"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

30 September 2010

Boots & Feet Go to School

I read a blog post by my friend Carol about her third grade experience. It led to a bit of reflection on my part on how very different kids' school experiences can be -- and how that shapes their perspective on school and learning in general.

Nich and I had incredibly different school experiences. I grew up with the stability of attending the same three international schools my entire childhood: preschool, ASOY (K-8), and RFIS (9-12). I enjoyed learning; it came fairly easily to me.  I loved reading from an early age, for which I can thank my parents, particularly my mom. Not only were they both avid readers, setting a good example for me, but my mom also taught me how to read long before I went to preschool. Reading well is central to a child's enjoyment of school and to their imaginative development. From first grade through fifth grade, I was a grade level ahead in reading, writing, and math. Honor roll was a norm, not something for which I strived; it just happened at the end of every quarter.

Friends came and went because I lived in an international community comprised of children of missionaries, diplomats, businessmen, and locals. However, I always felt like I had a solid group of friends around me, and to this day, I keep in touch with a few who I've known since those very early years.

I suppose I had an easy childhood in that regard. I did well in school, I had friends, and although I wasn't extremely skilled athletically other than in swimming, because of the size of my high school, I did get to play on a couple sports teams.

Nich, on the other hand, changed schools a lot, because his parents moved around east Texas often, depending on their job situations. He had to repeat a couple grades due to all the moving, the misery of which was exacerbated by the fact that he had A.D.D. (but no one knew about that back then). He talks about just being unable to stay in his seat, getting "pink slips" sent home nearly every week for talking too much in class, finishing only half a worksheet and shoving it in his desk because he lost interest (they made him sit in the principal's office one day and finish ALL of them at once when they found out). And this was just in second grade! I can't imagine a seven year old enduring that kind of misery.

He never got to play on any sports teams except for a year of baseball because his parents just couldn't afford it. Although he enjoyed school and learning, he was often bored, due to the teaching philosophy of the education system back then and his attention span.

Nich didn't have close friends until middle school, but thankfully, once he made friends, they stuck. In fact, he and Chris have been best friends since seventh grade. Chris and his wife Keri live near us here in New York, and the guys were in one another's weddings. We have celebrated Easter and Christmas with them a few times over the past few years because all of us are far from "home."

Being married to Nich and knowing what school was like for him makes me a more aware and compassionate adult when interacting with students. If I ever get my own classroom, I'm going to remember his stories, and remember that school just isn't the same for everyone.

As an end note, I'm reminded today of how thankful I am to have such thoughtful, reflective friends who write well. I have quite the list of blogs I follow, and all but two are people I actually know and respect. I'm grateful to have such beautiful minds and souls in my life. They challenge, inspire, and encourage me to live life well, with intention and joy. 

27 September 2010

Wedding Songs

Good songs are often powerful for me. I love worship time at church, and in college, I loved it when my friends and I would have hymn sings together. When I hear a song I haven't heard in a long time that meant something to me at one point, I still tear up.

We have two wedding weekends coming up in October -- the wedding mania has slowed down for us in the past couple years (it's on to babies now :~)), but this year, we've had four! Anyway, in the second one, the bride and groom are taking song requests from their guests beforehand, which I think is an amazing idea. :~) So I put in my requests -- the song I walked down the aisle to and our "first dance" song.

Here they are:

When God Made You: Newsong feat. Natalie Grant

Lost in This Moment: Big and Rich

Tell the Chicken Story

I came away from the church service yesterday morning feeling like the sermon was incomplete -- which is quite unusual, to give full credit to our excellent pastoral staff! :~) Maybe I was just out of sorts. One of the songs we had sung earlier in the service (full lyrics here), although not usually one of the songs that touch my heart the most, had brought me to grateful tears, and perhaps I was in a different place emotionally than usual. As Nich and I reflected on the message afterward in the car, I said that I felt at several points throughout that the pastor could have gone further with explaining exactly what he meant so that there was no chance of misinterpretation, while Nich felt just enough had been said. Our church does an annual all-church study each fall, and this year, it's Peter Scazzero's Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Part of what concerned me yesterday is that people, particularly our younger ones, would walk away believing that it was okay to be governed by their feelings alone.

Anyway, this morning, in my morning reading from the Daily Office, the Scripture portion was taken from Isaiah 40: 28-31, which has been a favorite of mine since my early teens when I committed it to memory as a song.

And then followed the chicken story.

In a nutshell (eggshell?), a farmer puts an eagle egg in with his chickens. The eagle hatches and grows up with his chicken siblings, fluttering around the barnyard, eating what the chickens ate. One day, he sees a great bird flying high in the sky and asks, "Who's that?" in awe. A chicken says, "That's an eagle. They're the king of the birds. They belong up there in the sky. We're just chickens. We belong on the ground." So the eagle dies after having lived an entire life as a chicken, because he thought he was a chicken.

So here is my problem: before and after each Scripture reading/devotional, we're supposed to spend 2 minutes in silence and solitude with God. After reading that story, though, I just couldn't held sitting in bed giggling at the absurdity of it all. When Nich came back into the bedroom to get dressed for work, I explained the story to him and how funny I found it all. I said I felt like they could have just stopped with the Scripture passage; it would have been more than sufficient.

He said, "Remember yesterday when you felt like the sermon could have gone further? Well, sometimes, people need the chicken story."

Which got me laughing all over again.

So, the moral of the story is, tell the chicken story.

25 September 2010

Registering is Hard Work

Kudos to my husband, because I know most daddies-to-be aren't out there with us mommies-to-be doing all the shopping and registering for their babies-to-be's needs. Nich was a champ today. He not only came with me to do the baby registries, he also skipped men's group to take me to breakfast before going up to the big annual children's consignment sale at The Dome this morning. What a trooper.

We didn't find as much as we had hoped to at The Dome, but we did end up with a bag of decent cute winter clothes/sleepers for around $2 apiece. We also ended up getting a bouncer that is in really good condition. Hopefully, Baby G will like it, because I've heard some babies love them and others don't.

The closest Babies 'R' Us is in Latham (about an hour away - thank goodness for online shopping these days!), so after we dropped off our purchases at home, we headed down for the afternoon. It was busy, busy, busy in there for a beautiful fall afternoon. The lady who helped us was really nice, and she wasn't at all pushy in trying to convince us that we needed things we didn't. She ran through the ropes with us, handed us the scanner and a list (although we had already brought one), and we were off! After going through about a fourth of the store, we were exhausted! Time for a lunch break! :~)

We went to Red Robin for a lunch date, which was a treat, because there are limited assortment of restaurants in our local area. I got to have my freckled lemonade and Nich got his campfire sauce. :~)

Rejuvenated, we returned to tackle the rest of the store. By the end, we were ready to call it quits. Plus, there was a significant increase of crying babies and impatient parents-to-be in the store, which we took as a sign for us to leave. We did pop by Target (it was right next door), just to add some odds-and-ends to the list (things we thought might be less expensive or more available), but we didn't stay very long, because again, a plethora of unhappy children. As we returned our scanner there and walked out to the parking lot, we heard a little boy INSIDE the store screaming. I looked at Nich and said, "I'm tired and worn out, too. Can I throw a tantrum?" He smiled and said, "Well, my head's already exploded on the inside, so I guess you can have a turn."

All in all, it was a good day. We felt we got something accomplished for Baby G, although it was very strange to come home empty-handed after spending several hours in stores. Even if we don't get the majority of what's on our wish list, we have a shopping list to go off of now. :~)

A question for any cloth diapering mamas out there: What do you do for a diaper pail?

Oh, and by the way, why is it so hard to find a decent compact CD player nowadays? Are they really so archaic now? Geez.

24 September 2010

"Health Nuts Are Going to Feel Stupid Someday..."

"... lying in hospitals dying of nothing." 

I read that quote this morning and it made me laugh.  

Last night was miserable with my cold - my nose just ran and ran and ran all night long, and because it was so stuffy, I had to breathe through my mouth, which hurt my sore throat. Add indigestion to the mix (not sure if that was pregnancy related or simply because I'm not feeling well), and it was just a long night of not-so-much-sleep. 

I called in sick as soon as the sub registry office was open, then decided to stay up while Nich got ready for work, which is always entertaining. He has recently discovered a subgenre of music called "nerd core" with artists with names like MC Frontalot and Optimus Rhymne. He listens to it while going through his morning routine. It's quite amusing.

Here are some other tidbits I found this morning that I liked.

What linguistic genius
set up the sneeze and wheeze
To rhyme so very perfectly
with the word for allergies?
~Charlie N. Abbers

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.
~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

That last one I liked because it has a similar tone as Louisa May Alcott's writing. She will always be one of my favorite writers.

On an unrelated note, I just checked my blog stats, and I want to know how there are already seven page views for my blog when it's not even seven in the morning yet. I don't have that many friends who read my blog who are in time zones across the Atlantic!

To close, for the amusement of other nerds out there, please read this for your entertainment. 

23 September 2010

On Third Culture Kids

My friend Hiram from college (who also grew up in Africa - in Ghana) posted this video by Kalen Hayman about TCKs (third culture kids).

Les Passagers : A TCK Story from kalen hayman on Vimeo.

22 September 2010

My Name Is Not Isabella

I came across this beautiful book entitled My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry on Pioneer Woman's website a few days ago.

 Before I continue, I encourage you to visit PW's website if you happen to have a lot of spare time on your hands (and it will suck you in - I think she has some kind of blogging superpower).

Anyway, it was just the book I was looking for. Nich and I like to give books as gifts, especially to children. There are so many incredibly written stories out there, and with children's books, they are often beautifully illustrated, too. I took a children's literature class while I was at Houghton as part of my English major, and it was, without a doubt, one of my favorite undergraduate classes. I thoroughly enjoyed the classroom experience, but I also enjoyed the opportunity to learn about and appreciate what makes good children's literature.

I was looking for a book for Kaitlynn -- for her dedication/adoption party -- and when I read the review for this book on PW's website, I knew this was it. I called Barnes and Noble, the nice lady looked it up for me, and they had ONE copy in the store. I asked for her to hold it for me and put it on my list of things to do for the following morning.

Heather Sanders (who wrote the review) does an excellent job lauding the merits of this book, so I'll let you read that here. My only two cents that I wanted to add were why I thought this book was so appropriate for Kaitlynn. The book talks about a little girl who wakes up one morning tells her mom, "My name is not Isabella. I am Sally, the greatest, toughest astronaut who has ever lived." Throughout the day, she goes through several different influential women from history, including Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Annie Oakley, and Elizabeth Blackwell. Her mom plays along with her, encouraging her in her dreams of being the girl she wants to be.

At the end of the day, her last heroine is "Mommy," and then Isabella becomes herself again, happy to be who she is.

Kaitlynn has a great relationship with Kristy (her mom), so I knew this book would be special for that alone. It is also an informative book, where she'll learn about various women who have made a difference in history. But it's also a book about dreaming, and that's what I wanted for her. I wanted her to remember that this was a day when some of her dreams came true, when she became a part of a family who will love her dearly and teach her about a God who loves her best.

Kaitlynn M. Fischer!

Yesterday was a truly special day for many reasons.

I can't believe we're at Week 20 already.  This week, according to my email update from The Bump, Baby G is about the size of a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, and I sure am starting to feel that extra bulk as I move around now! I haven't gained any weight, but the heft in the middle is definitely there.

I went to the first part of the morning Ladies' Bible Studies yesterday, mostly because I had to return an item to a friend who attends (I go to an evening study). However, it was a blessed time of fellowship. I had an opportunity to chat with Mona, a dear older lady with such a sweet spirit. I was hugged and loved on by lovely women I don't see very often, and I got to enjoy yummy spinach rolls and quiche with two of my favorite women from church.

On my way out, I ran into Justin (youth pastor) and Kristy (his wife) and their little girl returning from court -- Kaitlynn is officially a Fischer now! Hurray! In some ways, it seems like not-so-long-ago that they got her through foster care. I remember babysitting her the week after she came, taking her to the fair, with her stringy hair and limited vocabulary.

She was our flower girl in our wedding two years ago.

And now, she's a spunky little preschooler with parents, brothers and lots of friends who love her so very much.  Justin and Kristy held a dedication ceremony last night for Kaitlynn at church, followed up by a party - complete with a Disney Princesses Bouncy House. :~)  It was so special to be able to celebrate with them in this joyous event, and we are so glad, as Kaitlynn said so well to me yesterday afternoon, that "Mommy and Daddy are going to adopt me, and that means I get to be a part of the Fischer family forever!"

Sitting there in the sanctuary last night, as Pastor Steve talked to Kaitlynn about what a special family she is joining, and as he prayed over her and the Fischers, it made me think about what an honor it has been for Nich and me to be a part of the lives of our friends' children in such meaningful ways. I was recently sorting through a box of letters and cards that I've saved over the last few years, and I found several from Justin and Kristy, thanking us for being a part of their children's lives. It made me reflect on all the memories we do have with them.

Nich recently had the privilege of taking part in a coming-of-age ceremony for Noah, the thirteen-year-old son of our friends Joshua and Ellen. He said that it was really neat to see men of all ages, from various parts of Noah's life thus far, sharing their hearts with Noah, to welcome him into their circle and to inspire him to live a life as God's own. And although Noah is still quite young and may not fully appreciate or even grasp the significance of the event, Nich said that the incredible thing is, because he's so young, he's at a very impressionable age. And hopefully, the things that were said and written (letters/poems were presented to him) will have made an impact on him that he will remember from time to time.

I don't know if any of the kids that we spend time with will remember us into their teenage years and adulthood (I know I keep in touch with several of the adults who made a difference in my life when I was younger - even my second grade teacher!), but I know that these times have made a difference in my life and Nich's life. I hope that there are always godly adults in our children's lives who will pour out into them and love on them just as we have had the honor of doing with our friends' children.

15 September 2010

What the Wazoo?

I was just going to hop on here briefly before Nich gets home to report that I've been doing laundry up the wazoo today, and then it occurred to me: what does "wazoo" mean, anyway?

Being the curious person I am, particularly about words and culture, I looked it up.


Turns out "wazoo" is slang for anus, "derived from the Pama-Nyungan languages (the family of Indigenous Australian languages) and thought to refer to the anus of an animal, particularly the kangaroo" (courtesy of Wikipedia).


Thus, I have not, literally, been doing laundry up the wazoo. But I did a lot.

14 September 2010

A Thing I Don't Like to Admit to Myself About Myself

 Often, I've found that when there is something I'm struggling with on the inside (about myself), the best thing is to tell someone. Not that I'm advocating marching around and loudly trumpeting your faults on the street corners and then proclaiming how Jesus SAVED you from your sinful self. I don't like it when people do that. I think mean thoughts, and then I have to struggle with that, too.


One of the things that I have to wrestle with - probably at least once a week - is materialism. I don't like to admit to myself, much less anyone else, that while living in America these past almost-ten (!) years, I've incorporated a great deal of consumerist mentality into my line of thinking. I was chatting with my good friend Rachel-in-Chicago-who-grew-up-in-Africa (I have to distinguish between all my Rachel friends) this morning about this very thing. We agreed that while we don't really fight the urge to shop for clothing - I very often walk around the store with an item, try it on, walk around with it some more, and then put it back - we do have to be conscious of not confusing our "wants" with our "needs," a mistake that is at the crux of the consumerist society we live in.

Take home decor shows, for example. I have found that I must be very deliberate about which shows I watch (on Hulu - we still do not have television channels and probably won't ever decide to get them) and how much of them I watch, because eventually, I have found myself falling into the mindset of "everything has to match or compliment everything else." I begin forgetting that I am tremendously fortunate to live in a safe and warm home, a blessing that the majority of the world doesn't have. I have running (hot!) water, a nice mattress, heat for the winter, a fan for the summer, and access to electricity to work those luxuries.

When it comes to baby gear, I've been facing the Materialism Monster yet again. I see other young moms post pictures of their baby-ready nurseries and they're picture-perfect, down to the paint on their walls and trim. Even the stuffed animals that oh-so-casually sit on top of the dresser match the animals on the crib decor and night lamp. The baby gear stores feed right into that with their "gear collections" where you can buy/register for all your decor for the nursery as a set - and boy, do they make a whole lot of things to go in that set! Not only that, but the crib has to match the changing table, which has to match the dresser, which has to match the rocker. The crib decor has to match the other accessories in the room, from the night light to the rug to the laundry hamper to the diaper stacker to the pretty quilt that baby will never use.

So this is how it goes in my head.
Excited Mommy: "Ooooh, I want that! And that's SO cute!"
Pragmatic, Practical Mommy: "Parents have been doing a great job raising their kids - maybe even a better job that our generation - without all this stuff!"
Prideful Mommy: "I don't want anyone judging me as a 'bad mom' for not getting all the right stuff."
Prideful Mommy #2: "Well, I don't CARE what they think! it's just stuff!"

We also live in an area of America where most people are not familiar with the developing world. Most of them have never left the country, much less lived in a foreign one for an extended period of time. Therefore, when I say that I don't know if I'll get *blank*, people laugh and say, "Just wait until the baby comes along and THEN you'll be glad you got that." But the thing is, my mom never let me watch a movie seven times in a row, and I turned out perfectly fine. So then I have a hard time distinguishing between good advice from experienced parents and advice I don't really need to take because they are from a different world than I am, especially when I'm reminded of God's bigger world through people like this and this, and books like this.

And then there are all the consumer reports, the advice from books and magazines, that warn against recalled cribs and carseats that are not up to current safety standards.

You see why I'm having such a hard time? And MY MOMMY ISN'T HERE TO HELP ME!


Seriously, though, it's a little overwhelming. And expensive. There was a lot I could do without for my wedding. I honestly feel like a lot of the wedding hype that is created by the marketing industry is a bit ridiculous. But this is my baby, and I'm having a harder time blowing things off. More than all the decor nonsense, it's the safety issues that really get to me. I want to be a good mom, and I want to be a responsible one. I just need to figure out how to do that without spending hundreds of dollars.

Nich and I were also saying recently that we were thankful that the Lord has given us just what we need, with a little extra to help others. We don't want to raise children who think they can just buy frivolous things on a whim any time they want. Having a husband who is gentle with me when I admit my selfish, materialistic longings and tells me he is glad for a wife who desires to live simply is very encouraging to me in my fight to do just that - live simply, without all the clutter of stuff. Furthermore, I want to live gratefully, making the most out of that with which we have been blessed.

So I'll keep fighting my small inner battles and remind myself that, no matter what we do and don't get for the baby and his nursery, I - and this baby - are already so rich in the things that matter most.

Oh, and by the way, what I said at the beginning of this post? I usually tell Nich. And a good girl friend or two. People who KNOW  (connaitre not savoir) me. If I'm feeling unusually sheepish about whatever it is, I tell Jesus about it. This all is part of the process of being set straight.

10 September 2010

Our Precious Little Sweet Potato's Ultrasound

First of all, I just want to say that it is awfully strange to look into the mirror and realize that your belly button looks quite unfamiliar to you. 

We went in for our ultrasound appointment yesterday, and although we had a bit of a wait, it wasn't too bad. The tech was so apologetic, we couldn't help but be understanding. Apparently, there were some uncooperative babies that delayed the appointments. :~)

Much of the appointment was not at all like what either of us had expected. All my pregnancy books told me that I would receive instructions ahead of time about how to prepare, especially about drinking uncomfortable amounts of water. By Tuesday afternoon, I hadn't heard from them, so I called asking if I needed to know anything for the appointment. "Nope," was the reply.

Um, okay.

Once we got into the room, she had me sit on the rather comfy chair/bed thing and dimmed the lights. She had me pull up my shirt and spread the warmed (thank goodness!) gel on my belly as she engaged us in some small talk (Was it the first baby for us? Are you excited? type questions).

Then she said: "So, first of all, do you want to know?" After a brief glance at each other, my husband the comedian says, "As long as it's not a turtle in there." Oy. We all laughed, and I told her that yes, we did want to know.

I have to admit, I had a split moment just before she put the instrument to my belly where I had this irrational fear that there was something wrong and there wasn't any baby in there. I told Nich about it afterward, and he said he had had the same thought. Isn't that strange?

Thankfully, there WAS a baby, squirming, wiggling, flipping, kicking, and doing everything else a baby that small could possibly do. At one point, the baby was all snuggled up to the side of the uterus, with a hand tucked under a cheek. All the movement made it a bit hard for the tech to get the pictures she wanted, but she kept repeating how easy I was because I was "so tiny." I wanted to say, "Lady, I don't FEEL tiny!" but I resisted the urge. :~) I did ask her about the water thing, though, and she said that often, when moms have to come in earlier for ultrasounds, they have them drink a lot of water to help push the baby forward. Apparently, the water also helps with larger women, but because I was "so tiny," the pictures were coming through crystal clear.

Well, our little baby was quite brazen at the beginning about showing us exactly who HE is in there! Spread-eagled and everything. We got a good laugh about how clearly you could see that he is a boy. "Yep, there he is," was what the tech kept repeating. Well, apparently, he got a bit bashful after that, because for most of the second half of the time we were in there, he had a hand over himself.

So in the end, as far as we (and the tech) can tell, our little baby boy is just fine. His heartbeat is still good and strong at 146 bpm as it has been the last two times we heard it. He weighs in at the itty-bitty size of 8 ounces (0.23 kilograms) - "not even a decent burger" is what the tech told us when we asked her to give us a visual. It's incredible how much detail there is to him when he's still so teeny tiny! I knew beforehand (from working at the pregnancy center) how early babies develop their features (by 7 weeks, they have arms, legs, nubby fingers and toes, eyes), but wow!

The pictures get sent to "guys who spent a LOT of time in school" (according to the tech), and they'll report their results to our OB. So I guess we'll hear next week what they think.

At the end of it all, I pretty much had decided that:
1. I like having a wriggly, squirmy little guy.
2. I want the ultrasound tech's job.

Although she gave us a disc, I'm pretty sure this isn't nearly as fascinating to everyone as it is to us, so I'll post one picture here of Baby Boy G.

09 September 2010


There's just no other way to express it. I'm SO darn happy about this day that I've already cried, and it isn't even eight in the morning yet.

Here are all the good things about today:

1. It's my parents' anniversary. It amazes me how much they've stuck through together. Talk about commitment.
2. It's fall, which means it's cooler and the air smells so crisp and good.
3. I have a birthday present to mail to a good friend. I love packages in the mail, and it makes me happy to send them.
4. We have our ultrasound this afternoon, so we'll get to see our baby!
5. Kerry is on her way to Duke via helicopter!

It's taking my breath away how quickly and faithfully God is answering our prayers about Kerry; there is absolutely no question that this is all the work of His hands, and I am so thankful.

Last night, I heard this on the radio. I'm truly "humbled by the love that [He gives]."

And here is what greeted me one morning as I looked out the window:

08 September 2010

Kerry Update: On Her Way SOON!

Kerry sent me a text message this morning saying that as soon as a bed becomes available at Duke Medical Center, she's going to be on her way! I think they're even going to send her by helicopter! YAY!

Her dad will be meeting her there and staying with her until Ben can get his job transferred.

Here are specific prayer requests:
- a bed to open up TODAY for Kerry
- travel mercies for Kerry and her dad
- smooth transition to the facilities at Duke
- compassionate, skilled doctors
- quick, smooth job transfer for Ben

And most of all, Ben is - understandably - quite overwhelmed right now. Please keep him especially in your prayers today.


07 September 2010

Faithful One, So Unchanging

At my baptism, the song I picked was "Faithful One." It went like this:

Faithful one, so unchanging
Ageless one, you're my rock of peace
Lord of all I depend on you
I call out to you, again and again
I call out to you, again and again

You are my rock in times of trouble
you lift me up when I fall down
All through the storm
Your love is, the anchor
My hope is in You alone

I haven't thought of this song in years.

Kerry's back in the hospital. She started coughing blood again on Sunday. They also found a clot, so she is on blood thinners again. I think the problem with that is that it messes with the bazillion medications she's already on. She texted me last night from the hospital asking for specific prayer that the clot would be gone by today.

Last week, I received a very hostile email from a young woman who used to be in the teen community group that Nich and I co-led with a good friend from church. She was someone I thought I had a good relationship with. We did one-on-one Bible studies together, we had a mentoring relationship, and I even invited her to spend the night at my apartment one night when she was having a rough time and didn't want to go home. We prayed specifically for her and really felt like she was one of our most mature teens in our group. I spent hours designing and crocheting an afghan for her when she graduated, and Nich and I re-arranged our schedule so we could attend her graduation ceremony. We cared deeply for her.

We discovered a little while after she graduated that she was not the person we had been led to believe she was. There had been a lot of deceit on her part, and none of the three of us youth leaders knew what to do. We prayed, and because her interaction was mostly with me through email and because she was going away to college, we didn't have a chance to sit down and talk it through with her. We thought the relationship with her was broken, and we gave it to God.

Last week, I received that email. I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I prayed about it for the week, I sought counsel from Nich, and we felt that the most appropriate thing to do was to follow the Bible (imagine that!). So I replied to her, saying I was sorry that she was angered by the situation, and in the end, I invited her to sit down with me and a church leader (again, following the Bible) to talk this through.

Less than two hours later, I received another scathing email in response.

Needless to say, I felt quite helpless. A small part of me struggled with wanting to tell her to get over herself :~), but most of me was just sad that she's so bitter and angry. Also, I began feeling a bit overwhelmed, what with the pregnancy, being lonely, missing friends dearly, struggling not to worry about Kerry, finances, etc. I began to worry that all this stress was going to affect the baby, and I specifically prayed, "Jesus, I've done what you've asked of me, and I can't bear another load right now, so please take this thing with [this young woman] from me." I went into the bedroom, lied down on the bed, picked up Forgotten God (Francis Chan) and read this:

This is not a distant, loose connection. This is the Spirit of God choosing you and me to be His dwelling place. That means that as I write, the Spirit of the living God is inside me. I might wake up on a particular day feeling physically tired or stressed or impatient, and humanly speaking, those things would probably define my day. But the reality is that I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And because of this reality, stress and tiredness and impatience don't have to define my day.

If you have received by faith the promise of the Holy Spirit, you are also His temple. As you drive your children to school. As you go to work every day. As you embark on a new, unknown season. As you go to school. As you face tragedy and pain. As you buy groceries. As you give of yourself in relationships. As you walk the dog. As you make decisions. As you live your life, the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you.

All I could say as those words sank in was, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus," aloud over and over again.

I also felt a deep, deep peace from God assuring me that because His Spirit dwells in me, He also protects my baby, too. 

And what would you know, I fell asleep!

I woke up to a text message from Kerry saying that although the clot was still there, it had shrunk! I know this is a direct answer from God to all those who have been praying for her since she went into the hospital, and I am so grateful for His goodness and mercy.

As I came out to the dining room to blog this testimony, the first two lines of "Faithful One" ran through my head. I searched for it on YouTube so I could listen to it as I wrote this entry, and I also noticed a beautiful little email from a college roommate in my inbox. I cherish those kind of emails, because they are from people who know me well and love me dearly. They are always encouraging to my spirit and a soothing balm to my lonely heart.

Although it may not seem like much to anyone else, I just knew all this was God reminding me yet again that He is indeed taking care of me.

And yes, I cried tears of joy.

02 September 2010

Kerry: 3/4 of the Way There!

$30,000 down, $10,000 to go!

Those numbers seem HUGE to me, but when you read her bio on the National Foundation of Transplant's donation page, it's clear that it's not even a dent in what she'll need in the long run. The $40,000 amount is just to get her on the organ waiting list!

The more I think of it, the crazier it seems. What happens to people who can't raise that money? Do they just die?

I am so grateful that Kerry and Ben have this incredible network of friends (and strangers) who are willing to help them generously. The fundraisers have only been going on two weeks, and yet, here we are. It's amazing, and it's such a testimony to the faithfulness of Abba.

Kerry blogs here, at Thorn-Pierced Rose, if you'd like to keep up with her story yourself.

I'll leave you with one of the songs that has meant a lot to her through her life journey. It's one of my favorite, too. 

01 September 2010

PW on Marriage

I realized I never finished commenting on PW's response to the marriage question.

What can I say?

I got sidetracked by life.