Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I've been thinking about the rhythm of life quite a bit the last few days.  Mostly because I've had some enforced 'down time' since I just spent the last seven days in bed with illness.  As I got more and more frustrated  by my inability to just get over being sick, I realized that even though I was laying in bed I wasn't 'resting'.  

Steve's brother and his wife are here for a visit.  This morning we were talking about how different my sister-in-law's life as a young child in this part of the world was, particularly in how they got from place to place.  When they would go back and forth to New Zealand they got on a boat.  They had weeks of 'down time' where they got to enjoy themselves as a family and just have fun on the ship.  There were lots of activities for children on board too so her parents got to rest as well.

While they obviously had other things that were much harder than the way we get to live now, they lived life at a different pace.  Perhaps a more healthy one.  Today you say your 'goodbyes' in one country and before you even have time to ponder the change you've landed in another where completely different sights, sounds, and smells assault your senses.  You instantly expect yourself to engage with the new place when your mind still haven't quite left the old.

I'm the sort of person who looks forward to 'down' times.  I like to do fun, restful things and spend quality time with those I love.  Yet each break I get, it takes me at least part of the break to wind down enough to truly find a place of rest.  Every time I reach that place I vow to myself to keep that going, to take the time to find that place of peace every day.  I know that I will handle all of my life better if I do so.  But then 'busyness'  creeps back in.  Wonder if I'll ever learn?

I just read this verse from an email list that I'm on:
“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” 
                         ~Psalm 90:10, 12

Things like children growing up and leaving home drive this home!  At my current age this may sound cliche since it's a common 'mid-life' reflection (!), but while I want to work hard and do my best in my day to day life I'm caring less and less about what I actually produce and more about HOW I live.  How significant the things I spend my time doing are. What kind of relationships I have with those around me.  What I instill in my kids.  And most of all----how I'm relating to Him.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The view outside my windows is not beautiful.  It's fascinating in ways, it's unique from the perspective of where I've come from, but it's not lovely or particularly nice to look at.

But outside my kitchen window there's a tree with a crow's nest, a nest that surprised me recently in a place where I haven't seen one before.  And while I don't particularly like crows (they're aggressive and kind of mean), the placement of this nest in the middle of branches with new spring leaves is lovely.

It came to mind this morning when I read Paul's words:
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. " Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Chr1st's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Chr1st's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."        -2 Cor. 12: 9-10

It's all about contrast.  If I'm weak then any strength seen through me is HIS strength.  If I fail on my own then victory that comes through Him will be all the more obvious.

Just as a nest of new life in a branch of fresh leaves stands out in the dirty gray backdrop outside my window, good things in and through my life stand out all the more because of my own dirty, gray, disappointing humanity.

For when I am weak, He is shown to be strong!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"For the hopeless and the broken..."

The song I've been singing over and over lately.  And the frequent need of my heart......
Love Come to Live by Big Daddy Weave
I’ve been restless on the inside
wondering about this heart of mine
I’ve been desperately trying to find
a way to prove that I’m still alive
Has the love I speak so loudly of
quietly grown cold
Has my life been an empty voice
what I see needs to be seen
I need to step out and make the choice
to let go of everything
Would you reignite this heart spark here in the dark
Bring your love to life inside of me
Why don’t you break my heart ’til it moves my hands and feet
For the hopeless and the broken
for  the ones that don’t know that you love them
Bring your love to life inside of me
The generation you’re calling out
living everything that we sing about
The revelation right here and now
love beyond the shadow of the doubt
Love that is greater than our own
won’t remain unknown
When you bring your love to life inside of me
Why don’t you break my heart ’til it moves my hands and feet
For the hopeless and the broken
for  the ones that don’t know that you love them
Bring your love to life inside of me
love to come life
love to come life
bring love to life inside me
Listen to it here:  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recognizing His Hand

Last night I sat and listened to a conversation about the morals and ethics of self-defense between people of different countries and ideologies.  While there were very different opinions involved, they all had good points.  Instead of self-defense, however, I found myself thinking of the times in my life that I KNOW I have been defended, protected and looked after by someone far more protective than I could ever be of myself; my Father.

I remembered the night that we were robbed in Fiji while the kids and I were home alone and asleep.  I heard a loud, "Crash!" yet felt something like a big, gentle hand settle me back down on my bed and I went instantly back to sleep.  Not normal when you're the only adult in the house!  We woke in the morning to discover we'd been robbed but we were safe, unlike the man just up the road who startled mostly likely the same 'bad boys' of the area a month later while they robbed him and was killed in the fight that followed.

The experience wasn't pleasant, but if we hadn't been robbed I wouldn't have had a the concrete example of how much we were in the palm of His hand.

I wrote a while back about a man that followed me home and into our flat.  What I didn't mention is something that I only thought about later.  While he kind of leaned up against me at one point it's like his hands were glued to his sides and he couldn't lift them.  Strange.  I now think that while the experience happened, I was being protected at the same time and that he couldn't grab me.

I had a number of terribly painful gall bladder attacks over the period of a year in Fiji.  The attacks would come at night and while several times I went to the doctor the next day, no one discovered the problem.  I finally got where I couldn't eat and still another doctor thought it was just a stomach related issue.  As I walked out the door of her office she called me back and said maybe they should do a scan 'just to be safe.'  They operated the next day and afterwards told me that I was 'lucky' because the stones were just about to start leaving the gall bladder and that would have been serious indeed.  But my surgery was done in time!

When several years later I dealt with a family member's death from something that would have been discovered ahead of time in a more developed country, I didn't feel angry at the medical profession there.  I knew that if it hadn't been 'his time' to go, that it would have been discovered.  That wouldn't have been so clear to me except for what I had gone through myself.

There are other things; times that I'm not sure how I stopped the car in time, how my child that should have fallen from a great height didn't, how 'something' kept me from a decision that I knew later would have been a huge mistake.

We are gloriously, amazingly, steadfastly in His hands.  And sometimes those experiences that we would rather have done without are the exact things that make us recognize and pause to be thankful for His hand.

Holi 2012

Adam, Dad, and visitors from the US
(for the sake of skin color contrast!) 

A few days ago was Holi, the festival of colors.  If you've been following this blog for a while you'll know that once a year part of our family turns pink after a day of throwing and have having dye thrown on them in the streets.  This year for various reasons Adam was the only one who 'played'.  This photo was taken AFTER quite a bit of scrubbing already!

He won't totally look normal for several weeks.

Amazing Friends

I am continually amazed by the people that we get to rub shoulders with while working here.  This morning I read a letter by a friend named Beth in a sister business up the road and her thoughts were just too good not to pass along.  I'd just link you to the letter, but it's pretty location specific.

About life where we live:
"It is dark, it is discouraging.  It is not fun or romantic.  We do not always see the fruit we want to, and often our pryers go unanswered.  I often question the goodness of G-d, and his absence in our lives here seems more prevalent than a felt presence.  Six years ago when I first came to ____, I pryed that G-d would send me to the place where people had the hardest time believing he was good.  Little did I know that I myself would become one of those people.  And yet, in the presence of darkness comes the freedom to be honest, with oneself, and with G-d.  I did not know what I was getting into, when I arrived…"

About how she sees her 'job':
"M_____ for me is not about recruiting people to the C_____ faith…it is deeper and less quantifiable…it is about journeying alongside people in their brokenness.  It is about celebration and mourning...and walking alongside friends who are seeking a voice to say they are valued, loved, and forgiven.  It is about fleshing out a mercy and grace that does not exclude any of us. M_______ is a fancy word we like to use to describe a job particularly overseas but in fact, the truth is our work, our call if you will, is to live out the promise of redemption…Our call is to dance the awkward dance of mourning and celebration…"

About how she sees our area: 
".....but as I looked about me, what I saw was a picture of the wedding feast of the Lamb…a very random group of misfits…a very perfect picture of Chr1st’s celebration feast…a table full of prostitutes, cross dressers, abusive bastards, and me…yes, and it is a picture of hope and promise.  It is the only table left I can think of worthy to sit at, when Chr1st makes all things new."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Air, Water, Noise

A co-worker who spends part of his time in our city researched and came up with the below statistics.  Hum, maybe I didn't want to actually know!  It's a very real part of life here, however, as we all deal with frequent respiratory issues, probably loss of some of our hearing, etc.   No wonder that a major topic of conversation for our family in NZ recently was how much we enjoyed breathing the air there! 

(The below sounds terrible but lots of people survive here this way and we're doing fine, Mom!) 

Here goes:
The ideal count of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and Respiratory Particulate Matter (RPM) should not exceed 140 and 60 respectively. Our city’s average SPM count is 211 and RPM count is 105. And in the worst polluted traffic intersections, this count can be double that again during busy hours. (Hum, no wonder it takes my breathing longer than I think it should to regulate after running up the 3 flights of steps out of the Metro when I pick Adam up from school!)

Nitrogen dioxide (from car exhaust and other sources of burnt fossil fuels), in the presence of sunlight, forms ozone, which is extremely harmful for crops and lungs. Both of these chemicals saturate our city. While NO2doesn’t move from one place to another, ozone (O3) does and it flows in from other regions covering the city in a thick layer of smog. The air mass also includes solid dust particles and sulphuric acid. Daily, our lungs and bodies are literally swimming in an activated chemical soup. (And sometimes you can feel acid drops hit your skin or eyes as you walk down the street.)

Human Oxygen requirements
 20.9-23.5%: Maximum permissible oxygen level.
 20.9%: Oxygen found in normal air.
 19.5%: Minimum permissible oxygen level.
 15-19%: Decreased ability to work strenuously.
 12-15%: Respiration and pulse increase; impaired coordination, perception and judgment occurs.
-Studies have shown oxygen levels to fall to 17% and below on regular occasions in our city.-

A study has also shown that chronic exposure to the air pollution of our city that arises mostly from vehicular exhausts of more than 1.2 million motor vehicles adversely affect the health of its residents. It impairs lung function, increases the risk of contracting the life-threatening Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, elicits pulmonary and systemic inflammation, causes covert pulmonary hemorrhage, alters immunity that may make people susceptible to infection, increases the risk of hypertension and the related cardio-vascular diseases, damages DNA and our chromosomes, interferes with DNA damage repair mechanisms and enhances dysplasia of the airway cells. 

The River
In 2011, The H. River was left so polluted after the first day of Durga puja’s idol immersions that millions of fish and aquatic plants were found dead. Anyone who went into the water faced the danger of falling severely ill due to zinc and heavy metal poisoning. Remember, this water is fed to the slums everyday. (It's gross.  Really gross.  All the time.)

The Noise
The information on this part was pretty exact as to where we are located, but suffice to say that the noise outside of our windows during Durga Puja season in October was actually louder than a 747 Jumbo Jet!

Thanks, Dave, for the stats!