Five Minute Friday: Long Wait For Family

I have been alone for so long. Alone, but not alone. My Friend has always been with me. But there has long been a dearth of people. I have done without what most take for granted: a friendly face waiting while I undergo medical tests, a ride home after anesthesia, friends who discuss plans and offer guidance, family to share meals – simple things, things most never even think about. The weight of doing it on my own is heavy.

And now, an opportunity for family has been presented. It might work out. It might not. But the hope that the long, endless hunger for people who want to be involved in my life, who want me to be involved in theirs stymies me. Can I do it? Can I accept that there are people who love me that much though I don’t deserve it, have no claim on their love, could never even request it? Can I accept such a gift?

I don’t know. The possibility is heart breaking, in the best possible way. So we pray and converse and discern. God does set the solitary in families. Maybe after such a long wait for family, He has prepared me to accept one.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Our new home is at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides a prompt on Thursday evening and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Five Minute Friday: Because

From Loved As If:

“I’ve had two abortions,” Rose declared. “And you know what I felt?”

“No,” Crissa replied gently.

“Nothing!” Rose shoulders hunched forward, her fists clenched.

Lines appeared across my forehead, “But oughtn’t you feel something?”

The room was silent save for the intent, regular breathing of five women. Rose’s shoulders and hands relaxed. After a moment she spoke, “I never thought about it that way.” Her head tilted to one side; she seemed to be reaching for something within herself.

A few weeks later, Crissa pulled me aside, “Please pray for Rose. We’ve been talking about her abortions. She’s considering a healing retreat.”

“I’ll pray,” I promised solemnly.

A few months later, Rose told us that her son’s girlfriend was pregnant. As we walked home together after Mass, I congratulated her.

“She doesn’t really want the baby but I told her I’d care for him,” Rose declared defiantly. The parish held a baby shower for the new mother, her baby, and for Rose. Rose cared for the baby until his parents for over a year.

This is the way Christian community works. We didn’t know each others’ back stories. We came together for Bible study, a meal, and community. Friendship grew as time passed; we became involved in each others’ lives. We came with open hands, hearts, minds, arms. Community opened us further.

Little-by-little, we revealed our wounds and triumphs and ordinary experiences. The hidden became public because attentive to Christ, we loved as He loves us without knowing what we did.

This is the only love that can heal our shredded souls. Natural love just isn’t enough. We need strong doses of extravagant, gratuitous, I-don’t-deserve-it, I-have-no-claim-on-it love. This is how God raises us to new life from suffering.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Our new home is at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides a prompt on Thursday evening and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

The Absurdity of God’s Love For Us

Jason Theobald writes about God’s unfathomable love for us at Ignitum Today:
Isn’t this, then, the absurdity of the love that He has for us? He loves us – and it is a complete, total, incomprehensible love – despite the fact that we are unable to reciprocate that love in the way that His love demands. The Creator of the whole universe spoke us into existence and loves us with every moment, yet we spend much of that time fighting back, flailing away from His grip of love and choosing ourselves over Him repeatedly. The brilliance of Divine Love is precisely that, no matter we do, He loves us. No matter how far we fall, no matter what choices we make, no matter how often we rebel our God will forgive us and accept us, allowing us to come back into His arms like only a perfect Father can.
Read the rest of his post.

“The Steady Captain of the Ship”

Jennifer Dukes Lee writes about that which changes and He is eternal on her blog, Dispatches From A Good News Girl:

Maybe it’s because I have begun to see that when everything else changes, God stays the same. He’s the steady captain of this ship I’m on, and we’ve ridden through all kinds of waters and seasons, and the only thing that ever stayed the same was God. I see Him there, and He’s wearing the same sailor cap on His head that He wore when I was a little girl. He looks at me, and His face looks a little leathery – the look of a Man who’s been willing to stand in the heat for me.

Read the rest of the post here.

Five Minute Friday: Hold

“Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3)

Sometimes I just don’t know. Sometimes I’ve done my best to decipher everything, acknowledge my faults, rectify my mistakes, make things right and nothing works. Sometimes I come up against the tough reality, I’m not in control. God is. I am His to do with as He pleases.

That knowledge doesn’t change the circumstances. It changes me. It reminds me to hold fast to what I know to be the truth. It reminds me to persevere. It reminds me to breathe and trust that God isn’t going anywhere even as He sweeps me along in the heady rush of waves too powerful for me to escape of my own accord.

Sometimes I just can’t swim another stroke. Sometimes my body, heart and spirit are exhausted and it’s more than I can do just to beg God to hold my hand, hold me up, carry me along. Sometimes all I can do is hope that He will keep me faithful.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Our new home is at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides a prompt on Thursday evening and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

“For Your Joy”

On her blog, Heading Home, Kate Moatung writes about the joy God prepares for us:

I reluctantly told them it was almost time to go, but promised I would wait until they had finished digging the final channel of water.

My daughter immediately said, “Well, we won’t get to enjoy it, but maybe the next people who come will be able to!”  She then proceeded to etch into the sand with her fingertips, a message at the entrance to their sand compound:

“For your joy.”

I wished I’d brought my camera.

As I looked at the sand-carved letters, it struck me right away that she didn’t write, “For your enjoyment,” but rather, “For your joy.”

And I thought about how the Lord has done the very same thing.

He has constructed an intricate, elaborate creation for our joy.

Have you ever thought about that?

And He didn’t stop there.  Not only did He create this universe for our joy, but He has prepared an even greater place, eternity itself, for the forever joy of those who love Him.

Read the rest of Kate’s post.

Five Minute Friday: Whisper

small-voice1Usually, it’s not as loud as a whisper. Yes, there have been occasions when His voice is clear and sharp, as when He told me, “You were happy once. You will be happy again.” But that’s rare. Usually, there’s a wisp of feeling, a slight tingle, a tug, a passing thought.

Often it’s like the day I felt pulled to take a different route as I walked to the supermarket. “I like this way better,” I told God and continued on my original path. Then the squirrel darted in front of me. We both stopped. I waited for it to dart back into the garden from whence it had come. It quickly turned it’s head in all directions and darted into the street where it was hit by a car and killed.

“If only I had listened,” I mournfully told God. “I wouldn’t have seen it die, wouldn’t have startled the squirrel. Maybe it would still be alive.

It’s easy to ask God for what I want. More work is required when He speaks to me. I must take Him seriously. I must accept that even when it doesn’t seem to matter, if He’s pulling me one way, it matters. I must be humble enough to give way to the small whispers and tugs and tingles. I must be trusting enough to remember that, at times, God will shield me from witnessing the death of a squirrel because He’s not out to expose me to horrors and He cares for all of His creation.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Our new home is at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides a prompt on Thursday evening and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

The Luckiest Girl In The World: Another Excerpt

Georg read from my book of Struwwelpeter stories:

“So she was burnt with all her clothes,
“And arms and hands, and eyes and nose;
“Till she had nothing more to lose
“Except her little scarlet shoes;
“And nothing else but these was found
“Among her ashes on the ground.” (1)

“Paulinchin!” I crowed and bounced in my seat. “Papa reads that story to me in German!”

Carsten, Georg’s little brother, pressed close to the older boy’s side. “She burned up,” he said softly. His thumb inched into his mouth.

“She did!” I bounced again. “She played with matches and danced around the fire and burned up!” I bounced out of my chair and twirled until I fell on the floor in a dizzy heap. When the room stopped spinning, I looked up at Georg, “How do you know what those black marks on the page mean?”

“I can read,” he told me.

“How?” my voice was a long, breathless sigh.

“I learned to read in school,” he said definitively.

“When can I go to school?” I asked Marmar.

She started back a bit, creases came into her forehead, “When you’re five. I suppose…” I nodded and swaggered off to play with my wooden train.

“And how old are you?” the strange man asked me. I backed myself against Papa’s leg, my eyes opened wide.

“How old are you. Lysse?” Papa prompted.

“Five,” I held up three fingers.

“She’s three,” Papa corrected me.

I looked up at Papa’s face, “I’m five.”

Papa and the strange man exchanged glances. “She’s three,” Papa told him.

“I’m five!” I ran through the hall singing. “I’m five!”

Marmar called me into the sitting room. “Lysse, you know you’re three.”

“I’m five,” I insisted nodding my head.

“Why do you keep saying you’re five? You know you’re three,” Marmar voice was serious.

“Because,” I began. “You said I could go to school when I’m five.”

Marmar blinked, “Why do you want to go to school?”

“I want to learn to read,” I told her.

“Read?” she asked, her forehead crinkling.

“Georg learned to read at school. I want to know what those black marks in books are.”

Marmar pressed her lips together for a moment. Finally she said, “I’ll talk to your Papa. Go play now.” She sent me off with a pat on my bum.

“Lysse, this is Siobhan,” a young woman with curly red hair reached for my hand. She was taller than Marmar; red freckles covered her face. I kept my hands behind my back. Marmar lifted me from the floor. She spoke gently, “Siobhan has come to teach you to read.” I looked at the curly, red haired woman. Her brilliant blue eyes crinkled as she smiled. My eyes widened; the corners of my mouth lifted into a little smile.

(1) Heinrich Hoffman, Slovenly Peter or Cheerful Stories and Funny Pictures for Good Little Folks (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, n.d. (1900?), (http://germanstories.vcu.edu/struwwel/pauline_e.html)

The Luckiest Girl In The World

For weeks, I’ve struggled with writing chapter ten, the last chapter of the book. It’s important because it will help me hone the previous chapters. It’s important because, that’s where I’m heading. It’s also difficult. What do I write? How would I write it? Do I use vignettes and memories and letters to God. Do I write an essay? How do I sum up how God kept His promise: “You were happy once. You will be happy again.”?

In the midst of the madness my life has been, the answer finally came. Here’s a preview:

Beloved,

How did we get to this? How did we stop knowing what Polly knows? What Phronsie recalls without much help? That we’re Yours in a way that Z’s mice can never be his. Though Z breeds mice, they are part and parcel of the same creation as him. If Z decides to breed vicious mice, he doesn’t make the mice ex nihilo. He uses mice that You have already created and attempts to breed them so that they will be more vicious. The mice have no input either before or after Z breeds them. They have no ability to choose whether they will be vicious. And Z has only limited ability over them. Recessive genes would cause some percentage of the mice to be less vicious. But they would quickly be killed by the more vicious rodents or Z would remove them as failed experiments.

But for several years, I held the keys to the food cupboards as had Claire before me. It was a perfect opportunity to withhold food from boys who molested and beat me from five to thirteen. But I remembered being hungry, so hungry, I ate dry dog food and suffered horrible headaches. I cooked extra treats so that we’d all have snacks after school. I spent my own money to buy raisins and nuts and extra butter and flour. I cooked apples and pears from the garden and learned to make all sorts of dishes so that that two pounds of ground beef and some fresh vegetables became a delicious, filling meal. I spent my own money to feed them when we were out. It never occurred to me to starve them. There was still a hungry child inside me who remembered stealing groceries for them. No matter how much I detested them, I couldn’t let them be hungry. I could choose not to be vicious. Z’s mice can’t.

He’s angry with You. You’re not as he thinks You ought to be. You allow suffering. You also don’t respond as he thinks You ought: he was so upset that you didn’t give him even one blinding light experience. Communicating with You is difficult. It requires long, hard work.

“[I]f god [sic] is omnipotent, he is capable of making himself understood if he so chooses.” Z continued, “[T]he notion that we don’t hear due to some defect on our part is absurd. [W]e are his creation. [I]f he wants us to understand his voice, he will be understood.”

Z fails to imagine himself as one of his mice. Of course, he’d tell me, “I take good care of my mice. They’re fine.” But does he understand what the mice experience? He is focused on curing cancer. That’s fitting. Just as it’s fitting to use mice to reach his goal. But do the mice want to be stabbed? Do they want to be subjects of his experiments? Z would point out that curing cancer is more important and mice aren’t human. But he’d also agree, mice suffer. And, if he is honest, he knows when his mice are suffering. He knows by their behaviour; he’s spent years watching them. They communicate to some extent. So if Z is willing to spend the time and energy learning to communicate with rodents, why won’t he learn to communicate with You?

Stop CISPA
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