Sunday, March 28, 2010

LUKE 8:22-39 -- "ONLY REASON"

While reading Luke 8 recently something kicked in. The thoughts took me back to Uganda.

When in Soroti, God dropped a youn
g girl into the lives of me and my co-"minister" Jill. An aid worker for a Ugandan organization wanted to help in the girl's situation, but couldn't, and she laid it in our lap. When we followed through, our lives changed. She was at the local hospital caring for her brother ... she was guesstimated at 12, and he was 14. He died the next day. Her parents had died and other family members couldn't help. After his death, the local authorities gave us permission to take her back to the orphanage with us, and we left for Christmas break the following week. The assumption, on all of our parts, was that she would be added to a family group home. That changed before we reached the orphanage. My Ugandan son and daughter-in-law, Sam and Adhe, picked the three of us up in Kampala, a couple hours from New Hope. Before we reached there, Adhe had "adopted" the girl ... and for six years, she has lived in this family. Her whole life changed: From -- little or no education, no daily care, ragged or nearly non-existent clothing, little food, no medical care, and working incessantly to the bone because of the others' expectations and her servant-heart attitude. To -- a good education, good food and nice clothes, medical care, and a totally sold-out mother and father, and young sister, an "Aunt" Jill, and piles and piles of friends. And, yes, she still does chores, but not in the harshness of her former life.

Before we reached New Hope that evening, Adhe had changed her name from something informal and "nick-namey" to Rebekah. When we discovered this the next day, Jill wanted her also to be called "Sanyu" because it means "joy" and we saw it flowing from Rebekah constantly,
even when she was in the hospital caring for her brother. I presented that idea to Adhe, and she immediately applied it and "our" girl is Rebekah Sanyu.

The reason I'm telling this is because when I returned home several weeks later, I was very sick... Post traumatic stress from what I'd seen and heard in that refugee area; many physical problems connected to exhaustion, malnutr
ition, sleep deprivation and malaria; emotional residue from the separation from my husband, having spent 2-1/2 months without him, except for the occasional phone call [he came the last two weeks, which caused great rejoicing among many, and my heart could relax again]; AND the overall cost for that 3 months came to approximately $6,000, not exactly a "cheap date."

A few months later Sam and I were talking on the phone. I was feeling better, doing OK. And I said to him, "Sometimes I think the main reason the Lord called me to Soroti was to get Rebekah and give her to you." My son, knowing all that we had gone through, and not taking any of it lightly, said he agreed and ended with, "... and it was worth it."

NOW -- Luke. This is the part that shares the boat trip across the Sea of Galilee. The storm tried to wipe them out, the disciples panicked, and Jesus commanded it to quit. They reached the Gerasene area and were confronted by the demonized man, etc., etc. [The story is well-known, of course.] At the end, the local villagers tell Jesus to leave. As the Message Bible puts it: Too much change, too fast, and they were scared.

When I was reading it a few days ago, for the very first time ever my mind popped in a thought...
the demonized man was the only/main reason Jesus made the trip across the Sea of Galilee... the attempt of the "Storm" to kill Him and his disciples, the fight with the demons [which may well have shaken the disciples up, and most certainly scared the townsfolk and herdsman to the nearly insane level], and the physical tiredness that could well have hit the "man" side of Jesus afterward --- it was ALL for the sake of this ONE MAN. To free him and give him a future and a hope. And open the eyes of those around him, who had feared and avoided him, to truly "see" ahead.

...Just as going to Soroti, "finding" Rebekah, and in spite of all the challenges, the "revelation" that SHE was the reason for the trip, and she was worth it!

Here's a photo of our dear granddaughter, Rebekah Sanyu, and our son, her dad, Sam, a couple days after she reached the orphanage ... in her real and bright "kid" clothes [nothing compared to the large "old woman" dress she was wearing when Jill and I met her a week earlier].

Monday, March 22, 2010


It’s not the Fact of a Hole –
-- life is life --
It’s the gape-ing-ness,
The ravaged-edged-ness of it;
The where does it begin – or end-ness?
What can – WHO can –
fill the Hole?
I desire to not wallow –
I want to move on –
Yet I feel paralyzed
Numbed by life’s trickery, treachery.
I can’t breathe deeply
b’cause the air brushes against
the rawness, the redness, the INFLAMED LIVIDNESS
of the Hole’s edges,

and is caught mid-stream.

In spite of the
pain, Fear, Stricken-ness,
what do I know?

My Father God is BIGGER
(He can fill the gape-ing-ness,
transform the Blackness to Light
and infuse
wonderful Peace).

My Father God REDEEMS
(Period. He is the Eternity-Focused Eternal Father).

My Father God is KIND
(He promised beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning).

My Father God is FAITHFUL -
(what He begins, He finishes –
He will not leave gaping ugly Holes).

-- I must remember,
moment by moment

My Dear, Most Dear, Husband loves me.
My Children and Grandchildren --
[Family-related and otherwise]
think I’m OK –- (usually) --
I am much blessed wi
Faithful Friends...

--– a Future and a Hope.

All metamorphose to anointing oil,
gently showering,

soothing ra
w edges.

Healing WILL come – Through them all –
My Heavenly Father --
My Dear, Most
Dear, Husband –
Family –

The Hole will fill,
ravaged edges bound in Love.

==========Blog Carnival time. The word is Faithfulness

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Several years ago when I was in Soroti, Uganda, to help with the IDP situation after the LRA rebels had invaded the general area a few months earlier, I went to the local rescued children's camp to interview some of the kids. Out of the hundreds that were there, even though I was able to touch and bless many, many of them, I only interviewed about 20 during the visits -- and not one of those were "rescued" [as the camp was named] ... instead, each one had escaped, sometimes during very dangerous times, such as cross-fire between the rebels and the army/local militia, or were abandoned by the rebels because their legs or feet were damaged and they were no longer able to carry the heavy loads. They were left to die and had no food, water; miraculously they were found within a few days and survived. Some escaped simply by walking off when the rebels were distracted. Most stories made me cry or scream [which I did when I returned to the ministry compound where I was staying] and some made me want to laugh, simply because of the way God had opened a door for them to walk through.

The Lord laid it on me recently to start writing the book I've worked on off and on over these pa
st few years. Just re-reading my journals and emails and letters has caused my heart to explode towards those children again. I have SO desired to return to Soroti to track down the children I interviewed [most aged 10 to 16 at the time, so young adults now] and see how they and their families have come through that terrible stretch of time.

This is one of the children I always think of. I didn't interview her. She was a young girl who had, most likely, been separated from her family while fleeing the rebels, and had either not been able to reconnect or was being kept in this camp because the parents in another camp couldn't feed her, which was not at all uncommon. I've always thou
ght of her as a poster child for any person who says, while digging through their dresser drawer or closet, "I can't find anything to wear." To see her wearing this "fancy" dress, and smiling gently ... it always makes me make sure I keep my mouth shut if I am ever tempted to think that "nothing to wear" way.

She is definitely a child I would lo
ve to find....

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Serious stuff. [Just thought I'd warn you.] I have 4 prayer booklets based in the Far East -- Thailand, Malaysia,Tibet, North Vietnam -- sent to me about a year ago by Lee, my Singapore friend. This morning I began reading, for the severaleth time, the booklet about people in Thailand, with many details about their lives and what they must go through on a day-to-day basis for survival. It also shares how nearly impossible it is to present the gospel to them for several reasons: it's illegal in various locations; a high percentage of illiteracy; generationally sold-out to idols, most of them having been dedicated from the womb, their spirits captivated. Over these months, while reading the stories, I have become more and more heart-involved. I turn a page and see a familiar picture of a "friend". Even before I begin reading, I recall their unique situation. I have become spirit- acquainted with them. I realize I will never meet these men, women and children face-to-face here on earth -- but maybe, just maybe, miraculously, we will meet in heaven. The reason? Because many are standing up for them, some "tent-making" within their national borders and others who, through prayer and fasting, worldwide, are fighting for their salvation.

As I look at the photos and read the stories, I find myself praying in a way that has become nearly standard for me over this past couple of years. Of course, first I generally say or "do" all the stuff that, as a Christian, is normal ... expected, but there is only one phrase that comes forth frequently with real intensity... "Only You, Lord, only YOU!". It's focus: various personal and family and friend situations, the violence in our neighborhoods, our city, the ungodliness that permeates our state -- our region -- our nation ---- our world -- and topping those, my own personal "flaws" that seem to keep kicking my tail.

When I find myself concerned beyond belief -- some folks have said I'm concerned beyond my "faith" -- this is the only prayer I can pray. It is screamed in my spirit and heart ... and often from my mouth -- while walking through my house or driving my car around town or through other parts of the country ... and, yes, oh, yes, jumbled together with praise to our Lord. AND In spite of that truth ... knowing that He IS the answer ... I still. ... overall ... often ... frequently ... cry out, "Only You, Lord, only YOU!"

Friday, March 12, 2010


Anyone under a certain age won't understand or appreciate this bit. And it's not spiritual. I took this college class in Oklahoma wanting to add to my skills at work and be more adept at taking notes in other classes. Overall, I'm not very good at it -- but I use it still today when writing away from my computer -- OR, slyly, if writing a comment I don't want anyone to figure out if they come across it, sometimes even in my Bible. To me, THAT makes it worthwhile; in a culture where nothin' ain't hardly ever truly confidential if we've written it [or even thought it hard enough], shorthand has become a blessing since so few people in our present day can figure it out. [I came across this recently and today I started to pop it into the shorthand text book that I've had for many years, and decided to put it out to you first. NOW it will go into the book.]

In years to come
When people say,
"And what did you accomplish?"
It may depress us
To look back and think,
I'm going no place.
But, dear, take heart,
Although our lives
Aren't glorious as planned,
If nothing else
We'll say with pride,
"I made it through shorthand."

I know this poem
Really stinks
In meter and in rhyme.
I grasp at straws
But a good poem
Takes not just skill, but time.
For four whole months,
Time has fled
The hours sift like sand.
We've done nothing else
Than, day and night,
More shorthand, Shorthand, SHORTHAND!

Our children scream,
Our husbands fuss,
Our friends all think we're crazy.
We may have flaws
But we found out
No one can say we're lazy.
The midnight oil is burning low,
The flame will not be fanned --
'Cuz we're burned out.
We say "Farewell"
To each other -- and to shorthand.

To my classmates
Finals Night
April 30, 1984

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


During lunch
with a new-found friend,
Her pets swirling around our feet,
She kept commanding, "Shirley,
stay down!" or "Shirley, off the chair!"

And I wondered, and pondered,
and thought --
but didn't ask --
"Why would anyone name a dog 'Shirley' ?"
[I wasn't even sure whether it was male or female --
must I confess such ignorance?]
But still -- Shirley?!

As I was leaving,
settling into my car,
She suddenly said,
"I bet you've been wondering
why I call my dog Shirley.
It reminds me that 'Surely goodness and mercy will follow me'."
And she trailed into a laugh .. which I joined.
[a most pleasant way to say goodbye].

Now forever,
with the image of a middle-sized,
black and white,
shaggy dog
Superimposed --

Psalm 23, Verse 6 will never be the same.

Go to Blog Carnival

Monday, March 8, 2010


In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin and how the "finder" rejoices. WELL, I don't have any sheep and my coins aren't valuable enough to cause me to panic at first and rejoice later. We live in a different world today, in general, for that response.

Today I panicked over a totally different loss. My driver's license. I had it in my pants pocket this morning, thought I moved it to my purse later, and, assuming that was correct, when I was leaving to pick up the g-kids from school, tried to pull it out to pop it back into my pocket. I couldn't find my license.
I freaked. I tore the purse apart, I dug through my jacket and pants pockets, hoping it had been stuck in a fold. I didn't find it, but had to leave right away or I wouldn't be at school on time. Later I looked under car seats thinking it might have fallen out of my pants pocket earlier in the day. Nothing. When I got home I dug through the sofa and chair in the living room and my chair in the office. Nothing. I called the one place I had been that day, a restaurant, in case it had been found there. NOTHING!!

So, I knew that tomorrow I would have to go to the DMV to get a new one -- not pleasant, partly because it would hit the budget a bit, and with Dave out of his job for a year and a half, extra budget hits really hit me in the stomach.

This evening I needed to clean the living room. On today's "to do" list. Was "swiffering" -- no expectation whatsoever re: the license. Started to swipe under a cabinet and ran into something and when I pulled the duster out, the license came with it. I jumped up and down, hollering "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you." And the frustration? I couldn't run outside and find neighbors to rejoice with me. It was dark, it's cold, most of them are "indoorsy", especially this time of year. But this scripture ran through my head and I decided that the best ones I could share this with are ones who would rejoice with me -- some neighbors might, but the majority of them would probably just roll their eyes at me, "that crazy, over-reacting intense woman."

Isn't it rather nice to discover, one more time, that the stories Jesus told can adjust themselves to our cultures and have the same dramatic results?

So, friends, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the 'silver coin' that I had lost."

Thursday, March 4, 2010


One small portion of the learning curve has been overcome. I finally figured out how to change the top blog intro. The photo, taken back in the early '90s in Uganda at the New Hope Uganda orphanage at Kasana is one of my favorites. Amazingly, I took this photo, even though it was a sunrise -- which I rarely saw -- missing sunrises is normal for me. The tree wasn't perfect then and is now gone. But this photo represents the blessing of living in that country ... and is a constant reminder of our dear family and friends who will be in our hearts forever.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I met my dear husband 25 years ago towards the end of February. I had been asked to write and direct monologues and speak "sermonette-style" at his church during the Lenten season. A recently divorced Christian, I was very aware, both personally and by observation, of the "less than" treatment the divorced experienced. W-e-l-l, I threw that concern into the mix, and sounded a bit on the defensive/aggressive side [WHO, ME???] when I pushed for hope that the divorced and their children, instead of being treated as outcasts and unclean, would be received as spiritual warfare "widows and orphans". Annoyed the heck out of a lot of folks. And, even though I was a guest speaker, surprisingly, the Lord led me to join this church.

Dave was a youth leader ... and I had a youth. He was much younger than I was; I had no attachment to him except that I appreciated his generosity and servant-heartedness and kindness towards the kids and their folks... including me.

Then on May 19th, the Lord “glued” us together in a way we never expected and certainly didn't understand. Both of us were big-eyed and scared beyond imagination at first – but we knew this was truly a "God-thing." Dave was a gentleman, thoroughly. I was the opposite, definitely not sweetness and light. I had been abused for most of my life and was intense, and, even though a Christian for 19 years, I still had a rep for hardness, toughness, bluntness, often aimed at fighting for others in abusive or tough circumstances.

Two days after we were drawn together, Dave showed up at my door, handed me an envelope, gave me a quick hug, and left. When I opened it, and read it, I was absolutely floored. Since that moment, it has been framed, either actually or in my heart.

I want to share it with you. It will let you know, and allow you to show others, that the Lord can break through for the worst of us in the worst of life's events — to bring glory to His name. Ain’t nothin’ else more important.

I'm still a "bit" on the intense side, but after 25 years of love and acceptance from Dave, all I want is for others, especially the wounded or abused, to experience the Lord's compassionate heart — just as I have been blessed to do.

Sorry to take so long, but wanted to give you a background and help with the understanding of why it is so amazing. Here goes:


How can such a tough lady be so fragile?
Yet you are.
And i understand.

Fragileness is a part of your beauty, like a flower,
and your willingness to risk hurt shows your strength,
which balances and makes you whole.

I pray that i see your fragility,
so i can treat you as i ought.
I would loathe to crush the flower underfoot,
when i desire to nurture you and grow you up in Jesus.

I pray the Lord's forgiveness,
and yours,
if i am not tender when i need to be,
and tough when i need to be.

We married 4 months later.