October 26, 2008

You...can be...anything...

Life with Bright is like living out a different episode of "Reading Rainbow" each day. Whatever book we've read last, we all become the characters in that book. Three days ago we were all cows. Bright's name was Mooey, mine was Cheese Ball, Daniel's was Bully, and Zion's was...oh yes, Ice Cream (although Daniel kept calling him Ice Cube, which made me laugh hysterically). Last week we were all birds, and after his bird bath each night Bright would request that I sit on him in the nest (bed) until he hatched. Since yesterday we have all been owls. Hootie (Bright) asked for Honey-Nut Mice for breakfast, his milk at lunch had mice in it, and he enjoyed two slices of Mice-adilla for dinner. Owls eat mice you know! Today Daniel had to inform Bright that it is not polite to hoot at old ladies. Through all of this, Zion has learned to moo, hoot, and flap his wings to "fledge." Let's hope he knows he is human.

October 24, 2008

He gives and takes away

In the last view days I've been thinking about our second child, Washington. We never met him. His microscopic heart was only beating for a few weeks before his Father took him home. At midnight on Mother's Day, 2006, I woke straight up out of a deep sleep. My heart told me something was about to happen. Moments later, it did.

Two months earlier, Daniel and I stood flabbergasted before a positive pregnancy test. Bright was only a baby, and everything was set for us to move to East Asia in the Fall. Now we were unexpectedly pregnant. This wasn't the plan?!

The night before I had had a dream that we were pregnant with a son, and in my dream Daniel was seated before his friends, proudly announcing that our son's name would be Washington, after George Washington, because he would "lead the charge."

So as we stood before the E.P.T., stunned and confused, my first thought was, 'Oh my, we are going to have to name him Washington.' I chuckle at myself now. It's funny the things that go through our minds in important moments. I remember my first thought after Daniel proposed was, 'Oh no, I have bad breath.'

So we canceled our one year in East Asia. There was no sense in going now, only to spend a third of the year wrapped up with a new baby. We shifted gears from world travel to a second child, and began to get really excited. And then, the very One who gave us that child took him away. What was left was the strangest kind of grief. Unlike someone you knew, when you grieve the loss of an unborn child you have no memories of him, just memories of the love you felt for him while you were ever so briefly his mother. And there is also the loss the dreams you had for him. And the way you thought your family would be with him in it. But that is not all we felt. In the midst of our grief and the changes our life had taken over the past two months, we felt so loved and cared for by our Creator. It is difficult to explain, but the memories of these things are sweet to me.

So with no East Asia and no baby, the three of us moved to Van Buren, Arkansas, and Daniel got a job at the fellowship where he grew up. He learned a lot about teaching the Word and loving people and being patient with himself, and I gave birth to Zion Daniel in May of 2007. East Asia came back into the picture and we ended up here after all, according to His plan.

When I think about Washington, I love to think about the fact that he fulfilled his purpose in this world. He was to "lead the charge." And lead the charge he did. If not for him, we would have come to East Asia 2 years ago, we would have never spent the time in Van Buren (which provided us MUCH in the way of training, dear friends, and wonderful memories with Daniel's family), and we never would have had Zion. Washington is just as much a part of our story as any other member of this family. And even now, as I think about him, I am filled with love for him. One day we will all be together, and I will look into his face, and I will smell his hair, and I will thank him in person for not living. Is that weird? I don't know. But it is, nonetheless, the peace I have been given: someone bigger than all of this is in control.

October 22, 2008

A New Name

Yesterday my language teacher, who has us call her "Maggie," started class as usual. We rushed in and set down for a dictation. For thirty minutes or so she will pronounce words and phrases in this beautiful, but difficult, language and we will try our best to write what she has spoken.

Afterward, I usually need about 10 minutes to calm down from the stress. And a few more minutes to remind myself that my worth as a person does not lie in how high my score is.

But on this day there was no break. Maggie, calmly proceeded to name us.

As I watched it happen no one else seemed to mind. Effortlessly, she looked at each of us and then wrote our new name on the chalkboard. Amy's name became the word for a particular kind of flower - it sounds very pretty. Christina's is now a combination of the words for "spring" and "hope," also very nice. Yet, as she turned to me, my spirit shifted into the gear you only use moments before an accident or some sort of trauma. And just as quickly as a car wreck, my name became Ru Jun.

She moved on to the next topic as if nothing had happened. But now I needed more than a break. I found myself looking out the window, miles away... No longer in Arkansas and no longer in this place. I couldn't pin down what was happening. It was so disturbing, yet so right all at the same time.

Then I realized that this was all part of His plan. My identity is being forever reshaped by this place and these people. There will be a whole city, a whole world of people who will never know me by the name Daniel. I was coming to grips with the fact that I will never be the same.

Then I began to remember how long ago, one of our fathers, Daniel, became Belteshazzar in a moment. In an instant, a totally pagan king renamed him at whim. How must he have felt? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were certainly not called as such in their precious homeland of Judah. Transformation is par for the course in the kingdom. To become who He wants me to be, I cannot remain as I am. - Something I once read in a book probably, or heard in a class, but now a truth I possess a little more deeply in my heart.

Then, just as quickly, Maggie brought me back to class with a new list of vocabulary words to learn.

October 21, 2008

Little eyes are watching

They tell us our children are studying us. Nothing we do or say escapes them. Scary, isn't it?

But sometimes, the meager obedience we display shows up in our child's behavior and we, as parents, are motivated to go on trying.

My case and point: today at noon, as I was dishing up mac-n-cheese (straight from a recent care package, keep it coming:) Bright said, "I'm not eating lunch today. I'm fasting."

What would you have done? I'll tell you what I did. I let the kid skip lunch. What a tragedy it would have been to squelch a 3-year-old's efforts to embrace the practice of fasting. Though he was just trying to get out of eating lunch so he could get back to his toys, someday I trust he will be forgoing mac-n-cheese to increase his hunger to know the Father. And that day will come sooner than I think. Until then, he IS watching.

October 12, 2008

Attitude adjustment

"Zion is very extrictable today," Bright announced this morning as the two of them pushed trains on their bedroom rug.

I didn't ask what extrictable means, mostly because I don't have the energy on this rainy Monday. I have a headache and I'm very tired and I need to turn on my DVR and review for my language lesson this afternoon, blah, blah, blah...

It's amazing how easy it is to get a bad attitude. When I was a kid, my dad would ask sternly, "Does someone need an attitude adjustment?" Now that I'm an adult, there is no one here to keep me in check. It's a good thing my 3-year-old knows when to make up a new word, and my 1-year-old knows when to flash his dimples my way. Show me a person anywhere who can frown when she watches her children at play, and I'll show her a psychiatrist.

We adults would run a pretty gloomy world if we were it's only inhabitants. Thankfully we share this stuffy old place with children.

October 11, 2008

You know you're in Asia when...

...you find a piece of dried rice in your belly button.

(This actually happened to Daniel about two minutes ago)

October 06, 2008

It's a rough life, but somebody's gotta do it

Yesterday my husband was late for dinner, but for good reason. He had stopped to buy me birthday roses. The roses he bought cost him a little over $0.90. Not only that, but the man who sold them stripped all but three of the leaves from each stem with a special tool, pulled the bud-protectors from each bloom, blew the blooms open with his breath, one by one, and then wrapped the thorny bouquet with newspaper to protect Daniel's hands on the bike-ride home.

All for $0.90...

Now tell me that's not a perk. And this is supposed to be roughing it. Shooot.

October 01, 2008

Turning up the heat

Today I cried on the walk home from my teacher's place. I usually walk the 1/4 mile jaunt through the alley to our place without much incident. The ladies knitting on the ground beside their giant woks, stirring it's contents from time to time. The washing woman hanging her customer's sheets up to dry. The school children doing their arithmetic while eating bowls of noodles. The funky young men around a table, gambling in a cloud of cigarette smoke. The old, old men sitting around the Buddhist fire outside the temple, chanting in matching blue smocks. I usually observe these things from a distance, even though I am so close to their woks and laundry that I can smell the hot bricks from their fires. But it is amazing how detached one can be from her surroundings when she wants want to be, whether for sanity or survival, or just out of ignorance and immaturity. Whatever my reasons for detaching, they fell away today. Today I was there. My walking slowed almost to a crawl as I took it all in. I suddenly realized how foreign I was. It hit me that I live in Asia, and I am not Asian. I don't fit in here.

And I'm not supposed to. That's part of the point.

And so I began to cry. And I began to turn a very important corner. There is something happening in me. Something good. And though it burns a bit, I am very grateful to feel the heat from the fires of refinement once again.