Passing Worries

After all my anxiety over the last few days drum lessons this morning were remarkably uneventful.  Nothing happened.  Well nothing but a lot of noise – because nobody was playing very well.  I don’t think either Emily or Hamish had thought anything would go smoothly today either and had also been wound up all week and not focused on their practice.  They certainly weren’t focused on their work today.

You have to hand it to Joel.  He has us over the barrel.  One false move and he forbids me from seeing Hamish unless he or Karen are there to make sure that God isn’t mentioned – not that I don’t stick to his ridiculous rules and look for ways to encourage the other contacts in his life already – but while I can see Hamish, I can teach him a lot by example.  He has shown me that over the past few weeks.  It’s now even more than giving up the contact with the nephew I love.  I don’t want to let go of the opportunity to witness to him in whatever ways I can.  And Joel knows it.  He thinks he has the ultimate power over me and that I will do whatever he wants now, just because he has seen this new way to use his son against me.  Lord, may I always trust you to care for Hamish more than myself.  May I always turn to you before I turn to Joel.  May there never be a time when he is tempted to ask it of me.

For the moment, Hamish and I spent the first ten minutes of the lesson just staring at each other as though neither of us could believe he was allowed to come.  Karen had that same sense of impermanence about her when she collected him and I told her that I’d see her next week.

Lunch with Megan was a relief after banging bongos and deafening drums with ten-year olds … no matter how beloved said ten-year olds are.  It was a relief to share with someone about Joel and his exhausting need for power over everything.  It’s not something you can talk about with everyone – certainly not with people who know the family, and not people who are inclined to interpret it as gossip or draw you into gossip rather than just the quality that presses upon you.  But Megan is someone I really feel that is able to be trusted with stuff like that.  Joel is kind of overwhelming in a lot of ways.  He sets out to be.  He wants to be overpowering to a certain extent.  He’s kind of funny placed next to Paul who takes things as he finds them, looks for ways to build people up and wrestles with life and engages with people.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried about how to raise Emily’s revelation to Megan.  She started to talk to me almost immediately about how worried she was about Jonah and how withdrawn he’s been getting.  She was horrified when I told her what Emily had said.  She and Carlos will have to work out what to tell him and what not to, but I have an idea that Jonah will know that his Mum is going to be sick for a while, but she is not dying.  Megan is worrying at present about when the right time to tell him that they’re expecting will be, given that he’s ten and picking up on things that people say.  She’s worried about what would happen if he worked it out and then worried about another dead baby without them knowing.

Lord, I am very glad some days not to have to make such decisions.  But then, there are days when I would envy Megan her husband and son.  Father, please give Megan and Carlos wisdom as they decide what to say to Jonah.  May his burdened heart be given rest.

I wonder if Gina has opened her Bible.

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Spotting

Dear God,

By today I had thought that Paul was going to be okay if I went home.  But he’s not.  He’s a mess.  He still needs someone to ‘spot’ for him.

He’s as grumpy as a teenager when it comes to the itches.  The girls are – for the want of a better word – scratchy; and squabbling all the time.  I spend most of my time as peacemaker because Paul has either been unduly abrupt with them or ignores the squabbling altogether until it escalates as though he hopes things will go away.

Jasmine spoke pitifully for all of us when she said very quietly into what became a sea of silence for what felt like hours afterwards, “I want Mummy”.

The girls and Paul have taken to slapping at the ‘spottos’ (Jazz’s term) – but every now and then I find someone looking at me with guilt and hand over spots … and then they slap.  I figure everyone’s afraid that I’ll tape the oven mitts onto them.

I got some good reading in this afternoon while they were all asleep.  One of Lisa and my favourite books – a very well thumbed edition.  Emily is nearly old enough for it now.

Paul appeared, tired and rumpled after sleeping and headed straight for the pills and potions.  He nodded to the book.

“Lisa loved that book.”

“I know.  She wanted Emily to read it next year.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“When she was eleven.  Same for Jasmine.”

“Why eleven?”

“That’s how old we were when we bought it – our first brand new book.”

“You’ve got one too?” he smiled.

“No.  We pooled our pocket money and bought this one together.” I smiled back, remembering.

Paul looked like he didn’t want to say what he was going to say next, and I knew already what it was.

“Don’t, Paul.  We’d already agreed that it should stay here for Emily and Jasmine.”

“But … What if you …? You know … ”

“Paul there is nothing and no-one on the horizon at the moment and even if there were, I’m sure that they can let cousins read a book when they’re eleven if it comes to that.  They’d be at least eight years older than them to start with if anything ever came to pass and hopefully more than that.”

“Eleven, hey … ” he nodded.  “Anything else – rites of passage I need to know about now?”

“I don’t know.  I suppose I’d better think about it.  Some of them will need to stay secret womens’ business – and you won’t want to know; but you’re right … there might be other things.  You should think about whether you’ll want my help with anything in particular or at particular times too – if you don’t remarry or anything”

“I should be okay.  What would I want help with?”

“I don’t know.  Some men are comfortable talking to their daughters about their period and sex and boyfriends and stuff and some go green at the gills, give the girl a pack of pads and run then stand at the door with a shotgun if anything male walks near; others like the girls to get both male and female perspective on the stuff (not the period – the other stuff).  Things like dressing nicely, but appropriately; doing hair and make-up – but friends may do that; formal dresses, weddings … .  The girls will decide lots with you as the time comes when they get older.  Did you and Lisa have a plan about that kind of stuff?”

“Some of it.  But you’re right, I’ll have to re-think it and get back to you.  Some people would suggest that I get Karen to do things because she’s a mother – but I think you’re a better fit.  You get the girls.  Besides, she’s got boys anyway.  If she had daughters, maybe I’d look at things differently and talk to both of you, but you and Lisa were close.  You will think about what Lisa would have said and share stories about Lisa if I need you to do any of that stuff.  I think the girls would like that too.”

Lord, reading your word today you say that we should be quick to listen and slow to anger.  That’s really hard to do with a house full of whining sick people, whinging about being itchy and biting at each other, making complaints about each other’s words and actions.  Especially when all of us are at our most vulnerable and missing someone for whom we are still grieving and would have normally been doing this job.  Thanks for helping me keep my temper most of the time, but please forgive my attitude at times – for I too found myself became a whining complainer and was poor tempered for most of the morning.

Please help me to be humble so that I can live and serve in a manner that is righteous in accordance with the gospel by which I have been saved.  Help me to remember this lesson tomorrow and to work towards change so that I will be someone who does not become caught up in whinging and ill temper when surrounded by it and that in this change I may humble myself to the gospel and so be blessed.

Amen.

Sweet Dreams

Dear God,

Today was a family day.  It was a great one.  It was a hard one.  As I stand and watch my precious nieces sleeping peacefully in my spare room all rugged up in bright, pretty bedding that I couldn’t help myself from getting for them.  They love the cushions at the end of the bed with the clumsy hand stitched pictures and their names on them for when they sleep over that Lisa and I made them when they were very little – one for home and one for here.  Father, I miss Lisa at times like this most of all.  She just loved being a Mum.  Its in these moments that I yearn for it too.

Emily and Hamish are still practicing hard.  Karen must be going out of her brain – or would be if they hadn’t bought him that electronic drum kit so that he could use earphones … still the dull thuds must get to her.  Em will be just bashing away down the back shed at home as usual and since they’re on acreage she gets away with it – mostly.  She’s not right under the neighbour’s windows – and they all know she lost her Mum last year so I think they’re pretty cool about it anyway.  Paul once said to her, “Perhaps it’ll help keep the possums at bay.” and she’s never let him forget it.  Good luck swallowing those words, Paul.  You’ve got a better chance with the possums than Emily.

I will swear that they are still competing over something.  I wonder what the prize is.  What’s the equivalent to a sheep station to a ten-year-old?

Mrs Hedge … sorry Grace was a hoot.  She might have broken her hip, but she’s keen as to be up and moving pain or no pain.  I can just see her leading the ward walking frame races – as soon as the nurses, physios & OTs turn their backs!  Thanks that she’s doing well. Please continue to heal her rapidly.

What a joy to know that she now belongs to you, Lord.  All that energy and she wants others to know you too.  She’s already got her family lined up for a course explaining the gospel like a true matriarch.  Carol says that she and several of the others are genuinely interested, others are wanting to do it because they’re worried about Grace being taken advantage of by a religious group.  She says that some changes in her mother are noticeable even now and she was so excited when they gave her a Bible – she read that like she usually reads the newspaper – and she won’t move in the morning most days till she’s read the paper cover to cover.  That was right up until she started catching that bus – always that particular bus since her last doctor’s appointment.

“I couldn’t work out why until she sent me to tell the ‘girl who answers my questions’ that she was okay,” she added.

So she had been a seeker when she kept joining me on the bus.  Thank you Lord for the privilege of being part of the plan.

Lord, how many of my own demons do I face down tonight when I am vulnerable.  My longing for children of my own to mother – and yes now is a time when missing out on a husband seems like a kick in the teeth – I want someone to share my days with – and my doona … well some of it anyway; my plans, my dreams … and it would have been nice to have a family of my own to talk about with Grace today.

But you Oh Lord are my sustainer, my companion and my protector.  You are with me always and your word promises that your grace is sufficient for me – even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.  May my gratitude for this raise my head and heart to you and comfort my troubled heart.

Lord, in Psalm 3 David asks you to strike his enemies on the jaw and break the teeth of the wicked.  Father my enemies are not the ones David faced.  Tonight they’re the feelings that I have been cheated or robbed of something that should have been mine when I encounter moments of yearning – they are ghosts, sins like envy and discontent.  Father, smite them.

From you comes my deliverance

May your blessing be upon me

Amen.

Contentment

Dear God,

Thanks for sleep and thanks for pills.  Please bring healing soon.  Lord please help me stay ahead of the migraine today and to watch the time so that I don’t miss doses when I need them.  Let the painful dancing, head thrashing elephants sleep today – or even better, tippy-toe off home.  I can live with heavy head.  Just no parties please.  And no pink-elephant-me racing across the office to the bathroom.

Father, the Philippians must have been generous to Paul – he says they sacrificed for the things sent to further the work of the gospel – several times.  While not with him they do what they can for the work outside of Philippi.  Its such a priority to them to see the gospel go out that they give up other things in its favour.

Lord, this is such a contrast with the world.  This is one of the ways that I always think a relationship between believing/unbelieving couples must rub raw in marriage.  We need to support the gospel work vs we need to redecorate is a struggle enough in the west without mixed priorities driving the spending.  I think that’s one of the big areas that highlights to me how far apart our worlds would be if I were to start seeing a non-Christian just because there were no Christian guys were I to get lonely.  There would be a whole new kind of loneliness there.

Lord, I find Paul’s contentment incredible.  Learning to be content regardless of circumstances: here is a man in chains,who has also been in want and in need before.  He also says that he could be content if he were comfortable.  Odd to point out – does this mean that he’s attitude to both could be the same?  It certainly reads as though it were.  Instead he focuses on contentment – living in Christ as his source of this.

Father, if this is the source of all contentment, then make me too more like Christ.  By your grace please complete in me the work that you started when you claimed me as your own.

Amidst all this – the migraine from Monday’s triggers, the need for contentment in Christ; Father, I ask you to please work in Gina by your Spirit to draw her back to you.

Lord may I also be ready to share Jesus with the lady on the bus today.

Amen.