!) musically alone, this albums calls me to greater things and pulls me Home.

here’s a video of one of the songs on the album…

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One of the benefits of illness is that, either from general weakness of from the brain’s being cast into a state of rest, habits are broken for a time; and more simple, childlike, and natural modes of thought and feeling come into action, whereby right has a better chance. Some sicknesses may well open windows into the unseen. A man’s self-stereotyped thinking is unfavorable to revelation; his mind works too strongly in its familiar channels. But illness, in weakening these habits and breaking down these channels, strengthens more primary and original modes of vision. More open to the influences of the divine question are those who are not frozen in their own dullness, cased in their own habits, bound by their own pride to foregone conclusions, or shut up in the completeness of human error, theorizing beyond their knowledge and power.

…George MacDonald

i read this this morning and have found it to be so true in my own life. i would add that not only illnesses can allow the bare truth to shine, but trauma, chaos and just taking a break from the norm can also be the open doorway.

how thankful i am for these gifts…these pathways of returning to rightness!

giving hope…

what would it feel to lay down at the end of another day with that all-too-familiar gnawing in your stomach, knowing your children feel the same thing because, again, there was nothing to eat?

what would their eyes say  to you the next morning when you awoke, knowing that if you didn’t use them or yourself in unthinkable ways, there would again be nothing to fill those hollow spaces?

or what if you were too old to remain in the orphanage that had been your home and you knew what evils awaited you on the streets because you had no money or learned skills?

what if you longed to save money to learn at the nearby university, yet the only ways you knew how just felt wrong?

would you just become numb to it all? could you still hope for more?

over the last couple of years, i’ve had the honor of learning about and working with some beautiful organizations. these organizations give these women a chance to learn, to dream, to grow, to hope! these places provides a place of beauty, friendship and safety for them to learn and create so they can feed their families, save money for education or whatever else  their desires/needs may be.

i am obviously focusing on the women here, but there are a couple of places i’ve worked with that also aid men. i am sure there are many more out there, but my heartbeat, to date, has been for these women.

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have you heard of katie? if not, i urge you to spend some time with her over at her blog. her story is absolutely amazing! and recently she has brought together women from various tribes to teach them not only how to make these beautiful necklaces but also what it means to live in community…together!

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have you seen these bags from Timbali Crafts?  or what about these from Haitian Creations? these beautiful women have learned how to create with fabric and threads, and this not only allows them to provide for their needs, but it gives them self-worth.

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and what about Sseko sandals? aren’t they fun and pretty? i hope you’ll take the time to read the stories of the makers of the sandals as well as the story of the founder of Sseko Designs. beautiful and brilliant!

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and the slippers and other goods from Satch & Sol? have you seen them yet? they are so beautiful and sturdy! my girls have had their slippers for over 2 years now, and they still barely look worn!

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i was going to share some other organizations that i’ve worked with, but their focus is a little different. i think i’ll just stop here for now. we have been trying to share these types of gifts with friends and families (unless there are needs), and it has been so beautiful and life-giving in so many ways.

do you have other organizations like these that you love? i always love learning of others, so please share!!

disruption…

Wow. I don’t even know where to start. I have decided this season of my life is just one of interruption. Maybe disruption is a better word. I have been pulled quite thin, and sometimes I feel like I’m gasping for air. And it seems that just when I’m starting to breathe again, I’m pushed back under the rough waters. I have started this post many times in the last week, and my head and fingers just don’t seem to be communicating well. So…I’m just going to babble. There may be no rhyme or reason, but I need to get it out.

Last August, my husband called me one morning from the hotel he was staying in for business to tell me he was resigning from his well-paying, stable job. We had talked about it prior…the demands of his boss were suffocating him, and he was away from home 4 days of each week. So, although I felt a sigh of relief when he called, it was still scary. The position he was in and the company he was with were the best in his field. And the reality of it all was that anything else he did in the same field would more than likely require the same or more of him.

So…he was home without a job or any leads for anything new. Within 2 weeks of that, Brian had 2 offers. The job he chose was in a completely different field and the pay is commission only (if he sells…he gets paid). That has been a bit scary! But Brian is at home most of the time. He goes to a few conferences here and there, but it is NOTHING compared to what we were dealing with. And he very much enjoys what he’s doing. It’s not perfect, of course, but so far it is good! But the transition was a bit of dark, rocky road.

Then in November of 2009, we discovered a mole on our older daughter that was biopsied (read more here). The panel reading the mole was unsure whether or not it was melanoma and recommended that we have the surrounding areas removed and biopsied as well. Due to the holiday season, we had to wait until January to have the surgery. It was a long period of finding the right doctors and then just waiting. We had no idea what path our lives would take. Thankfully, the 2nd biopsy showed no trace of atypical cells or anything cancerous! My daughter does have  rare skin condition, which we discovered from the biopsy. And while treatment is a bit of trial and error, we’re very thankful for it! And we believe our younger daughter has it well. I’m so glad to know what it is.

Two months later, in March 2010, my girls and I were upstairs in the game room of our ASL’s teacher’s home. My younger daughter (age 6) was watching her friend of the same age yell at her dogs on the driveway below, my older daughter was playing, and the teacher and I were talking. A minute later there was silence. The little girl had fallen out of her 2nd story window and landed onto the concrete below. After calling 911 and doing everything I knew to do to get the little girl and her mom to the helicopter, the little girl was life-flighted to a hospital downtown while a friend drove her mom to meet her there. Within a few hours, we heard that many tests concluded she was just fine…no broken bones, no brain injury (she had hit her head). Just a large bump, a black eye and a few scratches. We were so relieved!

However, the trauma and shock of that day took a few weeks to work through. Among other things, I was completely on edge with my girls. I didn’t want them even riding their bikes. I did take them to swimming lessons about 3 weeks ago, and the ropes that separate the lanes hadn’t been set up yet. My 6 year-old can’t touch in the deepest water and uses those ropes if she needs to rest for a moment. She started bobbing up and down, almost to the point of gasping for air, and her teacher was about 20 feet away, out of the pool, helping another child. I saw him glance at her, but I was out of my seat, centimeters away from the edge of that pool ready to dive in. She somehow made her way over to the nearest rope, but I have not taken them back. I think it was just too much for my not quite settled nerves.

Also during this time, I discovered that my daughter’s steroid eye drops were no longer holding her blood vessels at bay. My 8 year-old also has a rare condition where she develops blood vessels on her corneas. If left untreated, the vessels would pool together and form opaque spots on her cornea and eventually she would go blind. She’s been using these same drops for 4 1/2 years, but they are no longer working. Last week we started her on a low-dose antibiotic. I am praying this will work!

And then…last Sunday night, rather late, I received a call from my mom telling me that my brother (my only sibling) had been in a car accident but was okay. He had been texting, not wearing his seatbelt and was going about 50 mph. He ran into a stopped car. Thankfully, the air bag held him in, but his head went above it and hit the windshield. He had swelling and bleeding in the brain and a skull fracture. My mom had gotten the call from the nurse, called Josh’s girlfriend and friends, and they immediately went to be with him. My parents live 15 hours away, and left very early last Monday morning to get to the hospital.

At this point, we were under the assumption that he was doing pretty well and might be able to go home that day. This was not at all the case. When my parents got there late Monday night and actually saw Josh, all he could do was sleep. The nurse and his girlfriend had to wake him up every 10 minutes to assure he did not go into too deep of a sleep and to check his short-term memory (which was not active at that point). My parents were told he injured the impulsive part of his brain, and it would take 6 months to a year before it was healed. They recommended my dad get the power of attorney for everything that Josh owned (including his business), and my dad did so.

On Tuesday, he was able to get his catheter out and walk to the restroom. He stumbled around like someone who was drunk, but he could get there. His knew my parents, knew my voice when I talked to him on the phone, but at this point, he was still sleeping most of the time and had no eye contact.

On Wednesday, things drastically changed. I called to get the latest update, and my mom immediately handed the phone to Josh. He told me he thought everyone was making too much of a deal about him, asked me if I was taking good care of his nieces and told me he loved me. I was excited and astonished! He was much more alert and able to answer many questions.

On Thursday, Josh walked out of his room on the trauma floor and into his room in rehab. He had 3 hours of rehab that day, and the therapists said he was doing so well that they wanted to have a council to discuss when he could go home. On Friday morning, my parents took my brother to his house! He is not to do anything for 30 days but rest and rehab. At the end of the 30 days, he will go back for an evaluation and a driving test, if he’s ready. He is still a bit cloudy and a bit unstable, but hopefully time and rehab will be the tools God uses to heal that. We are heading out there in 2 weeks to see him and do anything we can to help.

Talk about a roller coaster of emotions! I think I’ve felt it all over these past 9 months. I know that God is at work in each of these situations and in each person’s life He’s touched in these ways. I have to wonder what He’s up to! I know, too, that He is up to something in my own heart. And I take comfort. For although He is not safe…He is good!

I also know that these situations are a drop in a bucket compared to what others are dealing with. I learned about this sweet little girl a couple of days ago, and her story is heartbreaking.

And although my circumstances are not to this extent, they are still mine to deal with. And so often right now I’m reminded of what Gandalf said to Frodo when Frodo said he wished the one ring had never come to him…

So do all who see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that we are given.

enough…

had to share this quote…

interruptions are my work. this is always in the back of my mind when unexpected people enter into a carefully scheduled day. i have to trust God for his provision of enough—enough time to meet the day’s work load with its deadlines, and enough time to sit with someone at the kitchen table and talk.

…Andi Ashworth

i just started reading Real Love for Real Life by Andi Ashworth. after reading the back cover where she says, i discovered that, with design, intent, and hard work, i could contribute to a story laced with the true, the good, and the beautiful in the lives of my friends and family..., i could tell it was going to be a book that would truly impact me as a mother, a wife, a friend…as a daughter of the Maker.

i’m not too far into it yet, but i wanted to share some quotes from it…just to give you a taste…

caregiving touches many aspects of life–everything from the creation of a meal, to how we care for each other in sickness and old age, to the importance we give to celebrations and hospitality, to the way we live as a friend and neighbor.

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to provide means to see needs in advance, to think broadly and work for the benefit of loved ones on many different levels. the basic human hungers for continuity, comfort, connection, security, and beauty are also needs and are met through the details of caretaking.

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everything we do, from pursuing the difficult, messy work of forgiveness and reconciliation to imagining and creating a party, is important and worthwhile.

i especially love this…

dreaming, praying, and working for–in a sense, imagining for–a good story in the lives of those whose paths we cross briefly or for the long haul is what we’re made for.

that’s all i have time for right now, but i cannot wait to step further into this book!

(HT: jill phillips)

a rough draft…

i wrote this about a month ago, and i haven’t done much with it since. thought i’d share it here, though!

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He bent down and kissed her forehead. It was so hot. He gently cupped her tiny face in his palm, etching her in his memory. He did not want to forget. He reached out for his wife. Tears streamed down her face as he held her close. “He will come,” he whispered while he slowly pulled away. She nodded and watched him walk out the door.

As he hurried down the busy streets, his thoughts swam with images of his family. His daughter…it wasn’t long ago that she was playing with her friends, helping her mother in the kitchen, smiling, bringing joy to their home. And then, unexpectedly, their life changed. She was sick. Their only daughter. Just lying there. She was only 12. It wasn’t right. They had taken turns sitting next to her night after night, wiping her fevered brow with cool, damp strips of cloth. Pleading with Jehovah to make her well again.

His wife…so strong, so broken. She rarely rested, and even when she did, she stirred at every little noise. Tears so often flooded her eyes, but not for her daughter to see. At times she would collapse in his arms, but only for a moment. Then she hurried back to attend to their daughter’s needs. When had she last laughed? When had he last seen her beautiful smile? He couldn’t remember. He felt so helpless. He. A ruler in the synagogue. A powerful figure in their town. Yet there was nothing he could do.

But he had heard the stories of this teacher…this Jesus. He knew some of those that Jesus had healed. He was well aware of what the other rulers in the synagogue thought of the teacher. Would they cast him, Jairus, out because he believed this man could heal his daughter? He didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Nothing much mattered any more.

He saw the crowd near the shore. Yes. The boat was there. He ran, pushing his way through the mob of people. There he was…the teacher. Jesus. Jairus plunged forward and threw himself down at Jesus’ feet. “My daughter is dying,” he gasped imploringly. “Come! Please! Touch her that she may live!” Jesus nodded. Jairus jumped to his feet and forced his way back through the crowd, which was now in chaos as it surrounded Jesus, who was following this ruler from their synagogue.

He pressed on, looking back now and then to make sure Jesus was right behind him. He was coming! The teacher. The healer. His heart raced as he thought about his daughter. Jesus had nodded. He was coming!

Wait.

Jairus glanced back to make sure Jesus saw where to turn. But Jesus had stopped. No! What was he doing? They didn’t have much time. A woman was kneeling, her fingers just brushing the edge of Jesus’ garment. He started to remind Jesus where they were headed when a hand suddenly grabbed his shoulder. “Jairus….your daughter.” The man looked down. “She is dead. Come. Let’s not bother the teacher any more.”  Jairus’ heart stopped. He couldn’t breathe. It was as if all life had ceased.

“Jairus.” A voice woke him from his stupor. “Jairus. Do not be afraid. Trust me, and she will be well.” The voice was tender, strong, and it commanded obedience. Jairus searched the mob for the one who was speaking. It was the teacher.  Numb, he nodded and continued leading Jesus to his home. As they neared the place, they heard the wailing, the moaning…the sound of death.

When they entered the house, Jesus addressed the mourners. “Why are you making this noise? Why are you crying? The child is not dead. She is only sleeping.” While the people laughed at these words, Jairus’ heart pounded. He trusted this teacher. He told himself that his daughter would be well. Jesus had said so. He watched as Jesus put the mocking crowd outside the house.

Gripping the hand of his wife, Jairus led the way to where their daughter lay. Only Jesus and three of his disciples followed. Jesus would allow no one else. They entered the room. Jairus’ heart sank. There was no movement. No breath. There was no life. But the teacher…he slowly moved toward her and gently took her hand. “Little girl.” His voice…so tender yet full of power. Something stirred inside Jairus. “Little girl…come. Get up.” Jairus stared. He clutched his wife’s hand tighter. Their hearts pounded as they watched…wondering, waiting.

Jesus smiled, still holding his daughter’s hand. She blinked. She looked around and turned her head toward Jesus. Her eyes met his and there they stayed for an extended moment. Jesus carefully helped her stand. And immediately, she walked. Walked!  His daughter, who had seconds before been in the deepest of sleep. She headed straight for her mother and him…her father…this known ruler of the synagogue. Tears spilled as he gathered his family in his arms.

Jesus firmly placed his hand on Jairus’ shoulder. “Tell no one about this.”  Jairus nodded. And smiling, Jesus added, “And give this little girl something to eat!” Jairus watched his daughter smile  at Jesus as he exited their home. Then she turned and smiled at him. Joy flooded through him.

Yes. This teacher, this Jesus, he was…he was more. More than Jairus could even comprehend. All the discussions that he and the other rulers in the synagogue had had about this man no longer seemed valid. Jairus did not know what it all meant. But he did know that Jesus had given life to his daughter.

In fact…he had given life to Jairus, too.