Sunday, December 28

back rubs, nighttime conversations and memories

"he would like to say good-night ..."
As our kids came down the steps after having tucked the boys into bed, we knew that we had the chance for a goodnight kiss, a few words and a tuck in of two of our little "grands"
It was a chance for us to watch the boys tonight, and we got there in time for the tuck in (which is one of my favourite times as it is a chance to talk about stuff.  You know - boy to Granny stuff.
The kind of things that make a granny's heart "full" to overflowing.
Tonight was no different.

So here are some of my thoughts, my take-aways from tonight's tuck in of one little boy, our oldest grandson this side of heaven.

How I love tucking you in - sweet five year old.
Yes, you reminded me that you are no longer 4.
Five years, when did you get so big?
At what point did you turn from the baby to the toddler
To the four year old and now the five year old that seems older than his years?
Where did the time go?  Does that mean Granny is getting older too?
I love tucking you in.  I love tucking each one of my grandkids in!
You love the fact that I am patient in the back rubbing department!
Really, I am patient because I love this time with you.
Granny, your hands are cold!  
So I suggested that I rub your back on top of your jammies instead of under your jammie top
but you insist that no, you want me to rub your back right on top of your skin, its okay if my hands are cold.
You are wearing the dinosaur jammies we gave you.
You love the fluffiness of them, and you are cozy.
You are covered with the fuzzy grey blanket that was part of your birthday present.
You love the feel of the cozy blanket and now you lay there wrapped in it.
Cuddling your stuffed animals
Otis your horse and Milo your cat.
You tell me that your blanket has two names.  By day it is called snakie but at night it is called cozy.
I rub your back and you tell me of all the things that are running through your thoughts.
"We are feeding PINKEYPIE (Matilda's fish) ~ Auntie (and uncle and Mattie) are gone for 8 days - Granny what day is this?  I wonder why Auntie didn't take us with here.  Remember our pool in Florida and when I went in, and it was deep and Auntie got me (yes, I said, which is when Daddy said you never were to go into the pool without an adult)."
You remembered that.  Florida is a warm wonderful memory of being together for all of us.
You continued on "I wish we were there together too.  
Did you know that Dinosaur's eyes are scary when you see them? Except for the T-Rex, they are different and not scary. 
At this point Poppa came in and said good-night.  He had just finished putting your brother to sleep. 
I continued to rub your back - watching you as you arranged your blankie, and got yourself into a more comfortable spot.
I told you how when I rubbed your back and watched you, you made me think of when I was a younger mommy and when your daddy was small.
"You look so much like your daddy when I used to rub his back at nighttime."
"Granny one day I will be a daddy and a poppa or a grandpa.  And Roger will be a daddy and a poppa or a grandpa.  I am going to get married to (slight pause) _____  
Oh yes I said, you told me _____ loves God.
Yes, and I love God too.
Everyone at our church loves God."

I continued to rub his back and figured he was nearly asleep and yet when I got up to go he quickly looked up and asked where I was going.
I said to go and talk with Poppa, and I would be back.
Within minutes he was fast asleep ...
You don't need me to come back up for another back rub or kiss tonight.
You my sweet boy, are fast asleep
Maybe dreaming about 5 year old things, or about one day being a poppa or a grandpa
about dinosaurs or Florida family memories.
Or maybe just so cozy that you are soundly sleeping with no dreams.
Regardless sweet boy, you are precious, beautiful, and a gift to me
Tonight I just rubbed your back, not the other kids
But I know how blessed I am by all my grandkids
so very 
back rubs
nighttime conversations
this granny loves these precious times

Friday, December 19

It wasn't the $5 but something about his eyes made me come undone.

Today was a dreary but very mild day. Above normal for this time of year - December in Manitoba.  My window wipers were on constantly, and I was hoping I would not run out of windshield wiper!  There were obviously people out Christmas shopping by the amount of traffic on the road!  I found myself waiting at numerous red lights and that gave me time to watch and to think.

I came to a stop at a red light, and I was at least 6 cars back when I saw him.  He limped.  His limp reminded me of a homeless man who used to come into our church to visit.  Which come to think of, I have not seen Barry in a very long time.  Barry is in a very addictive lifestyle, a permanent resident of "the street" or wherever he can find a place.  This man was not him, but he sure reminded me of my old friend.

I knew what this young man was doing on the boulevard, and I rifled through my purse and found a $5 and then wondered if I would stop at the light by him, or just have to follow the green light through.  I watched.  One person handed him something.  Then another car driver threw some money out the window as they went by on the green light.  I realized that I would be able to stop at the light.  I wound down my window and put my hand out.  He seemed to recognize the gesture as being a positive one.  He limped up to me.  While it was not real cold out, he had a scarf on and pulled up.  But then I saw his eyes.  He looked at me and thanked me so much, and wished me a Merry Christmas.  That is when I came undone.  My eyes welled up with tears, I could hardly wish  him a Merry Christmas back.  He just looked me in the eyes.  It seemed like a long time but it was likely only mere seconds.  But he looked. And there was an exchange of thought, without either of us saying a word.  It was as if he knew that something was going on with me.  And I wept.  He turned and limped back to his spot, waiting for another "gift".  Believe me, it wasn't the $5 that brought me to tears - it was something about his eyes.

Many blocks away, I was still in tears.  Undone.  All I could think of was B ~ one of my siblings who I have not seen in almost a year.  I can not get hold of him because I either get his voicemail, or no answer at all.  It is a long story with a sad twist. A story that began when he was about 5 and totally abandoned by his parents and put into foster care!  His baggage includes getting beat up and starved in foster care, not to mention missing all his siblings.  At 5 years of age - you remember a lot.

My brothers story is a long story of "stuff" including what he described to me was a "three headed dragon" which he told me in his own words "you have to kill all three or nothing will help."  In the world of addictive behaviour, I am likely naive.  But I do know that my struggle with overeating is akin to an "addictive behaviour" at times, and eating differently is HARD WORK!!  Not eating under stress or emotional stuff is HARD WORK.  So I understand a little bit about overcoming addictive behaviours however of course, my "vice" was absolutely acceptable. A quick look around us tells you that.

Seeing this young man today, at the same time that Teen Challenge was doing their radio challenge was really enlightening.  Steve P from  Teen Challenge said that more people are using marijuana  today than ever before.  But not only that.  Young Adults are using it and saying that is all it will be, it is just a "herb"  and one T.C. graduate said that "marijuana is just a gateway drug to worse things ... and you are just fooling yourself if you think it won't lead to anything else."  That was when I remembered coming home on my lunch hour and finding my mom in tears, as she had found a bag of weed in B's room which she threw out.  Ya, a gateway drug .... gateway to bigger, badder, stronger, and life changer forever.

The three headed dragon has not been killed. I remember the day that I was visiting with him while he was in Addictions Foundation Manitoba.  That is when he told me that his addictions are like a "three headed dragon" and  For the past few years there have been times when he has worked hard at trying to get clean, admitting to us that he has never made 30 days.   And the thing is, it is no longer marijuana but something more, something greater, something more deadly, something that puts him at risk over and over again.  Something that has taken his beautiful family, his home, his job, his money, his friends, his self esteem, and instead given him pretty much nothing except a few belongings which include his old KJV BIBLE and a very few belongings.  The three headed dragon has forced him to live under a bridge at times, or in the downtown mission (thank the LORD for Siloam Mission) or perhaps scoring a rooming house to live in once in a while.

I saw him last on his birthday.  He turned 54.  Two years younger than me, and yet years away from me.  It is never easy.  So much life has passed him by.  He loves the Lord, but the pull of the addictions keep him in bondage.  And besides that face to face visit, I managed to get ahold of him once in late summer. The last time I talked with him on the phone I told him the same thing "Okay, good-bye - I love you." Normally he would say, "ya, I love you too" before he hung up, but last time we talked I knew that he did not want to talk to me, and he was not in a good way.  As I write that, I remember the day that we had to return him to his foster home until he joined our family forever.  (That is how the Children's Aid Society worked it - if you were adopting a child you had an overnight visit to see how it would go and then took the child back to the foster home until the papers were drawn for the permanent placement in an adoptive family.) I remember I went to hug him good-bye and he recoiled which totally threw me for a loop, as we were family that hugs (to this day, no matter where, no matter what - a hug and kiss are part of our coming and going).

Not sure where my brother is.  But he has a phone (if he has money to put minutes on it) and I know he has my phone number.  Somehow over the years, he has never not had my phone number.  I have heard from him at all hours of the night, in all stages of despair.  I am not sure where he is, but I do know that there are places in the city that love on men and women with no home.  I am not sure where he is, but I do know that my heart stops every time I hear of a stabbing, or a beating, or anything like that.  You see, the three headed dragon is not a giver of peace, or joy, or love.  No, the three headed dragon steals, kills and destroys and as much as I pray for him only HE will be able to help B but only if B is totally willing.  God does not force Himself on anyone! In the meantime I will continue to give a hot drink, or food, or a $5 bill to the ones like the man today, whose eyes reduced me to tears.

Lord God - only you can do what is needed in the life of my brother.  Only you God.  ONLY. GOD.
Break my heart for what breaks yours O God.  May the tears that come, accompany prayers on behalf of the least of these, which include my brother.

No one made the choice to just live on the street. Dragons are hard to contain and even harder to slay.

This was in 1968.  Back row is me (Joy) and my mom.
My brother T is in front of me, and then my brother B
This was taken within a month of when B joined our family through adoption.

Wednesday, December 17

New thoughts on "praying for clarity" ...

The other day, I heard something, or read something.  Honestly, I can't remember.  I "think" it was Chuck Swindoll on the radio CHVN talking, but I am not positive!!  But he was talking about when we pray for clarity.  And yet when we are wanting "clarity" we are saying "God, I need to see very clearly regarding this ______ " and instead we should just step out, and trust even if we don't see clearly!  I know I did not do him justice, but this is what I got from it.

I was thinking of that, as hearing him speak brought back highlights from our journey to the ministry we are now doing.  Oh how I prayed for more from God - for Him to show me - to speak to me - to make things clear.  And at times it seemed He did just that.  Other times we walked in blind faith!
I actually like that expression as it means you are literally walking in faith, not seeing anything but God leading you, trusting Him for the next step in the adventure.

When we began this, we had no clue - absolutely NONE - just what He was going to do.  A journey of 13 years from hearing Him speak "make a place where women can go to just be" to the point where we had our Ministry grand opening and dedication!  13 years!!  Blind trust.  Sure, along the way I have asked for clarity.  I think that is just human nature, as it is easier to step out when you know where you are stepping right?  It is easier to write cheques to pay for the house you are building, when you know how long it will take, or how much it will cost right?

We have found that following Jesus is NOT for the weak kneed or faint of heart.  Following Jesus is not always easy!  In fact, sometimes it is down right HARD!!  Following Jesus is not always comfortable.  Believe me, He has pushed this girl out of her comfort zone!!  Following Jesus is never predictable!!  I think that is what I came to love as it always keeps us on the edge of our seats!!  Following Jesus is not always safe!  It is risky, and fully of adventure!!  Thing is - following Jesus is literally the adventure of our lifetime, but we have to step out - to risk - to trust - and to keep following him, even if we can't see our step ahead of us!

And oh, it is so worth it!!

So should we ask for clarity?  Believe me, I have used that phrase often when praying for others.  People I know have asked me to pray for clarity for them.  Maybe I need to stop praying for clarity and to instead pray that God would continue to take them (and us) on the adventure of our lifetimes - and showing us how to completely TRUST the only ONE who is trustworthy no matter what!!
Maybe instead of clarity, I need to pray for obedience, for a willing heart, for boldness, and for a good seat belt to fasten as we are taken on the ride of our lives!  Jesus is all about that!

Just a few thoughts from someone who has been on the adventure of our lifetime and has literally been ruined for the ordinary!  Thank you Jesus for what you are doing - and make us bold, and willing to trust and risk it for YOU.