Lessons

Dear God,

I get so scared of things sometimes that I tie myself in knots.  But here’s the silly bit.  I forget to ask you to help untangle me and show me the way through the frightening times.  Thanks that you are an all seeing God who watches tirelessly and tends to me anyway.  Help me to learn to ask for help earlier.  Please. Please.

I think I’ve been having nightmares this week.  I am so excited for Hamish.  Yet to not be able to share this time of new faith with him more closely than planning how to rotate memory verses in my special spot that will suit him on Saturdays.  It’s hard not to feel bitter towards Joel for that.  Please don’t let Hamish be tempted to start lying so that he can do things like go to Sunday School or to the homes of Christians who Joel may not approve of or to hide his Bible.  Help him to trust you in everything and Lord, please take care of his needs.  Help Jonah to show him things with a wisdom that is yours rather than that of a ten-year-old and help his parents support him in ministering to the friend you have placed beside him.  Father, if it pleases you, may I please have a chance to meet Jonah and his family?

Lord, Hamish is still such a young Christian, but still, may his faith be reflected in his deeds.

I was at Paul’s place to visit him and the girls – and do an extra drum lesson with Emily yesterday.  She and Hamish have agreed that this week she will practice no more than she would in a normal school week since he stopped for her last week.  Both have decided that this is fair.

Emily wasn’t all that focused on her lesson – which didn’t really bother me as it was an extra and she was still pretty tired physically.  But partway through Emily stopped and asked me,

“Auntie Alciana, do you believe in God?”

I think there’s an elephant at the door about to find it’s way into the room …

“Yes, honey.  You know I believe in God.  You’ve heard me talk about him sometimes with your Mum.”

“Yeah.  She believed in God too, didn’t she?  But she used to say that you had to be pretty special for God and she wasn’t sure she was special enough – only she never knew I heard her tell you that.”

“I’m sad you heard her say that, because she was special enough alright!”

“Oh.  I know.  I remember last year when the two of you were so happy not long before she died.  She said that it was pretty awesome to think that Jesus thought she was special enough to pay for her like he did!

“You’ve got big ears, Miss Emily, don’t you?  She did say that, didn’t she?”

We both had tears in our eyes by now.  The conversation that she was referring to happened in hospital not long before Lisa had died.  After years of wishing that she could be a Christian and not believing it possible, she asked and was born again.

“I was mad at God before because she said that soon he was taking her to a new home to be with him not long after that.  I think I thought he was just taking her away because she was his now – but you are a Christian and you’re still here and now Hamish is talking about all of this stuff and I’m scared that he’s going to get taken away too or that God will decide he needs you there not here and …”

Emily finished up in my arms in tears.  I just held her and rocked her and – well you’ll remember the babble that probably would have made sense to no-one but you, Father.  Eventually I just said,

“Em, I think we should get your Dad and have a good talk about some of this, hey …?”

“Are you worried Dad will be like Uncle Joel and not let you see me if you talk about God with me?” She suddenly looks terrified.  She also doesn’t miss much that goes on around her.

“No.” she loses her look of fright, “but some of this he needs to know about, and I’m sure he’d be more comfortable knowing what you wanted to know about God too.”

“Okay”

So it was that we, hand-in-hand with blotchy red eyes and wobbly smiles we found Paul in his hammock reading a book.

What followed was an exhausting conversation where Emily – and Paul – asked a lot of questions with the end result that Paul suggested that if Emily already had questions about God, perhaps she should go to Sunday School where she could learn more and find out more about him.

I was stunned.  It must have shown because Paul looked almost hurt by my surprise.

“I am not Joel.  Lisa always believed in God and we talked a few times about getting the girls to Sunday School but never got ourselves organised enough to do it.”

“Really?” this from a very excited Emily. “I can go learn about God?  Mummy wanted me to learn about God?”

“Yep”

And the girl who was so melancholy runs off towards her drums with yells of delight punching the air.

“Wow! This is exciting. I can hardly wait.  I can be here at …”

“No – don’t worry.  I’ll take both of them.  It’s time I looked into the God my wife spent so much time thinking about.  If she was right – she was heading his way last time I saw her alive.”

“You’re ready for this, Paul?”

“Emily is.  She’ll come home talking about it anyway, ready or not.  If what you’re always saying about him being trustworthy is anywhere near right – then I’ve got to be ready whether I go or not.”

He earns a hug for that.

Lord help Paul.  Give him curiosity for the Word, not just a sense of duty to his wife.  Thanks that the girls have a chance to learn about you through Sunday School.

Father, please help me tomorrow also as Gina and I start out with her first Cello lesson on an odd night.  May I be a good teacher, a good friend and a good witness as well as good company for dinner afterwards.

Amen

 

See today an entry to Hamish Johns’ Secret Diary for an update on his journey.

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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.