Mind Your Manners

Tonight I ran into Target on a quick errand (every woman’s favorite place to be on a quiet evening, am I right?) and while bustling up the center aisle of the store was stopped by a voice behind me saying, “Hey!”

I turned to see a tall man whose face was vaguely familiar and after a moment I recognized him as someone who had attend my church when I was new to the community many years ago. Stepping towards me in a friendly manner he continued, “I haven’t seen you in a long time!” and threw out his arm for a hug. I haven’t seen this man in at least 6 years, he’s probably 10 years older than me and as he was never more familiar to me than a friendly face at church I replied with a smile and hello, responding to his invitation with a high-five. This was acknowledged by a surprised jerk of his head and a widening of his eyes…..before he completely ignored my clear though non-verbal communication and hugged me anyway.

As he pulled away I took a step back from him and straightened to be as “big” as my full 5’4 frame allows. This is a familiar response that I have practiced since childhood when feeling threatened and when he would see it my father would laugh and quote the bat from Fern Gully saying “Puff up! Puff up! They hate that!”. But I digress.

The man smiled and continued as though he hadn’t just tramped through my physical boundaries asking, “How ya doin?”

Swallowing my frustration for the sake of being polite I replied “Great!”

“Oh yeah, what are you up to these days?”

“Oh, you know, just working.”

The conversation continued another minute of him asking questions and my attempting to politely reply with vague answers when without warning he stepped towards me, removing the distance I had intentionally put between us. “So…..hey…..?” and raising his eyebrows in a question he placed his hand on my left elbow before running it down my arm to grab my hand and hold it high while lightly rubbing his thumb across my bare ring finger…… as I stared, dumbfounded. Snatching my hand back and thrusting both hands into my pockets I again stepped back from him, shaking my head and stammering, “Oh no, no no.” His eyebrows raised higher and he asked with a smile and suggestive tone, “Really….No?”.

By now my blood was boiling. I smiled again and firmly said, “I’m on a time crunch and need to go”. Turning on my heel I heard his voice behind me say, “It was great to see you….. Christina, isn’t it?” and glancing over my shoulder I saw him grinning, watching me do my best to not storm down the aisle.

Walking through the store I found the brief, bizarre interaction playing over in my mind as I tried to analyze what in the world had just happened. Had I done something to encouraged his over familiar, rude behavior? Was there any situation in the past that would have led him to believe that he had the right to both touch and treat me that way? Why did I feel the need to be polite to someone treating me with such a lack of respect? I can already hear the defenses coming starting with, “That’s really not a big deal….” so I’ll step back and reiterate a few points. I don’t know this man. He was never more than a familiar face from a long time ago. There was never a friendship. I do not even know his last name but for reasons beyond me this man who is both older and larger than me felt that he had the right to ignore my very clear physical boundaries. And just so we are all clear may I say gently that it is never ok to force someone to touch you in any manner?

As a single 30-year-old woman living in a conservative community I have heard just about all that there is to hear related to singleness and marriage. I don’t mean that in a negative way whatsoever. I love community, love my church, deeply love family and would like to have my own one day! I have read many books, attended seminars and listed to sermons related to both topics and am neither bitter towards my married friends or angry at the season of life that I am in. However, I find that just about everyone else seems to feel differently about that than I do. I have been questioned as though there is something wrong with my being single, not by close friends mind you but by acquaintances, people who at one time may have had an invitation from me to speak into my life, people who assume that familiarity grants them that right and recently, by perfect strangers. I wish that there would be a way to communicate the sincere gentleness in my tone as I make this statement…. frankly, it is not anyone’s business. I have no need to make excuses and I do not owe anyone an explanation. I’m not angry, but I am TIRED of being asked to give a defense for my life as though there is a) something wrong or b) an answer that I could give that would make the questioner feel that my singleness is somehow justified to them.

The interaction that I had with this man tonight is the perfect example(although a little extreme) of the over familiarity and lack of manners that I am continually running into and as I type this in the back of my mind I hear a little grey rabbit chiding, “Mind yo’ mannews!”. I’d like to trumpet that to a whole culture that assumes familiarity where it hasn’t been earned. To the people who make unwelcome comments and suggestions to my married friends who do not have children, to the strangers who grill my friends at the playground because they have several small children close in age, to the voices asking and prodding where they have no room to speak. Have we all forgotten our manners? When did it become appropriate to stop treating each other with honor and respect, to believe it acceptable to demand answers where we have no right or room to ask questions? When did we stop treating each other with basic dignity?

And when did it become acceptable to force touch? To not ask permission? As a small person I have spent my whole life being forced into physical interactions that were unwanted. In high school it was a game among many of my male friends to literally pick me up and carry me around.  As an adult I find myself regularly in the awkward position of being forced to hug people who assume that it’s ok to sweep me up in a friendly squeeze but my stature shouldn’t determine someone else’s right to my body. I used to frame the situation as “I’m being treated as though I am a child” but now I realize that the flaw in that thinking is the assumption that a child somehow has less rights and responsibility over their body than an adult. The humiliation that I felt as 90 pound 15-year-old being thrown on the shoulder of a high school quarter back and the humiliation that I felt tonight as a stranger ran his hand down my arm is the same. This body is mine, and I should be allowed the dignity of deciding who has access to me.

Again, none of this is said in anger but rather as a plea. People, mind your manners. Remember that you do not ever know the whole of the story and that the one piece of information that you might possess doesn’t give you the right to someones personal life. Let’s THINK before we speak, before we ask, before we act. Let’s consider one another, let’s respect each other enough to ask permission and not assume. No one owes you an answer, no one owes you a touch. And to everyone out there who feels the weight of unwarranted questions, you don’t have to make an excuse and you don’t owe anyone a response :).

Don’t peace out

My only disclaimer is that this is not an angry rant. This is something I’ve thought out for a loooong time, and I just want to talk about it for a minute, so bear with me.

I am a single woman looking at 30 and over the last ten years my relationships have changed, really quickly. I have had the joy of being a bridesmaid ten times, a personal attendant once and have planned or made the decorations for or decorated for 5 different weddings. My friends are getting married and starting families and I love the role that I get to play in supporting them through those massive life changes. Most of my married friends have children and most of those children I have babysat for on different occasions.

I LOVE this. It’s not a burden to me, not a sad thing that constantly reminds me of my singleness in this world and I don’t say that to downplay the pain and the longing that some young women feel in my shoes.  I am just trying to say that I’m happy and seeing my friends marrying good people who love and care for them, makes me happy. Getting to continue to be a part of their lives makes me happy. Seeing the ongoing Facebook announcements of those couples becoming pregnant or adopting children makes me happy.  Being a part of their childrens lives and being loved by their children makes me happy.

I am a very committed person (really no matter the situation) especially in my friendships. I highly value intentionality and clear communication. I work really hard to say hard things and good things because I believe there is almost no deeper pain than the regret you feel at a graveside over things that were not said. If I call you “friend” then you had better believe I have got your back. I will stand with you, I will fight with you and for you, and I will love you to the best of my ability come what may. And seeing the people that I love falling in love generally makes me really, really happy.

And here it comes…..

The difficulty for me lies NOT in seeing others falling in love and then feeling bad about myself or jealous of their lives and the fact that I’m still single – AGAIN, I am not mocking people who really truly feel that pain. I am clarifying; that is not how I process when my friends are in relationships – the difficulty for me lies in the situation where someone who I call friend enters into a relationship, and OUT of relationship with everyone else. When chemistry starts flying and that special someone starts thinking that you are REALLY special, it is so natural to want to spend all of your time with them. It is natural to have the dynamics of your friendships shift and to have that person rapidly move their place of importance towards the top of your list. I have experienced this in ways where I still felt valued and still felt like I was a friend and I have experienced this in other, really difficult ways.

My friends relationships become a source of pain to me when their special someone becomes their only someone. When despite years or depth of friendship, I find myself excluded (though most likely NOT intentionally) from their lives because of that relationship. I have attended weddings of people who I once considered my closest friends, and watched the ceremony feeling like the people at the alter were mere acquaintances, because once their dating relationship began they no longer gave any time to our friendship. That is very sad thing, and the pain of that hinders me from truly feeling the joy of their union. I have experienced this in friendships, where the (for the example) girl spent all of her time with the guy and then months later when the relationship doesn’t work out, has an expectation that our friendship will pick back up as though it were unaffected by the months of no time and no communication between us, despite my trying. Sometimes, I have experienced that multiple times with the same person. It’s painful and it’s frustrating.There have been times when I will bump into these friends, and in person they seem to interact with me as though we still have the level of intimacy or friendship that we once had. This is also frustrating and very confusing, when I have continued to try and reach out in friendship with them only to have them not respond or never have time.

Listen my friends: don’t do that. When you find someone special, know that the people who care about you want to be happy for you and want to continue to be in relationship with you throughout your relationship. It is a JOY to me, to be able to call my friend’s boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancés/spouses “friend”. To be included in those relationships and to have the opportunity to get to know the person who is special to you will mean a LOT to the people in your lives. YES, the dynamics of your friendships will change as you fall in love with someone, they HAVE to, it is normal and healthy. But don’t peace out on your friends because you’re dating, falling in love or married. Your friends and YES, even your single friends DO want to maintain a level of friendship in your life and yes, that does require some intentionality. But know that when you make that special someone your only someone, it can be hurtful to the people who care about you, and can be unhealthy and potentially a dangerous thing for you. When you get married it is natural that you will want to develop friendship with other married couples, and your relationships with your single friends will change. But seeing married friends giving all of their time to married couples and feeling that there is never time for their friendship with single friends, well it just feels crummy.

Dating, engaged or married; out of love, don’t peace out.

Surrender

Mid Summer: Stretching

Late Summer: Painful

This Fall: Crazy

Katrina & I are helping with one of her past co-workers weddings this upcoming Saturday. Of all the weddings I have participated in or helped with, this one has proven to be the most challenging in the details. Unimaginable, absolutely ludicrous hurdles have presented themselves time & time again. As frustrating as that has been I feel that I have a decent grasp on things should we ever co-ordinate another KC wedding. For real, I could write angry blog posts about 4 different rental companies as well as a bakery and…..I’m going to leave it alone.

Adding to the crazy has been a month or two of growing trouble with the twins who I Nanny for. 1) I adore these little girls 2) This job & my employers are a constant, wonderful blessing in my life but 3) Teething x2 is just not for the faint of heart. Together, they alternately refuse to eat, refuse to sleep, or refuse to be comforted. Baby 1 does something naughty; I tell her ‘No’. Baby 2 responds by running to go do the exact same thing that Baby 1 was just chastised for. Baby 2 has taken up biting Baby 1 as a response to all frustration; when a toy is grabbed from her hand, when she is unintentionally knocked over, when I am holding Baby 1 & Baby 2 wants affection – biting. Just so much hair pulling & biting. When Baby 1 is having a hard day she tends to express it by following Baby 2 around the room, taking from her whatever toy or item she decides to play with, that is until she is bitten. And then there are just the days where both babies have diaper rash, teeth coming in & no matter what I do they are going to take turns crying or throwing tantrums every minute that they are not asleep.

Top it off with my recent decision to go to college & the flurry that has come with trying to get in late on the current semester. There are things I never wanted to learn about. Such as – how much college textbooks cost, how many THOUSANDS of scholarships there are to apply to, what the EFC actually means & just how many years of my life I’ll be require to work a night job to pay off tuition at the University I set my heart on. These are just a few of the items on the growing list of “Reasons I never wanted to get a degree”. At the same time, I’m beyond excited. It’s just been a bit of an overwhelming blur trying to figure out how to make this exciting thing actually happen.

Yesterday was the kind of whirlwind that sums up my current flavor of crazy. I woke feeling yucky; congestion, cough, sore throat, back ache, head ache, puffy eyes – you name it. I stumbled to the bathroom thankful for a full nights sleep, but was hurried out by a roommate who had to leave soon. Oh the beauty of communal living! We learn to serve by prioritizing needs & schedules. After a brief break I finished my morning routine & was quickly out the door to watch the twin boys who claim my Wednesdays. Walking in the door of the house I promptly spilled almost my entire cup of coffee. On the carpet. Coffee that I REALLY wanted to drink. Insert twin BOY drama, nap refusal complete with blood curdling screams which woke the other meaning one baby down one tired baby awake & no break for the nanny. Tired baby fusses, a nanny spilling, dropping & knocking over everything possible…all…day…long.

An hour before leaving I get a message that the friend whose child I’m watching in the evening needs me to come early, as in, as soon as I leave the twins. Getting off I drove home pushing the speed limit to grab food & jump straight back into the car. The night went smoothly, as smooth as it could with my continued dropping everything, leaving doors open & making generally every mistake I could. Insert text message – the parents event didn’t go as expected meaning they will return an hour later than planned.

Yes, this fits with the day.

I came home really, really tired. Walking in the door I tried to objectively go over the list of things I had hoped to do throughout the day that hadn’t been accomplished due to baby crazy while looking to no avail for my blasted goldfish food. HOW DO YOU LOSE GOLDFISH FOOD WHEN YOU USE IT EVERYDAY??????

And that is when I stopped, with a tired sigh I just sat down & stopped. My devo yesterday talked about the dangers of complaining & the freedom from burdens that comes when we take all of our thoughts to our Heavenly Father.

Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me and talk it out. As you open up to Me, I will put my thoughts in your mind and My song in your heart. – Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

So I pulled out some mixing bowls & talked it all out of myself while baking a mess of crunchy chocolate goodness. By the time I pushed the pan into the oven the flow of cares & burdens had stopped, but rolling over gently in my mind sang a simply melodious line from a song called “Surrender” from my friend John Scott Young‘s debut album. It just says “I surrender all to You”.

Again. Again. Again. Again. We just have to hear what we already know, what we truly believe, how we want to live, we have to hear it again, we have to say it again. Over & over & over because follow through is SO HARD. Last night I did it, I laid all the burdens down, baking & praying instead of “doing” anything. Jesus loves us so much, even when we don’t do anything.

Missing Miah, Round Two

Pre-East Coast move I probably talked to him a couple times a month. Post move, every couple of months. Since his sudden passing, I wish I could talk to him on average several times a week.

We’re so like sheep. Just walking out our daily routine: food, water, sleep. Never thinking that the routine, all that is daily & hourly taken for granted would every change. Never thinking that the people in our lives, the people that make up our lives, would ever be gone.

I’ve come to believe that who we are as individuals is largely composed of the effect of the people whom we love and the people who love us. Like it or not, like them or not, the people in our lives mold us.

I was so broken at the idea of how the lack of him in my life could change me. I was afraid that the effect that he had made in me would slowly fade away, afraid that as the years passed I would forget him. But I haven’t. So much of KC reminds me of him.

And it’s not just Miah, it’s all of “those that have gone before”. I feel the pain of the missing, the ache of the longing for the ones I love that I can’t see, touch or talk to. In the stillness of remembering I find myself regularly composing letters to them in my mind.

As I fill the bird feeders around my house I think of my grandpa and unintentionally it starts,

Dear Grandpa, my bird feeder collection is starting to rival yours. Does it make you glad to see me feeding the birds….

A Friday night will roll around and I have no plans, and I remember when Jeremy left and I so needed a brother. On those sad Friday nights I’d call Miah and he’d take me to coffee or dinner. Once, after telling him a story of a weird encounter with a man in an airport he grabbed my phone, took a picture of himself flexing and said, “There, when you travel make that picture the background on your phone and tell all the creeps that you have a boyfriend!” That picture brought so much laughter every time I stumbled across it. Driving home from work I whisper,

Dear Miah, thank you for loving me so well…..

The lawn mower breaks down…. again… And with a deep sigh I look to the heavens and it begins,

Dear Bob, when you were alive I always had a working lawn mower…..

Changes are coming. My little weary squeezes at the changes that I know about that are around the corner, and fears the things I have yet to know. I take deep breaths and thank the Lord for the years, the time in KC where so many of the friends and people whom I love live less than 5 minutes away, and I grieve them as they leave. With each move, each friend that suddenly becomes distant the view of my life just as suddenly changes and I wonder how long the old normal that has become normal again, will stay.

I wonder how long I will stay. How long will I live on my parents property, in the house my Daddy fixed for me? How long will I live with my sister and BIL? I’ve been working and working the property to make it beautiful again and each day I wonder, am I doing this for myself or will someone else be one to enjoy it?

The questions, the pain in the missing, it would utterly overwhelm but for the anchor in my soul. The hope, of life that never dies, of love that never ends. The hope in know that each day brings me closer to the City, the New Jerusalem, the home that never changes, the life where there is no missing. Can you imagine? Just stop for a second! Take a deep breathe, push the crowding thoughts away, and for a moment just allow yourself to image. Life. Lived to the fullest. No goodbyes, no missing.

And those letters I write turn to Him. Wondering at the real life that is being lived with the Lord, the unimaginable joy from those I love who are WITH Him.

And that’s the only resolution. To live “from the end” as Bonhoeffer wrote, to live each day with the end as our hope and our prize and our goal. And to fight to love better those whom are still with us.

Do not take them for granted, those family members, those friends. I meant to call him the week before the run, but I didn’t. That conversation will come, but I will wait long for it.

Don’t wait long.

Express yourself, verbalize the things you think, the things that you love about them, the things that you’re grateful for. The things you would wish a thousand times that you’d said if they were suddenly gone from your life. Be transparent, be real, be grateful.

Lewis said that “the fact that our hearts yearn for something Earth can’t supply is proof enough that heaven must be our home.” My heart yearns more by the day. I want your kingdom Jesus.

December Breezes

The month of December has become Synonymous for ‘Utter and Complete Change’ in my life and though we’re only eight days in, thus far 2012 has not proved to disappoint.

The Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace is in the middle of a SOZO conference right now, hosting John & Carol Arnott of the Toronto Airport Church, Don Potter, and Corey Russel as the main speakers, and it has been really, really good. Yesterday I lay on the floor under a presence as thick and heavy as a down blanket, and rose feeling as though I’d had a deep, long nap. Today I was torn up one side and down the other…but in a good way? Sentences like that leave me feeling as though Christians have the hardest time explaining themselves….and it’s true! This afternoon Don Potter candidly spoke of his life’s story. I sat in the front row, alternating between tears & laughter as the message seemed so directly for me in this season of my life, that I couldn’t help but respond with wonder.

Part of the tenderness in my heart may have had to do with the conversation I had directly before Don’s message. This December’s upcoming changes have brought about a considerable amount of reminiscing and contemplating of the last four years of my life. Specifically the last four, because 2008 (the year that I worked for TheCall) so dramatically set the stage for the following three, leading up to today. I had heard that a young lady who is a part of FPF had given her life to the Lord at the 2008 CallDC prayer gathering. Today I was able to tell her that I had worked behind the scene’s for that event, and grab a few minutes with her to hear the story.

She told me of the hard situations of that time of life which had cultivated such a desperation to escape that she leaped when her sister invited her to attend the PreCall conference & TheCall event. What got me was her moment of conversion, which came about during the LIFE siege  She said that she put the tape on her mouth and in the silence she began to think a whirlwind of thoughts – of how pained she was to have never known of the horror’s of abortion, how angry she was that no one had ever told her, and how she felt as though she’d wasted so much of her life on worthless things. By this time of the story tears were streaming down both of our faces and she choked out with a sob, “I just fell to my knees on the grass and I knew that I never wanted to waste another day, I wanted to give my life to Jesus and to the things that really matter.”

Over three years later she is an integral part of the the daily operations of the ministry that I serve with, the Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace. We cried on each other’s shoulders, both feeling such immense gratitude to the Lord for His hand on her life, and outwardly I marveled that He knew who she would be, what He would use her for in the future, how much she would be needed by FPF now, even on that day that He called her name and saved her. She pulled back, looked me in the face nodding, and said “and wisdom is justified by her children” motioning to me, and then to herself, finishing with a tearful “Thank You.”

The Lord is so kind to give us glimpses of the big picture, and I wonder if that’s a tiny taste of the joy of Heaven, when we finally see with clarity ALL that He was doing around and in and through us. I think we’ll find it to be so much more than we could ever ask for, or ever imagine.

Following that emotional interaction came Don’s message of absolute surrender to the will of the Lord. It’s no wonder my ears could hear it after such an introduction. Once brought back into the recording studio he struggled to play simple songs, walked out and heard an incredible recording that He amazingly admitted could not have been himself playing. At that admission the Lord responded “Don, your life as a musician is mediocre at best, but with Me, you are exceptional”.

With Him, YOU are exceptional. Doesn’t that give you the incentive to grab hold of the King and not let go?

And I through tear brimmed eyes I marveled. My life? Mediocre. Mediocre, at best! Oh but He makes the story exceptional. He does more than I see, more than I think, more than I DREAM. So much more than I know. And as cold winds blow transition right back into my life, I receive it with hands wide open to His will. Oh Lord, You do exceptional things with handfuls of dust.

Unscripted.

I have a tendency to day dream. Meaning that I think about things to much, plan out events, conversations, flesh out goals, shade in relationships, internally organize, and attempt to administrate the details of my life into tangible moments that I can order and control. And after all of that internal effort those carefully constructed day dreams have a devastating way of crumbling around me without a single piece of the debris falling into the place that I intended.

So I eat a lot of icecream. When the dust settles and there is just not a thing you can do about it, my best response is icecream. This week has been completely outside of my control, ending with a day that I can’t even begin to describe, and at the end, leaving 3 hours after I’d planned due to a situation that I never could have forseen I decided that the only appropriate response was to stop by McDonalds for a dipped icecream cone. Sitting in silence in a borrowed car in the drive-thru and trying not to think about the day, I pulled up to the sign to order only to hear that the ice cream machine was broken.

It’s amazing, just how unscripted this life is.

Joshua has been checking in on me quite a bit during the hurricane of the last few weeks. Yesterday evening I receive a message from him asking why I’ve not been blogging. I thought for a moment before telling him that things have been too personal to write about, to which he replied “I think those may be the best kind of things to write about.”

This Tuesday it will have been 4 months since the Southern Lady passed away.

In an incredible act of love her family offered for me to stay in the house until it is sold.  An estate sale was held at the beginning of July while I was home visiting my family and as expected, I returned to a house with out furniture, decorations, or any evidence of being lived in save for my bedroom. The week of my birthday I acquired two amazing vintage rockers from Craigslist, followed by a small table as a present from my brothers family, the three of which barely scratch the surface of filling the empty space.

The emptiness of the house serves as a very practical means of magnifying the turmoil in my heart;

I am a very communal individual, loving life with MANY housemates, and for four months my little dog and I have lived alone in the empty house.

I have yet to find a replacement  “job” to supplement my missionary income.

Two weeks ago my dearly beloved rust-bucket car actually died. This happened the week of the anniversary of Miah’s death, and the week that we were hosting a regional teen conference, in which I had a large role to play.

Some days later the hard-drive on my iphone crashed leaving it in a state of being completely incapable of connecting to the wireless signal aka, rendering the phone useless. I’ve never even HEARD of that before.

The last four week I’ve been under a constant barrage of irrational, in-explainable personal/ financial/ spiritual/ relational and ministerial events that I can only describe as the craziest spiritual attack I’ve ever experienced….which culminated in the drive-thru lane at McDonalds tonight as I heard that the ice cream machine was broken.

Completely and utterly…..not what I had planned.

Depressing as this story sounds….there has been incredible breakthrough over the last seven days. My physical and spiritual family both in the mid-west and on the east coast have banded around me in prayer and support and the fruit is being manifest in my heart and life daily. And there is light ahead 🙂

A friend has indefinitely given me use of her vehicle. Someone gave me an old at&t phone to use. And just so that you can believe that God does in fact give to us ‘everything that we need for life and godliness…..’  there was half a tub of Strawberry Haagen Das icecream in my freezer when I got in tonight.

When Miah died  Bob Falkner told me to buy Ann Voskamps book ‘One Thousand Gifts’. I had no idea how the next year of my life would be ordered around the Lord’s deep commitment to teaching me about the receiving of His grace.

Tonight I shared with a friend the emotional story of the last twenty four hours.  After some long moments of quiet reflection she said ” I love you Christina, you’re just so…….raw. Do you know what I mean by that? You’re just …..raw.”

Unscripted.

Sara Groves would call it “Wide open, like a lake”

Derek Loux called it “Green and Tender”

It’s learning how to force the fist to unclench, relinquishing the death grip on what I couldn’t control anyway, opening the fingers, smoothing down the palm. You open Your hands and You satisfy (Ps. 145.16), I open my hands and receive. It’s ghastly simple, and the most un-natural position for an anxiety ridden heart like mine; to take whatever You give, to call it grace, and offer it back to You in thanks.

I cry and I pray and I stumble. I think to hard, circle round the options, fight to come up with a plan, stay up too late strumming those same guitar chords trying to soothe the same old ache in my eternal soul. I accuse God, accuse His bride, break, repent, and while aching for answers fight to keep my hands off the details, stop trying to organize, lift up my eyes to the hills and lean into His strength. I am still keeping lists, because Bob say’s that if we’re not operating in Thanksgiving than we’re operating in atheism.

And I choose to live, raw. Vulnerable. To stop fighting tooth & nail to hide the frailty of my human heart, to give God the room to come in and bring healing to the broken, weak places. I bawl in the prayer room, in the weekly meetings when suddenly the room surrounds me in prayer and cry out for break through in my life, at stop lights, and alone in the quiet house that the Lord provided for me when there were no answers to an un-solvable situation.

And as my foundations are exposed and greatly shaken, I choose to cling to the Rock that is higher than I.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter)

And I gave him sparklers for Christmas….

Yesterday evening my little brother Grayson Bohlender had an accident involving fire and is currently drugged up in the Burn Unit at KU.  You can read Randy’s brief post on the situation here.

Text messages started rolling in around 9pm last night, I did my best to mobilize prayer, made some phone calls, sent some text messages, got the word out and then….sat down to cry. Like a baby.

I made a whirlwind trip to KC last month to help with the family while Randy & Kels were in Florida adopting the new twins, and I think 14 year old Grayson was more excited to have me there than the 4 little girls., and he hacked my facebook account multiple times to prove it.

My move from KC was emotional for everyone to be sure, but Gray shocked me the most. It’s true that  at times you don’t see things clearly until they have changed, and I honestly had no idea how the lack of my presence in their home would affect him. But it did, and the mail began rolling in! He typed me letters, sent me post cards and I even received a manila envelope containing at least 100 loose leave sheets of paper each with a simple “HI” in large font.

We share lots of common interests, one being….. Sparklers. And at my suggestion Katrina, Annie & I gave him some in his Christmas present. Right now I’m kicking myself. Not because Sparklers got him into trouble yesterday but because fire did, and I wish I’d discouraged and not encouraged him.

Right now my 14 year old “lil brudder” (as he reminds me) is lying in a hospital bed, nauseous from pain, fighting a fever and gearing up for skin grafting surgery on Friday.  Each update & picture sends me into a storm of tears.

Please pray for peace over his body, for quick healing, and for grace to eat so that the doctors are not forced to give him a feeding tube. Pray for Randy, Kesley, Grandma B & the other 8 kiddos. And if you are able to help financially or to provide help with the children please let me know & I would be happy to help coordinate that.