Monday, March 31, 2014

Shooting the Wounded

I've been really burdened the last few weeks. God keeps bringing friends across my path who have been wounded. These are strong believers who have been betrayed by other believers. For really stupid reasons. (Is it okay for me to say that?)

Their stories aren't my story to tell. But my heart breaks as I watch them keep their heads high and grieve. Because the world is watching. And those whose faith may not be mature enough to understand are left wondering what in the world is going on.

Why is it that Christians seem to be the only ones who shoot their wounded? Why do churches sometimes seem to put so much emphasis on evangelism (a good and Godly thing) while those within the family are broken and left to their own grief?

I have no good answers. But I have to believe that God is crying right now along with us. Not only at the brokenness of my friends, but the way other believers have been the cause of that brokenness. (And the lack of repentance over the sin that caused all this pain in the first place.)

All I know is that I'm ready for the Lord's return. And in the meantime, I will try to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Cynthia

I've been praying about who God is putting in my life. What person needs a little bit of kindness in God's name? Who is the person I rub shoulders with on a regular basis, that with a little bit of effort, I could build a relationship?

The answer came in an unlikely place. Cynthia. The cookie lady. (You know...when you take a weekly trip through Wal-Mart with a two-year-old who may or may not cooperate...you can always bribe them with a free cookie at the bakery when they're good!)

Week after week, she smiles and greets Annie as she hands out a cookie and a brief conversation. Last week, the conversation suddenly became much more personal. I learned a lot about Cynthia and her family. A lot of areas for prayer and concern. And a chance for me to just love on her.

Just as I'm beginning to really feel a connection, and an excitement about where God is leading this, Cynthia shares that this week will be her last. She's moving home to Nashville at the end of this week.

So tomorrow will be my last Tuesday morning shopping trip to see sweet Cynthia. I know that she'll be spreading sunshine wherever she goes. And I know God has someone else waiting just around the corner.

In the meantime, Annie and I put together a little farewell gift for Cynthia as she goes back to her home in Tennessee. Annie put in her favorite Chinese cookies (it only seemed appropriate); a notepad that says "Don't Forget"; a planter with some forget-me-not seeds. I hope Cynthia knows that she and her family will continue to be in our prayers. Every time we get a cookie!


Oom-Pah

I give a lot of updates on the girls, and the occasional one about me...but what exactly has Dan been doing with his time? And why is there a sousaphone and a marching tuba in my already crowded house?

Dan was able to march with the Omaha Railmen the last year that particular drum corps was in existence. This year, they are marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Corps with an alumni performance in July. Since November, Dan has given up one weekend a month to brush up his tuba chops and prepare for the performance. Dayna got to go along on Sunday and took some great pictures.






Play Dough Night

On a random whim, Dayna and Dan decided to have a Play Dough competition after dinner last week. As someone who is artistically challenged, I'm truly impressed by what they can do.

Dayna's hen


Fruit Baskets (complete with wine bottle , sparkling grape juice and French bread )

The Safest Place?

I'm sure I've heard more than once in my life that the safest place to be is in God's hands. Another variation is that the safest place to be is in the middle of God's will.

Really?

Because sometimes, I think it's flat-out terrifying.

I know that God will keep in perfect peace those whose hearts are steadfast. I know that He will raise us up on eagle's wings. I know that He is an eternal refuge. I know that He leaves peace with us - not as the world gives.

But when we're in the center of His will, we're vulnerable to attack - whether it's our own anxieties or attacks from Satan himself. The center of His will is where the storm will rage.

I'm not in the middle of a raging storm right now, but I'm certain I'm in His will - and I'm bracing myself for what may come. I sent a letter today. In it, I submitted my official resignation for the job I was offered 2 weeks before my wedding. The job I trained for since I was five years old. The job I loved.

But about 3 years ago, it was made clear that I needed to step back. I took two years' leave of absence. In those years, God has made it clear that I'm not supposed to return. And so today, I signed and sealed the letter (and made Dan put it in the mail - no turning back.)

It's scary. I had the opportunity to return - full salary and benefits. We'd be able to make ends meet again (and maybe even get ahead!) But at what cost to our family? God's provided for our family the last two years without that salary or those benefits. But I will never be able to replace this time with our family. And my emotional state when I'm with them is so much better than it has been in years. I know for a time I was called to work full-time outside the home. And those days (for now) are over.

The day may come again when I stand in front of "my" students in "my" classroom, teaching "my" plans - but for now, it's okay to borrow someone else's students, classroom and plans - to say goodbye at the end of the day - and to be able to give all of me to my family.

I'm scared. I've left behind "earthly" security. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this is God's will.

Annie's First Trip to the Amanas

We took Annie on her longest road trip yet - about 5 1/2 hours to Cedar Rapids to see 2/3 of the Overmann family (Rebecca was at the Big XII Basketball tourney cheering on the victorious Iowa State Cyclones.) We think she'll be ready for a West Coast trip this summer!


Ready to go
Make that two of them

Ready for an Amana Breakfast
Let the food coma commence

Two of the best daddies in the world
The guys' favorite part - taking the little one back to the house to watch sports while the rest of the girls go shopping.

2014 Fine Arts Festival

Despite not feeling well, Dayna made a great showing at the auditions for Ashland's Fine Arts Festival again this year. She took Best of Show in the piano category and demonstrated such poise. Her hard work definitely paid off. This is her audition video:

video

Young Author Update

Dayna was published in our local newspaper. It was an exciting day to see her story in print. She wouldn't let either of us read it until it was in the paper, and it was well worth the wait.

You can see the article here.

Here is the text of her story:

“Louise”
By Dayna Wilson,
third grade

Once upon a time in a flower garden at the zoo, there lived a six spotted ladybug family. The mom’s name was Megan. The dad’s name was Leo. The oldest daughter’s name was Mei. The brother’s name was John. And the youngest daughter’s name was Louise. Louise was good in Aphid Math and Social Studseeds. She loved reading and writing and music. But there was one thing she could not stand; she has seven spots instead of six spots!

Everyone made fun of her, even her best friend said, “No offense, but you kind of look funny. Ha! Ha! Ha!”

“Even you turned your back on me!” screamed Louise. At lunch break Louise, very upset, went straight to her room and buried herself in her covers.

“Louise!” called her mother, “time for lunch!”

“I don’t want to come down, make John bring it up!” she yelled bitterly.

In less than five minutes, John came up. “What’s the matter, Louise? Tell me everything,” he said.

“Well, my best friends, Emily, said I look funny…I don’t want my extra spot! I’m soooo tired of it!” yelled Louise rolling her eyes. “Everyone makes fun of me!”

“I know,” John said calmly. “When I started Beetle Bug Kindergarten, nobody had seen a six spotted ladybug before and everyone made fun of me, too.”

“Really?” asked Louise.

“Really,” assured John.

“Here’s what I do when someone makes fun of me. I count to twenty before I get mad, and if they keep bullying, I … 1. ignore, 2. walk away, 3. walk further, 4. stand by a teacher and 5. tell,” he said.

“OK! I’ll be sure to do that next time,” said Louise. And with that she ate her aphids and sprinted off to ladybug school.

Emily greeted her at the door saying, “I’m so sorry for calling you that. Are you mad at me?”

“Nah,” said Louise. “I guess I’m sorry for stomping away like that.”

“Oh, it’s OK,” responded Emily. “Well what are we waiting for? Let’s go play!”

During recess, Frank, the bully, said sarcastically, “Having a good time? Sorry to ruin your six-seven frenzy, but I just wanted you to know you look really ugly with those seven spots.”

Louise was about to get mad, but John’s words zoomed through her head. Louise said nothing.

“Too afraid to say something?" Frank jeered.

Louise walked away.

“Aw, did I hurt your feelings?” he whined.

Louise knew he didn’t mean it so she walked further.

“Oh, I’m sorry to bother you.”

Emily said something, “You stop it, Franklin!”

“Oh, I’m soo scared!” snickered Franklin.

That was it! Louise ran to the teacher and told. The teacher made Franklin stop what he was doing and walked around the school with him, talking.

The next day at recess, Franklin said sorry and told Louise, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to bed right away and I don’t know how to handle it.”

“I forgive you,” said Louise.

The recess whistle blew.

“Bye!” called Frank.

“Bye!” said Louise.

“Wow! How did you do that?” asked Emily.

“I ignored, walked away, walked further, and told,” she replied.

“But you didn’t get mad right away,” Emily said.

“Well, God gives me grace and I need to use some too.” Louise said.

Later when the class was sharing their writing, Frank asked to go up. Frank said, “I wrote an essay on bullying and I learned that it is NOT, I repeat, NOT OK to bully other people because the way they look.”

“Raise your hand if you’ve been bullied. I’ve been kind of a bully to you guys and I’m sorry,” he said. The class clapped and then whistled.

After school, Louise gave Frank a second chance and said, “I loooved your story. Would you like to be my friend?”

“Of course!” said Frank.

At home, Louise told her family about Frank.

“But I thought you and Frank were enemies,” Mom and Dad said.

“You can always change,” said Mei.

“I guess you’re right,” said Mom. “Let’s go out to dinner tonight,” suggested Mom.

“Sure!” agreed Mei, Leo and Louise.

“How about we invite Frank,” said Dad.

“Yeah,” answered Louise.

That night when they were at “Aphid-n-Grill” Frank said, “I hope nobody ever makes fun of Louise again.”

When Louise heard that, she almost spit out her Mountain Dew.

At bedtime, Louise said, “Tomorrow is a new day when we can start over.”

Moral: It isn’t ok to bully someone just because of how they look.

Twinkle

We decided a few months before Annie came home that her special collection would be stars and starfish. We love the verse that talks about God numbering the stars and calling each of them by name - and that He knew our sweet Annie's name long before we ever saw that impish face. We also love the sweet story of the boy collecting starfish along the shore and how he made a difference one starfish at a time. We may not be able to provide a family for all the children who need one, but we are able to provide one for Annie.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Annie's favorite song is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." We're not sure if it matches her special collection of stars, or if it matches the twinkle in her eye. Nonetheless, she's awfully cute singing it.

video

Saturday, March 22, 2014