Seam of Sky

Yesterday was our first day on the beach.

I’m not sure if you know this, but it takes approximately a year and a half to prepare 9 people for a beach day.

My mother in law made sandwiches, I was on bathing suit duty, and Todd and Dan made sure the bikes were rigged up and ready to go.

Eventually we all piled in and started the few-miles-long trek to the ocean.

I was the most excited about Charlotte, because she’s old enough to enjoy it this year and I couldn’t wait to see how she responded to the waves and wet sand.

As we rode, we kept an eye on the sky.

It wasn’t looking ideal.

Still, we pressed on.

As we neared the spot where we park our bikes, a light drizzle started. Nobody acknowledged it, I think in an attempt to pretend it was actually a gorgeous day.

We unloaded, started setting up, and I put Charlotte’s arm floaties on her.

“Charlotte, want to go see the water?”

The rain was picking up, but I didn’t care. I had this in my mind and I was going to imagine it was ideal. She started walking, but after feeling the sand in her toes she lifted her arms to me and said, “Momma hold you.”

I picked her up and walked to where the water had dampened the sand. I set her down again and made a smily face so she would see that this is actually a sensation we pay good money for, so go ahead and get your feet dirty.

She stood for a second and then stepped forward, watching behind her as her feet made little imprints.

“Mommy! Mommy!” Abby and Ellie were running toward us, and in a flash they ran past and tucked themselves in the water.

It wasn’t a light drizzle anymore.

In a matter of seconds, it had turned to a cold, angry rain. It was pelting us, willing us to turn back, and yet we walked.

I lifted my rain-speckled sunglasses away from my eyes, turned my head in the opposite direction of the wind, and laughed at Charlotte so she would see that we thought this was funny, not scary. She smiled too and kept walking.

“Momma hold the hand.” I reached down and grabbed her tiny hand as our toes touched the cold water. It lapped up on her and immediately she turned as if she were going to run back, but curiosity got the better of her and she stayed. So we stood, shin-deep in the waves as the storm dripped down from the heavens.

Hair glued to my face, white sundress soaked over my swimsuit, lips salty from covering my mouth in laughter.

And that’s when it happened.

I turned, just for an instant to see if Todd was coming down the beach, and when I did, I noticed the most peculiar thing.

The beach was full of people. Hundreds of them.

And not a single one moved.

Umbrellas raised, conversations full, and children making sand figures.

And all the while, the bitter rain fell.

In fact, it got worse as I watched them. Occasionally a few would turn their heads from the direction it was blowing, but no towels were packed, no babies bundled.

They were unmoved.

How ridiculous.

Or so it seemed.

What would make an entire beach full of people brave a thunderstorm on a damp beach? Were they desperate for sunshine, and willing their minds to see it? Just unfeeling?

From your vantage point in this story, you can’t see what we could see.

The clouds, rolling quickly to the left, and just beyond, a patch of the bluest sky imaginable.

We knew it would pass, and in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t help but think it did look ridiculous. Well, if you didn’t know what was coming, at least.

But we do.

This is temporary.

The news tells us buildings are swimming in fire and children are left alone to die.

The paycheck is just short of covering what we needed it to.

The goodbye lasted longer than our breath could carry us.

We feel the rain, and it is cold.

We thought it would be a beautiful day, but that isn’t always the way it goes here.

And yet, we remain unmoved.

To a watching world, it must seem crazy. I’m not saying I don’t understand. How could all of these people go on? Why not pack up and call it a day? Assume that we had been forsaken?

And here we are, the bride of Christ, facing the storm with a drenched smile.

Because we know what they might not.

And as they watch on, the best we can do is point to the blue sky, crawling closer every moment. We can tell them it will be worth it. It isn’t over.

Hold your breath if you have to.

Shield your face, if ever so slightly.

But don’t you dare move. It’s exquisite just around the corner. Not just a patch of sky, but hope itself.

They say it’s ridiculous, I’m sure.

But from my vantage point, it’s only a matter of time.

There is a definitive line in the sky, where dark cloud kisses white and weather succumbs to grace.

A seam between the ages.

A promise made, intended to be kept.

And always behind the storm, a voice whispers from eternity: It is worth the wait, love.

And so we remain, eyes soaked with tears and rain.

Believing beyond our momentary affliction that all-consuming glory is near.

It is so near, love.

Come, Lord Jesus...quickly…

 

 

 

 

 

Yvonne

I can’t say for certain how old I was, but I can tell you I looked unfortunate.

It was dimly lit and smelled like incense.

I pushed my pink plastic glasses higher up on the bridge of my nose (see: unfortunate) and stared high up into the temple.

It happened the same day that we visited another Japanese monument and my sister and I accidentally drank from a bucket and well that was meant for (and used for) hand washing.

It was less than awesome.

And then for a photo op, we started gonging a giant drum that turned out to be some kind of artifact that wasn’t supposed to be touched.

I have the photo. We look very pleased with ourselves.

Everyone around us looks horrified.

It’s kind of how we rocked it there.

So anyway, we banged the drum, drank the hand sweat, and moved on to the temple.

I had my prized possession stuffed in my backpack with her yarn hair flying all around my shoulders.

Her name was Yvonne.

For the record, that decision was not made by me. I was her adoptive mother, the lucky one who grabbed her from a store shelf and rescued her from the cabbage patch she had been born into. My dad told me I could name her anything I wanted, but I had the birth certificate. You can’t just change someone’s legacy like that. The transition would be hard enough, I reasoned.

Her bottom had the word “Xavier” written on it.

Which is, to this day, is a little unsettling.

Anyway.

I took my parenting role very seriously. She always smelled like baby powder and had three disposable diapers in a drawstring bag. It also housed her pacifier, her real liquid bottle, and a host of things to entertain her on long road trips.

I had a feeling she didn’t like to be left behind, so she never was.

When you’re a child born in a vegetable, I think it’s safe to say there could be abandonment issues.

“Xavier can’t find you anymore…you’re safe now…”

I braided her hair a lot at recess, which is unrelated to the fact that I had no friends.

I don’t want to say she was precocious, because I think all moms feel that way about their soft-fabric babies, but let’s just say she had a light in her green eyes that they didn’t all have.

Also, she never pooped. Which I wouldn’t say made the top of the “parenting-preparation” list, but it was a nice perk.

It wasn’t unusual (I say that with a healthy amount of sarcasm) that she was riding in my backpack the day of the temple incident.

I was preparing her for our new adventure, pointing out the scenery.

She was a stoic child, but I feel she was just taking life in at her own pace. No need to push my agenda before she had her plastic lunch.

This next part would almost be unbelievable if I didn’t have the video to back my story.

My dad was taping me and Yvonne standing in front of what I recall to be a very large Buddha statue. Like, 50 feet tall. Or close. Whatever. It was big enough to knock me off my parenting game. Keep that in mind before you judge me on this next part. There were dozens of candles lit on an altar behind me. This is about to be pertinent information.

I turned and started talking to the camera about the giant statue, and I’m doing my best child-reporter imitation while I describe what we’re seeing. At one point you see a woman come over to me and she’s trying to tell me something. In retrospect, she was a little panicked. I bow to her and do a fake smile to the camera. She continues.

And at this point I realize she is pointing to Yvonne and I try to whip around and look at her, but my razor-sharp instincts didn’t register a problem until I smelled smoke.

Oh, don’t act like you’ve never accidentally caught your kid’s hair on fire. Your smugness repulses me.

“Yvonne!!!!! NOOOOO!!!!!” Glasses slipping, Buddha out of focus, and the camera jumping to the ground as I yank her out and, you know, extinguish her.

Oh, beloved. I can hear you crying out to the garden of cabbage, and I am filled with shame. Who will believe this was an accident? Will you ever trust me again?

It’s safe to say I wasn’t myself for a little while after my mishap. Who could have known candles and yarn made such a poor team?

Not I, friend. Not I.

There was no official questioning, and I think all parties involved agreed that my history with her belied any ill-intention. On her part, she seemed unmoved.

Charred, but not shaken.

My brave little soldier.

In the event that you’re wondering, Yvonne went on to a ripe old age, the big sister to a sibling group that made the Duggars look like underachievers.

What can I say?

I’ve never been a perfect mother.

:)

 

Peru!

Most of you who read this blog know that I’m a huge supporter of Compassion International. I had the opportunity to travel with them to India a few years ago and see a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff,which made me fall more in love with their heartbeat and mission.

Shaun Groves has asked me to travel a few more times, but it just hasn’t worked out. Recently he let me know there was going to be a trip to Peru in November, but as much as I wanted to do it, it was in between my WOF tour and Todd’s Christmas tour and I didn’t want to be away any more than I needed to. I declined the offer but it nagged at me for the next several days.

Todd and I prayed about it and really both felt like the Lord was clear with what He desired.

So I let Shaun know that I would go, but there was one itsy-bitsy stipulation…

Let’s just say that they made a big exception, and Abby and Ellie are going to have a very hands-on “field trip” this school year :)

It isn’t until November, but I covet your prayers for us. Of course I will keep you all updated as I learn more, but wanted to let you know it was going to happen.

Y’all know I’m not a big fan of flying, being away from home, or much outside of my comfort zone..

But for the kids that could be impacted by this trip? Worth every second.

Thank you in advance for your prayers-not just for my family but for the kiddos whose lives will be changed through the work of Compassion.

Compassion Bloggers Peru Trip 2012

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All my love and thanks,

Angie

In the Mending {a series}

To this day, he doesn’t know how profoundly he changed me in that moment.

A room full of peers surrounding us, and me in my pieced-together Halloween costume, eager to be the next chosen in the game of charades. I felt pretty. I had a black wig, an old kimono from my mother’s closet (a benefit to growing up in a foreign country is always having great dress-ups at an arm’s reach). I had spent no less than an hour on my makeup and I had the sense that this was going to be a night where people loved me.

I was a graduate student, and I felt pretty good about life. I was always the one who brought the laughs, often at my own expense. But nonetheless, I knew I was liked. Which, in my insecure mind, meant the world was right.

We were playing charades. I still remember the word I pulled from the jar and the relief I felt over how it was going to be a cakewalk to act out. I ran to the front of the room, waited for the official timer to start, and went to town.

Unfortunately, nobody knew what I was doing. It went from bad to worse, and in about 30 seconds I went from totally confident to panicked. Everyone was staring at me.

My boyfriend shouted out something that humiliated me. He said I was awful. But he didn’t say it that nicely. I froze.

All I could see were the eyes, staring at me. The costumes, and all these people who I make laugh and who I thought loved me. And they were mocking now. They were ridiculing me and I had time left on the clock to stand there and take it.

I wouldn’t say there was a conscious realization in that moment, but it hit me later that night as I laid in bed and cried. I was too tired to take off all my makeup and the pillows were smeared with sadness.

From that day forward, I never ran for the spotlight. More than that, I became terrified of it. I would talk to you at a party, invite you to coffee, or spend time in semi-social situations, but I would NEVER have the desire to be the center of attention again. Not because I didn’t want to be loved, but rather because the potential to be humiliated was now a distinct possibility. One that I simply couldn’t risk.

There was mending that needed to be done-that still needs to be done. I pray constantly that the Lord will take away my fear of failure and disappointment and remind me that He has given me opportunities to speak because of what HE wants from me.

And yet, in so many situations, I’m digging deep into a glass bowl and praying I won’t walk off in tears.

We’re going to be talking about mending in the coming weeks, and I’m going to be asking you to contribute. Today I want to ask you this:

Can you think of a conversation you had where someone spilled words into your life that are still fighting for attention in your mind? Be as detailed or vague as you like in your comments, but please know that I will be praying for those words to lose their power in your life. We do not have to be defined by what others have spoken over us….but the power of words….ahhh, they carve deep wounds.

Let’s start mending them today.

Your turn…

Love,

Angie