Pep Talk for Myself (and maybe you)

Is something scaring you? Whenever I am threatened with something scary, and given time to think about it, it is a time of examination, a time of rehearsing what I have believed in less threatening days.

I think first of what I believe about God. I believe he exists and created everything out of nothing, can be everywhere, and knows all about everyone. As hard as that is to imagine, I have a harder time imagining him not existing – given all I see around me. I don’t understand how this works and I don’t have to explain it to anyone else, thankfully. I’ve never heard anything bad about God from anyone I thought credible.

Then I review what I’ve heard about me and God and our relationship – from an old and reputable source. The people who wrote down the information claim to have gotten it right from God. It’s mystical, but I don’t think that discredits it. Anyway, I believe that he wants me to be kind of like an adopted kid, one that he’s willing to devote himself to raising and loving no matter what.

He’s got this plan for a family that has a lot of complicating features, because everyone in it is different. It’s a lot like a super rich Dad who has decided to raise special needs kids, a whole bunch of them. One important difference is that he is incapable of making a bad parenting decision. His parenting style is “love them into loving back” and he doesn’t use guilting and shaming as tools. He has really wonderful plans for all his kids.

So what do I think about the scary situation? God might decide to yank me out of it – sometimes good parents do that. He might decide to hang on to me while we go through it together. It all depends on where he thinks I’m safest. See, I believe all this and have decided I’m in if he wants me.

Now I’m going to believe he hasn’t lost track of me. He hasn’t been distracted or forgotten about me. He has never made a bad, unloving decision. He has me in the best place, no matter what it looks like to me – and believe me, the way some things look do not make any sense. Except maybe after. Things don’t have to be good to turn out good.

Another thing to remember, (sigh) there’s an adversary, an antagonist, a bad guy, a predator who wants me to believe exactly the opposite of all this, and he wants to remain incognito himself. The minute I remember that he could be orchestrating things, I can just feel the power coming back to me. I get so mad I forget about being scared. I remember whose family I’m in and who is really in trouble. It’s not me.

This is the most simplistic way I can put how I’m feeling right now. I am so thankful for the peace and relief that comes in bad times when I remember these things. Oddly, sometimes it’s harder to watch someone else go through a crisis than it is to go through one myself. I just want to make all the bad stuff go away, right now!

Instead I have to know God isn’t just taking care of one kid. He’s looking out for every one of them, better than I could – although he might send me to do something for someone. Fortunately, I believe God wants everyone in his family and he tells his kids to treat everyone like they were a new brother or sister. There is no one more inclusive than God.

There is so much more to think about than there is time to think, and that is what makes life seem so interesting (and so short). Even in hard times, I’m glad to be here. Just sayin’…

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers how he made us. The Bible, book of Psalms 103:13-14

Leaving Kep: The Cambodia Saga

Last Day in Cambodia – Thoughts in the Car

We had another gigantic breakfast buffet at the Secret Restaurant this morning before leaving Veranda Natural Resort. We are now in a rented van driving to Phnom Penh where we will spend a few hours before boarding our flight home. It is still raining.

Moody, persistent, wet weather...
Moody, persistent, wet weather…
The sky is crying and just won't quit
The sky is crying and just won’t quit

We were told that there has been no rain and the land was in drought condition until last week when this new weather pattern started. The countryside we are driving through is sodden, flooded, covered in mist. Periodically, I take out my camera and get some shots out the side window. There are rice paddies with lots of water in them and rice in various stages of growth. Sometimes a person will be visible planting rice or working with a cow or two pulling a plow through the water, but most people must be inside somewhere. The people on the road are wearing raincoats or they are wet.

I am sitting in back with the luggage. Julie, Trish and Bora are sitting ahead of me where Bora is entertaining them with tales of her life in Cambodia. The Hamilton family is in the next row. MacKenzie is not feeling well and they have put her in the middle where she can look out at the horizon in front to offset any car sickness. Mike is up front with the driver. In Cambodia you don’t jut rent a van. You rent a van and a driver, which ensures the van gets returned to its home and you get to your destination in one piece, I guess.

I’m feeling a bit “out of it” today. In spite of my aromatherapy massage yesterday, I don’t feel well groomed or like I’ve been taking care of myself. I’m all out of clean clothes. I can stand it but don’t know how it will affect those around me during the long flight home. I’m not used to seeing myself in as many pictures as I’ve been in lately, and frankly it’s alarming me to see how I look. I’m older than I thought I was. I need to go home and lose some weight.

Did I say the kids are affectionate... yes.
Did I say the kids are affectionate… yes.

The children I’ve been with are affectionate kids – lots of hugging, hand holding, arms around my shoulders or waist – but they are also very curious. They always find the mole on my upper arm and can amuse themselves touching it for minutes at a time. They also run their hands over the bulges around my waist, or what used to be my waist, and find that very interesting (???). It’s not that all Cambodians are skinny because I have seen some that aren’t, but most of the Asia Hope people are slim. Add to this the fact that my feet and legs swell in this heat and you have me feeling very puffy and large when I’m around them. Even though I’ve come here four times now, I never seem to have the clothing thing right either. I need some more quick dry things that I can keep clean. I need to bring a little laundry soap with me.

Emotionally, I feel a little isolated. There is no one on the trip who identifies with me in age or has need of me in any way. It would be a lot worse if I didn’t have Julie with me here because we have done a lot of things together, but she has also made a lot of friends closer to her age. Does everyone have these attacks of pity where they feel absolutely no one is interested in them? Probably. I’m used to them and am just working on giving it to God and asking him to change me.

There is love that is bigger than feelings or circumstances.
There is love that is bigger than feelings or circumstances.


I remember the night I first saw this ring... back when it still fit.
I remember the night I first saw this ring… back when it still fit.

It’s the number of consecutive years that the husband and I have been married as of this coming Wednesday.  We’ve been thinking about it a lot this year, and by that I mean I’ve been thinking about it and when I’ve brought the subject up the husband doesn’t run away.  He’s actually listened and conversed on the subject.  I think we are both in agreement that we need to be more deliberate, purposeful, in our way of commemorating the decision we made those long years ago.

It is not an easy thing to do – this commemorating stuff.  We both come from plain, work oriented backgrounds, families that didn’t put a lot of stock in celebrating.  We had some imaginative ideas the first few years but after the demands of child rearing and careers interfered we didn’t try as hard.  I can’t say that there is one main thing that both the husband and I like to do together either (I don’t count eating) and that always added to the dilemma.  I like planning and surprises, which are both like words in a foreign language to the husband. He likes…. I don’t know what he likes.  When he makes suggestions, I seriously wonder if he knows what he likes anymore.  So why do we bother?

Because it really has been kind of an amazing thing – this partnership of two so disparate personalities.  Not a day goes by anymore that I don’t see somewhere evidence of pain, suffering and inconvenience from failed relationships and broken covenants. But here we are, still together, with no desire for it to be otherwise.  I feel sad that in the coming years marriages of forty, fifty, sixty or more years are going to be a rare occurrence.  Our forty two years haven’t all been a 10 on the happiness scale but that was more due to life circumstances other than marriage, and probably would have been much lower had we been going it alone.

I guess what we are really wanting to acknowledge to ourselves and to others is that covenant love is so vastly different from what our society calls love.  It’s a decision, a promise, a grounding, a secure, known place where two people can know they belong, no matter what.  It’s meant to mirror the love covenant that God wants to have with the people he created.

People laugh at me for calling Dennis “the husband” but there’s more to that label than you might think. He’s not just “a husband”, he’s the husband meant for me.  I’ve had times when I honestly couldn’t think of why God brought us together BUT even then I was sure that he had.  I’m still sure (and I’m still trying to find out why God brought us together…) The beautiful thing is that we really do love each other based on something outside ourselves, outside our feelings, apart from our circumstances and we’ve seen the blessing that has been.

I have somewhat romantic, idealistic female children and I think they sometimes see the husband and I as having this lack luster, boring existence.  They might even wonder if we love each other, which is not good in this day of “the best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother/father” mantra.  That is perhaps one of the most important reasons I want to make it a special year.  I want my girls to know that we do care deeply for each other, and for them, for our family.  We might not have planned the cruise of a lifetime, or renewed our vows in a big ceremony, bought each other expensive gifts or spent the week’s food budget on a night out at a restaurant.  We might actually watch TV till 8pm, take our dose of NyQuil and try to go to sleep without coughing ourselves to death – it’s been that kind of a week.  But we love each other, and we know it… once again, just sayin’