Friday, October 30, 2009

Around

A lot of reality setting in about how much suffering there is in the world. I am one of those people who painfully realizes that there is a crisis every minute of everyday happening somewhere. Sometimes we are only made aware on the evening news. Sometimes it is closer to home.

Yesterday I received an email from a friend that said simply this, "I hurt, please pray." Those four words crushed my heart because I know that she normally has more words than that. The fact that she didn't have more strength or soul to type more than that makes me wonder if she was sobbing at the computer keyboard. Is she feeling hopeless? I prayed for her twice after that, and again today. Crisis. Pain. If it isn't your turn today, it will be soon enough.

Today I receieved a text message from another dear friend. I'll leave out names, but the text said this "I am at the hospital with my sister in law. She is 26 weeks pregnant and the baby died. They are inducing labor. It's horrible. Prayers solicited." I was driving when I received that text. My heart sank. Same day. Different crisis. This one entitled, "tragic sudden loss". How on earth does the world continue to spin when such tragic losses are taking place? It numbs me.

This past week, dear friends of mine are vacationing in Hawaii. The husband had a serious accident in the ocean. Instead of flying home, they are in the hospital in Hawaii as the husband recovers from surgery involving his back and neck. They don't even know yet when they can come home. They are still not totally sure about permanent damage, etc. Vacation - crisis.

There is so much more to life than packing for Zimbabwe, Halloween parties, my new crock pot and the piece of furniture in my garage that I am refinishing. I stated earlier this week that I feel light and that I can carry some weight, some burden. I'm thankful for the requests I have received and have already prayed for all of you. What amazes me....the 3 stories I shared above are from people who didn't even know I was lighter.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reap

I looked out the window in the kitchen, standing 2 feet away from Asher as he intently focused on his coloring project at the kitchen table. I said "look at that beautiful tree in our front yard Asher, it is turning all red and it makes me SOOOO happy!". Asher replied, "It makes me so happy that you are my mommy!"

Shawn has given me about 5 hugs since he woke up from his nap 5 minutes ago. 1 hug per minute. That's a pretty huge return on my investment even if I do say so myself.

A couple of days ago Spencer woke up and walked into the kitchen and kissed my cheek. He quickly asked if I would make him some cinnamon toast, to which I readily agreed. His response: "I love having a mom!".

I am exhausted and out of style, but I wouldn't trade this gig for anything. I am reaping too many sweet rewards.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Carry You, Carry Me

I'm willing to carry some extra weight....some burden, if you will. I love to talk to the Lord. I just do. My best conversations with Him take place in my car, taking in the most beautiful scenery. He leads me to thoughts, convictions and revelations that He wouldn't if I didn't just take the time to talk to Him.

Weaving in and out of winding roads, praising out loud, somehow manages to straighten my path. I adore that time. It is precious to me.

I feel light after another successful real estate closing today. I feel light and safe in the travels I have ahead. I feel light in some of the decisions around me that need to be made. I don't feel like every single weight in my life has been lifted, but I somehow feel light enough to carry you...if you need carried.

Please feel free to leave me a comment here or send me a direct email and let me know if you have some heaviness I can help you lift up to the Lord in prayer. And please don't hesitate...I might need y'all to carry me someday.

Love and prayers,
Melissa

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm His Tree. He's my apple.

For those of you who don't know me, please sit down. Wherever you are standing with your iphone or whatever gadget you are using to read this from my blog, from facebook, or on the front page of the New York Times (okay, that was overly dramatic).... just make sure you are sitting. Many of you are going to find this repulsive and difficult to believe. Your opinion of me, if it was anything even somewhat positive, is about to be shattered.

I have a problem. I'm struggling with a 30 year addiction. Okay, about 35 years if I'm being honest. I have always managed to hide my addiction when I felt the powers of judgement might fall upon me. See, I can convince anyone that I don't have a problem. I can hide it. I can refrain in certain company. Let's just say, I've learned how to live with my addiction and how to get away with it.

But recently, I have fallen deeply ashamed that I have passed my addicition onto some of my children. Shawn is affected the most. See, he has the same love for rush of this nasty little habit as I do. For now, he is just pretending. He hasn't mastered the art, skillfully, so he fakes it. But I am well aware that someday in the not too distant future, he could lose control and even display his addiction in public. Maybe at school. Perhaps while we are having a sweet play date with other, non-addicted friends.

It is shameful. I am ashamed.

Ok, not really. I think it is hilarious. Here is Shawn, attempting to belch at dinner. Ok, there.

Enjoy the video below! (If you are catching this on a reader, you'll have to go to www.untilthejasperwalls.blogspot.com And then if you dare to be brave enough, share with me something that your child does that makes you giggle, even though it would likely shock everyone else. G'head. Be brave. I'm dying to know!

video

Next up....teaching Shawn how to say "excuse me".

Friday, October 23, 2009

have a heart

i heart my boys
i heart my friends
i heart the hubs
i heart the church
i triple heart my bible
i heart the combination of peanut butter & chocolate in one delectible dessert
i heart colorado
i heart horses
i heart reading and writing
i heart family
i heart serving

go ahead - have a heart

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Who Knows?

We all believe in authenticity here, right? My past transformed me. It continues to. This blog is a diary. An excavation. An unearthing and a revelation. It doesn't have to be remarkable or memorable. I just want it to be real.

When I was approximately 19 years old, the process of my first divorce began. He was the boy I broke up with my boyfriend to marry, because I was carrying his child. He was my old boyfriend. My new boyfriend was stunned. Either way, this was the path I chose. We sat in our rented farmhouse outside of Cookeville, Tennessee. Shag carpet, lousy heating and air. Mice. $210 per month. He told me he was leaving and I continued to watch TV. He would have left right then because I didn't fight for him to stay with me and our 9 month old baby. He didn't have a car. The next day, I drove him 90 miles away to his parents house.

So be it.

Soon, baby Spencer and I were living in public housing in Cookeville. I collected foodstamps and was on the WIC program. Spencer went to government subsidized daycare while I went to work at the video store. Soon, the electricity was cut off and the eviction notice came. The $800 Visa card had been maxxed out at Walmart. My car had been driven for 2 years without an oil change. Were it not for the love of that sweet baby Spencer, who knows what I would have tried, where I would have ended up. Who knows?

I have no memory of moving out of that apartment. In fact, other than Spencers tiny room with the little crib, and the view out of the top story window down onto the parking lot and the dumpster, I only recall listening to Edie Brickell and Wilson on my radio. And singing alot.

Fast forward to my next apartment in Nashville. Spencer & I shared a room. Mauve carpet...it was so en vogue at the time. Spencer might have been 2. Maybe 3. I had a job, although I don't recall which one it was at the time. I have no idea how I survived financially. I'm pretty sure I didn't.

One night on the TV, after being glued to the stories of the starving children in Africa with large bellies and flies on their eyeballs.....I sponsored a child. I could barely feed the baby I had in our one-bedroom apartment but I sponsored a little boy in Zambia. I could not wait to receive the information in the mail with his photo and a story about him. When it arrived, it went on my fridge. I have no idea how long I paid to sponsor him. I think it was several months before I finally had to back out. It broke my heart. I cannot remember his name. I have no idea what my backing out did to his life, or if someone else sponsored him right away. Who knows?

I know that I have been passionate about Africa, orphans, and starving children ever since. I can recall dreaming about going to Africa, way back then....but like the prospect of me flying to the moon feels impossible today, so did an African encounter then. It was never going to happen. Never. No doubt about it.

Stepping my middle class white girl feet onto devastated African soil last year was absolutely a miracle taking place in my physical life as much as it was a miraculous God-injected enlargement of my spiritual heart. Through His nudge and His faithfulness, without (me) ever planning a moment of that to take place in my life, He created my African encounter. I met children and children met me. Amazing things took place. What if I hadn't gone? Who knows?

If I could redesign my life today, map out my future and follow the steps, those steps would lead to Africa. My family and I would reside there and we would love on the village around us. We would share love and food. We would praise. We would teach. We would nurse wounds and heal hearts. But I'm not in control of my life. That might not be Gods' plan. Who knows?

The Lord knows.

Zimbabwe - 17 more days

Monday, October 19, 2009

The New Thing

There is a new thing going on with Shawn. He is being....well, it's hard for me to come right out and tell you this, but the bottom line truth of the matter is that, well, while he is adorable and loving and sickeningly hysterical, he can actually be....quite....b.a.d. There, I said it. He is being bad!

Shawn likes to hit, if he isn't experiencing total bliss in the moment. Now, he doesn't hit me or Joe, and to my knowledge he hasn't punched out any friends at school as of yet. But he likes to hit his brother and the dog. He also likes to make an intentional mess with his spoon and yogurt. And he likes to pull on the cords that operate the window blinds. He enjoys removing every toy after I've put them away, as well as he enjoys eating paper and crayons.

Shawn does enjoy a little romp in the dog's water bowl, and thoroughly basks in the glory of an awesome splash in the bathtub, especially when the water covers the walls, or.... m.e.

Shawn likes to profess that he is hungry by stating "BITE" and then adamantly refusing all options. Shawn enjoys saying "no" when I claim "yes".

Shawn likes to remove the bookmark out of my Bible. (ooooh....that one really irks me!).

All of this to say that I have a head strong little boy who apparantly knows what he wants in life. Given his mental challenges, I find this quite refreshing. I find it to be borderline delightful. I also find it comical to challenge this little one to time out. He does not like the time out chair and mommy's fussy voice. He is not a fan of the words, "Shawn that is B.A.D. behavior". In fact, he shoves a thumb in his mouth, tucks his chin down to his neck, hides his eyes behind his unfashionably long bangs, and pouts like there is no tomorrow." That pitiful sad lip and those painfully remorseful eyes kill me. I look at him and don't really know whether to laugh or to cry. I don't want him to feel hurt feelings for even a moment, but I want him to learn.

He sits there and remains completely quiet until I pose the question, "Shawn, can you tell Mommy (or Asher or whoever) you are sorry? He flashes me a huge smile, everytime, and says something that doesn't even remotely resemble "sorry"....and then we kiss and hug.

I love to be his warm hug after a moment of unpleasant consequences. I love to see that he has such an active personality and a strong character of spirit, and that he can even tolerate reprimand without utterly sobbing. He surprises me. He amazes me. He makes my heart leap.

Looking forward to the next new thing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stacking Bricks

My past and future experiences in Zimbabwe are officially racing through my blood and beating with extra power in all 4 chambers of my heart. I'm obsessed. Cannot get Zim out of my mind.

The experiences from last year flood my memory like a wave. There are specific children I cannot wait to see. They will not understand when they see me and I am sobbing because I miss them and love them. Especially the ones who do not even speak English. They will most likely remember all of my hugs and kisses, because that is what I am famous for. There is one little boy I can smell. I can smell him right now. His dirty hair and skin. His unclean sweater. I can smell him right this minute and could cry a river. When I held Shawn this morning in my garden chair, I could literally sense that in a 3 weeks, with the same love, I'll hold others. It is bizarre to say the least. But it is a love God gave me. That is all I know. And I'm thankful for it. Love in abundance.

My future experiences are meeting me in my sleepy dreams. I have no idea what special things will occur on this trip. I cannot predict, but my mind is working overtime in the expectation that I will come home more filled than I could imagine. I keep remembering the letter that I received via email, from Sarah in Zimbabwe who told me "I remember everything you told me about God". What if our conversation really made a difference in our life? What if God really worked through me to reach her? My heart could pound right out of my chest this very moment. I want more of THAT! Oh God....please.

I am continuing to raise more and more, almost having raised enough funds to sponsor every teenager in the Rose of Sharon Orphange Home, to go to a Christian camp in December. If you want to sponsor a child to go to this camp, the cost is $80. Please contact me and I'll let you know how. It is going to be an amazing, life changing, faith increasing experience for every child. I just wish I could go to camp with them in December to witness the immeasurable increase in their hope and faith. This is what they need at this time in their lives....as they are about to be too old to stay in the orphanage home. When a teen leaves their only home and venture out onto the streets of Zimbabwe...there is little hope.

So, for now....I dedicate as much snuggle time with Asher and Shawn as I can before I leave. Last year, God curbed the intensity of my withdrawals from them. He will again. But I still feel bricks stacking up in my heart and the dreaded anticipation of those tearful goodbye kisses.

Zim babies....I'm coming soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Making Sense of This

You can wrestle in the darkness of night with God, but the Son always comes up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A long overdue Video - Beware of Super Cuteness!

video

Much cuteness! I love the way Shawn earnestly speaks "no" when asked if he is ready for a nap? So cute. Did I mention, cute? Because, truthfully, "cute" doesn't even really begin to describe the situation.

oh.my.gaw

Yummers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Want Vs. Want to Want

What I want: Lots of real estate sales and large paychecks.
What I want to want: Only the work and income that I can use to glorify God.

What I want: A gorgeous car with all the bells and whistles that is super fun to drive.
What I want to want: A safe, sensible, practical car that is not going to draw attention to me.

What I want: A one level home with a massive yard in a quiet community with not too much space, but that is aesthetically beautiful to me.
What I want to want: Whatever home, in whatever community that God can use my family to minister to our neighbors.

WIW: My friends to love and adore me.
WIWTW: My friends to love and adore Jesus.

WIW: More talents and gifts.
WIWTW: For God to use my current talents and gifts to serve Him and make others want to know Him personally.

WIW: To chase after my earthly desires, to satisfy MY flesh.
WIWTW: To chase after God alone, to satisy only Him.

**Please leave a comment, and if you are comfortable, tell me one thing you want vs. what you should want to want. Please don't be shy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Weep With The Willow

Those cheeks. They are rosy and adorned with long lush dark eyelashes. They are plump and soft and smooth and I love them so much. Those eyes, when they contemplate and process with a focus on the inner thoughts....they look so wise, mature and sincere... but alas, they belong to a 4 year old so they are most likely only one of those things.

His lashes, so gorgeous, rest across the top of cheeks like a weeping willows' branches resting softly on the ground.

He will be 5 soon. I have no time machine. This is bad news.

He won't always be so excited to tell me every detail of his day. There will be a time when I will have to purchase heavy duty machinery to pry it out of him, or I will have to refine my skill at covering up the fact that I am dying to know...anything. Or therapy.

I ache for youth to stick around.

I grieve growth and separation.

Ouch.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

I know he is still little today. And there are things to enjoy and relish in the witness of his every day. But I can still whine if I want to.

Oh, I weep with the willow.

Asher, I love you my little Tater Tot. You rock my world.



Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Birthday

Yesterday I turned 39. I was showered with love from my family! Asher woke up singing Happy Birthday...and he repeated it several times. He also made me 8 birthday cards, with a prominent dinosaur theme. Spencer brought me a beautiful bouquet of miniature pink roses with one larger pink Gerbera Daisy in the center. *Happiness*! Spencer also made me a cake and let Asher help him decorate it. Joe wore his chef coat in our kitchen and prepared a special dinner, and also brought me flowers. I received gifts....but mostly, I received love. I also worked all day, but that is just a minor ugly detail. Oh, and cards galore! I love getting snail mail, and e-cards. It is so nice to be celebrated.

Now my hubs is currently carrying out the stomach virus theme we've been playing in our family all week. Poor thing.... today is his only day off, and he is sick. The boys are going on day 3 without a bath, and I am walking around with unbalanced hair on my legs, as I forgot to shave one of my legs on Saturday.... it's a lovely sight.

So, in 364 more days I will be 40 years old. And I am praying that God will bless me with those days. And I'm praying each of those days is filled with smoochies from my boys and deep belly laughter. And I'm praying that I love Jesus more and more with each aging day.