The Dance of Grief

Eisley eyes opened

oh the dance of grief

it’s music washes over me like a wave from nowhere

i am compelled to dance or die within

i’m scared i’ll forget you sweet baby

as much as i’m scared of being forgotten.

i dance alone, as those i love hear their music at different times.

it is a solo dance.

i look at your picture, sweet eyes open

and realize i missed this

as I was on waves of another kind…

dancing another type of grief

of missing your first moments,

moments like this, eyes opened peeking

at the unknown world beyond your mama’s womb.

Answering a Random Question…about head coverings

I received the following question via a Facebook message from an acquaintance who has loved and served Jesus for many years.

“I have a question for you …this is pretty random, but you are the only person I know who used to wear a “head covering”. We have a couple young ladies at church who are asking a lot of questions as to why we don’t follow what the Bible says about women and head coverings, they have since started wearing one, and my daughter is the one they are coming to with questions , could you shed some light on why you did wear one and why you stopped.”

It’s an honest question and I’m happy to do my best to answer it. Not only did I wear a head covering for several years, but I also required and instructed two of our daughters to wear head coverings, when they were preteens. The idea comes from the New Testament in 1st Corinthians 11 where Paul instructs women to cover their heads when praying. It is symbolic of a woman’s agreement with Biblical Patriarchy teachings.

Books have been written for and against this subject, so I’ll try to make this as short and concise as possible. Let me start with part of my friend’s question, “could you shed some light on why you did wear one?”

My story starts on a Sunday evening, October 16, 1971 when my life changed radically. By a series of events in my life, I ended up at a church service with a friend. I was finally at the end of myself and along with that the Lord God was passionately pursuing me to turn from sin and self. With His help I did just that. I was a young girl the age of 15, very insecure and not really knowing who I was.

I was living on the wild side and my friend who has invited me to church had more wisdom than most adult Christians…instead of telling me to quit smoking cigarettes or marijuana, she told me “Don’t worry about anything, the Holy Spirit will take care of it all.” And the Holy Spirit, now indwelling me, did just that! He removed old desires and gave me new desires. It was that supernatural experience that Jesus explained to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of the book of John.

What do I remember most about that church? Those people loved me exactly as I was, imperfect. It was a beautiful thing to experience. Of course there were problems, this is a broken world we live in, but after all these years that first fellowship was one of the most loving I’ve ever known. I met my sweet husband Danny there and was married there and our first two children were dedicated to Jesus there. Life was good.

A family friend started telling us about the homeschooling movement and we thought about it. Since our oldest still took a two hour nap and had a fall birthday, we decided to wait one more year to enroll him in our local private Christian school. By the time the next school year had rolled around, we were convinced the Lord would have us embark on the amazing and challenging journey of home educating our children. This venture would gap six children and 28 years of teaching.

It was through home schooling conferences and magazines and books and groups that I learned of the patriarch movement. We both were first generation Christians and desperately wanted to follow God and raise a Christian family. We were convinced there were things we needed to do in order to succeed and one was to follow the Bible’s instructions closely.

Let me pause and make something very clear – I love the Holy Bible and I have studied the scriptures for the past 44 years. However, the Bible can be a complicated book to understand, especially when we try to follow it literally. I started covering my head because I was trying to do just that – obey the Bible. Sounds okay, how could there be anything wrong with that?

What was wrong is it caused my eyes to get off of Jesus and onto myself. It caused me to start looking at God’s Holy Word as a book of rules rather than the love letter it is. It caused me to start on the long slippery slope of legalism. (See http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-Christian-legalism.html for more info on what exactly legalism is.) We all tend to go there. The tragic thing about legalism is the bar is never high enough, and we are always left striving.

I thought I was pursuing holiness and that would make God pleased with me. The Bible actually teaches that holiness is the result of pursuing Jesus, not something we should pursue. I did not understand my identity in Christ and years later I would discover that God is pleased with me because I am His creation and not because of anything I had or had not done.

So the bar got higher, I started wearing a head covering at church, and then in my private prayer times. Then I was “challenged” by  someone that said, “Doesn’t the Bible say to be always praying?” The bar was raised again and I started to wear it all the time. I started to read only the translation that was deemed acceptable by these peers.

Our family even changed denominations and started attending a church that was more “like-minded” and agreed with the following: “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” published by Vision Forum.

  • God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
  • God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order.
  • A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
  • Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
  • Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home”, the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.
  • God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples.
  • Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.
  • Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection.

I bought this hook, line and sinker.  It was easier for me than most women as I was married to an unselfish man who truly loved Jesus and truly loved me. That brings me to the second part of my friend’s question, “could you shed some light on why you stopped?” I remember that day distinctly, as it was a day that the bondage that had overtaken my Christian walk was shattered. I am so thankful.

I was in my late 30’s and had become seriously and chronically ill. in hindsight I am sure much of my illness was generated from the stress of living a legalistic Christian life and being in a church with others doing the same. I was laying on the couch exhausted and the knot of that bandanna tied at the back of my neck was hurting. I said out loud, “I am so SICK of wearing this thing”. My husband looked at me and gently asked, “Then why do you continue to do it?” I was dumbfounded.

My husband had allowed me the freedom to follow what I thought God was calling me to. For a Godly man, it is a real burden to have to micromanage everyone in the family, including your adult wife. It’s hard enough to work out your own salvation and keep your own heart right before God. As I again studied the scriptures on head coverings, I realized these passages were truly cultural and not applicable to our 21st century lives. The head covering came off for good.

Time has proven that for many men in the Patriarch movement the temptation to be so focused on managing their wife and children has resulted in them neglecting their own life. Plenty of them became selfishly controlling and abusive. We now know many leaders in this movement had hidden lives of sexual sin and their families have suffered the consequences.

Several of my friends who spent years trying to live as if they were women of the first century, I now know have lived quietly under abusive situations. Some feel like they failed somehow. Some have divorced and others continue to live a life behind a facade. And some, like myself, have found the courage to say we think we were wrong.

I now regret how I instructed my daughters and other women to submit to their husbands. I thought I was giving them Biblical instruction. I realize now that much of this Biblical instruction was given to the first century church in a culture where women had the same rights of cattle…basically no rights. Jesus came as a liberator of men and women both. I believe much of Paul’s instruction was for the purpose of keeping civil order in that culture.

We do live in the 21st century and we do have rights in this society as women. I think that choosing to live without accountability in our marriages is simply not wise. Much of the truth in the Holy Bible was truth written for that specific culture, head coverings being one of them. In healthy Christian homes we help each other, submit one to another, and ALL submit to Christ.

In Ephesians 4:1-3 Paul says, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

So how are those daughters doing? Those girls who were taught to submit and had to endure wearing head coverings? Well, they were also taught to think and use the wonderful mind that God gave them. One challenged me to read the book “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey. This is one of the most encouraging, humble books I’ve read. It helped rekindle my first love for Jesus years ago.

These daughters have grown up strong and know who they are in Christ. They are amazing wives and mothers. They are proof positive that God establishes His own. They hold their uncovered heads high and I am learning to do the same.

1898014_531909877553_7487602955047792350_n

Letters to Eisley #4

Dear Eisley,

I feel like if you were here life would be settled, steadfast. With you gone, I feel shaky all over and unsure of myself. I think I am doing okay and then I hear sadness in the voices of those that love you or watch another gut-wrenching story on the news and I get so overwhelmed. I used to shut down or smother the feelings with food. As I have tried to stop doing that the feelings hurt so much. The smallest thing can be a trigger. Oh Eisley if I could just hold you over my shoulder and hear you let out a burp and say “Good job!” like I have always done with your cousins, I think life would be okay.

Your Grammie just realized I having some form of panic attacks. They are not stress induced…I take it so easy it feels ridiculous. They are feelings induced…these smothered stuffed feelings are coming out of I don’t know where and they choke me, they get bottled up in my chest and it is so physically painful, I think I am having a heart attack, and the pain scares me. The pain makes me miss your great-grandmother, my mama, the one you were given her middle name – Hope. She was so good to me when I was hurting. She took care of me Please tell her thanks for me and that I really do miss her and I’m sorry about Debbie, that there’s nothing I can do. I tried so hard, she knows I tried, she saw that I tried.

I’m scared I realize. I’m scared that our family will never be okay again.  Sometimes I just want to die and go with you. When I was in the ER, I thought about you and if it wasn’t for your pops I would have gladly gone. Maybe this is why I want to now move to Auburn, maybe in reality I just want everything tidy for Pops so I can join you. But I don’t think Jesus will let me yet. There’s been too much pain for this family, your pops, your mama and daddy, your aunties and uncles and your cousins. We all are hurting without you. We feel broken and shaky and unstable. Okay baby girl, Grammie is making a concerted choice not to swear in my letter to you, but let me just tell you it is the pits without you and it’s really scary.

But then there are good days and we smile, like on last Sunday there was a party at the Vaughan’s (Oh you would have LOVED being held by Jeanne) for our 40th anniversary and everything was so nice, and just the right people we needed to not feel overwhelmed…. Aaron and Cacey, Your mama and daddy, Jeanne and Bob, my friend-in-law Jennifer and hubby Jim, my friend-in-law Christine and hubby Johnny, Pastor Greg and Laura, Pastor Lorin and Starla and your Auntie Sheri. That was a run on sentence baby girl, but I don’t care, because this really is written just for you and for me. You don’t judge your Grammie’s grammar. I don’t have to be perfect.

And you know what Eisley? You didn’t have to be perfect either. We would have gladly welcomed you and made you a part of this imperfect family had God allowed you to live longer. And I’m sobbing baby girl because your Grammie is so sad for so many reasons, losing you being just the tip of the iceberg. So much loss in this world baby girl. And God made me sensitive so it hurts really bad to see little refugee Syrian boys like 3 year old Aylan washed up dead from the sea.

For years Pastor Dave told me thick skin, tender heart. It seems everything is tender about me, Eisley Hope. I will no longer compare myself to others and tell myself I should be doing better. I will just be who I am, hurting how I am. I will work on letting these (&%#^*#! feelings out of me (That’s how you swear in the presence of a little one my love). I’ve had a lot of loss these past years and there’s a lot of feelings I have been stuffing that I guess need to come out.

So let me turn my thoughts to you. I’d like to think of your cleft palate healed with the tiniest of tiniest scars so we can remember His healing in your new body. I’d like to think that he has allowed your unique extra fingers and heart shaped big toes to remain because we loved your uniqueness. I’d like to think that you helped welcome Aylan into heaven and you are showing him the ropes. I’d like to think that Ted is playing grandpa with you and telling you stories of your mama when she would visit his family in New York.

I see sunshine and flowers when I think of you. Blue skies and mountains and lots of green….oh the drought here has made most people quit watering and there isn’t much green. I would think there would be water in heaven, maybe a beautiful rippling stream that you can stick your toes in and giggle. Tell Aylan that the water is safe there!

I’m hoping you get to read these. I believe anything is possible with our God. If you do then you will get to know me a little better until I come. Tender everything and missing you, but one day reunited face to face.

Love you my sweet Eisley,

Grammie

METADATA-START

METADATA-START

Letters to Eisley #3

Dear Eisley Hope,

Grammie is staying at your mama and daddy’s house for a few days. Pops and I are getting a new roof on the house and it’s very messy and loud. Grammie isn’t real good with messy and loud, especially since you left us. So Watson and I came here to have some peace and quiet.

2015-08-17 12.58.20

I miss you so much. At first it was hard for me to stay here, I didn’t realize it would be….but you are everywhere in this home. We so desperately had hoped you could live here for a little while. After you left us, your Aunt Marie was careful to help pack all your things away before she returned to Romania. But I guess there are certain things your mama chose not to pack away.

2015-08-17 12.58.46

My heart gave a leap when I saw the quilt I had bought you this last Christmas. The cheerful yellow color peeked out at me as it is folded sweetly in the drawers of the dresser in the guest room where I stay. Maybe I will sleep with it tonight. Maybe I will feel closer to you. Maybe I will christen it with my tears. So many dreams we had for you baby girl. So very bittersweet.

The hardest part for me is your mama’s empty arms. The empty rocking chair. Your mama is such a natural mama, you might not realize this Eisley, but not everyone is. There were babies in your NICU with no mama around. However, your mama was created to understand little ones and she was beside you every moment she could be. She often noticed things before your NICU nurses did. I just wish people were more merciful with her.

2015-08-17 13.00.04

Mama’s are meant to fix things. Many things can be fixed with a kiss and a band-aid. I look at your mama and I realize there is no band-aid big enough to fix this pain. It is only something that Jesus can heal. The same was true for you. Your mama and I have walked a similar path. We both have beloved daughters with needs only Jesus can meet.

You are perfect now with no pain. For that I am thankful. The few times we could tell you were uncomfortable were unbearable. Your silent little cry coupled with our helplessness was almost too much to bear. Maybe that’s why Grammie desperately needs peace and quiet more than ever.

Eisley 028

I miss you so much Eisley. There will be more grandchildren…. Teddy is coming soon! But please know that no matter how many grandchildren Pops and I have, you will never be replaced, ever. Not only is your name tattooed on my foot, but my love for you Eisley Hope Klein Hutchinson is tattooed on my heart.

Until that day you run to greet me,

Love, Grammie XOXOXO

11206138_10152755978056481_8862880585502307230_n

Letters to Eisley #2

Dear Eisley,

I miss you. I’m wondering about heaven. Will you always be a tiny one? In my mind I see you running and greeting  me one day, like Mercy would. A couple weeks ago I was in the hospital with chest pains. As I laid on that table I was very peaceful. I thought of those I know who love Jesus and have left this earth and now are with Him.

There are many I long to see,  but no one more than you. I want time with you, time to get to know you with your little unique personality that God gives to each one and gave to you. One day I will have an eternity with you, but not yet. My physical heart is just fine.

2015-06-19 19.40.59

 

Last time I wrote you I told you several times that Grammie is trying to trust God. I try to search for joy each day. Most of my joy comes from looking at God’s creation.  Pops and I spend a lot of time on the boat we named after you. We go to Lake Rollins and just look at the beauty around us. The majestic ponderosa pines surround us and reflect in the water.  It comforts me to know in all it’s beauty,  it is just a faded glimpse of the beauty you dwell in right now. One day we shall join you.

This Saturday will be one year since your Grammie and Pops got in a horrible car accident. It has been a source of much confusion to me. When it happened our car was spinning in circles and I found myself crying out the powerful name of Jesus over and over. When it all stopped this thought went through my mind – we shouldn’t be alive, but we are!

accident

So this Saturday on August 8, 2015 we are having a Thanksgiving dinner to thank God for sparing our lives in that car accident. I realized something this last few weeks and it is this –  the enemy of our souls was trying to destroy us and God intervened.

I always thought of the car accident as a physical thing…..a person not paying attention and rear ending us and causing us to jackknife and roll. You are probably so much wiser than your Grammie in this area as you know about the spiritual kingdom, but I now know that it was a spiritual thing and God intervened.

“The God-begotten are also the God-protected.

The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them.

We know that we are held firm by God…”

1 John 5:18

But when it came to you Eisley Hope, I have thought, well God could have intervened and He chose not to. He took Eisley home with Him. As I have struggled to trust God in this situation, I have realized that I was wrong about Him and that He did intervene on your behalf several times. So this Saturday we will also be thanking God for your life.

2015-05-07 23.56.12

God gave you life, and in the brokenness of this world as a result of the fall, you got an extra chromosome. You should have been miscarried, but God intervened. You should have been stillborn, but again God intervened. Your fragile body would have died in labor, but God intervened. His Holy Spirit inside of your mama prompted her to go to the hospital nine weeks early. How thankful I am for that and how thankful I am that she listened.

“Since ancient times no one has heard or perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who intervenes for those who wait for him.”

Isaiah 64:4

God intervened by giving your mama a wise doctor who knew you needed to come out early and you did! Our world was turned upside down, and to be honest sweet baby girl, it’s not upright yet…but you lived and we loved you for twelve precious days. I am so thankful to have met you Eisley Hope. Your short life has made me a better person.

My friend Denise made ornaments for your mama and daddy and both sets of grandparents as a keepsake of you. Your name is on one side and an incredible truth on the other –

METADATA-STARTMETADATA-START

The Bible tells us in Psalms that our days were appointed before we left our mother’s womb. Your 12 days + Eternity equals a whole and perfect Life. It’s been a blink of the eye since Pops and I raised your mama and our family – and it will be the blink of an eye until I see you again sweet baby girl.

Run to meet your Grammie on that day and we will have an eternity to get to know one another. Until then I will write you letters as I purpose to trust our Creator and Savior.

FB_IMG_1428769837373

 

Letters to Eisley #1

Grammie wept for you today baby girl. I was cleaning out my email inbox and I started at the bottom and there was a shared folder that your mama had sent me. Grammie of course would rather look at pictures of you than work, so I clicked on the link and there you were.

My heart lurched as I saw your mama in her hospital gown without me there. I was stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship. Grammie is trying to trust God. Your daddy was at her side doing a great job. Your Uncle Andrew was making faces at the camera. God provided so many people to surround your mama and daddy and support all of you.

My tears didn’t flow until I saw this picture of your foot in the incubator. I remembered your mama telling me on the phone all about you, she was so excited. I still can’t believe I missed your birth Eisley. I’m sorry for that. I wish I had been there. Grammie is trying to trust God.

Your mama told me that your big toe was shaped like a heart. She was thrilled with you – love at first sight. Actually, that’s not true because your mama loved before she ever saw you – she loved you while you were in the womb. Your little feet would stretch out and give your mama a kick. We had no idea about your precious toes. We had no idea about any of your struggles. That’s so wrong we weren’t better prepared for you baby girl. Grammie is trying to trust God.

Eisley's piggies

So today Eisley Hope, when your Grammie was supposed to be working, I took a break to grieve. I just sat at the computer looking at your precious heart shaped toe and let my tears fall. How I miss you sweet baby girl. Today you would be approaching four months of age. I imagine if you were here that your Aunt Sheri and I would be arm-wrestling for who got to watch you when your mama was at work. But I bet Mama wouldn’t have gone back to work…she just wanted to take care of you.

Did you know I had a pack ‘n play all set up for you with little toys across the top? I had gotten out a yellow baby blanket that was mine. I’d never even used it on any of your aunties or uncles or your mama. I don’t know why. I guess I was saving it for something special. I had it in the little bed waiting for you to arrive. We ended up using it to line your resting box. I had no idea it would be used for something that special.

Precious little one how I wish I could play “This little Piggy” with you. When you were in the hospital I keep trying to figure out another line, since you had an extra piggy. Grammie played it with all the babies- your cousins Spencer, Addy, Emma and Mercy. You would be the perfect age right now to squeal with laughter.

It’s really hard without you Eisley. There are lots of babies all around right now so I am constantly reminded of the loss. My arms ache to hold you, to snuggle my face into your neck and to smell your baby sweetness. Nothing fills the void. Nothing. You are missed Eisley Hope Klein Hutchinson, more than you could ever imagine and Grammie is trying to trust God.

Not all Christians are “HATERS”

I have met people from all walks of life that are haters. Years ago I was hated for being white by a racist Korean teen, I remember being shocked, she didn’t even know me!

It did though give me a tiny glimpse into the lives of those who are hated for no reason, other than being different from the hater.

I’ve been hated for being a Christian with strong convictions. Recently while trying to understand the gay movement I’ve read some of their blog posts and was shocked at the hateful things I read. Guess who their hatred was towards? Christians.

Why? My guess is people tend to hate those who hate them. Hate breeds more hatred.

haters

But here’s the deal – JESUS ISN’T A HATER. He represented the father while he was here on earth. He boldly said if you have seen him you have seen the Father. Like Father, Like Son.

If you really want to know what God is like just read the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you will read the words of JESUS. You will discover that the one thing that really ticked him off was this – hypocrites and frauds. He called them out –

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”   Matthew 23:27 NASB

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and flowers bright, but six feet down it’s rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh.”   Matthew 23:27 MSG

God loves the sinner and the humble. He does hate sin, but not the sinner. That’s why He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins, BECAUSE of His love….um remember John 3:16-17?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world,

but that the world might be saved through Him.”

So if you call yourself a Christian and you are representing the Christian church as a hater, you need to stop and remember where you came from. Can you not have compassion for those who are broken and in need of a savior without stoning them? Um, Jesus did.

The world is full of hurting people and you certainly are misrepresenting the ONE who came to bind up the brokenhearted.

The answer is not in legislating the world. The answer is not in throwing a hateful temper tantrum when politics or court decisions don’t go the way you want.

You cannot hold someone to walk in truth when they have not been freed by the truth.

I suspect you have forgotten that God is in charge and His will be done…in His way and in His time.

James 1:26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

#NOMOREHATERS

 

Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened, A minus that won’t add up….

These are the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:15 – even in his great wisdom he can’t make sense of life.

Lots of things this past year haven’t made sense to me either. Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened, yes I have found this to be true. The evil appear to prosper while the innocent die.

I shake my head in disbelief.

That’s what I found myself doing on Saturday, April 4th, shaking my head in disbelief. I was in a private hospital room with my family, watching my loved one’s hearts break as we knew our Eisley Hope would soon be leaving this earth. I stood there shaking my head and saying, “No, this can’t be happening, no, no, no.”

Just 24 hours earlier this precious granddaughter had been doing so incredibly well that even her very conservative doctor was optimistic.

program-tannersarah

A minus that won’t add up….

My past couple years have had lots of equations that didn’t calculate the way I thought they would. Losing Eisley Hope Klein Hutchinson was by far the hardest in a long list of hard.

It certainly didn’t add up.

Somehow in my mind this sweet precious baby girl was going to be the plus in my life that would somehow cancel out all the hard…and our family could start with a clean slate. Instead I watched as my daughter Sarah’s heart was crushed along with her husband’s and her sibling’s, my husband’s and mine.

Days later, I sat beside my dear husband at our granddaughter’s funeral and witnessed him weep like I had never seen. It was surreal. Our pastor said something really helpful to us as he opened the service. He told us that we don’t have to have our doctrine all correct to wade through this. I appreciated this as I was really confused and nothing made sense.

Family united by Eisley

I believe in the God of the universe- so great and mighty and sovereign, yet a mystery… of a God who reaches down to mankind, on an intimate, personal level to be reunited with us. A God who in the scripture is described as a loving father, a devoted and faithful husband, a shepherd who watches over us. Not only do I believe, but I have experienced Him, time and time again.

I also believe in a world broken by sin and man’s free will. I cannot and will not blame God for the consequences of a world broken by sin. I know He could have intervened and changed Eisley’s course. Yet He chose not to. He chose to take Eisley Hope home with him.

That leaves empty hearts and empty arms ….and a lot of questions. Some of those questions can scare us.

program-feet

I attended church alone the day after Eisley died. I asked our Pastor to pray for me. I told him, I am not here because I am strong. I am here because my faith is fragile and I need to hear the truth of the resurrection. I then discovered a peace that came from God holding me regardless of whether I was able in my weakness to hold onto Him.

Over the past few years I’ve discovered that there are two types of people. Some question me as they try to gain understanding. Then there are the others who question simply because they want to stand in judgement of me. They have no desire to understand. They don’t know the whole story and they don’t see the whole picture.

I realized this is true for me with my God. I need to come honestly before Him with my questions, but humbly acknowledging I don’t know the whole story and I don’t see the whole picture. I accept many of the mysteries of God; The Holy Trinity, The deity of Jesus, How election and free will are both true….the list goes on.

So I rest in what I do know- His faithfulness to me for many years, His comfort like none other, His still small voice, the blessed hope of heaven. I choose to accept, like Solomon, that this will never add up in my mind, I will never be able to understand the “why”.

IMG_8456

So I will accept another mystery by faith. The mystery of baby Eisley being given twelve days of life. The mystery of our hearts being crushed. I will hold onto the hope that Jesus is a God who brings beauty out of ashes. I’ll search for that beauty with all of my strength, knowing that when my strength fails that He is always willing to carry me and show me in His own time.

One Week Left….but a lifetime of discoveries!

Tea Party Addy   Tea Party Mercy

In Romania I have discovered who I really am. I am a nurturer and an organizer. I am a woman who loves to create and to do things well, but I am not a perfectionist and I am not a driver. I always thought I was supposed to be these things (a perfectionist and a driver). Consequently I have often felt defeated and have been unhappy with myself.

I think this is because I was striving to match those perfectionists and drivers around me instead of embracing who I am. So thank you 220 volt blow dryer cord for being used of God to speak to me in Romania. I am happily not winding the cord perfectly and realizing this doesn’t mean I am lazy. I take joy in doing little things.

IMG_2872  IMG_2867

I am also handicapped. I finally have accepted this in Romania. I am completely deaf in my right ear. People do not realize how much of a handicap this really is. I cannot tell the direction sound is coming from. I could get hit by a car because I don’t hear it coming, so in public when I am alone, I am often hyper vigilant. Recently I strained over the banister in the apt. thinking I was answering Marie downstairs, when in reality she was talking to me while located right behind me. Sounds funny? Most people laugh, but it makes me feel dumb.

IMG_2798

I read lips as I only hear about every 3rd word, so if someone talks to me with their back turned to me, I am in a state of confusion and anxiety. I am trying to piece things together and figure out what they are saying. In the meantime I am hoping and praying they don’t ask me a question about whatever it is they are talking about. Often people are upset with me because they know they communicated something to me, but I never heard.

Marie's pretty stacking set    Marie's pretty

I’ve tried everything to hear in that deaf ear and be normal. As a teen I had surgery for the removal of my stapes bone and microscopically implanting a device that replaced the vibrating bone. I had my hearing on the post-op table, but within a couple days the healing process moved the device out of sync. I had a second surgery and poor instruction of 1970’s post-operative care led to the rare complication of nerve damage to my ear.

As a young lady I even sought prayer at special church services that prayed for healing…..and I did that more than once. I’ve spent more than our monthly mortgage payment on a Trans-ear device – a special hearing aid that picked up sound and transferred it along the bone in the skull to my healthy ear. It didn’t really work.. The current specialists say there is nothing that can be done to restore my hearing.

    IMG_2726

In Romania, I realized I have been pretending my whole life. and I never realized it. I have pretended to understand what someone was telling me, even if I didn’t hear all of it. I think this was because at a young age I received no accommodations for my hearing loss. If I didn’t hear someone they looked at me as if I was stupid. I also felt stupid when I didn’t understand, because I didn’t know I had a handicap. Not being capable of being what someone expected equaled rejection to me and I suspect pretending was a type of survival.

I also pretended for years to fit in with a church community, unable to be my true self. Who I knew God to be did not match the strict doctrine that the church taught. Worshiping there and being in community there required me to walk on eggshells and pretend to be someone else. Leaving there and coming to Auburn Grace Community Church was the start of me truly walking in truth, being my true self.

IMG_2815

Two days ago I took Mercy to the mall on my own. She is so cute and the gal at the register was chatting away to me about her and I smiled silently and walked away. And then it hit me, I was pretending that I understood her. Just like with the deafness, I was in the nasty habit of pretending.

Pretending breeds insecurity in me, because it leaves me confused and conflicted and it’s wrong. Being a lover of truth it shocks me that all these years I have been pretending….because pretending to HEAR or BE or UNDERSTAND something that you don’t is clearly a form of deception. Deception is the exact opposite of truth. No wonder I’ve felt confused and conflicted.

And that shocking Romanian revelation brings me back to my God, my Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwelling in me – how incredibly kind and loving and patient God is with me and all His children. He’s always gently working in me for my good, peeling the layers off and conforming me into His image. He is the TRUTH. This might be why I have always loved prayer. There is no pretending with Him!

IMG_2847

I feel so much FREER as I am packing for home. I’m leaving my pretending and the insecurity it breeds in Bucharest. It’s not coming back with me to the states.  I’m going to toss it in one of the piles I walk by on a daily basis.

Yesterday when I was shopping, the man at the cash register spoke to me in Romanian.

My reply? “Pardon, I only speak English.”

It felt good.

Update in Romania #4 – Happy Birthday Bucharest!

The city of almost 2 million have been celebrating that it’s been 555 years since Bucharest was first mentioned in documents. On Saturday many of the local churches gathered in a park and made a cooperative effort at combining the celebration with an outreach carnival. There was face painting and games and puppet shows – it was all very fun. Our Addy was quite the hulahooper and Pops did a great job of catching these photos!

 Addy & hulahoop 2  Addy & hulahoop

Since the country is moving away from the orphanage system they have tried to place most of the healthy children in small groups with a caregiver (Doamna) that live in an apartment. In our sector of the city, Anchor of Hope Ministry (that Marie and Christian work with) have three apartments they are sponsering. Marie and Christian left the girls with us to join them at the park later while they picked up 5 children (ages 2.5, 4, 5, 5, 6) from an apartment to enjoy the carnival festivities. Their Doamna decided to come along!

Mercy and Mama 9-20-14   Addy 555 celebration 9-20-14

When Danny, the girls and I arrived, the first person I saw was Florin Soare! He, of course, was the official event photographer. Avery had stayed home with their new baby. It truly is a “Small World”. Most of the workers wore T-shirts with 555 on them that translated “Love Bucharest, Love your Neighbor” and they had pamphlets that were handed out. It was encouraging to see the local believers from different churches working together.

 Marie and Ionut and adi   Christian & Danny 9-20-14

We ended with treating the children to McDonald’s which was a big hit for everyone. Of course with seven children we have ice cream dripping everywhere and Christian says to Marie (who is the most fluent in Romanian) – “How do you say melting???? Their ice cream is melting!” Pops trying to help says (loudly) “MMEELLTTIINNGG…..”

Mercy and Ana 9-20-14   Addy & Cristina

This last Thursday I had the privilege of going to the baby hospital with two other workers from Anchor of Hope. It was really a long walk getting there and lots of physical work but well worth it. With travel time I was gone probably six hours.

One room held four babies all under two months. The youngest was a beautiful boy only two weeks old and absolutely perfect and healthy at this time. Another little guy had such trouble taking the bottle, very gassy and spitting up…most likely allergic to milk or has GERD. He made some good eye contact even though he’s only one month old!

There is a tiny part Asian girl only a month old who obviously has some sort of genetic condition. As I worked with her I was 95% sure she couldn’t focus or see. Later I realized her eyelashes were inverted and looking online it says that the condition can scratch and damage the cornea. She had a weak cry that sounded like a kitten, but she did eat well.

Last we had a very big guy only 2 months old without even a name. He was so huge we lovingly called him Gandalf. He responded well to the infant massage and gave me some wonderful smiles. However later when it came to the 2nd feeding, his bottle arrived last, so it was propped by the caregiver. All the volunteers hands were full with feeding the smaller ones whose bottles had already come. He was inconsolable after so much attention and refused to take his bottle.

As I held each child and fed them I would pray over them quietly and talk with them, make eye contact with them, stroke their faces and massage them with lotion. The other room held five other babies all around 6-9 months, two severely disabled. I am hoping to be able to go every Tuesday and will share more next week on these other babies.

While I was at the baby hospital, Christian took Danny across the city to a larger medical facility to have a CT scan. We go again to the doctor Monday morning and will request a MRI. We have been in contact with a doctor in the states, but to be honest, the care here has been excellent!

I believe they have caught a significant injury that some other medical staff in the states overlooked. We are having his films looked at by both US and Romanian doctors. The Lord has truly been good in His protection of us….had we never come here I think this would have remained undiscovered with the course of treatment he was taking.

We have enjoyed each moment here and it’s hard to believe that half of our trip is already past. I have been trying to memorize some scripture again. Several times a day when I see a bird- I try to quote and remember Matthew 6-

“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description,

care-free in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds!”