Would You Like That in Brown, Braun, Marron, or Marrone?

I’m just wondering, when events occur in your lives, do you ever pair them with songs or movie titles?

I don’t know, maybe I’m just weird that way.

We moved into our 35-year-old home in January 2016 and, with the exception of white walls, were immediately enveloped in brown everything else with a splash of tragic orangey-brown tile in the second-floor bedrooms and a blue-themed master bathroom that totally doesn’t match our bro – oops, orangey-brown-tiled bedroom.  So the predominant color within the house is, well, various shades brown. 

We’ve got the dull brown tile.   We’ve got the three-brown flooring.  We’ve got the baseboards that are painted a dark brown.  We’ve got the medium brown, wood-beamed ceiling with dark brown distressed-looking streaks and notches. We’ve got the medium brown wooden stairway and handrail.  We’ve  got the deep, dark brown, almost reddish, wood doors throughout the house.  Our kitchen counters are speckled brown, and the cabinets are — you got it — brown! 

Now, the subjects of this discourse are specifically my living room and my current Bible study.  Totally irrelevant subjects, right?  Well, yes, actually, but these days my thoughts aren’t always cohesive.  However, they are both relevant to the first sentence.  So just roll with me, okay?

(I was going to just write “k,” but when I Googled the proper way to write it – I thought I might write ‘kay — I was lambasted with sites telling me how rude it is to write just “k” – as if you, dear readers, are not worthy of receiving an o-a-y’s worth of my time.  Please know I NEVER want to offend anyone, especially with one letter, oh-kay???)

Hey, remember that rabbit from a prior post?  I’m on the rabbit trail again, and there he is!

Rabbit trail

(Note:  This will be a two-part post because God seems to be moving in my writing and digging things out of my brain that I need to deal with which is causing me a good deal of angst at the moment.)   

Now back to Part One of the story…

When we moved into this house we had one rocking chair Lawrence bought for me when he lived in Jalaca but, otherwise, we sat on plastic chairs.  We carried them around with us into whichever room we wanted to occupy.  We didn’t have a TV for a few months until one was loaned to us.  We also didn’t have curtains in the house.  Anyone who wanted to could just look into the windows to see what we were doing – and they frequently did.   Without even a second thought.  Unabashedly.  Especially our daytime quasi-guard, who always sports a goofy, guilty-like grin on his face. 

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A gathering in April 2016

After we got the TV and thought we might spend a little time in the living room, we decided to save up for some curtains.  When we purchased curtains, we went the safe route and purchased – you guessed it – solid brown curtains because we didn’t know what possible subsequent furniture would look like.         

In May 2016 Ema and Dulce loaned us a bench he built.  Guess what color it is.  Brown – light brown, kinda blonde-brown, actually.  We put it in the living room to kinda mix things up with the plastic seating.

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Late June Worship with a team from Hawaii

In July 2016 Andrea moved in and brought two not-brown living room chairs with her, but she and her chairs moved out in October.

In December 2016 my parents blessed us with a lovely Christmas gift – living room furniture.  We custom ordered the pieces and chose what we hoped would prove to be durable and stain-resistant in our household.  We chose – uh-huh – brown, dark brown.  While the furniture was being built, we were in PriceSmart one day and saw a three-lamp set that would complement the furniture – a dark brown antique brass look with a brown-speckled glass dome.  We bought them for our Christmas present to us.  Glad we did – they were gone the next day!

After the furniture arrived, we plopped a cheap plastic table in between the two chairs, covered it with a green tablecloth my grandmother had given to my mother years ago which broke up the brown a tad bit, and the Ema-Dulce bench was relocated to the no-name room between the front door and back door.

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So we moved along into 2017 and I thought it would be nice to add some accent pillows.  Our friend Amy was here in June, and we found cheap, unstuffed, pre-made pillows at a cool store here in Tegucigalpa.  So the brown got broken up a little more – into different-colored brown stripes.

Then a beautiful thing happened for us.  Well, the first part isn’t so beautiful because it involved my friend’s relocation to the states.  But when she and her husband sold their possessions, my parents once again blessed us and we were able to buy her gorgeous, custom-made dining room table that seats 8 comfortably and 12 or so elbow to elbow (and y’all know by now how important fellowship ‘round the table is to me in this home.)

Not only that, we were able to buy their futon – something I had wanted for the upstairs living area for a long time.  Yay for another sleeping option if we need it!

Not only that, I had the opportunity to purchase the fancy schmancy, custom-made curtains that hung throughout her house.  I had seen the curtains when I visited her home at an earlier time.  I knew she was going to be moving, and I asked if she was going to sell them.  It’s true, I was already coveting them before I ever thought about owning them! 

Guess what color they are.  Now don’t peek at the pictures.  Go ahead, guess…

How’d ya know?  Yep, they’re brown.  But they’re not JUST brown!  They’re brown with a little green and blue woven into the pattern.  Pattern, did I say?  Yes, pattern.  Not just solid fabric! 

I knew they would be PERFECT in our home.  I liked the tab-top, button design for easy hanging and adjustment.  Oh, and did I mention the tie-backs?  Yes, tie-backs came with them. 

Not only that, but there was a bonus!  Amy had four accent pillows made from the left-over fabric!  Bam!!

When we got the curtains home it didn’t take long to figure out we would have to do some modifications to get them to fit nicely over our windows.  One day when Lawrence and I were at our local Key-Mart  (pronounced K) looking for something else, we found reasonably priced curtain rods I liked that we would need for the modification.  In Honduras when you find something you like and can purchase it, you’d better get it that day, right then, because you might not have another chance.

KMart

There’s always the risk that if you remove something attached to concrete walls, you’re in for a big ol’ patch-n-paint job afterward.  But Lawrence was very careful and we got the new rods and new curtains hung up without trouble.      

I bought a tannish-brown tablecloth in the states and brought it home to my too-long dining room table, so I changed out the green tablecloth in the living room for the double-folded, tannish-brown one.

So, even though I don’t have a lick of artwork hanging on my walls, brown or otherwise, the living room looks pretty good. (Yeah, I now those striped pillows clash, but the boys can use them on the floor; the others, they can’t or they incur the wrath of Tia Sharon!)

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So one night as I sat in my brown chair, I started counting the browns – one, two, three, four…

I don’t know how far I counted, but “50 Shades of Grey” was being advertised on one of the movie channels (and no, inquiring minds, we didn’t watch it), and I decided to name my living room…

…13 SHADES OF BRAUN!

(That’s the German spelling, by the way.)

 

elegant-md

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

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Help In Their Time of Trouble

Today much of my FB feed was centered on water – flooded roadways, businesses, and homes; the heartbreaking photo of elderly folks sitting in waist-deep water in a nursing home until they were rescued; and the disgusting photo of Home Depot selling water for their  lowest  price, gar-on-teed, at $26.16 for a 12-pack.  (How did they come up with that random price, anyway?)  I also found, among the pictures and stories describing nature’s devastation, photos of organized brigades of individuals who, without regard to color or religion or political leanings, stand ready and wait for the word “go” to serve a hurting region of people in their time of trouble!

Fundraiser Collage 1

The current events in our home state where so many of our family and friends live gave me pause in boldness to ask for help in Honduras.  But we believe we are to move forward, so here I am, on your FB feed, asking for financial assistance.

Not for Lawrence and me, not for our boys this time, but…

… for friends who have an urgent medical need.

Do you remember seeing the bridal picture in July of my beautiful friend, Josseline, on her wedding day?

Josseline notified Lawrence and me a couple of days ago that her mother, Maria, a woman of very humble means, had emergency eye surgery last week, will be having another eye surgery this week, both as a result of untreated glaucoma, and has other health concerns that will be addressed at the conclusion of the attempts to preserve her eyesight.

Fundraiser Collage 2

When Josseline sent word about her mother’s condition, she made two requests.  She asked that we pray for her mother and their family, and she made us aware of a fundraiser the family scheduled wherein tickets are sold for basically $5 or so, you go to a specific McDonald’s location on a specific date, you get whatever the offer is, and the family receives a portion of the ticket sales.  I share that information to convey the message that these are not people asking for funding from Americans; they are actively seeking financial solutions for their need.

Lawrence and I want to do more than just buy a few tickets and go eat a burger; we want the family to get more bang for their donated buck, or lempira in this case, by making a donation that will be applied directly to Maria’s medical expenses.  Will you join Lawrence and me as we help defray the costs associated with her $1,500 eye surgery this week and other medical expenses that will be coming up in the near future?

Any donation made to Casa de Refugio Ministry, Inc., between now and Friday, September 1, through Paypal (donation buttons on this page or the ministry’s FB page) or by check mailed to P.O. Box 1316, Weatherford, TX 76086 will be designated for Maria’s surgery expenses and will be paid directly to her doctor or medical facility.  

Thank you for helping us help others in their time of trouble!

elegant-md

Psalm 26:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

 

 

Dopest?

Oh, these guys I love and live with *sigh* and *giggles*!!!

I’m sure they get one over on me Ev-er-y   Sin-gle  Day, and that comes with the territory, especially in a bilingual household where the two heads of the household are not…

…bilingual, that is.

I purposefully posed the originator of the subject of my discourse for the complimentary attention-grabbing photograph which will hopefully cause you, dear reader, to be sucked into today’s narrative.  Like the foster parents who must blur or otherwise obliterate the face of their child in social media, I intentionally shielded his face from the camera to protect his identity.  But Ke – oops, I nearly slipped.  I think I’ll call him, let’s see, Awesome Guy.  He liked the pic and might even put it on his own social media.  Oh, by the way, doncha just LOVE his hat?

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Anywho…

Today’s new word is DOPEST, doep-est.

How many of you have heard the word DOPEST?

Before about, oh, 4 pm, I hadn’t.

I know there’s a lot I don’t know.  For goodness sake, I think I’m the last adult on earth to learn the term “resting _ _ _ _ _ (The word for female dog that isn’t flattering when used to refer to a woman – got it?) face.”  I just learned that nugget not very long ago.  I read it and thought, “What does THAT mean?”  I had to look it up.  And an image that was shown as an example was Scarlett O’Hara.

Scarlett

But wait a minute!  I’ve seen that face LOTS of times in the courtroom.  And I KNOW my face looked that way a lot, too, especially during civil hearings, when I was bored outta my gourd.  Wow, I never knew “that” look had an official name.  Hmmm…

That was a rabbit trail, wasn’t it?

Rabbit trail

Back to dopest.

Awesome Guy comes into the living room to ask me a question, and I notice his shirt.

Me:  “Hey, is that a new shirt?”

Him:  “Yeah.”

Me:  “What does that word mean?”

Him:  “I don’t know.”

And he goes on about his business.

My first thought when I saw the word on his shirt was dope which equals drugs which equals illegal which equals not gonna happen in this household, by golly, not EVEN for medicinal purposes!

I turned to Lawrence and said, “I think for now I’m gonna pretend they forgot the “i” and the word is really supposed to be dopiest.”

As in Dopey, the cute little dwarf.  As in Sleeping Beauty.  As in Walt Disney movies when they were still considered okay for kids but they really weren’t because they were all witchy and stuff.

Speaking of witches and shirts, y’all wanna know something?  I have a shirt.  It has a witch hat and brooms on it.  I bought it when I went to see Wicked in New York City.  I really liked the broadway show.  I really like the shirt.  I used to wear it outside the house, but now I don’t.

Wicked

Now THAT wasn’t a rabbit trail.  It relates to this story on three levels.

Later….

Me:  “Let me see the tag on the back of your shirt.”

Him:  “The shirt was made here.  One of my friends got them and about four of us wear them.”

Me:  “Oh.”

So I started the quest to answer the following:

Was this going to be a harmless dopest shirt or a nopest, please don’t wear it shirt?

Earlier this year one of the guys came in with a pair of hideous half-pants with suspenders that had to be modified to make the marijuana leaf into just an ordinary leaf, sorta-kinda, so the pants could continue to be worn.  The sad thing is I didn’t even recognize the marijuana leaf, my friend did; I merely saw the Adidas brand.  I’ve learned that a lot of knock-off brands down here change logos up just enough to represent drugs, a huge draw in this small, drug-saturated country.  I haven’t seen those ugly pant things in a long time – hopefully they’re gone.

Did that paragraph have ANYTHING, really, to do with the story?  Nah.  I just wanted to talk about it, I guess, so you, my dear readers, know we try – we really do try to keep these guys in line.

Now back to the word search.

I began with ever-present Google and typed in “shirts that say dopest on the front.”

All I came up with was a shirt that said Dopest 03, a reference to LA, and looked to be a baseball-type jersey.  Is there a ballplayer named Dopest?  Don’t know, don’t care, didn’t search.

Then I looked up the definition of dopest.

Pay dirt, people!

Oh, wait, does Urban Dictionary count?

Dopest – Sickest; coolest; tightest; most awesome.

That definition is mostly okay, especially since the shirt has all those cool, geometrical diamond shapes helping to bolster its awesomeness.

If only I’d stopped there.

But, nooooo, I had to keep going with it, didn’t I, because I just don’t have enough to do around here.

Your Dictionary:  Dopest – superlative form of dope; most dope.  (And we ALL know what that means!)

A song called “We are the Dopest” – I can’t EVEN go there on this PG-rated (for drug and bad word references) post!

So I checked, juussst to make sure, that it isn’t a word in Spanish – it isn’t.

What am I gonna do about the shirt?

The same thing we do with a lot of other situations that arise around here – educate and encourage, not dictate and dominate.

“Awesome Guy, here’s the information I found about the word dopest.  Let’s put that information up next to the values we teach about in this house.  The first thing I thought of when I saw that shirt was drugs and dopers.  We’re not dopers and we’re not into drugs around here.  Does it conflict for me?  Yes.  Does it conflict for you?  Probably not at the moment.  But you didn’t even have a clue what the shirt might be saying and I still don’t know what it really means.”

And now the tie-in to that paragraph way up yonder about my Wicked shirt.

I like the shirt not really for the shirt itself but because it reminds me of how I really enjoyed my one and only experience in seeing a NYC Broadway play, a long-time dream of mine, with my two girls and two other friends.

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July 2015

But others don’t know anything about WHY I like the shirt; they only see the shirt and what it represents, witchy stuff.  And in Honduras the shirt-staring is amplified, not because of my amplified chest (I hope, I pray), but because they take witches seriously down here.  And is that what I want to represent?  Absolutely not.

At the end of the (dopest shirt) day, I hopest the shirt will become a nopest in the mind of mostest Awesome Guy as he tries his best just to copest as he moves through his adolescent jungle.

elegant-md

Proverbs 4 (A Chapter Concerning Wisdom)

In Between the Strength

I originally wrote this post yesterday morning, August 9, but didn’t immediately get it published.  Then by the end of the evening my attitude changed.  I’m still sharing what I thought then and adding in italicized print and parenthesis today’s thoughts.

Y’all, I am weary.  (And now I am also finished.)

After celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday and visiting with family and friends in Texas, I came home Sunday with renewed vigor in my battle to advocate for Peanut’s health and welfare.

Happy birthday 3

All my parents’ family was present except for Lawrence.

Oh, did I use the words “MY battle”?

Oops, I did it again.

Last month after our heart-breaking visit at Operation Smile with our (yes, I said OUR) gift-baby Peanut who was over two pounds lighter since leaving us and who had a full-blown case of miserably itchy scabies all over his dirty and stinky yet precious body, Lawrence and I went to the government authority to make a report about the sad state of health we and his healthcare providers found him to be experiencing.

Two days later Lawrence went to church.  Although Lawrence didn’t understand anything our pastor spoke, God ministered to him through the passages in 2 Chronicles 20:15-30.

We studied and meditated over those verses for many days and knew God was speaking to us.  Some of the very first words of the passage are, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

Well, I’m pretty much a coward.  You’d think I would read that instruction and say to myself, “Whew, I’m glad to know I don’t have to go gettin’ all bloodied and wounded about this!  I think I’ll just go about my business nurturing my men-boys and let (Let???  How big of me!) God direct Peanut’s life to its conclusion as it regards Lawrence and me, whether it’s to return him as is our fervent desire or, in His highest knowing of His plan for Peanut’s life, to not bring him back.  I’ll just wait for the word from God that it’s time to stop praying EVERY SINGLE DAY over him and for his return because it’s not God’s purpose, and then I’ll choose to redirect my desire to come under the authority of His decision that we not be the people to raise him.”  (And as that desire fades I’ll get to the place with Peanut that I’ve done with others who left my life – we all move on and he will move into the category of a memory that becomes more distant with the passage of time and a person who, when I think of him less and less, I’ll say a prayer like I do for other memory-people who come to my mind, and then move on about my day.  I weep now as I think about that notion, but I have found that time does heal wounds.)

So, yeah, did ANY portion of that last paragraph make sense?  Unfortunately, that’s how my brain functions 24/7.

But no…

In the days after July 6 I kept having our sweet translator make calls to DINAF (the government authority) while I made calls to Operation Smile to see what DINAF needed to do to obtain reports or even talk to the OS people, especially his pediatrician who was furious about his condition.

July 7 during the reporting visit to DINAF:
“We need reports from OS, but that takes time and in the meantime we will see if we can get Family to voluntarily bring him Monday so we can examine him and make a determination about whether he’s in a situation of immediate danger to his health and wellbeing.”

The week of July 10:
“Did Family show up with Pablo Monday as ordered on Friday?”
“No.”  (We knew they wouldn’t – Mom, the alpha in the family who, by the way has no legal authority over Peanut, told us in a nasty phone call to our translator, among other accusations against Lawrence and me, that her lawyer told her she didn’t have to do what DINAF said and everybody needed to just leave her alone.)
“What is DINAF going to do about that?”
“We will give her another chance. We are waiting for the reports from Operation Smile.”
“Well, did you make written request to Operation Smile for written reports?”
“No.”
“Remember, we told you last week we spoke to OS and they told us you are required to have a DINAF rep personally deliver a written request for narratives.”
“Oh, yeah.  We will do that today.”

After the required days of waiting and knowing when Family was supposed to show up again:
“Did Family show up with Pablo?”
“No.”
“What are you going to do about that?”
“We are going to send someone out to the house.”   (Whatever that means.)
“Did you receive the reports from OS?”
“Not yet.”

Wait, wait, wait some more from Texas.

And then I come home August 6, fully refreshed to advocate for Peanut.

The gentle, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit says to me as He had in days gone by, “The battle is not yours, but God’s.”
“Okay, God.  I hear ya.”

First thing Monday morning I made some phone calls to people concerning Peanut, and then we went to DINAF with no appointment to make sure they knew Peanut had an appointment at OS this week and to BEG them to send a DINAF representative to the appointment.  We knew we weren’t going to be invited by the family after “snitching” to DINAF last month.

At this point let me make one thing very clear – DINAF is GROSSLY understaffed.  All but one person we have encountered with that agency has been NOTHING but kind, understanding, and supportive of our love and advocacy for Peanut.  They have been very patient with us, always given us an audience when we show up unannounced, and done their best to explain the protocol they are required to follow.  AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO.  Lawrence and I have absolutely no standing with DINAF or with Peanut and his biological family.  That, folks, is God’s favor.

Now back to the story.

While we waited in the common area to speak with the DINAF doctor and the case manager, the strangest, most unexpected thing happened (a what-if scenario I played out in my mind every time we went to DINAF without the family’s knowledge.)

Peanut’s grandfather and his lawyer walked in.  WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT!

People might say, oh, how random, it’s kismet, whatever, whatever.  But talk about a shocked Sharon!  Lawrence said he wished he had a picture of my face. Apparently my jaw was lying on the floor and I had to scoop it back up and put it back into my mouth to be able to speak.

When we came into relationship with Peanut’s family, God gave me clear direction to never forget to only display love, kindness, understanding, and the other fruits of the spirit to them, no matter how we were treated in return.  So I greeted Grandfather with a hug. I was genuinely glad to see him.  We’ve always wanted to be as helpful to the family as we can, so I made sure to renew the offer through our basically non-bilingual friend we took with us that they were welcome to spend the night with us and we would be happy to drive them to the 7 am appointment.  He declined the spending the night, as we knew he would, because there are other grandchildren in their home who have to be cared for and they can only leave the house for one day.  Then he gave his number to our friend who would call him to find out if we needed to pick them up at the bus station.  I inquired about Peanut, and he told me Peanut was sick with the gripe (basically a cold and common to people who live in the villages.)

When the lawyer found out the person they were there to see was unavailable, he left their paperwork and hurriedly ushered Peanut’s grandfather out of there and away from us.

I typed up questions for DINAF and Google translated them, so when we had our audience with the doctor and caseworker/lawyer, our friend got the answers that she could have Osman translate to us later, and we went on our way.  We received some answers that were disappointing, but the main one was that even though DINAF said they would send a psychologist to Peanut’s appointment at OS since the doctor would be out of town, I just knew in my spirit there would be no representative there (there wasn’t) and we would not be invited by the family to be there (we weren’t).

After we left, I began the pesky mental conversations…

“God, what was that all about, that thing with Peanut’s grandfather showing up?  You’ve told me over and over the battle is yours, not mine.  I know, I know – bottom line is I don’t have any control in this situation but, God, I JUST DON’T WANT PEANUT TO FALL THROUGH THE DINAF CRACKS.  I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!  I know Family is not going to bring him in monthly as ordered in the papers, and DINAF is too busy to keep up with him.  Father, he needs SOMEONE in the flesh to keep the wheel squeaking, doesn’t he, until DINAF no longer has any authority over him?  Didn’t DINAF ask us to be the eyes and ears for Peanut because there’s not enough staff?   Did I screw up something you had planned?  Did my helpfulness (or willful disobedience to you, Lord) in going to DINAF, seeing the grandfather, and having them stress to him that they HAD to be there for that early appointment or they would be considered a no-show change their course and alter your plans?  Because if they were a no-show, that would be the strike-three-and-you’re-out situation we were told about after we saw Grandfather.  If we hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have had those things stressed to him.  Or were we supposed to be there at the same time?  That seems a more reasonable thought in light of the concept of timing – coming from two places with all sorts of traffic situations, coming for two purposes, coming without appointments, and hitting the five-minute time frame just right – or wrong, etc., etc.”

By the end of the day, Lawrence and I were both thoroughly exhausted.

fried brain

Tuesday I made the decision that I was finished – I quit – no more advocating.  “I’m too tired to fight and, Lord, didn’t you say the battle is yours anyway?  Lord, forgive me for fighting when maybe I shouldn’t have been, for advocating for this baby I love so much but you love more.  I’ll just stay home, quit checking on the results of appointments, and continue praying until you tell me to stop petitioning you for his return.  Lord, how can I dare complain about Peanut after hearing my friend’s niece miscarried the last gift from her husband who died a few weeks ago, now a double death and grieving for her, and hearing about my friend’s nine-month-old grandson who died the other day when he strangled in an improperly fastened car seat?  At least Peanut’s alive, you love him more than I ever could, and you do have a plan for his life.”

So I went about my business for the day, the thought being that I would lie down to try to get rid of a ferocious headache so I could spend the afternoon preparing homemade lasagna and cookies as requested by Kevin for his 18th birthday.  If I can’t love and nurture Peanut, I’m grateful to be able to love and nurture Kevin on his birthday.

Kevin B day

Happy 18th birthday, Kevin!

Lawrence went about his business, but he got a phone call – from Peanut’s mother.  He didn’t answer but called me instead.  We didn’t have a translator available until the afternoon, so I sent her a Google-translated message that Osman would call her after school.

Osman called, Mother declined our offer to help them, we asked when we could visit Peanut again, she said maybe on September 14th (Let’s just grab a date out of the air, shall we?), we asked if we could visit Peanut in the waiting room at Operation Smile, she said no, that their lawyer told them to stay away from us.

At that point we told her we would not call her again, to which she said thank you, but to please remember that we always love Peanut and are available should they need us and to please call.  And then, y’all, I just couldn’t help it – I had Osman tell her that although we knew she had said very mean things about us, it was okay (meaning we forgive her) because we love Peanut and always will.  She then hung up.

Lawrence and I knew on July 6, while we were with the family, that day would be the last day we would be welcomed to help them or welcome to see Peanut.  They had a baby they had not taken care of properly; we knew it, they knew we knew it, and they knew Operation Smile knew it.  It was time for them to go into hiding and try to recover his health before presenting him to anyone in authority over them.

So although the phone call from Mother was not a surprise, it was still a rejection and it sucked big-time.

And Lawrence and I weren’t the only ones in our house to be rejected Tuesday – might as well get several rejections in the household done in one fell swoop, cry about it, and move on down the road.

After the phone call I went back to the kitchen and, through tears, snot, and sniffles, continued working on Kevin’s meal.  The tears hit my shirt throughout the afternoon but never fear, snot didn’t make its way into the food.

Sally

Before bed Lawrence and I prayed over Peanut as we have every single night since June 2 and we generally talked about things concerning him, God’s plan, the events of the day, etc.

I resolved to not make another phone call, ever, to anyone, ever again about Peanut.

“God, you said the battle is yours.  I now willfully obey you.”

So I woke up this morning (Wednesday) – That’s a good sign, right? – and checked that albatross called mobile phone.

We have a good friend, Jeremiah Gibson, who writes near-daily words of encouragement based on Bible verses.  They pop up into my phone in the early mornings.  Today’s theme is based on Psalm 84:5-7 and entitled Strength to Strength.

“Daily Encouragement –

My child, I am giving you strength for today as you come close to Me!!! No matter the circumstances you may face today, draw near to Me, and I will cause you to move from strength to strength.

In the middle of darkness, suffering, weeping, and weakness; come close to Me and receive strength to live, fight, and advance the Kingdom. When you are in a time of blessing and increase is all around you, do not forget where this comes from. Press in to Me so you do not turn aside in times of blessing but continue to grow and be strengthened in Me.

You are My mighty warrior, and I am with you no matter what you may go through. Turn to Me and watch as you take up a new position of strength in Me!!! I love you My child!

Psalm 84:5-7 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.  6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.  7 They go from strength to strength…”

I already knew before I saw Jeremiah’s post that God was having me write another one of my little novels today.  The thoughts had been percolating for a while.  I read the words Jeremiah wrote, sat down to write, and then I went back to the passages about the battle being God’s, not mine.

God is so gracious.  You know all those questions I had in my head after the DINAF encounters?  Are some of the answers perhaps in the II Chronicles passages?

Yes, God told Jehoshaphat the battle was not his, but God’s.  Then during the same time frame…

… He gave Jehoshaphat and the army some instructions.

Verses 16-17:  “Tomorrow march down against them.  You will not have to fight this battle.  TAKE UP YOUR POSITIONS; STAND FIRM AND SEE THE DELIVERANCE THE LORD WILL GIVE YOU.  DO NOT BE AFRAID; DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED.  GO OUT TO FACE THEM TOMORROW, AND THE LORD WILL BE WITH YOU.”

In verses 18-19 Jehoshaphat responded by bowing with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.  Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.

I believe Lawrence and I have been in that “today,” the today of knowing the battle is not ours, of bowing before the Lord, and standing up and praising the Lord with a very loud voice through our belief that Peanut will return, even when others don’t believe, and that other family and friends have been standing up in praise and belief with us.”

I received a phone call this morning regarding Peanut as I sat down to write and just before re-reading 2 Chronicles, just hours after making a vow to myself to just lie down and quit and “let” God handle it.  Did God give instruction for Jehoshaphat to just lie down?  No, He didn’t.

I now have my instructions – to take up my position, stand firm, and go out and face the things about Peanut that the Lord brings before us.  I also have assurances – if we obey, we will see the deliverance the Lord will give us and the Lord will be with us AS WE CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE!  (As of this morning, Thursday, my position has changed and maybe I am wrong by wilting and not standing firm.  I don’t know.  I can go out and face the things about Peanut that the Lord will bring before us.  I also still believe in His assurances that if I obey, I will see the deliverance the Lord will give us and He will be with us. But will Peanut?  Maybe the Lord’s deliverance and presence will be deliverance from our belief and hope that he will return and the healing presence of the almighty Father.  Again, I don’t know.  But this morning I know this – the all-capped declaration at the end of the paragraph now would read: As we continue to advocate through prayer but not through seeking out answers to questions about information we know, information we know but should not know, or information we don’t know but would like to know. My heart just can’t take it anymore.)

I believe we have/are now entering the “tomorrow.”  The people at DINAF told us that today, Wednesday, would be a critical day.

Verse 20-23:  “…HAVE FAITH in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; HAVE FAITH in his prophets and you will be successful.  After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:  Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.  As they began to sing and praise, the LORD SET AMBUSHES against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.  The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them.  After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.”

After the battle, it took Jehoshaphat and his men three days to carry off their spoils.  They returned JOYFULLY to Jerusalem because the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.  Then verse 30 says the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.

(Honestly, other than the first item of instruction to have faith in the Lord my God, I wonder if maybe the last verses don’t apply to us in this situation as I had hoped, meaning that the spoil sitting on top of the heap for us to scoop up is Pablo Peanut.  Yes, I can still sing the song ‘Give Thanks to the Lord For His Love Endures Forever” because it does, but I wonder if the spoils Lawrence and I desire may not be the same spoils the Lord will deliver when this “battle” is over.  By that I mean the spoils He will most assuredly deliver are deepened faith that God is God even when we are disappointed and do not receive what we think we most desire; stronger testimony that God is good, no matter what; testimony that we will not blame God or be angry with God; and many other marks of a more mature life with Christ.  That will give me rest on every side.  None of this is really about Lawrence, me, or Peanut anyway.)

(Another thing that bothers me about battles and enemies is I don’t consider Peanut’s birth family as my enemy and we are not in a battle with them over him – we can’t be, we have no standing.  However, this is still a battle because it’s spiritual.  Lawrence and I are trying to be obedient to God and his purpose for bringing Peanut into our lives in the first place, Peanut’s mother makes decisions and display fruits that do not align with someone who lives according to God’s purpose for their lives, and the grandparents appear to be afraid of the mother.  And from what I’ve seen, I can understand that.) 

Y’all, I began this letter with such weariness.  (And I am finishing it with such weariness.)  I’m not as strong in my faith as Lawrence is and I admit I waver in hope, faith, and belief that God will allow us to raise Peanut and adopt him as our son.  But after writing, which is what I do when God calls me to it, my mind screams out how can Peanut NOT come back to us after adding up all the things that have happened since January 28, 2016, and are happening today?

But we won’t know until we know, will we?

Again I refer to Peter Pan and his fairy proclamation when I say, “I do believe in miracles, I do, I do.”  (I do believe in miracles, just not this one anymore.  I suppose, though, I do have a little hope because I hope I’m wrong.)

Be blessed today – I know I am!  (That statement still stands – I am blessed, every day, no matter the circumstances.)

 (And today, Thursday, my thought is, with the knowledge I have today that I didn’t have yesterday but can’t share, if DINAF couldn’t recover Peanut after the last appointment, it’ll never happen now.  And so, my dear family and friends, I must cope with this earthly severed relationship in the only way that has ever allowed me in the past to move on, and that is turn my back on it, try to bury it, and move forward with more mental space and energy for the boys we came to serve in the first place.  Lawrence is NOT in the same mind-frame as me.  Let me again stress again the STRENGTH of his faith.  God has not told him to let it go, and he refuses to give up hope until God very clearly states otherwise.  I will continue to sit beside him each day when he purposefully prays for his forever son to return home and I will purposefully pray for God’s protection over my forever son, but sometime over the last few days I quit singing Jesus Loves Me to him and MY hope is now dismally low to nil.  Throughout the finishing of the narrative, I sit in snot-slinging grief, uh-gen, over loss, the loss of hope in this situation.  Don’t think I’m mad at God; I’m not.  I’m just done.)

(In conclusion – I promise I’m about finished writing – I just don’t know how people get by who don’t draw their strength from God and his promises.  It’s a choice, and now I need to meditate on the word Jeremiah Gibson shared in his post.)

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Psalm 84:5-7 “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.  6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.  7 They go from strength to strength…”

 

My Cup Runneth Over

This morning Lawrence and I took our good friends Amy and Britlyn Rodriguez to the airport.  When we returned home, we sank into our chairs and were engulfed in silence – a home devoid of slamming doors, conversation and laughter, clanking utensils signaling human presence in the kitchen, shouts of “Tia Sharon” followed by a question or a story.  We sat in calmness and stillness.

In the stillness peace enveloped us.

Lawrence assigned a project for me to complete over the next couple of days – the most detailed story I can recall of our reunion with Peanut yesterday.  I sat down at the computer to begin writing when two of the boys came in from school.  Silence and stillness disappeared like dew on a warm summer morning.  Filling the emptiness was Osman’s yoo-hoos about the successful completion of another school semester punctuated with Kevin’s opening and closing of the refrigerator door.  I went down to greet them and make sure they found something to eat, and when I returned to the blinking cursor at the top of my blank writing canvas, a thought popped into my head:  

Cup Runneth Over

It certainly wasn’t a new thought.  Haven’t I heard that just about a million and one times? 

When Bible verses pop into my cluttered head, even when I know where they are located, I frequently head over to Bible Gateway to see if God jogged my mind with familiar words but really wants to tell me more through the reading of the surrounding context.  Lo and behold, the cup-runneth-over verse is found in Psalm 23:5.   

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How many times have I read our Psalm 23 storybook to Peanut? 

How many times have I heard and read Psalm 23  for myself? 

Only about a million and one times!

But today?

Today was different.      

Today I read Psalm 23 with the PRIOR belief, security, and knowledge that my cup runneth over.  Today’s Psalm 23 wasn’t recitation at a graveside service or a reading as a source of comfort to a person who is sick or dying.  It wasn’t read as part of a daily devotional or in an attempt to seek personal peace.  It was read in the spirit of LIFE, a life whose heart-cup runneth over.

Psalm 23 was brand new today.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”

Father, may I consciously choose to follow you, under your guidance and direction, securely in your promise that I will lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”

Lord, that sounds like the perfect vacation!  Thank you for making provision for my restoration.  Forgive me for not allowing you to lead.  You afford me the opportunity to lie in comfort and stillness for the refreshment of my soul; it is me who, when surrounded by green pastures and quiet waters, spins in circles until exhaustion overtakes, not refreshment.

“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

Father, when I let you guide me, the path is ALWAYS right.  Why, oh why, am I so stubborn?  Please forgive me, Lord.  I give YOU the glory, not myself, for this journey.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Lord, you know the locations of my dark valleys.  How do you know?  Because you are in those dark places with me!  As the sheep traverses the mountainous crags and dangerous areas but is kept in line or pulled back from the precipice by its shepherd, when I find myself mired in the valleys of negativity, depression and despair, you rescue me.  Thank you, Jesus, for considering me worthy enough for life.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Thank you, Lord, that no matter where I am or who surrounds me, the table you lead me to is the one YOU prepared for me; therefore, I am safe.

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Thank you, Father, for the vision of an inner anointing of my head, where thoughts are conceived, with a refreshing, fragrant oil that washes away negativity and replaces it with joy, gladness, and thankfulness.

What else can my cup – vessel – me do but overflow with your good fruits?

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Lord, you ARE good and loving.  I can give testimony after testimony how your goodness and love has followed me, so how could I even conceive that it would ever be otherwise?  Thank you, Lord, for letting me dwell in your house we call Casa de Refugio during this season of my forever.

Thank you, Father, for making Psalm 23 new for me today.

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Revelation 21:5

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 

 

(Photo Credits:  Psalm 23 by Richard Jesse Watson)

Join Us at the Casa

Join Us at Casa de Refugio ~ Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Together We’ll Trim the Tree and Blow Up the Blue

God has given us a vision for Casa de Refugio’s service to others during the 2016 holiday season, and we welcome you to join us. With this invitation, it is entirely possible for you to be in two places at one time!

Send yourself to us and we will hang you up on the Christmas at the Casa guest wall.  Simply email or FB message a picture — any picture you’d like — goofy ones, serious ones, whatever — of yourself, your family, your pets, or whoever you would like represented at Casa de Refugio for the Christmas season.  We will print the pics and add them to the wall where you will be introduced to our Honduran family and friends.  We would love for our lifetime of family and friends to join us – childhood and school friends, Amarillo friends, Weatherford friends, church friends, Parker County coworker friends, met-you-in-Honduras friends, and international friends!  Share this post with YOUR friends and invite them to come “hang” with us! The more the merrier.

But that’s not all.  Christmastime is so much more festive and fun when a colorful, sparkly Christmas tree is involved!

Lawrence and I send a happy ho-ho-ho THANK YOU to our friends at the Micah Project here in Honduras for donating a beautiful, 7½ foot, pre-lit Christmas tree to Casa de Refugio.

But, alas, it needs to be festively adorned with ornaments, ribbon, a tree skirt, and a tree topper.  We have most of the decorations and they need a boost to make it onto the tree!

And $10 donations will get the job done!

That’s right.  For every $10 tax-deductible donation gifted to Casa de Refugio and designated “Christmas at Casa de Refugio,” we will add a decoration to the tree and update the photo every couple of days.

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As the decorations go up, the blue thermometer located on the website will rise until we meet our Christmas service goal of $1,600!  Let’s blow up that blue thermometer and fund the following projects:

  • 15 Christmas meal gift baskets – 10 baskets for family members of the young men who live at Casa de Refugio and the people who work alongside us and 5 baskets for the employees at Casa de Esperanza, a local children’s home we assist from time to time. Each basket will contain chicken or pork, fresh vegetables, grapes and apples, bread, coffee, and a dessert.  Estimated cost:  $750.00
  • A Christmas cookie decorating, pizza eating, Xbox playing, movie watching slumber party at Casa de Refugio for the approximately 35 kids who live at New Life Children’s Home in Jalaca. Estimated cost:  $350.00
  • Casa de Refugio will be the storage and food preparation base for the 4th annual Dinner with the King, a free banquet held on December 24th in the Centro District of Tegucigalpa where over 1,000 people, many in difficult and lonely circumstances, dine in excellence with the king, Christ Jesus.  Volunteers, under the direction of our friend Anthony Aguilar, will flood our home for three or four days prior to the event to prepare food for the feast which will require extra electricity, water, and gas for the oven and stove, plus some food treats to keep these guys going.  We are very humbled and excited to have been asked to be a part of this event and we look forward to supporting these young adults as they serve others in Centro.  Check it out  here. Lawrence and I wept as we watched the video!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGHbCE3CAvQ   Estimated cost:  $200
  • A couple of small Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers for about 10 of “our kids” and food ingredients for holiday baking. Estimated cost:  $300.00

Join the party!  Send a picture, send a donation, and enjoy your Christmas at Casa de Refugio in Tegucigalpa, Honduras!

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Cash or Check donations may be mailed to
Casa de Refugio, P. O. Box 1316, Weatherford, TX 76086
Credit or debit card donations may be made through Paypal by clicking the donation tab

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Special Needs

Recently several of my FB posts have centered on a little snip of a baby who we lovingly refer to as Peanut.

Lawrence and I weren’t in the hunt for a baby; that’s not our stated purpose for living in Honduras.  We’re 50-somethings, one of us broken down from physical work and surgeries, the other in the throes of hot flashes in hot and humid Tegucigalpa.

A task we agreed to in January was to care for and keep up with a one-year-old, in-the-process-of-being-adopted little boy while his foster parents visited the USA for six weeks.  No muss, no fuss, no big deal, really, just take care of him and send him back home.

But on January 27th an itty-bitty baby boy was born. He immediately received a label, special needs, and when his mom left him in the hospital, he received his second label, orphan, an all-too-common term attached to children in this beautiful country of Honduras where  poverty is so prevalent.

On January 28th Lawrence returned home from the states.  We never anticipated that on that very day we would be introduced to one who is fearfully and wonderfully made, one who we had to search for within the folds of his blanket to be able to see him and who weakly emitted a sound much like a new baby kitten when he was exposed to the Honduran sunlight.  As we stood in the street that afternoon, we said yes – yes to caring for a premature, bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate four-pound baby.

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4-lb. baby Peanut

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He slept in a basket his first week in our home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When our daughters were born and as they grew into healthy young women who never really had to go to the doctor for anything serious, most of the time I took their “normalness” for granted.  But from time to time, especially when I encountered or read about children who required extra measures of care and attention, I thought how lucky or fortunate or blessed we were to not have to take care of children with special needs.  I thanked God for my healthy children while in my mind’s eye I wiped my forehead in relief.  The reasoning I gave myself for not having children who were going to be all-consuming time-wise was that “God knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it.”  I greatly admired people who loved and cared for their or others’ children who were “different” or “challenged” but was still so glad that task never landed on me.

Until it did, that is, on January 30, 2016…

And so along comes this baby with rifts in places that should be seamless and whose eyes are unique, to say the least.  After combating the initial fear that he was going to die while in our care, Lawrence and I settled into a routine with him.  When we talk about his first month of life, we say that he was still cooking.  We fed him with his special soft bottle, changed his diapers, made sure his little mouth stayed taped together to minimize scarring when he has surgery in the future, put together a homemade vaporizer with a hot plate in the bathroom and sat in the sauna with him when he was congested so he could breathe more easily, and let him sleep.  At five weeks he began to stir, and just before his caregivers returned, he came alive a bit more, a lot more, actually, between midnight and 5 a.m.

And then it was time for him to leave our home.  I thought it would be easy.  With him, though, it wasn’t the “no muss, no fuss, no big deal, really, just take care of him and send him back home.”

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2/3/16 Learning to feed Peanut with his special bottle at Operation Smile.

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One of Peanut’s favorite places to snooze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so Peanut went away, but not very far.  Although we dared not utter the word parents because under Honduran law we are too old to adopt him, we were his mommy and daddy for his first six weeks.  Now we’re his Mamie and Tio Lawrence.  And in the future we quite possibly will be nothing, not even remembered.

What happened to me?  I was the one who skated through life with the normal kids.  Yet, now, until his adoptive family materializes and at the risk of heartbreaking loss, I yearn to love, care for, and nurture this baby who turns his head toward me when he hears my voice, who smiles when Lawrence calls him his little buddy, who will undergo surgeries and will experience recoveries where he will not be able to bend his arms to put his fingers in his mouth for comfort, and who potentially has other undiscovered maladies in his sweet tiny body.

A couple of weeks ago Peanut started smiling, and now he just flat-out grins.  With his beautiful three-part lip, his smile is extra wide and warms our hearts.  He IS fearfully and wonderfully made.  God knows everything about him.  God knew we would say “yes” and he would come under our care for a time.

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Three-month-old Peanut

Peanut teaches me about things just because he’s him.  He causes me to think more on things of God.  He blesses me.  I sing to Peanut when he struggles with pain or when he’s sleepy and just last week found a song that I am learning so I can sing it especially to him when he is with me.

As much as I love this baby whose mother abandoned him as a result of his physical brokenness, I try to imagine how much more God loves me in my brokenness as his special needs child and will NEVER turn his back on me if I but acknowledge my need for Him.

I no longer see Peanut’s broken places except when I see his likeness in a photo. Did they disappear?  No, they are still there, but my love for him sees deeply into his eyes, his smile, his heart, his sweet little personality, and his need for me to care for him when he’s with me.  And what about you and me as God’s special needs children with broken places in our lives?  Do those broken places called “sin” ever disappear?  No, they are still there, but God loved us enough to sacrifice his son to cover those broken places so that He, our father, can look on us with even more love and passion than we can ever imagine.

I think about the mothers I know who are raising and have raised children who didn’t effortlessly coast into adulthood like my girls did, and I think about the strength, stamina, and determination that have become part of their character as they love and advocate for their children.  Where, before, I felt badly for them and almost guilty that I didn’t have even a smidgen of the same burden, I now desire to join their club, a club that I dare say most didn’t ask to become members of, a club where, out of fatigue, frustration, sorrow, and sickness, love overcomes and is all the sweeter and stronger, the Mother/Caregiver of Children with Special Needs Club.

This much I know about my special needs Peanut – he’s SPECIAL and this Mamie NEEDS him!

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