When the heart needs to hurt

I just may have trumped Jamie the Very Worst Missionary in the worst missionary category. I love her blog, I do. Love reading about her not-so-perfect life and I’m not even offended when she uses the, shall we say ‘slang’, of the day. I think we could be friends because she’s real and I’m wanting so hard to be real and I could be real with her. All the time kind of real.

Maybe that’s what I’m about to be here with you when I tell you that the week I spent on my first ever mission trip to Haiti, a country so steeped in political corruption that keeps their own people mired in poverty, that country close enough to our shores its people have set out on rafts to come here for better lives, yes, the mission trip there didn’t steal my heart. My soul isn’t bleeding for its soil and I’ve not dropped to my knees every day praying for those dear children living in a place that offers them safety, but few options for more.

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I was the old girl on the team, older than some of my teams mama’s including my co-leader. I wasn’t in tears our last day there. I wasn’t vowing to come back some day. Maybe it was my age, my life’s experience that tells me ‘this is how things are honey’. You come, you love as much as you can knowing you’re going to get to go home and they have to stay, and you say thank-you and wave goodbye.

When I got home I stood under our shower with hot water for a long time completely conscious I was wasting water. Completely not caring at that moment. And I flushed the toilet every time I used it. I didn’t have to use bottled water to brush my teeth with and it was wonderful.

I’ve wondered about this a lot over the 2 years since that trip. Wondered why it didn’t pierce my heart the way I’d heard others explain, the way other bloggers have written. Have I built a gate around my heart that strong?

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And I think, yes, yes I have. No apologies for it. It’s survival. It started when my parents divorced I think. A heart so confused and so hurt and so broken that you never want to be hurt again so, unknowingly, the bricks start to build a shield.

Then you work in an area that sees heartbreak far too often when men who have sought relief from addiction, relapse. Again. And again. They did well a long while, and you let them in and thought they were friends and then, then the behavior starts that you know will come to no good end. And they’re gone and your heart hurts and you add a few more bricks around your heart. But you risk it again. Because you know, God risks it for you day after day.

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Haiti did impact me. It gave me a deeper understanding of their lives and yes, I do love that place that was once looked down on by so many from my neighborhood (America). Their smiles and generosity and contentment with little found its way around some of those bricks surrounding my heart. Or maybe the bricks are crumbling. Just a little. Maybe grace is blasting away at those bricks each day. Maybe the heart needs to hurt sometimes to love.

At the end of the day

Is this summer really busier than most or were slower summers just seen through hazy-want-it-to-be-so memories?

Summers when our kids were young seemed to stretch on with long days in the pool and road trip vacations out west. Then they started going to sleep-away-camps and working all summer at camp and summers got hotter and hurried to fit it all in.

Children add the pauses in life. Appreciated only with some perspective.

the granddaughter

the granddaughter’s recent visit

It has been a hurried July. Issues at work that can’t be resolved with simple decisions have stretched on, tethering us closer to home. The times we’ve enjoyed away haven’t been allowed to linger as we quickly put the photos aside to take up the next thing on the list.

The collision happened this week as it has before. The expected when working with people and disappointment more tragic when working with those getting their footing in recovery.

We throw some people right into the fire it seems. You get some traction in this recovery thing. You’re making all the right moves: sponsor, meetings, giving back, yep, you’re a stand-up guy. You’re hired.

It has to happen sometime this going back into the world, beyond our seemingly safe walls with counselors down the hall from you and recovery language spoken all around. Even here the addiction demon rages and pulls some down again.

80's night

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It was that kind of week. We’d been gone two days and back in time to put the finishing touches on our big 80’s night. Smack in the middle of summer where we knew we needed to laugh off the steam of the day. Back to a turmoil we didn’t know was brewing. Back to relapse that had us scrambling for replacements and action and grace.

I was home most of the day, with the granddaughter at the pool. Oblivious to anything amiss until the phone call not intended to inform me of the chaos others had been swept in. A simple question about the audio for the night and the simple statement, it’s been a busy day. “Good busy or bad busy?“, I asked. The new employee on the other end hesitated before he said bad busy followed by, “I don’t want to be the first to tell you.”

“Better get use to it“, I said and so it went from there.

The granddaughter still in the pool wanting me to come back in, safe from our grown-up world of disease and heartbreak.

Even the counselors get into the spirit of the night

Even the counselors get into the spirit of the night

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God knew. He knew when this would happen and that it would happen on the day we set aside to have a party. He knew at the end of confusion, uncertainty and frustration we would need to laugh. And we did.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

There are seldom more events that make us realize life goes on than relapse. One falls but 98 others must be held up, encouraged, shown a new way, a new life.

So we had our 80’s night with more of the younger ones embracing the costumes of a time before they were born. We laughed and cheered and booed when the judges didn’t score Pat high enough in karaoke. We danced with the counselors and wore silly things not in character for us. And in the process, some wounds were soothed.

At the end of the day, the fallen are cared for, taken to shelter and told they are loved.

At the end of the day grace. 

Five-minute Friday {ten}

Linking up for the weekly five-minute free writing frenzy (say that 3 times fast!) with the gracious host, Kate Motaung. Stop by her place to link up.

The granddaughter is here this week. All 7 years of her Taylor Swift-singing, Barbie-clothes-loving self.

She reminds me of why it was good we had our kids when we were young!

Our world changes when she comes.

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Surfing on Baba

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The house is filled with Popsicles and Peach water. The living room earns its name as a room that is well lived in with toys scattered about from one end to the other. I will make more quesadillas in 3 days than I’ve made the last 6 months.

The lovely community pools we haven’t visited in….well, that long, are finding us regulars and I’m thankful for a flexible schedule allowing me the trips to the pool and the Dollar Tree. (7-year olds can teach you a lot about economy and the Dollar Tree!)

She jumps on our bed and I LET HER! shhh….don’t tell her mama or uncle ;)

I let her sleep in because I need that extra time for myself.  (How did I ever do this with 2?!)

But the best 10 minutes of the day are the ones spent snuggled in a chair reading from the republished Dick and Jane books (her choice), my first reader.

She nestles in close, knowing the words coming before I turn the page. We close the book and walk to her room where her iPod sits cradled to play her lullaby playlist while she sleeps and I sit on the bed next to her when she says, “sing me a song, and what about the prayer?”

That time when she wrestles with not wanting me to go but trying to be the big girl and sleep is yawning its way to both of us, that time is the best. The softest, gentlest time thanking God in soft words for his good gifts to us.

Where Kindness Leads

Moving as much as we have, much was lost. Or tossed, or given away. Most of it just stuff but time reminds me of the photo’s  dad had that didn’t end up with me or my brother. I’m surprised there are a  few cherished things that found their way to our home.

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mamas songbook songbook note

The books and bibles are well-worn and today I finally glued the spine back to one of the family bibles and a songbook given to mama. Kind words were written inside from the giver and I was quickly reminded of the kindnesses that have spread across generations.

Notes written in books, a delicate handkerchief from a pastor’s wife when I was a teenager, funny pictures with friends who could bring out silliness in me. I wondered if I’ve been as kind in return.

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I thought I had the correct change when I walked in to get a soda. But I’d mistaken a penny for a dime, plunked the money and drink on the counter and said, “I’m short a dime and going to the car to get it.” Walking back in, a young man walking out said “I gave her the dime”. Kindness from a stranger.

I am moved by kindness. The simple gesture of a coworker offering to walk me to my car when night has come, someone holding the door open, these ordinary everyday acts, I don’t want to miss the grace of giving and accepting.

My mind goes to the gentle rhythm of a melody from long ago….

It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance, O Lord

Knowing that you love us no matter what we do

Makes us want to love you too.    – Your Kindness Leslie Phillips

“His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Romans 2:4b TLB

The rest of the verse is hard. It talks about our stubbornness and our refusal to turn from our sin, from our own desires rather than His. The verses talk about his judgement that will come. But, God wants to move us with his kindness, His benevolent patience.

God, help me to be moved by your kindness, swayed to put your ways above mine. With each kindness shown me by a stranger may I see your face, your hands, your grace. Forgive my stubbornness. May my heart be turned to you.

The ones that didn’t make the cut

I have a terrible time throwing out pictures. Especially travel pictures when I’m sure every photo is part of the story.

Rather than scrapbooking albums I prefer photo books. Unless I want to make a huge book and pay the huge price that goes with extra pages, not all the photos will make the cut. However, I think they’ll do make a nice little weekend blog post with some narrative about our week in London.

DSC_0013IMG_7786IMG_4064How can you not get shots of some of the icons like the red phone booths, double-decker buses and royal guard? They also make a nice red collection.

And then there were the street performers and architecture everywhere. The USA is such a baby in age compared to most other countries.

DSC_0041 IMG_7656 IMG_3115DSC_0394clock towerI had to take a photo of Selfridge as I’ve watched the show and who can resist snapping a shot of a wedding couple posing in front of said red phone booth? My sister-in-law jumped in to help straighten the brides dress.

IMG_7699 Selfridge & Co. Dawn heping brideFunny signs, people on the street and shots for “atmosphere”? Of course!

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My brother's name is Paul Joe

My brother’s name is Paul Joe

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No idea the occasion but something special was going on.

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Sometimes these photos tell the day to day story. The soaking in of another culture and the sounds these photo’s bring to mind. I’m still savoring a time well spent.

Five-Minute Friday {free}

Linking up with the gracious Kate Motaung, host of the weekly free-writing prompt known as Five-Minute Friday. Stop by and join this group of lovelies.

I’m a suspicious sort, tossing the junk mail with banners reading: CLAIM YOUR FREE PRIZE. Scan the fine print and you’ll discover the cost of free.

It pushes my buttons when someone, often a customer in one of our Family Stores complaining about a price with the rationale of, “you get this stuff free”.

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bible conference

I have to practice calm when explaining, no, it’s not free to us. It costs us the price of trucks, employee salaries, gasoline…utilities in this very building your standing in…….(serenity now!)

Yeah, I have to take a deep breath over that one.

I like free, but rarely are things without cost.

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Our 6-month rehabilitation program is free to the men. They receive counseling, food, clothes, purposeful duties, but it cost them something. It cost willingness to follow the rules, to get up at a certain time, to attend group meetings, to participate in their recovery. It costs them change.

For some that cost is too high.

Change carries a high price. No money is required to change but it’s a price many of us aren’t ready to pay.

Grace. Free. No cost. At all.

Paid for by Jesus. His life for us.

Grace because He loves.

Always.

Forever.

Free.

What I learned whilst in London

School may be out for summer, but there’s plenty of learning to be done, especially when visiting another country.

So I’ve compiled a short, fun, list of things observed on our recent visit to the UK.

While we may speak a language that sounds alike, they would quickly tell you we are not speaking the same language. (You may have gotten a hint to that in the title of this post.)

My nieces were the first to point out some of those differences as we looked for a trash can and they prompted the correct word was “bin”, as in, “where’s the bin to place my rubbish?” and in pointing out the thing we call an elevator should be referred to as “lift”. As if our pesky American accents won’t give us away.

a selfie with the nieces in the ladies room at Harrods

a selfie with the nieces in the ladies room at Harrods

Yes, this trip was enhanced by 3 nieces from 14 years old to 23. We basically toured with translators ;)

There are a few words of theirs I’d like to adopt. Whilst is a good place to start. It just sounds….well, smart. I’d also like their reference to vacation as holiday. It sounds so much more festive, yeah?

Of course it’s more than the words, it’s that accent. That dignified way they have of expressing utter frustration and anger that sounds…sweet!

When we were in Turkey several years back, my expectations on certain things like air conditioning and plumbing were a bit low. Those expectations are much higher when visiting a progressive country like England. And this is where it goes bad.

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London was having “killer heat” a day or two of our visit. Meaning the temps were in the 90’s and even hit 100 on the courts at Wimbledon. Yet in the midst of this heat wave, finding cold drinks was more difficult than usual.

Refrigeration units at shops weren’t working because the heat was so great. Uh-huh. You’re talking to someone who lives in South Florida folks. We’ve managed to have refrigeration running full force, enough to keep ice cream frozen (gasp!) through our dog days of summer that last for months on end, not a day or two. And I promise you, the rails in the subway WON’T MELT!

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an open window on the tube provides some welcome air and crazy hair!

an open window on the tube provides some welcome air and crazy hair!

Air conditioning isn’t a given here, though our hotel had it, thankfully. You will not find the double-decker buses, or tube (see how I’ve picked up their language, there) even when filled to standing room only, have the slightest bit of cooled air.

I do, however, commend them on hygiene as not once when literally pressed against strangers did I ever have to wish I could reach my nose to hold it.

Speaking of buses and the tube, they are very good at mass transit and the people are well-trained on squeezing more bodies than you ever thought possible and doing it with polite courtesy.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park

Borough Market

Borough Market

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They are also quite good at manners, preserving history, chocolate, flowers and parks.

It seemed every area we went to had a massive sprawling park with rows of flowers showing their summer color.

London Eye

London Eye

The youngest selecting macaroons from Laduree (these are the BEST macaroons)

The youngest selecting macaroons from Laduree (these are the BEST macaroons)

with my brother and his family, the 'McHudson' clan

with my brother and his family, the ‘McHudson’ clan

And did I say chocolate? This comes from one who can generally take or leave chocolate – theirs is really good. Even the hot chocolate at our hotel was lighter than the murky concoction often served stateside.

I can’t imagine a better education than travel. It leads to understanding and that often leads to peace.

What is your best of you’ve found in other places?