Monday, August 31, 2009

The Toilet Incident

An eerie, still quiet suddenly filled the house, as the chink and clank of dishes being loaded into the washer was the only sound in an otherwise child-filled house. Mama knew something was terribly wrong. She took one last sip of the creamy, cold milk leftover from dinner, and then she heard it.

The wet squishing sound a mop makes as it’s being lifted out of and dunked back into a bucket of water was rhythmically dancing its way out of the bathroom, and by the time she realized where to run, the ever-familiar sound of a flushing toilet and the overly-joyous squeal of the two-year-old princess who might soon be looking for a new home filled her ears to a blinding rage.

The look of joy instantly turned to one of fright and deep guilt, eyes scanning the small bathroom for an escape route, as the mama showed up to question, nay, rant about the flood that had just ensued from a toilet stuffed with untold amounts of toilet paper.

“WHAT? ARE? YOU? DOING???” face bursting with veins and color as the deep rouge of fresh, boiling blood climbed over cheekbones, brow bones, forehead and hair.

The suddenly timid, tiny voice responds, “I don’t know,” as potty flood waters are rising around her ankles.

Large mama hands grab the tender, mischievous arms of the tiny princess and scoop up a towel to act as a damn for the levy that just poured forth tainted waters, the soft, tender terry fibers becoming heavy and sloppy, like the hair of a shaggy dog at a much overdue bath time. The aroma coming forth from said water much like that of the same wet, shaggy dog, musty and potent.

After much bleach and much mopping, all is right with the world again. For the time being, anyway.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Once Again Aware of My Own Brokenness

There are few sights as painfully ugly as my own brokenness. There are few sights that disgust and pain my heart like my own depravity. Tonight I came face to face with it, and all I could say, over and over again, was "forgive me, Jesus."

You see, in my heart, I have boasted about all that we and our children are/have been exposed to. We serve people from many different nations and backgrounds. We engage in various activities that require sacrifice and humility. We have slept on a mat under the massive African sky, and shared a mattress on the floor with the whole family in a small room in a muslim sheik's home. Both of my older girls have had malaria and have recovered just fine from it. I have chalked it all up to the cost we pay to sell ourselves for the sake of the cross, and, unknowingly, it has become an incredible source of pride that is so evil and so divisive. Because in my heart, I had become a "better" Christian than some of those others.

Oh how heart-breaking is the depth of my depravity.

I had inwardly boasted about being willing to take my children to far-out bush villages of Africa, sure that it would make God so proud of me, His daughter. I found great pleasure in myself in being willing to sit with people of other cultures to try to help them out of their broken situations.

Oh how disgusting is the depth of my brokenness.

I thought in my heart that there was no Nineveh that I was not willing to go to, as I had already been to so many. I thought for sure that I was nothing like Jonah, who fled from the Lord when asked to go to a people whom he despised to preach a message of salvation and redemption. I wasn't fleeing from the Lord; I was going. I have gone, over and over again.

And then tonight, I met Angel and she wanted to hold my baby girl.

Homeless Struggle To Maintain New Encampment In Sacramento

Hello, Nineveh.

Her sun-dried hands were stained with the smokey odor of an ashtray, long overdue to be cleaned, yellow nails filthy with the toils of street life. Her teeth, brown and broken, spoke of a life riddled with meth and alcohol abuse for far too many years. Her speech was slurred and difficult to understand at times, as one who has had one too many drinks for one too many years, a little slower to make sense of things.

She's loud and rough, looking worn out and brittle. As she reached out for my precious Hannah, all I could think about was how dirty she was, and how I absolutely did not want her to touch my baby girl.

Oh how I hate the depth of my brokenness!

I wasn't there to pass my baby around so the homeless folks could love on her. I was simply there to puts some plates of food on the table before them, fill up their cups with juice, and go home feeling accomplished, another good Christian deed done. But as she reached out to touch my baby, I felt my body physically cringe as my left foot took a small step back. Whoa now. My space is being encroached upon.

Sigh. Forgive me Father. How it must have broken Your heart to see me treat my sister, Your daughter, in such a disgraceful manner. Forgive me.

I tried to rationalize in my mind that Angel wouldn't have known what I was thinking, and I smiled and played along with the conversation so as to not make her feel uncomfortable. So she couldn't have known. Surely she didn't see me tighten up and back away.

Who am I kidding? The dirty old drunk in a half-stupor on the other side of the room saw me stiffen up. A person knows when they are being shut out.

Oh how ashamed I feel. I wasn't there to serve and love anyone. I was there to boost my own pride, and in the meantime, I have dehumanized someone created in the same image of God as me.

I guarantee you it would be easy for me to justify this one. I was a pediatric ICU nurse for years and there are some nasty bugs out there. I was only trying to protect my little one from being exposed to some potentially harmful things. It's not good for her to be so close to 3rd hand smoke like the thick stench that was clinging to Angel's everything. And who knows what all she is carrying around on that dirt-stained skin and nails. I was only trying to protect Hannah. That's my job as her mother.

Wrong. That's not my job. I can no more protect Hannah from the adversities of this world than I could protect her older sisters from getting malaria in Kenya and Ghana. I can no more protect her than I can cause the rain to fall or the sun to set. It's not my job to protect her, but it sure is a nice scapegoat for me to hide behind as her mommy. It is my job to teach her to love, worship and trust God. It is my job to demonstrate to her what it looks like to show up in fullness of heart and love others because God first loved me. It is my job to be an Ambassador of Christ, because for most people, I am the only Bible they will ever read. It is my job to teach them to give away their lives for the sake of the cross. But how can I teach that if I am not living it out? How is it possible for me to love and worship a homeless man on Sunday mornings, and then turn my back on the homeless the rest of the week? What am I teaching my children then?

Forgive me Father for the depth of my depravity. Forgive me for making myself and my comfort more important than the winning of souls and loving of Your children. Forgive me for not serving You, but rather boosting my own foolish pride. Forgive me for making service more about getting a project done than building a relationship with my brothers and sisters. Forgive me for not recognizing Your image in her. Forgive me for the incredible depth of my depravity, and thank you so much for showing it to me.

There are few sights as painfully ugly as my own brokenness. Tonight I saw it face to face. And tonight I receive the mercy of an incredibly patient and merciful God.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 3, 2009

Slight Setbacks

Why is it that when I resolve to do something, and I mean really do it this time, life gets in the way? Or lack of will power gets in the way? Or exhaustion gets in the way? So I started this 40 day journey, which is now turning out to be longer than 40 days due to some minor setbacks. My sweet hubby has been in West Africa for the last...two weeks or so...I seem to have lost count. This sort of sent me into a tailspin of sorts as I adjusted to running the show on the homefront by myself for a bit. AAAAIIAAAIIIIAA! Not quite as fun with a 2 month old and two very busy older siblings, one of which flooded the bathroom while I was attempting to cook dinner with said two month old on my hip. There's only so much a mama can balance, and then...the toilet floods. I think that night earned a very serious Blue Bell Ice Cream Sundae.

Like I said, there have been some minor setbacks. Exercise, for instance, has taken a back burner to late nights by myself and early mornings with children who just pop up out of bed with all the enthusiasm of Christmas morning, full of questions and requests and very loud, high-pitched voices. Meanwhile, my puffy eyes are simply desiring just a few more minutes (hours) of sleep after having been open for far too long and far too many times over night with the youngest Okongo, who is now happily dozing in her bassinet.


I think I did mention in an earlier post that if this was all left to my will power alone, it was bound for failure. But I must confess that I am at a loss at how to do this when my man is away. Between the sleep deprivation, complete lack of energy, stress of parenting and potty-training, and just trying to get through the day with all three kids intact, I am failing at my weight loss journey. I wish that I was one of those people who would forget to eat, or who would not eat when stressed or tired. You know the ones I mean? Those who say things like, "No, I can't eat anything right now. There's just too much going on."

What? What do you mean? That's when my appetite kicks into high gear and I want to voraciously devour everything in sight. But I digress. So, I have only exercised once in the past two weeks. And now I am thoroughly discouraged at the thought of having to start over again. It's hard for me to build that momentum. I do have a friend who has graciously offered to come to the house early in the morning before he goes to work to sit while the girls sleep and I can go run, although now it wouldn't so much be a run as a walk/wobble combination. I just haven't had the heart to take him up on the offer. Too tired.

I need to get motivated to start again. I did do one day of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. Evil to the core. I need to get motivated to do more. Must. Get. Moving.

Maybe tomorrow. But tonight, I'm going to bed, missing my man immensely. If y'all think of it, pray for him. He's in Ghana now, and will travel to northern Ghana in the morning. It's a long journey, and not exactly smooth highway travel. I could probably use some of that God petition for myself to. I'll get back on track. Tomorrow.

Bookmark and Share