October 7, 2016

Thunderstorms will Continue

I have a nifty weather app on my phone that pushes notification to my lock screen.  Things like, "30% chance of rain at 3pm," "Flash flood warning from until 9pm," and "Mostly Cloudy in the afternoon." Yeah, it's handy for something, I'm sure. :)  I mostly ignore it.  But we'll get back to that.

These past couple days have been interesting.  Listening to friends' joys and troubles.  Teaching and learning skills.  Processing and diagnosing and sleeping.  And then yesterday I heard that after an involved interview process I would not be getting a job that every single person I know thought was a sure-win.  It doesn't hurt not getting the job, but it's confusing.  

I spent the last couple MONTHS praying about applying and finally doing it and mentally preparing to work in this particular field and business for years.  Years.  That's purpose.  That's direction.  That's certainty.  And now it's confusion.  Do I know anything that's certain for the next couple years?

I looked down at my phone and actually read the weather report.  It was simply: "Thunderstorms will continue." No probability or time frame, just the straight truth.  Thunderstorms will continue.  

I looked at the rejection of my application and thought, "thunder."  I looked at my garbage -- the result of days of having a runny nose and sniffled, "thunder."  I looked at my crazy schedule, filled with wonderful friends (and some of their drama) and said, "thunder."  Then I felt the cares and questions of my heart: "thunder."

Yes, the sound and distance of my thunder may change, but it will remain.  In every age there will be things I don't understand; Emotions to feel, fears to be conquered, things to get done, places to go, and trials to grow through, but there will also be the Rock of Ages.  

I've got a fortress named Jesus Christ who remains the same yesterday, today, and forever, so let the storm rage.  This, my friends, is certain -- not just for the next couple years, but into infinity and beyond.

September 28, 2016

Cluttered Heart

It just happened all of a sudden.  I woke up and couldn't get up.

I glanced around my room and saw projects strewn left and right, papers piled high with the mental note "to read" posted on them.  Artifacts from my travels, gifts from and for friends.  Dirty clothes in one pile, clean clothes in another.  The door to my closet broken and propped in the corner.  The clock blinking 10:15 and my phone announcing dozens of emails, texts, and notifications of varying importance.  I finally sit up and see that to get to the door will be an obstacle course of not stepping on cords or shoes or dust bunnies (the ones that aren't under random purses and boxes filled with more junk I need to go through and put away.

It didn't all get here overnight.  A little each day I put things down on top of yesterdays things.  Till I would fall asleep exhausted amid the piles and wake up stressed among the same piles.  All the time knowing full well I couldn't deal with it now because there were places to be. Things to do.

And the piles grew.

Till they swallowed me.  That's when I realized it wasn't my room that was messy, but my heart.

A little each day.  Stacking experiences and posting a note "to process."  Piling texts and emails and notes and somewhere after "reaction" and before "respond."  Replaying conversations over and over till I get the energy to decide how they actually make me feel.  Glancing at the burning pile that says "to cry about" and writing the post-script "later" until the emergency sprinklers decide to go off without my permission.  Having so many people to care about scattered about and having so many good intentions to give them time and energy but always walking past them unfulfilled.  And on my way out the door tripping over disappointment and death and lies and my own failure.

And the piles grow.

Oh Jesus, I've got the room covered. . .I think.  But this heart thing has got me so tired.  I'm completely overwhelmed by my own emotions and troubles and good intentions(a.k.a. failures).
Pleas take it all.  I am defeated.  My hope is in you.  My ONLY hope.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."  I Peter 5:6-11

April 28, 2016

Look What God Has Wrought!

It is in the shelter of each other that people live. -Irish Proverb

So, this was a happy time.  This was our Bible study group (not all pictured) coming together to throw a surprise party in celebration of all our friend Sammi has meant to us.  

She's going away for work and school and doing crazy awesome cool adult stuff, but we'll miss her like crazy, so we combined a bunch of her favorite things and surprised her with a party, had a sleep over, did home church together, and then spent the most amazingly relaxing afternoon letting go of our cares and just existing together -- free to be young.  Not sure what that looks like to you, but to us that's having deep conversations on the deck, doing trick shots with a frisbee, riding excitedly down the hill in a wagon, raking up sticks, doing cartwheels, or just laying in the grass and enjoying the sunshine.

Post party weekend, Emma commented that we were not just her best friends, but family.  family.  

We may look confident and put together here (let's be honest -- we look really good ;), but I got to thinking about this group and I was struck by the reality of how crazy it is that this seemingly random group of souls are even friends, let alone family -- children and heirs!  We clean up good, but we've got issues.

We've got work stress.  We've got baggage from past relationships. We've got consequences for past actions.  We've got depression.  We've got eating disorders.  We've got bitterness.  We've got jealousy.  We've got addictions.  We've got masks.  We've got pride.  We've got rebellion.  We've got school stress.  We've got lies.  We believe lies.  We're lazy.  We whine.

But GOD. . .

Somehow, in this miracle that is redemption, we are changing and growing.  Like iron sharpening iron as we bump into each other and make mistakes, God is shaping us all to look more like his son Jesus Christ.  We've still got those issues, but when I look at our group now I see proof of God's love.  I see 1 John 4: 7-12, 18-21(emphasis added)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. . .
 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
 We're learning to care for and shelter one another.  We're learning to love our brother because we love God, because He first loved us!

Now when I look at this conglomerate of humans from all over the geographical area (and 8 different churches) I see how we're changing and growing.  I see what God is doing -- making a people for himself.  

A people who strives for unity.  A people who forgives.  A people who prays.  A people who builds up.  A people who is honest.  A people who shares God's gospel.  A people who sacrifices.  A people who gives.  A people who serves.  A people who denies the world and lives holy.  A people who asks for help.  A people who discerns.  A people who tries to understand.  A people who rejoices.  A people who does hard things because God. Is. Worth. It.  A people who heals.  A people who shelters.

Our Bible study has always been a living organism, but seeing the growing pains and the work of the Holy Spirit in just the last 4 months has been so encouraging to my personal spiritual walk with God. And it excites me to see how God will work in the next months!

Like Baalam blessed the people of Israel, I want it to be said of us, "Look what God has done!"
"Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them. God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.  For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What has God wrought!’"
Numbers 23:20-23

(Not all are pictured, this is just the surprise group)

Blessed beyond measure,
Joanna Kay
3 John 4

January 23, 2016

3 Things

  • "God wants us to be really strong, which is different from the way we might typically desire to be strong. We often want to be strong in a way that reflects well on us. God wants us to be strong in a way that reflects well on him."  This article keeps hitting home.
  • The Dialect of Questions is a tool I have loved being taught with without realizing it. . .I'd love to get better at using it.
  • Because I'm an aspiring linguist, I find this fascinating:

9 Types of Spanish Accents - Joanna Rants
9 Types of Spanish Accents with Joanna Hausmann Comedy
Posted by Flama on Friday, October 2, 2015

January 22, 2016

Hawaii Week 2

Rainy days are for doing school and taking naps (View from balcony)

Pretty typical Hawaiian yard plants
I'm doing most of the cooking these days.
This week has been a stay at home week for the most part.  And by that I mean we just do life stuff -- no touristy trips or visits to the beach.  Because getting 4 little people out the door is a bit of an ordeal we pack everything we can into one day.  For example, on one day this week we went to the dentist, got special donuts, and took everyone to get flu shots all in one day.  That is an adventure.

Staying home days are a bit of an adventure for me as well.  We've taken on the challenge to use up all of the canned and dry goods so I've been looking up recipes that have these things in them, starting to cook them, and then ending up substituting half of the ingredients before it's all said and done.  I've never cooked with so many canned vegetables in my entire like.  It's weird.  But I've been making lots of yummy bread to go along with the interesting things, so it all works out.

Some other random thoughts:
  • Crest is way better than Colgate.  (I've actually felt this way for a while, but I'm reminded of it again this week)
  • Turns out I can't even do 1 pushup correctly.  That's about to change.
  • Went snorkeling (crazy story!) and scraped my feet up on the reef but my skin is so thick that even the largish gouges didn't bleed.  #barefootforlife
Once again, underwater cameras can document some pretty interesting times.
  • Maybe this should have been first. . .but Taekwondo ROCKS.  I found a dojang only 5 minutes down the mountain and the people are so kind and helpful (which looks like really pushing you sometimes).  I've bruised up my feet a little, but it's so worth it.
  • I've become so aware and thankful of texts and messages and calls from the mainland (or my friends in other countries).  It's not like I've moved permanently, but sometimes it feels like it because I can't just call up a friend and say, "Hey, let's get together and talk/do something."  I may be an introvert, but that doesn't mean I don't need people.  It means I appreciate just being in the same room sometimes.  Just listening to my siblings or friends talk.  Skype and phones are a poor but necessary substitute. :)
  • I've not figured out a nice way to tell little kids that I don't want to pick them up this morning because their breath smells so bad.  I have figured out how to put up with it though, because smiley-excited-morning-pajama hugs from these cute littles are the best hugs I've ever had.  :)
View off the balcony just after sunset

January 15, 2016

When you realize you're 7

A (sadly) blurry photo of Ellie and I

"Mommy, I don't want him to do that."

A simple request.  One I had no clue would cut me to the heart.

I was sitting next to Ellie during our 'quiet time' soon after my arrival and observing the family routine.  (Every day possible the whole clan practices sitting quietly, singing songs, and reading scripture.  If the littles aren't aware or focused enough to worship they still must obey and play quietly.)  Little Jeff was playing on the floor, while Ellie, as the oldest sibling, was expected to sit on the chair cooperatively -- a task she usually does joyfully.

The request was made again with more urgency, "Mommy.  I really don't want him to do that.  May he please not do that?"

"Mom" has 3 other less cooperative kids to help, so Ellie is told that Mommy sees and will take care of it.  But Mom doesn't immediately stop the action.  Now starting to cry, Ellie tried again:

"Mom, I really don't want Jeff to do that with my toy.  I don't want him to!  Mom, please stop him.  He can't do that!  Please stop it!"  Now in full panic mode, things were starting to get noisy.  As an observer, I noted that Ellie had a legitimate request.  Jeff was being mischievous and rather naughty.  (dousing a teddy bear slowly and methodically with water from a bottle)  He was doing something unhealthy, if not actually truly rebellious.  So I turned to the scene unfolding between Ellie and Mom.

My urge was to stand up for Ellie, but I quickly saw that Mom wasn't just teaching Ellie about justice today, she was also teaching her about trust.  Mom gave Ellie her full attention and started talking softly to her saying "Don't worry, Mommy will take care of it.  Settle down.  Please calm yourself, I will take care of it."  The 7 year-old kept looking at the sad scene on the floor and whimpering and begging mom to stop it and do something.

Finally Mom said firmly, "Ellie, look at me.  Look Mommy in the eye.  Ellie, who is in charge? Yes, I am.  Do you believe that I will take care of it?  Settle down.  No, look at me.  Do you trust that Mommy will take care of it?  I will take care of it, so don't worry about what he is doing and calm down."

I saw the struggle.  I felt the struggle.  Every word spoken sounded like God.  I was Ellie.  I am 7. . .. begging God to stop people from doing things I don't like.  Frantically asking him to fix something and pawing at him while I just stare sadly at the problem or offending person.

Then He says he sees it.  And he'll take care of it.  But nothing happens.  "You call this taking care or it, God?  They're still doing it/It's still happening!  And I don't want it!  I don't want it!  God!"  Then, with his arms around me, trying to calm me down like Mom's were around Ellie, he says,

"Look at me.  No, look at me.  Who's in charge?  Do you trust me to take care of it?  I see the problem and I will fix it but you need to obey me and calm yourself."

I'm the frantic 7 year old who doesn't want water spilled on her bear.  It's not a huge important issue, but it is 'wrong.'  And I don't want it.  I want God to act now and fix it.  But He's got this.  And he's in charge.

As soon as Ellie was calmed down Mom tackled the task of stopping the soaking of yon stuffed animal.  She took care of it like she promised, and God will too.  Be at rest, my soul.  Cease your raging.  Rest in God.

January 12, 2016

Hawaii Week 1

Diamond head and the Waikiki coast
Those who know me in "real life," know that I am back in Hawaii for 2 months to help out some family friends.  And by help I mean alternate between being a 2nd mom/aunt, cook, fashion advisor, organizer, navigator, seamstress, teacher, friend, or musician at a moments notice.  Actually, it's a lot  like regular life, except it's a little warmer and there are 4 extra little humans to look after.  

Going for adventures with littles
I'm not sure how to say this next bit. . . Hawaii has incredible natural beauty and an agreeable climate, but these things don't change everyday life.  (granted there is an island sub-culture that is a little different)  Busy moms still live in Hawaii like busy moms in Illinois, or New York, Or Idaho.  It's hard.  And you don't always get to sit back and appreciate extra things like the mountain you're living on or the vast ocean visible out your window because you're washing dirty hands, correcting math homework, making dinner, answering your 300th question today, or trying to comfort a child over a dead bird.  Y'all have moms.  Go thank them.  Text 'em, call 'em, write them a note -- whatever will get it done.  Moms are heroes.  It's not easy to raise 4 kids under 7, but hopefully I can make it just a little easier for this family over the next 2 months.

Now, having been here on O'ahu before, I didn't immediately experience the awe and wonder of seeing all the unique trees, clear water, and beautiful mountains this time.  That doesn't mean there aren't any re-entry surprises or re-realizations though.  Things like. . .
  • not being able to figure out the Japanese style shower, and then accidentally having a bath with a gecko.
  • how hard the pavement is (seriously, is it the volcanic element?  The rocks, and pavement are all sharper and harder than my midwest variety).
  • hearing reveille float across the water from the Pearl Harbor/Hickam Base every morning at 7:55 (Don't know what it sounds like? Check this out).
  • Hawaii is a true American smelting pot, but it has a different recipe.  We're all a beautiful conglomeration of almost every other nation/ethnicity, but in Rockford, we have many "classic" Americans (black/white is the easiest way to describe it -- people who immigrated long ago from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean), but also many Mexican, Indian, and Arab people.  Here in Hawaii there is a much stronger Asian influence than in Rockford.  What I'm (probably very ignorantly) calling "classic" Americans aren't the majority at all, but are blended in with the native Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or other south Asian cultures. 
  • salt water still hurts my eyes
  • friends are hard to make, and I miss mine back on the mainland 
  • selfies are so awkward
  • coconut, mango, and pineapple are a way of life, not exotic fruits.
  • there are SO many military servicemen and women here.  If I stopped to thank each one like I do at home I'd never get anything else done.
  • everything is so dang expensive here.  Many things are twice as much, but real estate is at least 4 times what it is in Rockford. 

I've tried to start good habits here like getting up and going to bed early, eating well, practicing the piano everyday and exercising daily with mild success.  I got sick soon after I got here and it really threw my rhythm off.  Then I went a little gung-ho on the push-ups for during my exercise and my upper back is currently in a whiplash-like state.  So thankful for foam rollers and tennis balls to try to loosen up my crazy muscles.  Let's see what week 2 brings!