Thursday, May 29, 2014

The strangest thing

You should know this is the strangest thing I have ever done - you really only need to watch the first 30 seconds.

What he says in this video pretty much sums up how I was feeling getting a root canal done.  It was a little bit crazy to me.  Watching them put this funky plastic thing in my mouth to isolate the tooth.  Sticking little needles inside my tooth. Seeing some sort of smoke rising from my mouth as they use a tool that's really hot to get the excess filling.  I wish it was video taped so I could actually see what was happening.  So strange.  Yet fascinating.

And she did tell me that the nerve is dead.  That probably means more pain and a longer than normal healing time.  It apparently means a knot on my jaw.  Possibly an infection.  I should probably call and ask about that, eh?  But it's done.  It's over.  Healing can begin.  I was so hopeful as I left the doctor's office.
All that the downtrodden can do is go on hoping.  After every disappointment they must find fresh reason for hope.                                                             -Alexander Solzhenitsyn 
Even in the midst of hearing the news of continued pain regarding my tooth, there was still the hope of an end.  If the root canal was done correctly.  If the healing happens, all will be well again.  And that is the hope for our hearts right now.  We are downtrodden.  Our hearts break.  But we have to continue to seek things to hope.

Over the past couple of days, we were kidless.  Grandma and Grandpa took the kids for two nights so that we could celebrate our anniversary.  It was a foreign feeling, having the freedom to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.  We quite thoroughly enjoyed it.  And missed the little kiddos.  It was a huge blessing to have the time alone together though.

It was, however, hard to connect during our time.  When we talked about Venezuela, both tears and a fight ensued (separate conversations).  When we talked about what we're looking forward to, we found little to talk about.  When we tried to talk about our thoughts, our fears, our lives, we didn't have much to say.  We are downtrodden.  But not hopeless.  

We still don't know how to connect well without talking about Venezuela and we don't know how to do that healthily.  We feel hopeless at times, but we're working through it.  We're getting little glimpses here and there of how to help each other.  So we can take steps.  Maybe some are backward, maybe some are a bit to the side, hopefully a few are forward.  Movement.  Just keep feeling and talking and being.  God, help us continue to feel and talk and be.  We need Your grace.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Root Canal

Next week I will probably get a root canal.  I say probably because the dentist wasn't able to actually say one way or another if I for sure needed it.  But it's fairly safe to say that after 5 and a half weeks (yes, I'm counting at this point) of aching, pain, discomfort, headaches, tingling and the fact that the dentist couldn't fix it in any way, shape or form....whew.  At this point, I think it's safe to say that something is wrong.  I should probably be able to eat on the left side of my mouth.  Yet, I can't.

So on Tuesday I will go for a consultation where they will decide if a root canal is necessary.  If it is, they will do it right then and there.  I'm praying that I need a root canal.  Yes, I know.  Who does that?!?!  Me.  Because I'm sick of being in pain.  I'm sick of losing sleep because of the pain.  I'm stressed and I just want someone to be able to fix it.  My hope is that they will fix it.  I don't desire Ibuprofen to be my friend any longer.

As I've researched root canals, it appears as though they go in, dig out the pulp and make sure everything is cleaned out so that no future infection should occur.  Then they fill it in and voila!  No more pain.  In theory.  I'm hoping.

It feels like an accurate picture of what's going on in our lives right now.  There's pain.  A deep rooted, affecting all areas of our lives kind of pain.  It started out very subtle as we lived in Venezuela.  I think the stress of living in the culture really took it's toll on us.  Not to mention some really difficult relationships and hard conversations.  Add a deportation, protests and then an evacuation and you have one hot mess.  And what we need is someone to come and dig out the pain and replace it with something that will protect and restore our lives.

Unfortunately there is no such thing.  Jesus.  But Jesus does this slightly annoying thing.  He uses this subtle like trick called time.  Blah.  Time doesn't feel like my friend right now.  I want to medicate, with tv and food and lots of sleep.  I don't want to take care of my needy little people running around.  But this is our reality.  And not having a place to call home has only delayed the process of healing.
Someone asked the Swiss physician and author Paul Tournier how he helped his patients get rid of their fears.  He replied, "I don't.  Everything that's worthwhile in life is scary.  Choosing a school, choosing a creer, getting married, having kids--all those things are scary.  If it is not fearful, it is not worthwhile."
At this point I can honestly say, what isn't scary?  Trying to raise support in the midst of all of this.  Moving to Florida.  Getting settled in a totally new place.  New job, new people, new city, new everything.  And yet another transition.  It's scary.  Especially for our kids.  At this point, we wonder at times how our family is going to make it through all of this.  Tensions are high.  All of our fuses are short.  We're not very patient with each other.  It's been rough.  On all of us.  Will our marriage make it through this time?  Will our kids get to a point where meltdowns aren't the norm?  Will we see their personalities come back?  Will this forever be where our family is stuck?
"It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good.  Gradually, it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either--but right through every human heart--and through all human hearts ... I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: Bless you, prison, for having been in my life."                                                                                   -Alexander Solzhenitsyn 
This is where we rest.  Bless you, deportation, evacuation, homelessness, trials, pain, the unknown, for having been in my life.  Why?  Because I know no other way to look at things right now.  With no other choice, I look at our lives and I choose to trust that the Lord is using this time for his good.  We can't see it right now.  We can't even remotely taste it.  But here, in the midst of our pain, we wait.  Expectantly knowing that he will redeem this.  Whether it be this side of heaven or not.  We wait.  We hope.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

We're there

This is how we feel right now:
We're there

Yesterday we arrived in Columbus.  To a place that isn't ours, but it's ours for the next 6 weeks.  Relief.  We're not invading anyone's space.  We're not wreaking havoc on someone else's life.  There can be toys everywhere and we don't have to feel bad.  We can leave the kitchen a mess.  It's not ours, but it's ours.  And we're not in anyone's way or imposing in any way.

Today is a little bittersweet.  Today is the day we were supposed to leave Venezuela.  For the past two and a half months we should've been in Venezuela.  Living life, doing ministry, getting closure, saying goodbyes.  All of that was cut short.  We still don't know why, but it's not what happened the way we planned or wanted.
As I have said, the Bible consistently changes the questions we bring to the problem of pain.  It rarely, or ambiguously, answers the backward-looking question "Why?"  Instead, it raises the very different, forward-looking question, "To what end?"  We are not put on earth merely to satisfy our desires, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him.  And that process may be served by the mysterious pattern of all creation: pleasure sometimes emerges against a background of pain, evil may be transformed into good, and suffering may produce something of value.                                                               -Philip Yancey
This is one of the quotes that has hit my heart lately.  No matter how much I plan, no matter how much time I spend or well thought out something is, there is very little that is in my control.  And that's the way the Lord wants it.  He wants me to choose him over myself.  He wants me to experience pleasure, goodness and for my character to grow.  But sometimes, often times, that requires pain, evil and suffering.  How can I not take the good with the bad?

And so during this continued time of transition, we rest in the fact that God is sovereign.  We had tickets bought to return to the United States today.  Those were my plans.  And just like Job I can look to God and ask the question "why?" but he may not give me the why.   He may just give me a better view of himself.  I can't complain about that.
God wants us to choose to love him freely, even when that choice involves pain, because we are committed to him, not to our own good feelings and rewards.  He wants us to cleave to him, as Job did, even when we have every reason to deny him hotly.                              -Philip Yancey 
This is that time.  I can choose to deny him.  I can choose to be angry or bitter or sad (some of those things are healthy and even fair).   I can also choose to move toward the Lord, to move toward joy, grace and peace.  By faith.

And so it is by faith that we continue to heal.  Our hearts.  Our marriage.  Our family.  Would you pray for us?  This time has been very trying on all of us.  We're all a little more tense.  Our fuses are a little (or a lot) shorter.  There's more yelling, more tears, more frustration.  This time is not easy.  We're hopeful that this time of having one place to stay will help calm our hearts a bit.  Would you pray for that for us?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You are for me

I heard this song for the first time the other day and it just hit my heart.  The Lord is faithful.  Regardless of me.

Things have been challenging the past few days.  A weird kind of challenging.  Honestly I think we both teeter between normal life and depression.  It's been really eye-opening to see how moving around has given us very little stability.  And it's very hard to be productive in the midst of little stability.

We're doing school as best we can.  We're slowly working on support.  But things like raising support and interacting with people on a regular basis feels pretty overwhelming.  Bart gave a short blurb at a church a week ago and he was just off.  Bart's the type of guy that you can just hand him a mic and he does great.  Well, that wasn't true.  We're both just off.  And it's not fun feeling that way.

We're continuing to read.  Continuing to process.  Continuing to try to talk about things as we think of them.  We're still trying to move toward the Lord.  That process has been ok.  I can honestly say that I'm not angry anymore.  At least angry with God.  There's a weird bitterness that has settled in my heart.  I can't really wrap my arms around the whys or hows or even who's.  Acknowledging it is the first step, right?

Sleep is still not great.  Lots of dreams and just overall bad sleep.  Right now the following verses are what we need, specifically the highlighted portion:
Psalm 103
1    Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name! 
2  Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits, 
3  who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases, 
4  who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
5  who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

God is gracious.  Even in the midst of all of this, we are so thankful for the process of being humbled and broken, accepting people's love and hospitality.  We have faith that he is redeeming this time, that this pit is temporary and that he will give us the eyes to look back over this time with gratitude for what he's taught us.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Where is God when it hurts?

Did you know that people who suffer with leprosy actually become injured as a result of a lack of pain?  Did you know that they don't even realize that they have cut their hand, sprained their ankle or burnt their finger?  I can't even imagine.

In the beginning of Philip Yancey's book, Where Is God When It Hurts, he talks about these things a lot.  He talks about the importance of pain.  The reasons for pain.  That pain is actually a sort of signal for us to pay attention to something.

This seems logical.  Terrible, but logical.  I don't want to experience pain.  Pain means I'm alive.  I can feel.  I have emotions.  But at times, it feels unbearable.  When I'm honest with myself and others, sometimes I just don't care.  I don't want to experience this anymore.  There's pain.  Disappointment.  Inconvenience.  Grief.  Fear.  Hopelessness.

Progress means I'm not apathetic.  It means I embrace my pain and tell others about it.  Do you know how painful it is to tell others about your pain? Well of course you probably do.  But over and over again?  I want to be a hermit.  I want to stop "processing" with others.  I want to stop telling my story.  Telling my story in many ways feels like I'm reliving it and I just don't want to do that anymore.  Can I just be honest and say that?

But I'm the missionary.  I'm supposed to have it all together.  Well, like a post from a few days ago, I can let you in on another secret.  I am one big, huge hot mess.  I've beat this dead horse.  I've tried coming at it with a sledge hammer.  Check.  A shovel.  Check.  How about a baseball bat.  Check.  What other methods do I need to beat a dead horse?  I don't know.

This process is slow.  There are no answers.  There are no right or wrong ways to do this (ok, there's definitely a wrong way).  It's just plain slow and painful.  I want to feel normal.  I want to sleep normally again.  I want to make new friends and not want to hide from conversations with people, even people I like.

Oh Lord.  Give me grace.  Give me clarity.  Give me the courage to face this pain that you seemingly have allowed me to go through.  Why?  It doesn't feel fair.  It doesn't feel nice.  It feels like God is downright mean at times.  He loves me.  Yeah, but that love is painful right now.  The cost of following Jesus is real.  And tangible.  Right now.  I wrestle honestly with God: is it worth it?

My mind is kind of a jumbled mess right now.  My heart is doing better.  Again, it's slow.  Right now, I choose to be faithful.  To my kids.  To my responsibilities.  To processing.  And to keep reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel.  There's always hope.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Great News!

We received great news yesterday.  We can officially move to Florida at the beginning of July!  This is great news for many reasons.  It means we can finally have a home and be settled.  It means we can have somewhat of a normal schedule and some routine.  It means consistency for ourselves and our kids.  It means staying in one place for more than a week at a time.

Right now it feels like the most glorious thing we could have right now.  That might be a tad exaggerated.  But it's not too far off.  Either way, this is basically how we feel: