Finding a rhythm, facepalm and hugs…

We’re starting to find our rhythm, Dan and I.  This new life of ours (and let’s face it–it’s a whole new life) is sort of coming together.  We talk more…he comes home for lunch most days…I go to the office and pretend like I’m being useful…it’s working, for now.  In the morning before he leaves for work we have our coffee and talk through our day and our lives.  We pray over our kids, and our ministry, and our marriage.

I’ve had these bizarre conversations with God recently.

God: “I know it hurts…”

Me:  “Yeah.  But you never sent your son to college…”

God:  “Umm.  OK.  No, I didn’t send Him to college.  (:-/)  You DO know WHERE I sent Him, right?  And what they did to Him when I sent Him there?”

Me:  “Yeah.  I know.  But you didn’t send Him to COLLEGE…”

God:  {facepalm}.

It’s amazing how self absorbed I can be sometimes.

The night that we said goodbye to the kids, I didn’t cry while they were there.  I knew if I started, we would all fall apart, and I just didn’t want them to think that I couldn’t handle this.  They walked out the door, and I closed it…and fell apart.  I turned around, and my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law were there, with their arms open, just waiting.  Because that’s what we do it our family.  We hug.  You got a problem?  I probably can’t fix it, but come here and let me hug you.  We wrap our arms and our hearts around each other and we dare the world to try and break through.

I wasn’t done with the hugging before we had to leave.  We left less than 48 hours later to come home, and I wasn’t done with the hugging.  I know when I go back there will be more, and we’ll pick up where we left off, and it will be good.  But I wasn’t done this time.

I’ve (sort of) gotten used to the idea of not having my teenagers around.  Although I technically only have one teenager right now.  Daniel will be 22 in April and Heather turned 20 a couple of weeks ago.  Kristina is in her last year of “teen-hood”.  And Patrick is still a couple of years off, thank heavens.  I don’t go down to the school right now, because the thought of the AAI existing without my kids there is just a little much for me to think about.  We’re going to the drama tonight, and for the first time in about six years, I won’t have a child on the stage.  I’m just an audience member.  I know it will be fabulous, because it always is, but for me it will be strange.

We’re learning a new dance in this house.  A new rhythm.  During our “children at home” years, it was a square dance–’round and ’round, passing the kids off to each other, sometimes coming around to each other, “swing your partner” and passing off to the next one.  Now it’s more of a waltz, slow and easy.  There are three of us in the waltz, but we dance together and it’s good.  The tempo picks up for a moment, and then the gentle rhythm comes back and we relax into quiet again.

I don’t mind the waltz.

“And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.”
Edward Lear, The Owl And The Pussycat

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In the quiet places.

Quito is not really known for being “quiet”.  We sit in church on Sunday morning and our pastor asks us to be silent for a few moments…and the guy with the megaphone on top of his truck rolls by, selling heaven-knows-what.  And heaven has to know what, because he’s got the microphone shoved so far up his nose that the rest of us have no idea what he’s got in that truck.  We happen to live just a block off of a very busy street, so we get the traffic noises 24/7.  As I sit here, I’m listening to the buses, the horns honking, the screeching of brakes, the sirens and the lone policeman using his very ineffective whistle.  There is usually a house alarm or a car alarm going off somewhere, and the neighborhood dogs bark incessantly.  I really can’t say too much about the dogs, because until we lost our two big dogs over the summer, they barked right along with the rest.

When we go back to Ohio for furlough, we either stay with my sister or our friend who lives on the lake.  Both of these places are lovely…and QUIET.  Quiet to the point that we can’t sleep.  It’s crazy, I know, but we’ve grown so accustomed to the chaos that is our fair city that when the chaos is removed, we don’t know what to do with the silence.  I especially find this difficult to understand, because I am a person who CRAVES silence.  I can be alone inside my own head for hours and not get lonely or bored.  Part of my problem is that I can’t process everything at once.  I’ve likened it to me standing in the middle of a room and people all around the edges of the room are throwing tennis balls at me.  I try to catch them as they come at me, but I can’t catch them all, so I just end up getting pummeled.  That’s what noise does–it pummels my senses.  I think people who grow up in an environment where noise is constant just become immune to it.  Dan and I are pretty quiet people, and we have pretty quiet children, so all of this noise leaves me feeling battered and bruised.

I wonder if heaven will be quiet.  I’ve read the descriptions–choirs singing and praising the Lord all day long…and while I love singing and praising, I wonder if the constant noise will drive me batty, or if my glorified body will come with the ability to process everything going on around me and not have a meltdown.  I don’t need my new body to be a size six with long legs and curly hair, but I would love it if it came equipped with the ability to handle things a little better.  Not quite so nervous, stand down the anxiety…and OK, I would really like curly hair.

In the Bible, Jesus took his disciples to a quiet place when He could see that they had had enough.  He gave them a place to rest inside their own thoughts, and regroup.  That’s what I need.  A place to regroup.  To rest.  Not from the physical, but from the emotional turmoil that living in a loud, crazy place creates.  Susannah Wesley, the mother of John Wesley, used to take a blanket and throw it over her head in order to create a place to pray.  I wonder if she also sent the children outside, or sat them down with a book and told them very sternly not to say a word until she came out from under the blanket?

We live in a very loud world.  Not just Quito, although it’s got crazy all sewed up down here, but our world in general.  I’ve noticed that when we are watching TV, we can keep the volume at a pleasant level…until the commercials.  Somehow, the people in charge of the TV have managed to figure out how to make the commercials louder, even if we don’t turn up the volume.  Everything in our world is loud.  Music has to be played at ear-splitting volume.  Down here it’s not unusual to go into a restaurant and have the music so loud that you have to shout to be heard.  Ask them to turn it down and they refuse–they say that’s how people like it.  In the US, cars drive by with the music so loud that the whole car is vibrating down the road.  Our children are loud.  They are constantly stimulated by something–video games, TV, whatever…and they have lost the ability to play quietly with things that don’t make noise.  We have successfully bred quiet out of our children.

I wonder if we have become afraid of silence.  Are we afraid to turn down the volume because if we do, we might have to actually be alone with ourselves?  Are we afraid of what we might find if we stop and listen to our thoughts for a few minutes?  Does all of the frenzied activity keep us from looking ourselves in the mirror and taking stock of what we see?

I don’t know all of the answers, and I’m really just “thinking on paper” here.  I do know that my heart longs for the day when I am somewhere–in this world or the next–where I can savor the silence.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Mark 6:31

Love in action.

The View from the Mountaintop

For some time now, our dream at Extreme Response has been to extend our vision to the women and children who are connected with the Quito City dump.  Our daycare has been functioning since 2006, and all of the children that have gone through our program are now in public school.  For the first few years our children were doing quite well, however as the work at school has gotten more difficult, they have started to fall behind.  The parents of our students have a high illiteracy rate, and therefore cannot help their children with schoolwork.

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, we identified 12 children who were in “crisis”–in danger of failing or dropping out.  When we opened our Women’s Center, we intended to start an after school program for students where they could come and get homework help, tutoring and a hot meal.  These children would…

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Truth

This post is written in just five minutes, with no editing. It’s part of what we call Five Minute Fridays. #FiveMinuteFriday wordprompt this week is ‘Truth’.

 

She reaches for his hand in the dark.  It’s stuffy tonight–no sleep.  He’s there, solid and dependable.  He’s always there.  When the money runs out.  When the present is dark and the future is unknown.  He’s been there for over a quarter of a century.  They have learned to dance together, the same rhythm, to the same song.  They find joy in each other and in what they have created.  This life, with these children, this crazy existence…it’s good.  He holds her hand there in the dark–he’s almost asleep, but awake enough to know she’s there–she needs him.  He rolls onto his back and she moves into the shadow created by his warmth.  Her head rests on his chest, listening for the beat of his heart.  He’s there, his arm around her.  For the moment all is right with the world.  She sleeps, the truth of his love wrapped around her like a cocoon.