Saturday, October 25, 2014

For Stress and Beauty

I'd been taking aspirin for a week. The headache never leaving, only waxing between mild and intense flashes of pain. By the Saturday morning I couldn't keep my eyes open.

"I think I need a blood test." I told Ben. A persistent and increasing headache is one of the first signs of Malaria.

The three of us loaded onto the scooter and headed to the pharmacy. Thirty minutes later I held a negative blood test in my hands. Not malaria, thank God. A second test showed high white blood cells indicating some kind of infection. "Show it to your doctor." The nurse told me.

As we loaded back onto the scooter, my headache easing again, we spotted her. She stopped us in our tracks, this black and white beauty. More the size of a small bird than a butterfly, her delicate velvet wings beating to her own rhythm. 

On the way home we stopped to pick up our new motorcycle from a friend's shop. Feeling quite a bit better, I drove the scooter and Isaiah the familiar short distance home while Ben took the motorcycle. My son's small arms wrapped around my sides, we headed off.

The bumpy road home is all gravel and red dirt. I drive slow, putting my feet down at the slippery parts. I know this road, where the smoothest parts are, where the gravel is loose and the back tire slips.

Rounding the familiar bend the scooter starts to speed up. I pull hard on the front and back breaks, but can't stop. On the slippery gravel I start to loose control and unable to slow the scooter down we hit a large rock. The scooter falls to the right and we fall with it.

Our friend had been driving behind us and saw everything. He jumped out of his truck and lifted the scooter off of my leg. Isaiah stood behind me crying, but unhurt. A small patch of grass on the side of the road had cushioned his fall.

Isaiah rode home in the truck and I drove the scooter. I hadn't noticed my bloody knee until I stopped the scooter in front of Ben and said with shaking voice, "We fell off. I couldn't stop. The accelerator is sticking. Isaiah is ok. He's in the truck."

At home Ben poured me a glass of Sprite and ordered, "You need to sit down and drink." He checked Isaiah over and hugged him, listening and answering questions of what happened. I cleaned and covered my scraped up knee. The cuts were long, but not too deep. Still shaking and sipping my drink, I closed my eyes and whispered a prayer of thanks. We were ok.

A few hours later our long time friend arrives to stay for the week. We haven't seen him in twelve years, but he still wears the same infectious smile. We will finish language school and move home in just 10 days. Our friend arrives in the midst of chaos, but with him peace and laughter arrive too.

And that's just it. The velvet black and white beauty soothing my persistent headache. Grass grown long before on the side of the road in just the right place to catch and cushion my son's fall. Friendship that brings joy even after a decade apart.

This is nothing new. Life here, life back in our old home. Stress is real and intense, but so is beauty and God's goodness. Not as small pinpricks of light shining through darkness, but as the brightest light of hope forcefully pushing back the dark and filling and freeing our hearts and minds.

  "And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."   
Romans 5:2 The Message

Pushing back the dark

This post is a link up to Velvet Ashes where others are discussing beauty this week.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Anchor and The Hurricane

I'm a dreamer. I know it's not really possible for me to save the world, but I still dream about it all the time. I'm a great starter. Full of passion and 'can do' spirit, I dive right in. Don't try to warn or reason with me, the risks don't really mean much.

Ben's a thinker. He sees a suffering world and carefully considers where and how he can make a difference. He starts slowly, thoughtfully, because there's no real rush when you're in it for the long haul. The risks are carefully considered and prepared for.

Our Florida pastor likes to ask the question of married couples, "Are you the hurricane or the anchor?"

When a hurricane and an anchor move overseas adversity doesn't miss an opportunity.

True to myself, I dove right in. My new culture and language right outside my front door I walked the neighborhood streets in the hot afternoon sun for hours each day. It didn't matter that I didn't actually have any words or phrases other than "Good morning", "My name is Anisha" and "What's that?" It didn't matter that my feet couldn't touch the bottom. I figured I'd just tread water while I searched for a ledge to grab on to.

Unfortunately for anchors, hurricanes tend to whip up everything in their path and carry them along, willingly or not.

The anchor would have preferred to learn more words first. To have a base to build meaningful friendships on rather than a bunch of friendly but rather shallow smiles. The anchor would have sought out relationships with expats who have been here for years instead of focusing exclusively on local relationships. He would listen for directions and coached by the experiences of those who already know where the ledge is would swim confidently in the right direction.

It's hard for hurricanes to slow down, but the anchor you love can only be tossed and carried along for so long.

Of all the lessons learned over the last months, this one is the hardest: In all my passion and enthusiasm I fail my anchor. And in that moment, in ignoring the needs and God given qualities of the one I pledged my life and love to, the Adversary wastes no time.

"Your marriage will be under attack." So many warned us. "You have to stay in tune with each other. Nothing else matters." I can still see the sincerity in their eyes.

I didn't see the breach in the wall. I didn't see the Adversary forming ranks around us until the first flaming arrows hit.

We fight back standing strong with feet planted deeply in peace. God's words as a sword gripped tightly in our hands. Faith a shield around us. Our Saviour on our minds and the deep knowing of His truth felt right through to our guts. There is no fear. We know that this is not a war against flesh and blood. Neither does victory come by our own power.

The dreamer and the thinker, hurricane and anchor, joined together for one mighty purpose. Not to save the world or even to figure out how to change a little part of it. Those reasons are much too small.

No matter where we are, no matter where we make our home, no matter what we make our profession, this union is not about our physical world. It's really about a transcending Love.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Eph 5:1-2 The Message)

The Anchor and The Hurricane