Bless The Country

Last week, a typhoon hit China. It was close to Wenzhou where I am at. Luckily, it turned hours before it hit the city, however, other cities in China were not as lucky. In Wenzhou, we had high winds and quite a bit of rain. There was no flooding and object flying around. After the threat of the typhoon had passed, I went back to work, and practically forgot about it.

Yesterday, I went to a small fishing village located on an inlet that leads to the ocean. I had been there the week before when the typhoon was just beginning to approach China. At the time, there were several shops along the warf where the boats were stationed. Yesterday, the shops were gone, completely destroyed by the wind and rain. In fact, there was still so much water in the inlet, that at night, when the tide comes in, it floods the beach again and fills it up to the point, where it looks like just another lake.

In Fuzhou, a place where Hidden Treasures Home, a home for orphaned special needs kids, is stationed, flooded. The water came up to about mid-calf. The small town in Fuzhou is used to a lot of rain, but this was more than they could work with.

I might not have been affected, but others were. Please continue to pray for this country and it’s people. They need the knowledge and wisdom revelation of the Lord’s love for them.

One thing I have learned since I have been here is that, the Chinese who are christians, rely on very little to believe the existence of God. When I was in Fuzhou, God said to me, “I love each and every person here. I tell them that every week. The continued revelation of my love for them is all they need to keep worshiping and loving me. Why then do you, does your country, need to lay out a new fleece every day to know my existence? Why do you need to see a miracle to love me?”

That hit me hard.

One of my students was showing me a bug bite on her arm, and I noticed a bruise right below it. I asked her if that was a bruise, and she said, “Oh yeah! My mom got mad at me and she–” she imitated her mom poking her in the arm repeatedly. I had two reactions to that. The first was: How could a mom do that to her child? The second was: Eh, Chinese culture. I hardly thought about it because my student laughed. It wasn’t until later when I thought about it more.

I tell you this story because I want to show you how disguised love is here in this culture. I have seen it displayed and expressed a hundred different ways. I’ve watched one mom coddle her two year old daughter, and I’ve seen one student who is constantly picked up from school by his sister, and I’ve heard one student say he has no choice in what boarding school he goes to in the U.S., and I’ve heard one student say she is majoring in Law because her father told her to, and I’ve seen a grandma feed and teach a five year old everything he knows, and I’ve heard a parent yell at a student for not listening in class. Finally, I’ve seen a student with a bruise on her arm, given from her mother.

I don’t know the why behind any of these. I do know honoring ones parents is crucial, and I know parents want their kids to do the best they can in school. The word love is hidden under the word respect and honor. The act of love is hidden under the act of correction and punishment.

It is no wonder that all a person here needs is the knowledge of Jesus’ love to know he exists.

For I so loved the world that I gave my one and only son that whosoever believes shall not parish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

I have never heard someone say, “I love you” here.

When God says it to me, I know I feel all warm and fuzzy and loved. I think to a person in China, hearing “I love you” is a miracle. Isn’t it sometimes the same way in America?

“I love you.” Let that roll off your tongue.

I can’t say that in the classroom, so I say, “I am so proud of you.” I don’t know if my students know what that phrase means, but I tell them that everyday. I’ll get close to them at the table, make it a one on one conversation, and say, “_____, you are so smart. I know you are, and I want you to show me. I am so proud of you.” Before they even displayed anything to be proud of, I was proud of them. I’ve seen it change several students in a matter of two weeks. Students who wouldn’t sit still or listen to me, I would tell them I was proud of them for sitting still for five minutes or for listening to me for five minutes.

My mate May, is my hero. I tell her everyday. She helps me with everything whether it is shopping, changing the class schedule, learning the names in class, translating, or cooking. I’ve said, “I love you” to her once, and she didn’t reply back, but now when we go anywhere, we sit together, she hugs me, and we talk comfortably. So that she isn’t uncomfortable, I say, “May,” at the end of the day, “you are my hero.” All she says is, “Oh, okay.” That is enough.

This country needs love. Above all, this country needs God’s love. Displays of God’s love. Words of God’s love. Gifts of God’s love.

This typhoon was just another eye opener for me.

I hope it is for you too.

Please continue to pray for them and for me.

么么哒。

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Speeches

At the end of every week, my students have to give a speech on something they did that week in my class. Since we just finished a week, we also just finished a round of speeches/presentations. At the end of class some of the students folded their written speech into a paper airplane, took it home, or gave it to me. I thought I would share a couple of the speeches. You can laugh and be in awe of my students just as much as I am. [Be warned: I have a a lot.]

TITLE: Dumplings

Dumplings are traditional Chinese food. They’re very delicious and healthy. They can make people strong.

If you are not Chinese, I can tell you how to make it. First, you make rice become flour. Then use some flour to make some wraps and pinch them until they are very thin, wow! Dumpling peels. Next, you put some meat, chives, cabbages, and eggs, and you can make a raw dumpling. Finally, you can cook them or stir-fry them, now you can eat the delicious food.

Many years ago, only Chinese could make dumplings. But now, many people can make all dumplings. They can make a lot of different kinds of dumplings like Dim Sum, Ravioli, Gnocchi, tortellini and Samosa. There are some cheese in it.

The dumplings can be many shapes. You can make it like rooster, Nian and football. They are very beautiful.

In Spring Festival, you can eat as much dumplings as you can. If you want to eat raw dumplings, Yes you can! But you mustn’t eat too much. If you eat too much, tomorrow, you well have stomach ache.

By, Simon.

This was probably the best written speech I had. Simon is from DT Club (Elementary-ish) and is moving into DT Elite (Middle School-sh) and has never learned (from DT) how to write. This was his first time as far as we were aware. I was so proud of him.

TITLE: Apple

We did a funny experiment called APPLE. Miss Beth is the greatest teacher in the world, I think. She use learnt plays idea to teach us APPLE.

Ding-Ling, Ding-Ling!

“Study time!” Miss Beth said.

“Hooray!” Everyone ran into the classroom. We looked at Miss Beth, and Miss Beth looked at Miss Beth.

“Hen, Hen.” Miss Beth took 25 cards and said, “Today we are going to learn about apples.” Then, she gave us her cards. We read her cards and spelled them. It is different than DT Club. DT Club is just playing and playing. That will be a bit bored.

I think have one day, I will go to DT Elite to enjoy my life.

By, Tiger.

Tiger is both a performer and a studious student. He never plays the games in class, but instead pulls out his other homework. I often have to make him STOP studying so he can relax and be a kid. When he gave his speech, he said a lot more than what was written. He acted out the whole thing and tried to change his voice to mimic mine. I absolutely loved how he told the story of what happened on his first day in Elite. I’m happy I got to be his teacher for that.

TITLE: None.

On Monday a “blonde chick” teacher is standing in front of class. That teacher surprised me because she is so funny, everyday she give us a surprise. But my favourite day is Monday. She teach us gravity.

We go to DT Club yard to play this game. and we drop balloon on Miss Beth’s nail hat. After this game Miss Beth is all wet, be we are happy.

By, Coco.

Coco is my best friend (although we haven’t gotten to forever yet). We play tickle wars (and I lose). She is so sassy and fun to talk with. What’s particularly funny about this, is I tried teaching her the American slang use of the word “chick” (referring to a girl) and she used it as an adjective rather than a noun. I laughed so hard. I also accidentally taught them the British spelling of the word favorite. It just didn’t look right without the ‘u’ in it.

TITLE: None

The first time I saw Miss Beth was Monday. I was so surprised to see a Michigan state person teach us English. Her hair is Blonde, eyes are blue. She is a beautiful woman.

On Monday we played a game called gravity, in the game uses water balloons to fight Miss Beth if you wanted to fight Miss Beth. You needed to klimb the ladder and say “gravity!”, and you could fight Miss Beth.

This is the best game I ever played.

By, Tina.

Tina is a twin, and she and her sister are the cutest. I think it’s funny how she said they “fought” me with water balloons. All they did was drop them on top of me. Haha. (Also, I don’t know if she actually did spell “climb” with a ‘k’ or not.

TITLE: A New Game

In this week. I met a new teacher and new friends in my class. We played a new game. I know a very famous scientist, Sir Isaac Newton. He found gravity. We played a game about gravity.

There’s a nail cross the hat. Our teacher Miss Beth wear the hat and sit under the Ladder then put the waterballons down. The balloon explode. The water came out.

This new game are very fun. And we learn a lot of things.

By, Kimiko

This speech warmed my heart more than anything. This class is SO quiet, so I’m happy she made new friends. I’m having such a hard time communicating with this class. They don’t talk to me and they don’t talk to each other. I’m thinking about just having a day where we don’t learn anything, but just hang out. My sister just sent me a bunch of conversation starters for them. I even brought in a music playlist to have a dance party while we cooked and ate dumplings. ALL THEY DID WAS SIT AND STARE AT ME. I was like, “Girls! Come eat.” They just sat there like they had never seen chopsticks in their lives. But a few them stated in their speeches that they were having fun. Hopefully I’m doing something right. Before I start everyday, and before I start every class, I ask God to help me teach them like how Jesus taught his disciples.

TITLE: None

On Tuesday, Miss Beth told us to use apple to make a story like this: There is a man, and his job is to sell fruit. He has a fruit stand. One day, a beautiful lady wlaks by. She buys an apple and falls in with love the man. Soon, they get married. But, the lady has a baby apple. The apple is big and red. The lady and the man grow the apple. Next year, there isn’t an apple tree, but there is a lovely girl. She has black hair and white skin. Everyone likes her. The lady gives the girl the name “SNOW WHITE”.

By, Amy.

An activity I had the kids do in class is take all of the apple vocabulary words (26) and try to draw a story using all of the words. This was one of those stories. (I cannot tell you how often they made Snow White and Sir Isaac Newton get married. Haha.)

TITLE: None

One Tuesday Miss Beth help us draw a fun story. Our picture is one day snow white, is make a apple juice apple pie—And snow white is find one worm and she go to a fruit shop by a seets (<– seeds), make a new farm. A five years ago, (I think it’s supposed to be five years later) Sir Isaac Newton come, and one apple is down on the His head, and He find the Snow White say, “The apple is down my head.” Then the snow white pick a apple give a Sir Isaac Newton, They are happy! These day we are happy, and the Miss Beth is happy too.

By, Mike.

The stories are so crazy! Mike is such a good kid.

TITLE: APPLE Slices

Monday was a fun day, because we ate apple slices! Miss Beth is a really good teacher. she gave us 27 apple slices. each person got 3 apple slices, and we had chocolate and peanut butter. It was so sweet like a candy apple! I put in my mouth. It was delicious and little bit salty, but I like it, because I like chocolate and peanut butter. I like apple slices every much!

By, Koya.

Koya is a hoot. The chocolate she is talking about it Nutella. Most of the students didn’t like the Nutella or the Peanut Butter or the Caramel they had to dip their apple slices in. It was either too salty or too sweet. I’m happy one of my students liked it!

TITLE: Planting Apple Seeds

On Tuesday we plant apple seed. Plant seed need special thing, that is moss. We put apple seeds in moss, and put some water in moss. When all thing done, we will put all thing in a bag.

The last thing I will tell you is this teacher is so fun.

By, Claudia

Claudia is one of my favorite students! I met her before summer camp started and she won me a stuffed animal from a crane machine. She is one of two students who wrote about preparing apple seeds for planting.

TITLE: None

My favourite things in the lesson was eating the “Dumpling”.

In the Dumpling sauce was ‘olive oil’ ‘garlic’ ‘onion’ ‘tomatoes’ ‘salt’ ‘pepper’ ‘spicey pepper’ and cilantro. We ate the “Dumpling” with chopsticks, it was so good!

By, Joshua.

“Spicy Pepper” is cayenne pepper. (Also, I just realized I taught them how to spell spicy wrong…. oops.) Eating and the water balloons was everyone’s favorite activity.

TITLE: yesterday

I am so excited because we make dumplings! It so delicious. dumplings have many different kind. You know dumpling is my favourite food many teacher love it too! JT like dumpling very much! How can we make dumpling? First we make some jams. We take olive oil garlic onion tamatoes salt pepper spicey pepper and Cilantro poot all together and cook it. “Smell so good!” children said. Then we cook dumplings. Now most excited time start. Now we eat dumplings! Great! All the childen are happy! I did not eat dinner. My got! So delicious! Have a good day!

By, Sam.

Sam is so funny and his spelling errors might be funnier. Let me lend you some translations: Tamatoes = Tomatoes. Spicey Pepper = Cayenne Pepper. Poot = Put. Childen = Children. I’m happy he tried though! There was a lot of words he crossed out on his paper until he found the proper spelling. He never asked me how to spell anything (which is probably wise) and tried it on his own. I’m so proud of him.

TITLE: fun day

Every day. In the evening I will go to DT elite summer camp. I love Miss beth’s class. Because it is fun!

In Miss Beth’s room we made apple trees. ate dumpling….. I loved making Indian Curry Dip. because it is so so so yummy!

I help May put Cilantro in the Indian Curry Dip. Selina helpped May put tomatoes in the Indian Curry Dip! and many people put in many things: olive oil. Garlic. Onion. Tomatoes. Salt. Pepper. and spicey pepper.

“Oh!!! it is delicious!” I said, I like Miss. Beth’s class! It is fun.

By, Alice.

Honestly, the more I see ‘spicy’ spelled as ‘spicey’ I cringe and feel ashamed. Haha. Alice is sweet. I’m happy she enjoyed eating. That’s everyone’s favorite thing. They love it when I tell them we’ll be cooking in class.

Finally, here is the last one. The ALL TIME favorite activity.

TITLE: “GRAVITY!”

In this week, we do a lot of things. but my favourite just have one. it is — gravity.

That day we are talking about apple, have one and is “Sir Isaac Newton” so Miss Beth talk the deed of Newton, but somebody didn’t know gravity, so teacher let everybody to go garden and do this experiment: one teacher sit on a chair under a ladder, wear a raincoat and a cap with a nail.

So teacher tell me get a waterballon climb on that ladder, and let water balloon fall and shout “GRAVITY!” so fun!

That was amazing! I hope we can do more experiment like this at next week.

By, Oscar.

Oscar is another favorite student. He is always talking and disrupting class. He makes the hour fun, that’s for sure.

While all of the students wrote about similar things, it was all from their perspective and so cute. One girl, Ada, described the water balloon popping as a water flower. And Leslie winged his speech without writing anything. He was so nervous but did so well, and at the end of his speech, unsure of how to end it he said, “And finally, our teacher Miss Beth is very beautiful. Thank you.” Then he rushed to his seat. I think I had three students who didn’t give a speech because one of them had a broken ankle, another was in Hanzhou for the week and didn’t have anything prepared, and the third got really sick to his stomach thinking about standing in front of everyone. All in all they did well, and I was/am so proud of them.

Dream Treaders by Wayne Thomas Batson – Book Review

Wayne Thomas Batson is my favorite YA author. He weaves Christian virtues into his books so well, one would really have to look for them to find them. Not to mention he wrote a pirate book, and that right there had me hooked, but he also talks with his readers. When I first read his books, I stalked his blog and e-mailed him, and he always replied back to me. To this day there is an interview on his blog that I conducted with him for a school project. Anyway, that’s my spiel on the author. Now time for this book.

At first I had a difficult time getting into it, mainly because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. Once I did though, I fell in love. The story is about Aiden who can, as the title denotes, tread dreams. He is one of three Dream Treaders and his job is too make sure the dream scape doesn’t mold with reality. If that happened, no one would be able to separate the two from the other. In short, the world would go insane. So here is Aiden, an appointed Dream Treader from basically God himself, and then there is a group of other kids who have some how (through a sciency way) learned how to walk in their dreams. This is bad. This creates bad things. Now, not only is Aiden trying to prevent dreams from becoming reality, but now he has to try and convince these other students to leave as well. Should we add more to his plate? Probably not, but Batson did. The other two Dream Treaders have been kidnapped by our main antagonist: The Nightmare Lord. (He’s evil. Stay away.) No one has ever been able to get close to the Nightmare Lord, but Aiden did, and Aiden cut off his horn. But now, Aiden has to take down the Nightmare Lord for good to save his allies. He might just have to do it alone, or he might just have to ally himself with the same students he’s trying to get out of the dream world, and it all has to be done before the clock strikes twelve.

Honestly, there is so much good character development. Like I said, once I began making time to read the book, I couldn’t put it down. The plot line moves along nicely, and I never felt bored with the development. I recommend this for any age to read. Probably not younger than eight, but upwards of that is good. It really brought me to think about dreams: how to work them and what they mean. Trust me when I say, this is a book you need to pick up.

Prayer is Grievous

Prayer

I want to encounter this idea that prayer is grievous.

Thursday night I went to this dance performance. There was one dance that was about prayer. It was beautiful and I cried. In this dance, there are four girls passionately praying. They are pouring everything they have into sending up incense before the Lord. Every so often in the dance a girl would “pass out” and the other three girls would pull her up and they would continue praying. As I watched that, I felt the Lord just speak to me, “Prayer is grievous, but despite that, it is the most important thing you could do.”

When I heard that, my reaction was, “Grievous? Lord, I think you’ve got the wrong word. Prayer is a battle. It’s where we fight. I mean, come on. Use a word that actually makes people want to pray. Grievous? Lord, I’ve been to funerals, and grief isn’t pretty.”

What did he say back? “Neither is battle. In theory, fighting sounds great because it’s a call to action, but when people start to bleed, they back down and leave. Prayer is grievous.”

I still didn’t think that was the right word. But as I’ve been praying about (not grievously,  I might add), I am realizing that God couldn’t be more correct. (As if God could ever be wrong.)

I am reminded of the most grievous prayer prayed in the Bible:

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olive; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if though be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

Luke 22:39-45KJV

There a few things I notice in this:

  1. I have never prayed so hard that I sweat let alone sweat blood.
  2. I have never seen an angel come minister to me in prayer. The Holy Spirit has revealed things to me in dreams and given me clarity and revelation through scripture, but I’ve never actually seen an angel.
  3. WHAT A LAZY BUNCH OF FRIENDS HE HAS!, but I must admit, I’ve fallen asleep on Jesus in prayer too.

What grievous prayer that was for Jesus to pray. He knew he had to die for my sins, and yet being human, he still asked God for another way, yet being fully God, he still asked for the Father’s will to be done.

I know how I pray. I either pray for only my will (98% of the time) or I’m only praying for God’s will, which isn’t bad, but I don’t tell him the desires of my heart. I’m either telling him to give me everything I want, or I’m saying that the wants he has put in me he doesn’t care about.

Let’s look at Anna:

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscour and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

Honestly, if I was married for seven years and then lost my husband, I would not have remained that faithful to God. Heck, I get upset about a little thing and I tell God I’m gonna take a break from being a Christian for a day. There are absolutely times I don’t want to live in the Joy of the Lord. There are times I don’t want to be slow to anger and quick to listen. I’m not saying Anna didn’t have those days, I’m saying the Bible says she didn’t depart from the temple. Me? I go to the prayer tower and take a nap. Anna? She is fasting and praying night and day.

I’ve never dated in my life, and I’m having a hard time trusting God to fulfill those needs that a man is meant to fulfill that I’ve never experienced before but crave. Anna was married! Then he died, and now she marries her life to God, the temple their house. I’m not Anna, but boy is she a role model.

Let’s take it back a little further.

And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is they faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Lamentations 3:18-25

Here’s a little background to Lamentations if you don’t know what’s happening in Jerusalem: mothers are eating their babies due to starvation, their armies are destroyed, everything has been taken from them, and Jeremiah has the audacity to say God’s mercies are new every morning let alone their souls are humbled?

How many times have I chosen the Valley of the Shadow of Death? How many times have I chosen to quit when I couldn’t see my salvation? Honey, it’s not about what we see, it’s about what we hope for by faith (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is our evidence of what we cannot see, and by God, Jeremiah was believing a lot of things he didn’t see.

Now to Genesis:

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day…. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, they name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (Penuel): for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Genesis 32:24, 29-30

How grievous of a night it must have been for Jacob to actually wrestle with God. I mean, I fight God a lot, but I’ve never seen him face to face. I’ve never even heard an audible voice.

Also, I wonder if anyone called Jacob out on his comment of being alone. I believe that just goes to show that in our most mountainous situations, God is with us whether he is comforting us or wrestling with us.

Now, to Abraham. The Lord is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Genesis 18:23-26

Ya’all! Abraham talked God down to ten! Who wants to risk a bargain with God? (I mean, I do it all the time, but it never works.)

I get this doesn’t look grievous. “Elizabeth, you’re getting off point.” OKAY, if you found out, your only living relatives were going to die, your most beloved brother (although Lot was Abraham’s cousin) was going to die in fire and brimstone, would you not also grieve? The significance in this though is that Abraham drew near to God. A voice echoing from the heavens, and Abraham drew near. I don’t see that a lot in the modern age. I see people who hide and shut down. It’s time for our people to become a people who draw near to God.

Guys, it’s all over the Bible. Most of Psalms is a grievous prayer.

Save me oh God for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep water, where the floods overflow me….But I am poor and sorrowful: let they salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:1-2, 29-30

Look at Judges. People even got petty with their prayers, what with Gideon testing God with a fleece. The audacity people had in the Bible.

  1. Jesus politely asks God for a way other than the cross, and sweats blood.
  2. Anna marries her soul to the temple of God, whom she did not yet know was walking the earth.
  3. Jerusalem is dying, still declaring hope, and on occasion blaming the Lord for their own sins.
  4. Jacob just doesn’t care and full on wrestles God. (Even if he didn’t know it was God right away, who just randomly decides to wrestle a stranger on the mountain?)
  5. Abraham draws near to God and bargains with him.
  6. David is always going back and forth between praying for salvation and thanking God for it.
  7. Gideon has the guts to test God.

How do you present your requests? Have you yet married God, and dedicated yourself to the Gospel? Is the Lord your hope even when you can’t see? What’s your Penuel? Where’s your blessing? Have you drawn near to God? Have you seen your salvation? What’s your fleece?

Prayer is grievous, but

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Prayer is grievous, but the Lord is faithful and does not break his promises.

It’s Killing Me

I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole, and it is a long way to the bottom.

The lady in front of me is tall. Her hair is white from both age and stress. Clearly, at this moment, she is the rabbit. Although, these halls are so familiar, I feel that this is my hole. Everything from the waiting room to the computer in the small alcove are all mine. I have them all precariously placed on the ledges of my hole, distant memories begging to be reviewed. Everything is about to crumble.

I see me, about seven, twisting and turning in the green and gray patterned chair, stalling on the next math equation my uncle is begging me to finish. I’ve been doing school in the waiting room for so long; I’m tired of playing with all the toys set out for kids ages two to five. Aside from my sister who is too young to care, I am the only one who hasn’t been allowed to see Grandma. I have been told what she looks like, but I can’t imagine her with tubes hooked up inside of her.

I want to drink the elixir that makes me shrink. If I could disappear I would, but I turn right, following the rabbit’s quick paced steps. To the left is that computer and straight ahead is the nurse’s station. To the left of the desk are two halls I’ve been down a hundred times. I close my eyes and remind myself to breathe. I don’t remember drinking any shrinking potion, but now it feels like my lungs can’t or won’t expand to their full capacity. Now I want to eat the cake and grow. Right now I would give anything to grow to climb out from this place.

We are at the nurses station. Please, turn right.

We turn left.

Please don’t take the right hall.

We take the left.

I am led into the ICU. There is no secret key I have to retrieve or keyhole I have to climb through. The rabbit steps right up, and the doors open at her presence. The place smells heavily of antiseptic. I want to tuck tail and run.

“Here we are,” says the rabbit.

I wish we were late.

I see me in my black turtle neck. (I hated that shirt.) I pause in the doorway, not sure if it is safe to walk in. There’s the tube in her throat, and she is barely aware of what is going on around her. None of the descriptions mom gave me before could have prepared me for this moment. The moment my lungs stop and my heart can decide whether to speed up or to slow down. I’ve skipped to the end of the book, and before me is the jabberwocky.

“Hello, Grandma,” I say. She turns her head toward me, and she moves her mouth, and a frog croaks instead. I grab her hand, and rub my thumb in circles. Her skin is wrinkled, bruised, and feels like velvet. I look up and smile. “I love you too.”

“She was t-boned,” the rabbit says. “This is her second time being in a coma, and she doesn’t want to be revived. She doesn’t want to fight to live.” I muster my strength and respond back in a controlled voice. The conversation is short. It is clear I am eager to leave. The trauma of being in the hospital for eight years struggles to resurface. The memories try to cave in and burry me alive.

I am relieved once I leave the rabbit hole, this not-so-wonderful land

Dream Big

gabby-orcutt-74607-unsplash

This is one of my favorite poems. I don’t know how many times I would tell my mother all of the crazy things I planned to do. She would get all skeptical and look at me out of the corner of her eye while she cooked. She never discouraged me though (maybe about becoming a world famous singer.. kind of gotta be able to hit a note for that one). All she ever told me was to dream big, and so that’s what I did. I dreamed bigger and bigger every night.

Mamma always said, “Dream big, baby.”

So I did.

I dreamed that one day I would be happy.

Now here I am,

And I can’t imagine being sad.

“Dream big, baby.” Mamma always said, “Dream big.”

IHOP Mom – Narrative

This is based on a lot of truth I heard as I talked to IHOP Mom–rather, as IHOP Mom talked to me. She inspired this short piece, and is the star of this narrative.

IHOP Mom walks by and swiftly removes everything from the tables. She had been around for seven years and isn’t about to make a mistake on her job. She is fast and efficient. She loves the students who come in during their freshman year, and she watches them grow and graduate from the college down the road. She calls me baby, and says she heard me reading. While she talks to us, their is a smile that lights up her face. It carves crow’s feet around her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. When she turns around I watch the smile fall from her face. She is focused on the work ahead, and the long night she has to get through. After she is done here she still has a home to go to. There are other people to feed, not just random strangers and college students that wander in past curfew. She has a family too: grown children and grand babies that require her attention and stretched smile. She is worn thin, but she is far from frail. She is a strong cornerstone. She is someone who remains consistent in the passing students with last minute homework and the police officers that come through the doors for a late night coffee pick-me-up. She is here at two in the morning, and it will be a while yet before she goes to bed.

Celebration of Discipline – Book Review

This was honestly such a good book. (And if I’m being completely honest, I finished it at the beginning of January. Oops.)

Richard J. Foster so excellently takes the reader on a journey of spiritual maturity all while keeping it–as Pastor Beth Jones would say–basic. It was easy to understand, instructional, relatable, and very simple. Foster explained fasting, prayer, solitude (or silence), simplicity, celebration, and other disciplines in a way that made it easy for new and old Christians to begin inserting in everyday life. I suppose “easy” isn’t the right word, as we are talking about discipline. Any discipline is difficult and takes commitment (which really is a discipline in itself). I loved the book so much, I can guarantee you I annotated the pages. I underlined whole paragraphs, wrote notes in the margins, and exclamation marks in areas that really meant a lot to me.

One of the best things about the book is it is completely scripture based. It is not Foster’s ideas or opinions, but what he has seen in his life, in others’ lives, and read in the Bible. Jesus is Foster’s prime example, and he mentions him a lot.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is trying to do monthly resolutions, better their life, or just needs a new revelation from the Lord. As I said, this is good for the new Christian and the “seasoned” Christian. Get it. Annotate it. Tell me what you think!

My Forest

I am really pushing it on this one post a day thing.

Here is a poem I wrote at three in the morning back in December of 2015.

 

Green dollar bills

Silver nickels

Copper pennies

Rusted leaves

Dying trees

Where soul isn’t currency

 

I sold my heart for a little bit of love

And I traded my mind for little bit of trust.

All I had left was my soul

Covered in dust

Blackened by bruises

Hours of untamed lusts

Hidden in corners

Covered by night

Untouched by light

Breathing

But not living

Hoping

But not dreaming

Slowly

Losing

Sanity

 

outdated

over-rated

Just say it

Metal buckets

Molded books

Fraying shirts

Ripped hems

Muddy boots

Broken hearts

Shattered glass

Shredding statements

To pretty nothings

 

I am nothing

Not worth keeping

Not worth selling

Not for petty green slips

That forfeits morality

pays for pleasure

gives a sense of stability

making for silence

That creates cruelty

 

No longer

I will not listen to your kisses

I will not bed on your roses

I will not willingly lie to cover your inconsistencies

I will not compromise my worth

For your sake of guilt

That you built

On zero monetary value

 

Take your green bills

Silver nickels

And copper coins

Ruin your leaves

Kill your trees

But sure as hell stay away from my forest

I grew it from broken pieces of mismatched hearts

I watered it with mismatched blood types

And I built it with scattered dreams

Cracked trust funds

And my own damn hands

 

I’ve already lost my heart

And I’ve already lost my mind

I will not lose my soul

It cannot be sold

I will fight with desperation

Searching for restoration

Grasping for redemption

In a place of desolation

 

It’s not pretty

But it’s all I’ve got

And I will fight for everything I have

With everything I have

I will fight