Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nobody Knows de Trubble I Seen....

Aunt Dani had to slip this darling picture of Kate in here. It is just too appropriate for the title.

I had such a pity party recently. It's embarrassing and humbling to admit. There's something repulsive about a person who chooses to wallow in self pity.

I've felt so very isolated while I've been here in Massachusetts. Undoubtedly, it's the most "alone" I've ever been. I have desperately missed my family and friends, as well as other things I never really thought a lot about. I miss kind, meaningful interaction with people who care about me instead of just dutiful strangers trying to be polite.

I think that with Thanksgiving next week, and knowing that both Scott and his family and Nate are home, the feelings of longing are exacerbated. Oh, how I can easily picture the warm glow of our living room in the evening with my family and Gramps sitting around laughing their heads off while my nieces and nephews fill the house with noise and joy. I LONG to be a part of that!

There are other things, too, that have been heavy on my mind and heart and I have been mulling them over like a cow chewing her cud. (Appealing word picture, I know.) They've been making me miserable and I've been letting them. Granted, they are heavy things; heavier even than the homesickness and loneliness I mentioned above.
Very valid things to be miserable about....right?
Things that deserved to have a pity party thrown in honor of them...right?

Enter the very loving kick-in-the-pants my Father gave me a few nights ago. It abruptly ended the party. It came in three different forms: my sister, my mother, and Miss Elisabeth's journals.

First, my sister.
Long story and I won't go into that one. :)
But then my mom. I called home in tears, and could hardly get the words out to my dad because I was crying so piteously. He must have told my mom, because later that night I got an email from her. It was not a "Oh My Poor Babyyyy!" letter. (Mom rarely writes those- one of the things about her that I am grateful for!) It was a letter about choosing joy. And she reminded me of the many men and women of the faith to whom God has given very, very hard lives, and who have thrived under them: maintained their joy, maintained their usefulness, and glorified God in dungeons and on death row, even. My heart was stabbed. I had been given a good dose of perspective.

Dose #2 came in the form of Miss Elisabeth's journal from 1958, which I've been reading. What an honor to read her journals. It's been an unbelievable experience for me. The particular section I was reading in the other night was from December and January, exactly two years after Jim had been martyred. She and Valerie were alone, at this time, with Quichua Indians in the jungle. These parts of her journal overwhelmed me:

"Today I suddenly thought what [a] hag I must look...! I would not think of going this way were there a SINGLE SOUL who 'd notice it. But there's not. Days go by now without my hearing one word of English except Valerie's! and what has all this taught me? 'The things which are not seen are eternal.' I thought I knew this and practiced on it before. But I have been stripped of even more lately- things others could never recognize. God knows...and He says to me, 'Lovest thou Me more than these?' And I answer, 'Thou knowest all things- Though knowest that I love Thee. Though knowest no OTHER motive could suffice.'"

'Valerie has amoeba, hookworm, and another parasite I never heard of. Poor little girl- and lonely already. Wanting 'the kids' to play with. Things are dirty, mouldy, messy- and I long for neaness, cleanliness, nice clothes, nice things for Val, and , in short- I wonder if I CAN keep on living like this. Well, I need not wonder. MY FATHER knows whether I can, and He's in charge."

"It is a further trial not to be able to communicate with these [people]: to realize vaguely that they are put out with me for some reason I don't understand; to want to help them keep occupied and to be rebuffed; to feed them things I think they'll enjoy and have them explode with 'bah!' and spit on the floor. Lord, you'll have to LOVE them for me, through me."

"Lord, I 'm here because I believe Thou hast put me here. I didn't seek it. So let Thy whole purpose be fulfilled. I want to say again that I love, trust, praise. Forgive my self-pity, unbelief."

Oh, my. The shame I felt after reading those portions. I suddenly remembered: self pity is a sin and it is a CHOICE. It is the choice to arrogantly fix my eyes on my desires which are not being met, rather than rejoicing in the fact that GOD is working his will through each situation in my life. It is the deliberate choice not to trust. The mindset that my comfort is of a higher priority than my holiness. The decision that God is not enough for me. He alone can not bring me joy. My joy is dependent on outward circumstances. Elisabeth's journals reminded me of that. If you were to measure suffering by degrees, mine wouldn't even register on the thermometer compared to hers. God doesn't measure though; He just asks us to find PEACE in ACCEPTANCE in each of our differing circumstances.

I felt God gently, persistently leading me to a place where I was faced with only one choice, a HARD choice:
Choose JOY.

Jesus had unceremoniously crashed my pity party. I realized then that I had allowed self pity (or perhaps the better term is 'self obsession') to grip me to such an extent that before I could even desire to pry it's fingers off, I had to ask the Lord to help me. *Sigh!*


Yesterday I went out to lunch with my blessing, Melody. She is the friend God has given me in Massachusetts; my neighbor who I love so dearly! And would you believe it, she began to share with me that God was teaching her some lessons about-- you guessed it-- self pity. She has a loved one who is making some terribly destructive, devastating choices and she has been tempted to allow the pain of it to wear her down. God raised her up, though, with the truth that "In Acceptance Lieth Peace." He eyes sparkled with joy as she spoke of relinquishing her loved one to Christ and accepting His peace rather than obsessing about her pain. I smiled with her because my own heart mirrored her joy! I was feeling with her that relief that comes in accepting His will and letting mine disintegrate.

Whew! It feels good.

I encourage you that whatever the burdens on your heart might be, no matter how "valid" they may feel, they are not an excuse to allow your peace to be disturbed or your joy to be robbed. Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you. He never meant for you to carry these loads and it is foolish pride to think you can.

So, the party's over. Let Thanksgiving BEGIN!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CHRISTMAS GIFT SPOILER! Grandparents don't read this!!

...I'm serious. If you read this, Grand-parentage, you will know what you are getting for Christmas. This is like peeking in your stocking or tearing the paper off of the gift ahead of time. You'll feel so guilty that you won't be able to look me in the eye! I've even made the temptation less for you by changing the font smaller so you'll have to WORK to read it. That was low of me but I think it might do the trick.

...Okay... 'Tis the season (well almost), and I do want to write a little post about Christmas gifts. We all have those people in our lives who have EVERYTHING, or need NOTHING. Grandparents, for instance: good heavens...what on earth do you get them? It is always a bit of a puzzlement for me and though sometimes I come up with a brilliant idea at times, I'm afraid, I've delivered duds.

So this year I came up with the perfect plan; I actually discovered it while traveling with the Grens in Texas. We went to visit the headquarters of an organization called Gospel for Asia and Lars spoke at their weekly prayer meeting. Through them, I discovered this idea: I am going to go to India, and travel to one of the poorest States, poorest villages, and then make my way to the hut of a family who is destitute. Most likely this family will be a pastor's family, and they will have several children who are malnourished; perhaps a nursing mother who is struggling to provide enough milk for her baby or the father who struggles to make ends meet between his ministry and the job he has to have. I will give this family a pair of chickens, and soon these chickens will lay eggs. These eggs will hatch and my family will have a flock of chicks! They will keep a few, and sell a few. Within a few month's time this family will have the ability to sell eggs daily, to sell meat, and to have the protein they need to sustain themselves. Isn't this an amazing thought?

Obviously, I am not making a trip to India. But my money is. I am giving this gift through an organization which I trust, because I know that 100% of the funds donated to this gift will GO overseas. Animals aren't the only options that you can buy. among other things you can purchase blankets, sponsor a child, or buy a rickshaw bike so a man can support his family.

I am SO EXCITED about giving these gifts this year; feeling like I've made a difference and blessed people who truly need it! These animals will have a lasting impact on my impoverished brothers and sisters in India... much more than another glass vase on my Grandma's shelf or another mug in my Grandpa's cupboard would. I love it!

Maybe, like I did at first, you hesitate because you think the your family member or friend will be disappointed not to have a package to unwrap. Seriously? If they are, shame on them; they need the reality check of their own selfishness anyhow. (Humbug.)

I won't write a big blurb about this so I'll sign off by listing three organizations that you might want to check out. (I personally admire all of them, though I gave through Gospel for Asia. I love the thought that these gifts will be going to fellow believers in the name of Christ through GFA.) These organizations will also send you a card which you can give to the person in whose honor you've given the gift.

If you're interested in this, I've made it easy for you; just click on the name of the organization to be transported to the web page. And, happy shopping! (It IS happy to shop for these gifts... delightful in fact!)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Intruder (A true story)

How one young woman fended off an intruder with only the everyday tools of womanhood.

Yesterday evening as I opened the door to my hotel room (which was slightly ajar) and groped for the light switch, I noticed a dark shape lurking beneath the desk, across from my bed. I flipped on the light, and stood face-to face with The Intruder. Neither of us had expected to so abruptly meet the other, so there we were, motionless, assessing the situation and each other. I knew that it was a dangerous position for me to be in; a lone female in a room at the end of the hallway with this large, dark Intruder. My mind raced to try and think of a man I could call to help me but none was near. Woe is me, what I would have given to have a means of defending myself...!

But nay... there was no gun or tough brother to save me now. This was not Alaska. I was on my own. I breathed a prayer and grabbed the closest thing I could; my trusty curling iron. Again and again I tried to bludgeon him without seeming to make any difference. Each time I drew back he bounded to another side of the room, mocking me with his resilience to my petty efforts at driving him away. He toyed with me as I grew increasingly terrified.
A new plan of action was in order. Bolting into the bathroom, I groped for the only other thing I could think of for self-defense: my hairspray. Holding it like a pistol in front of me with more authority than I felt, I eased my way back into the room and faced the desk.
He was gone.
My eyes widened in horror as I glanced, frightened, around the room. Where would he had disappeared to so silently, so swiftly? Was he hiding under my bed now, or around some corner? Alas! I stood there helplessly, feeling infinitely vulnerable and beginning to shake with adrenaline and nerves. Again I prayed.
And then I saw him.
I rushed towards him and aimed for his dark, sinister eyes, spraying repeatedly until he groped blindly around the room, unable to see where he was or what I was doing anymore. Then, I threw the hairspray aside and grabbed another instrument of death: I grabbed a shoe. As he staggered and seemed to recover his bearings, I lifted the shoe like Eowyn, the White Lady of Rohan raising her glistening sword to destroy the evil witch king.
With a last primal cry of terror and desperation I brought my shoe down fully on his head. He staggered...fell...clutched and clawed at the air in a final attempt to grab me. But he and I both knew it: I had won.

I found an empty pantyhose box and scraped the twitching remains of my enemy into it, then brought him to the toilet and flushed his body down.

Exhausted from the battle, I stumbled back into the bedroom and sat on my bed, breathing a shaky sigh of relief. My hands were trembling and my heart was pounding. There before me was the evidence of the fight; the desk askew, an empty pantyhose box, a curling iron, a shoe and my hairspray.
I had battled. And I had won. I was a stronger woman because of it.

NOTE: The beast in the above picture is NOT the beast which I defeated. Mine was much larger and looked significantly more evil. Taking pictures during or after the battle was the farthest thing in my mind so I am stealing a picture from the internet to give you an idea of what his demise looked like.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Have you met a Hobbit lately?

I have been watching LOTR (again) and I just need to come out with it once and for all... I love Hobbits.

Love them--the darling, noble little things. I can not watch their scenes without smiling; particularly at Pippin and Merry.

I've often wished there were such a thing as a Hobbit and it makes me sad that they're mythical. Or...are they?

A few days ago we went to a family's house for lunch. And I tell you in all sincerity, their son was a Hobbit. He WAS one, I'm telling you. I knew it as soon as I saw him and I liked him immediately for it. He had the hair, the face, everything but the cloak and I'm sure if I had gotten up the nerve to ask him to show me his feet, they'd have been big and hairy Hobbit feet. Did not get up the nerve though, for which I am grateful. Could have caused an awkward moment.

Every once-in-a-while, while walking down the street, I see a fellow whom I know is a Hobbit. I can tell by the jocular manner, the bushy curly hair, and the cute, innocent face. Feeling privileged to know his secret, I smile conspiratorially and wink if I can catch his eye. If I'm close enough, I might slyly reach out my hand to pull the curls away from his ear-- to make sure it's a pointy Hobbit ear. He normally fakes ignorance at my intentions by slowly backing away from me with a bewildered and somewhat frightened expression on his face. (They're good actors, too.)

But he knows that I know.

Dani's on to you, shire folk.