Welcome to the End of 2009.

Goodness. How come time never flew this fast when I was a child? Fastest year on record, hands down. Probably the most interesting in a long time, too. Can’t believe it’s already time to enjoy the final week of the year.

I am thankful for…

  • The fact that my dad came through surgery just fine. He is recovering well and even preached yesterday! I talked to him a lot this weekend and he sounded genuinely happy and healthy. Praise the Lord!
  • The dreary weather we had here over Christmas. It somehow helped it feel more like back home even though I still wore capris and a short-sleeve shirt. But, I was able to close all the blinds downstairs and turn on Christmas lights and feel like it was somewhat chilly outside.
  • Being able to spend Christmas Eve with friends. It was relaxed and enjoyable and we truly felt comfortable at their house for supper. Brian even conversed well in Spanish; so proud of him!
  • Being able to recreate homemade dishes and even have them taste almost better than usual (probably because we don’t get them anymore!). I have to admit, I will have a hard time going back to boxed/canned/frozen anything when or if we ever live in the States again.
  • Being able to talk with my entire family Christmas Day and the day after. Out of all of them, talking with my brother was probably the best. He was genuinely sweet and loving and about made me cry when we got off the phone. I miss him.
  • For my dear husband who gave me one of the most amazing Christmases ever. Story to follow.
  • For my Lord and Savior Who stepped into time to be born as a baby, live as a man, and die for my sins.

Last year, the week before Christmas, we did something that broke my heart. We traded my piano for a computer. I wish I could do one of those cool links where you can click HERE and go to my blog post about it from last December, but I still don’t know how to do that (Becky, email me! 🙂 ). Anyway, it was a tough decision, but we finally decided that there was no feasible way to bring my keyboard down to Peru. Probably one of the best decisions we made, but still the hardest for me for sentimental reasons.

You probably know where this is going, but let me at least tell you the story behind how it happened.

Brian had been looking apparently for awhile now for my Christmas gift. But, full-size keyboards are extremely hard to come by in Peru. Apparently, if you own one, it’s because you want to be a professional. So, he was having a hard time finding one and then, finding one in his price range. Finally, someone suggested Peruvian e-bay. My husband loves, loves, loves e-Bay and was ecstatic to use Peruvian e-Bay. He finally found ONE, contacted the person, and then waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, he heard that yes, they would probably sell it. So, he and a friend drove two and a half hours to meet them. The guy wasn’t home. His wife said to come back in an hour. They killed time for an hour and then called. He said he wasn’t selling anymore. They went back to talk with him and he said his uncle wants to buy it. Sorry. Brian was m-a-d. Such a waste of time. But, they traded phone numbers and said to call if he changed his mind. Just to see what would happen, they drove away for a few minutes and then called and offered more money. He finally said yes. So, they turned around, went back, and finally purchased my piano.

Isn’t it pretty?

The even more amazing part – it’s a step UP from the one I had back in the States!

Brian had me open a couple pieces of the stand and all the nuts and bolts. I had a slight inkling, but no real idea he had actually found a piano. When he led me upstairs and showed it to me, I could not stop crying. It was so pretty.

To me, it was a Christmas miracle. Music is so much more to me than a past-time. It’s part of who I am. Whenever I want to spend time worshiping the Lord or get away by myself or vent my frustration or express joy – my piano is where I go. To not have that for a year was really hard. Especially somewhere where I really needed that escape. Brian really outdid himself. God is so gracious. He had His hand in the whole finding/purchasing ordeal.

Just reminds me again, “How much more?” Brian was going to get me one with 61 keys. God provided one fit for a concert. How much more? So much more than I could ever ask or dream.

I feel so blessed and so loved. Even though we were a long ways from family, it was still such a wonderful Christmas.

So, now to look ahead. If 2009 was this good and this different and this… crazy! … what in the WORLD will 2010 be like?!

Christmastime is Here!

It’s taken all week, but I’m finally in the Christmas mood. I started baking Monday afternoon and I still have stuff left to do this afternoon. I found a recipe for Star Christmas cookies. Good grief. Not sure I’ll be doing that again. Started them Monday; finished them Tuesday afternoon! Many cookies. You make big ones and then little ones and when they’re cool, you put a tiny layer of jam on the big one and slap the little on top. Very pretty and festive and taste good. Real pain to make. Well, live and learn, I guess! Made great Christmas gifts! 🙂 I also made my favorite: Snowman Poop!

  • One 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • One package of Oreos (or Oreo-like) cookies, crushed
  • 16 (or so) ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Mix the cream cheese with the oreos – you’ll have to use your hands. Then roll them into whatever size balls you’d like. Melt the chocolate when you’re ready for it. Then dip the balls into the baking chocolate to coat. I use two forks and works like a charm. Easiest thing to do is lay them out on parchment paper to cool. Once they’ve cooled off (normally after they’ve spent an hour or so in the fridge) you can stack them, but they really should be refrigerated most of the time. And voila – Snowman Poop! 🙂 Or, for those of you who are more refined – Oreo Truffles. But, come on, isn’t snowman poop WAY more fun to say?! You can tell people, “Man, I spent all afternoon making poop!” and see what they say. hahahaha – I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to say that. Smile. You know you want to.

After the snowman poop, I made a pecan pie this morning. I don’t have access to shortening, so I made my crust with butter. Not my favorite, but oh well. The crust isn’t the good part anyway! I also don’t have corn syrup, so I found a recipe that called for maple syrup instead. It smells absolutely amazing (I grew up in Vermont and my brother-in-law’s second job is making syrup – how could I NOT like the smell of warm syrup in my house?!) and it looks really pretty. I hope it tastes just as good.

The turkey is out of the freezer and thawing as we speak. Last thing on my agenda today is to make homemade rolls. Tomorrow’s menu includes baked French toast and hashbrowns for breakfast, and turkey with homemade stuffing and scallopped potatoes and I’m not sure what else for lunch. Yummmm!!

We’re going over to a co-worker’s tonight for a Peruvian Christmas dinner. They celebrate Christmas Eve. Most families wait til midnight to eat, but our friends said, “That’s stupid. We’re eating at 8.” ha! So, we’re joining them. Our nightguard went home, so Brian and this same friend are on night-watch. Brian starts at 2am and will finish walking around campus at 5am. I plan on feeding him breakfast in bed. ahhh, aren’t I romantic?

Can you tell I’m finally in a good mood?!?!

On a much more serious note — I think having Christmas totally different this year has been good for me, thus far anyway. I would give my left arm to be with my family right now, but at the same time, this is allowing me to see Christmas for what it truly is. Last week, whenever I’d listen to songs that talk about being satisfied with just having Jesus for Christmas and not needing anything else, I found myself thinking, “These must be written by someone who’s never had to go through it!!” and I’d get mad and turn it off. Mature, I know.

But, this week, I’ve started to realize that it really isn’t about the presents or even being with family. Yes, those things are wonderful and I believe the Lord has allowed us to have traditions, etc, because He wants us to enjoy life. But, that’s not the reason we have Christmas. We are honestly celebrating an event that changed the course of the world’s events – forever. Last year this time, we were pining away, waiting for our arrival in Peru. This year, we’re HERE. But, we would have no reason to be HERE without Christmas! Well, and Easter. But, that’s besides the point.

“For God so loved the world that He gave.” Period. He Gave.

He wrapped Himself up in a young girl’s body. He left His glory behind to step into and become a part of His creation. Not just as someone who walked among us for awhile and then took His place as King. No, He went through it all. He was physically born, like all the rest of us. It wasn’t pretty just because He’s God. It was normal. In a stinky, drafty old stable carved out of a hillside, over-crowded with animals, in the middle of the night. And then He not only walked among us – He was one of us. He understood us. He healed us. He cried over us. And then, He died for us.

This mystery – God becoming man – makes no sense. And yet, it is the reason we have a hope for eternity. A hope that cannot be swayed, shaken, or stolen. Out of all the religions in the world, we have the most hope because of the events of Christmas. God became man.

For me.

For you.

What a mystery. What a glorious God we have! I am incredibly humbled to be serving Him, as my job, as my life. When He opened His eyes that first morning, He saw me. He saw my future. He saw who I would become. And He stayed to die that torturous death so I could be His.

“Bow down and worship!” Emmanuel. God with us.

I leave you with the lyrics from one of my favorite songs this holiday season. It’s called “The Night Before Christmas” and it’s by Stephen Curtis Chapman.

Merry Christmas, from our home to yours.

It was the night before Christmas and all through the world
Everything looked like business as usual
Shepherds sat on a hillside looking up at the stars
While the world fell asleep unaware just how deep
Was the darkness the night before Christmas

And the night before Christmas it seemed to be just a night
But the wind blew like something was coming
And like children with secrets that they’re bursting to tell
The cedars danced in the breeze while all of nature it seemed
Held its breath on the night before Christmas

And hope, hope long awaited
The hope of the ages
Would break with the dawn
And the song that all of creation was anticipating
Would start with a baby’s first cry

And on the night before Christmas Mary laid down to rest
While Joseph, he paced the floor praying
And in an everyday stable, in an everyday town
In the hours to come God would wrap Himself up
And come down from heaven and the world would forever be changed
After the night before Christmas

Three Sleeps Til Christmas.

My whole life, I’ve lived up north where it snows and is generally, literally freezing cold for Christmas. As much as it’s gorgeous and romantic – it’s not how the real first Christmas would have happened no matter what time of year Jesus was actually born.

Now, I live in a land where it will never snow. I also live in an area where people still live in shacks with cows and sheep tied up in their backyards, beneath their clean laundry. I have to admit, as much it feels a lot less like the Christmases I’m used to, it’s actually helping me picture a lot easier the events of the first Christmas. I’m sure we don’t live in a Bethlehem-esq town. But, we do have mountains surrounding our farming village, making it easy for me to picture angels singing to the shepherds. The modernness of Lima hasn’t quite reached to our area, so it’s a lot easier to picture a quaint, quiet village with very few hotels and lots and lots of animals. The real meaning of Christmas that everyone is always searching for and trying to recapture is a lot easier to picture here in Peru than I ever thought it would be.

On an unrelated note —

I’ve been learning to trust this week. Yes, I trust the Lord. Yes, He’s brought me through numerous times in my life where I’ve had to depend solely on Him. But, normally, it’s my own circumstances, my own life, that I’m worried about. It’s quite rare that I need to trust the Lord for someone I love.

With both my parents being hospitalized while I’ve been so far away, and within weeks of each other, I’ve been learning slowly what it means to truly open my hand and say, “Here. I can’t do anything. I can’t be there. I have absolutely no control over this. But, You do. You’re there. You’re all they need anyway. I relinquish my rights to my family and ask for You to take over completely.”

Those are hard words to say.

And yet, amidst all of it, I realized it was easier than ever TO say those words BECAUSE of all I’ve had to experience in my life. I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God will provide so much more because He is ABBA. The times when I can’t do anything at all, I remember the story Jesus told in Matthew 7 about the father giving his children fish and bread if they’re hungry. And yet, God will provide “how much more.” How much more. How much more. How much more.

My dad was a walking heart attack waiting to happen for quite awhile now. We saw the signs a year ago when we lived with them, but he refused to believe it. They didn’t put in three stents. They put in five. The doctor has no idea how or why my dad has gone this long without an attack.

I know.

Because my God provides SO MUCH MORE.

No, lessons like this never come easy. But, it’s so worth it to come through the other side and have even fuller assurance that the God we serve really DOES care on a personal level.

It also struck me this week how awesome it is that I don’t have to share God with anyone. He’s equally with me as much as He is with you and my family and all of His other children around the world. While He was with me in Peru, He was comforting my sister in Vermont, my brother in Florida, my mom in the waiting room, my dad in the operating room, a friend of mine 8 months pregnant newly put on bedrest, and our four Compartiendo teams spread around the area doing ministry. We don’t have to share. I love that.

So, it’s with a thankful, uplifted, encouraged heart that I can say with full joy —

ONLY THREE MORE SLEEPS TIL CHRISTMAS!🙂

‘Twas the Monday Before Christmas.

I am thankful for…

  • living in the age of modern technology that is allowed my dad to have three stents put in his heart, keeping him around for (hopefully) many more years to come.
  • finishing up the school year well, both in my school and in the Bible school.
  • the Pennies for Peru activities going well.

I know it’s short, but at least it’s there! My mind is distracted today.

Got an email last night saying my dad had gone to emergency because he’d been having breathing/heart issues. He did not have a heart attack, but they kept him overnight for observation. He is in having his three stents put in right now, as I write this. If all goes well, he should be home tomorrow around noon feeling like a new man.

I’m learning to trust, that’s for sure. God has a funny way of making me get back in tune with Him. I woke up Sunday morning around 2 just horribly sick to my stomach. Spent an hour or more in the bathroom, sitting on the floor, talking to the Lord. I think He wanted my attention. I’m a little confused about the method, but hey, it worked! 😉 We had a wonderful conversation and I felt like it came just in time. I know He is back in PA with my father and the doctor. He’s holding my mom’s hand and guiding the doctor’s fingers. He’s controlling my dad’s heart and comforting my siblings and I. There is no one better I would rather have with my father right now.

It doesn’t make me feel any closer. But, it does provide comfort.

On other notes —

My nauseousness came and went yesterday (and today) but “went” enough that I was able to go to church on the motorcycle with Brian yesterday morning. We went to a large, modern bilingual church that had a nice Christmas service. Came home, slept all afternoon, and went back there for a Christmas program. It was a nice program – in two languages, too. It started with the Christmas story in English. I cried. It was so nice hearing it in English. Some of the kids sang in English and Spanish, which was really neat. We were so glad we went.

Brian and I are supposed to go out today to do Christmas shopping. This will be the only day I have to go buy things for Brian. Wish I felt better. At this point, I don’t really want to go out. But, maybe that will change as the day goes on. ???? Brian is supposed to be building our friends’ house, but instead he’s stuck working on a car (again) and driving people to and from Pennies for Peru activities.

And thus begins our week before Christmas.

Playlist.

I am so talkative. I’ll try to keep this blog short and to the point. I need an editor.

While we lived in the States, Brian and I were part of a CD club. We took full advantage of this the last year we lived in the States and invested in as many CD’s as possible, then put them all on our external harddrive. Probably one of the best investments we made before we left!

So, I’m enjoying a large variety of Christmas music. Here’s my current favorite artists with what I consider their best Christmas songs. What are you listening to this Christmas season? Anything I’m missing out on?! In no particular order, here’s my Christmas Playlist.

  1. Stephen Curtis Chapman: “All I Really Want for Christmas.” Best song(s): “All I Really Want” (see my story), “Silver Bells”, “The Night Before Christmas”
  2. Third Day: “Christmas Offerings.” Best song(s): “Christmas Like a Child”
  3. Michael W. Smith: “Christmastime.” [This CD has been in my collection for years and years. But, it’s just genuinely pretty and “homey” and reminds me of days gone by, I can’t get rid of it.] Best Song(s): “The Happiest Christmas”, “Welcome to Our World”, “Medley – Sing We Now of Christmas – O Come O Come Emmanuel”, “Carols Sing”
  4. Todd Agnew: “Do You See What I See”. Let me just pause to say that this CD is probably ranked one of the highest on my list. This CD tells the story of Christmas, from the Innkeeper to the Wisemen to Simeon, in such a beautiful way using a variety of artists. It’s available for purchase as like a cantata and I think it would be phenomenal. Kudos to Todd for putting this together – just beautiful. Best Songs: “This Is All I Have To Give (Joseph’s Song)”, “Magnificat (Mary)”, “Did You Know (Song to Jesus)”, “In The First Light (Postlude)” [That last song is… just gorgeous. Makes me cry every time I hear it. Just wraps up the entire purpose of Christmas. Very well done. He mixes it with “Do You Hear What I Hear” and it’s just so well done!]
  5. Josh Groban: “Noel.” [Honestly, how can you not have a Josh Groban Christmas CD??] Best song(s): “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” [beautiful song; can’t listen to it this year, but it’s still a beautiful song!]
  6. Casting Crowns: “Peace on Earth.” THIS is my favorite Christmas album. I love the traditional hymns with a new spin. I love this CD. LOVE LOVE LOVE this CD. Best Songs: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, “While You Were Sleeping”, “God Is With Us”, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”
  7. Mercy Me: “The Christmas Sessions.” Best Song(s): “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” [musically, this song is genius.], “Winter Wonderland – White Christmas”, “Drummer Boy”, “Joseph’s Lullaby”
  8. Stephen Curtis Chapman: “The Music of Christmas.” This is a classic – been in my family for years. He’s got one huge hit on this one that I could listen to every year: “Carol of the Bells.” My sister recreated it on the piano years ago and can still play it. Just gorgeous.
  9. Denver and the Mile High Orchestra: “Timeless Christmas.” Sidenote: This is my cousin’s band. Jared Ribble is the drummer and he does a phenomenal job. 🙂 I love this band in person. On CD, I have to admit, I can’t listen to hours and hours of it, but they’re still a lot of fun. They have a few songs on this CD that are really good, though. They do a variety of styles, from jazz to big band to rock. Best Songs: “Little Drummer Boy”, “Frosty the Bluesman”, “Born Tonight”, “This Must Be the Place.”

There’s my playlist! What’s yours?

On an unrelated sidenote – my dad came through his cath. just fine. But, they did find four blocks. He will have 3 stents put in (the fourth is too hard to reach) on Monday. It’s pretty serious, so he’s not to do anything until then. Thanks for praying for him – continue to do so if you could please!

One More Week!

So, it’s just now hitting me that Christmas is next week. I just have such a hard time believing it! We’ve had the gift exchange at the Bible school, one Christmas party down for my school, and the tree and lights are up, but somehow, with no snow, it just doesn’t feel like it truly IS Christmas. Oh well. In a way, I feel like this is more Biblical. Ha! 🙂 You know, no snow, warm weather, some rain.

So, what am I thankful for this Monday?

  • My husband has taken the time amidst all of his work to find me classic Christmas movies (in English) so we can feel like we’re participating in the season. We don’t have a TV, so we can’t watch any of the classic shows that are on every year (we would get U.S. stations). So, Brian has taken the time to find some. I love my husband for doing little things like that, just to show he cares, and always as a surprise.
  • I finally felt like an “integral cog” (I’ve been wanting to use that phrase for awhile now) here at the camp. Without me, there would’ve been no concession stand for camp and no one to set the tables for the kids’ meals. It was nice feeling useful, hanging out with the kitchen staff, and running kiosco by myself – in Spanish.
  • For having the amount of Spanish that enables me to carry on conversations now. Maybe I don’t understand 100%, but I’m getting close. I can even participate and answer questions. So, this weekend, while I was decorating, I got to talk with a student I’ve never really talked to before. He shared his testimony with me, his goals, and we talked about his friends and family that he won’t be seeing at Christmas this year because he can’t afford to go home. Brian and I are both having more students talk to us – it’s like they’ve been just waiting for us to get Spanish so they can open up to us. They ask millions of questions now that we can answer and they love sharing their lives with us. It’s just absolutely wonderful!
  • Our President and our Latin American director are both here for an important meeting with our leadership. We absolutely love them and are so happy to see them, if only for literally 24 hours. It’s kind of cool to say we know the President of organization personally (there’s about 800 missionaries with our organization) and he knows us! J He’s an amazing, down-to-earth man that we highly respect.
  • The President brought with them all my Kindergarten materials for next year. This was on my thankful list last week, but it’s a just such a miracle, I can’t even express to you how excited I am that he was able to bring it all! We had literally no other way for it to get here (customs can be rather strict and expensive), so the Lord worked that out better than anything we could come up with.
  • School for my three older kids officially ended Friday and they did so well. This was a hard year for each them in different respective areas. But, they finished strong and I’m so proud of them. I’m looking forward to next year when things will be even more organized, and we can throw in extra curriculars like music and art and even go on field trips.
  • My husband is making the list twice – he’s doing his utmost to figure out how he can get me out to do Christmas shopping for him. He’s got it all worked out so I can be sure to go Christmas shopping without him seeing what I get for him. Brian has also asked around for help to get him to the center of Lima to do shopping for me. He’s just wonderful when it comes to Christmas gifts. I have the most thoughtful man – I swear!
  • For the foresight of buying a large variety of Christmas CD’s two years ago and for recording (and keeping) Christmas programs on my computer last year so we can have some special things to watch and listen to that remind us of home.

Today is a good day in that I don’t have school and we were able to spend time with our President and Director. They came over to eat breakfast with us this morning, so that was nice. We reserved our plane tickets for Iquitos and Brian will be headed out to pay for them this afternoon when he gets home from taking a car to get inspected.

It’s also a “down” kind of day because my dad is in surgery this afternoon. The doctor found a blockage in his heart and he had to have basically emergency surgery to get it cleared up. It’s tough being so far away from home. I’m going to call this evening to find out how things went. It’s routine, but I’ve heard that word before and things have not gone “routine.” So… I guess I just wait.

Thursday’s Thankfulness.

Internet here at campus has been just horrid this week. It finally seems to be working, so I’m taking FULL advantage of this! Took me five days to order my kindergarten material – count ’em, 5!! – which frustrated me to no end. “Internet” is NOT on my thankful list today because it just plain doesn’t work often down here! Anyway. Moving on. Breathe.

  • Our Family Fair this week was a huge success! We had a rainy, dreary day to deal with, but that didn’t keep everyone away. Our best guess (we don’t know the official count yet) is 500+ people. Busy, crazy, tiring day, but a lot of fun. We’re so glad we got to be a part of it! Check out the picture in the previous entry of Brian as a clown.
  • Finally having a full weekend where we didn’t have to do hardly anything! We overslept by about 2 hours on Sunday and missed church (I know, bad missionaries… shh), but I think we had much-needed husband/wife time, with no interruptions, nobody yelling across campus for us, no visitors, no babysitting… it was really nice. I even got breakfast in bed.
  • Getting emails from friends, finding out we’re not forgotten for Christmas and will be getting Christmas cards. That’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas – getting all the cards in the mail – and I was getting bummed that maybe we wouldn’t get any. We’re getting at least three and that just makes my day!
  • The kids I have in my class. I feel like they’re mine and I just love them so much!
  • Finding out the bite on my arm is just that – a bite – and not something more serious.
  • Our President of our organization is coming for 24 hours and he’s bringing ALL the Kindergarten materials for us! Such an answer to prayer! We had NO idea how we’d get 60+ pounds of books and supplies past customs and he booked a trip last minute and was willing to bring it all. Amazing! Miracle! So wonderful! We’ll have it all here before we head to the jungle so I’ll get to look at it, plan, and organize before March. Just cannot be more excited about this!
  • Finding out we may not have to be in the jungle for two months! We may be able to come home after only a month and be involved in camps down here – and I’ll be able to set up my classroom, etc, with more time to spare. AND we’ll be HOME for the summer. I like that best.
  • Finally feeling at peace about things. Ah, peace. Welcome back.

So many things to blog about. So afraid of making you all bored that I don’t want to talk too much. Many thoughts about Christmas.

We were driving home last night from grocery shopping. We’re surrounded by just… poverty. Little shacks, barely able to stand on their own, adults and children digging through trash on the side of the road, millions of mangy dogs running wild, broken down cars and buses, literally millions of people crammed into the hillside. We were listening to Christmas music. The lyrics were, “Hear the angels as they’re singing On the morning of His birth But how much greater will our song be When He comes again to earth!” and, “Then rang the bells more loud and deep God is not dead nor does He sleep, The wrong shall fail the right prevail With peace on earth goodwill to men!” I literally felt like we were this tiny, little light passing through vast darkness, hailing the announcement of Jesus’ birth to a world still shrouded in night. Someday, Christ will return and all of heaven will announce His arrival – this time, to the world, not just a group of shepherds. Our prayer is that many of the people in our area here in South America will be ready for that return.

Brian and I are pleasantly surprised at our lack of homesickness during this season. We were talking about it last night and we both truly feel that since we’re finally where the Lord called us, we have no reason to long for “home.” We ARE home, at least for now. And it’s such a wonderful feeling. I’m sure we’ll miss family and friends as we get closer to Christmas itself, but for now, we’re just so happy being where we are, we don’t have time to miss anything back in the States.

We are officially letting people know that we want to adopt. We’re going to figure out how to meet with a local orphanage BCM works with frequently and figure out what is needed. I’m so excited! I cannot listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman’s “All I Really Want for Christmas” without just bursting into tears. I find myself praying daily for the little one that will be joining us, hopefully next year. It just makes my heart hurt that they’re without a home this year for Christmas. I just pray they’re safe and taken care of. I can’t wait to meet them! Pray for us as we go through this; we’re not sure what it will entail or how hard it will be. But, and I know this sounds weird, we are both feeling that adoption is more in the Lord’s will for us than having our own children biologically. Granted, I’m not going to complain if we get pregnant, but I’m finding myself to be just as excited about adopting as if I WAS pregnant. Amazing how God changes hearts, huh?

Images.

Christmas decorations for my classroom

snowflakes my little girls made – behind a running fan!

part of the crowd at our annual Family Fair

my husband, clown for an afternoon

Christmas Bells, Take 2.

“Mommy, if it’s Christmas, why is the world so sad?” my four year old son looked up at me imploringly. …

… “Darling,” I said slowly, “the world is sad because they slept through the birth of Jesus thousands of years ago and still don’t know He came. That’s why we’re here. We need to tell them Jesus came so they don’t need to be sad anymore!” I tried to smile at him. He seemed to accept my answer. …

… I walked slowly down our street, taking in the scene on this Christmas Eve. I had a hard time picturing a “silent night” like all our Christmas songs talked about. This night was far from silent. Or peaceful. Another gunshot rang out. Sirens began to go off.

I stopped walking to listen for a moment. The sirens began to get louder. And closer. I backed up off the street and pushed my back against the wall surrounding a neighboring building. Two police cars, sirens and lights blaring, roared past me. Just when I thought that was the worse of the commotion, a loud BOOM echoed through the night.

The noise was loud enough to make my ears throb. Sound was fuzzy for the first few minutes after the noise. The bright light from the bomb illuminated the houses a few blocks away. Fire was already starting to overtake a few houses. I could hear people screaming and children crying. Doors started slamming and people started yelling. As my hearing returned, so did my adrenaline. The bomb was in the opposite direction of our mission compound, so I wasn’t worried about my son. But, I was worried about the people whose houses were on fire! …

… It seemed like peace had been stolen from the world that night. I let my adrenaline fade, but refused to let myself cry. I was frustrated. This was Christmas – a time to celebrate, not a time to kill. These people had stolen the joy of the season. I looked at my watch. 11:53. Almost Christmas Day. How could we celebrate while knowing what had happened?

My thoughts went back to the first Christmas. The world had been in chaos when Jesus had been born, too. People were scared for their lives and waiting for a Messiah that was beginning to seem like a myth. Shortly after His birth, the family of three had had to flee to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. I wondered if Mary ever thought about the mothers in Bethlehem who lost their baby boys when King Herod came after hers? No, the world Jesus was born into wasn’t much better than the world I was living in now.

I sat there, listening to the sounds of this chaotic night, missing my husband, praying for the little girl who couldn’t hear anymore, and wondering what part of this felt like the Christmases I was so used to back “home.”

And right when I thought the world couldn’t seem more bleak, I heard them. The bells of the few Christian churches in the city, ringing out the arrival of Christmas Day – announcing the birth of Christ for all the world to hear. Even though it seemed as if the world was crashing down around me, the bells rang out as a reminder that Christ had already come and already conquered all. I realized then that I may not always see it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. Christ came as a baby, during that one, silent night so long ago, to ensure our future, our eternity, with Him. The hope that the bells rang out echoed across the countryside. They seemed to grow louder with each toll until they covered the sounds of the sirens and the dogs.

I finally let the tears begin to fall. All my worry and fear began to drift away. I remembered that it’s not about me, my wants or even my needs. The world I live in isn’t pretty, but the world He was born into was much, much worse. Yet He gave up heaven to come here to save me.

In that one moment, I knew that God isn’t dead. He’s not sleeping. He’s very much awake and very much aware of what is going on – even today. He is watching and someday soon, He will return. All the bells on earth won’t be loud enough to hail His second coming – the trumpets of heaven will have to do that. Hope was born so long ago so that I may live today without fear. Peace is coming – for the second time in history.

Listen! He’s on His way.

There’s more to it; I took some out to post here. I think it has promise. What do you think?

Just for Practice.

The dust billowed up into the clear, blue sky. At least, she thought it was blue – somewhere up there, past the endless billows of dust. The little wooden shack she called home sat in the midst of hundreds of other wooden shacks, each indistinguishable to outsiders. If one didn’t know whose home was whose, they would never find it amidst the mess. There were no pretty mailboxes with PO Box numbers stenciled on the side. The houses didn’t have brass numbers nailed next to the doors. The houses were just there – a refuge against rain, wind, and sun. A place to lay down at night. A place to be born and to die. Nothing more. Sometimes much less.

She sat next to the road, waiting for the “ding ding” of the bell behind the garbage truck. The garbage truck only came once a week and one had to run with all the trash their household had accumulated, down the road to the truck to throw it inside. If they were late, the trash would just keep piling up until the following week. This wouldn’t be such an issue except that there was nowhere to go with the trash and the wild dogs had the tendency of tearing into the trash and spreading it throughout the already dirty neighborhood. Trash day, much like water day, was very important.

The “ding ding” sounded from a distance. She stood up and grabbed the three, small bags next to her. She slid her feet into the dust-covered sandals and catapulted down the street. They lived about a half a kilometer from the main road and it was all downhill. She could feel her feet gaining momentum and before she knew it, the loose gravel had started to slide, taking her feet with her. She landed hard on her back side, jarring the bags of garbage loose from her hands. She continued to slide and lost her balance completely. The last thing she remembered was seeing her feet flying above her head.

“Do you think she has a concussion?”

The English words reverberated in her head. It felt as if someone was pounding her skull with a hammer with every word that was spoken. She didn’t understand any of the words and she began to force herself to regain consciousness. But, try as she might, she couldn’t seem to lift the weight that was holding down her eyelids. She slowly let herself fade again.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this… but it’s based on what I’ve experienced here. We’ll see how it turns out. I’m thinking if I want to write on “I Heard the Bells” I’ll need a different perspective. Hmm… the wheels have begun to turn! 🙂 Por Fin!

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