Monthly Archives: October 2008

daytime

Once again, I sit here at my computer unable to tear myself away from the music that is playing over the speakers. Oh, where is my ipod??? I have mislaid it somewhere, and this is the only place where I can sit and listen to music. As hoarse as I am, recovering from some cold or another, I am singing my little Sumi-heart out here at the computer. Thankfully the boys are all in bed asleep.

Soooo, since I am sitting here, I might as well blog, right? Not that I feel like I have anything much to say. My Jenna-words dried up a while ago and I always feel like I am repeating something when I write about her these days. Is that how it is doomed to be, with no new memories to make and the mental wrestling match to come to terms with what happened over?

I miss her tonight. I miss her sweet little kisses that always came so readily when I hinted for them. I miss saying to her: “My muffin” and hearing her reply: “My mama”. She’s the only one that called me “mama” when the mood struck her. I think she heard it somewhere and fancied the sound of it. She called her daddy “dada” at times too, particularly after she saw a video clip of herself as a one year old waiting for her daddy at the front door and calling out: “dada”. 

My oldest knows that he can melt my heart instantly when he calls me “mama” in the same tone Jenna used to use. It reminds me of a little sweetie pie who was so closely tuned in to her mommy’s heart like little girls often are, and who knew that she had me wrapped all around her little finger.

Makes me think of the God who is so huge yet so tuned in to his children and so in love with us that just one glance from our eyes can ravish his heart. (Song of Sol. 4:9)

My pastor mentioned something totally in passing last week that hit me like a bucket of refreshing water. To understand what I am (going to be) getting at, you have to first read my post the deep.

My pastor talked about the afflictions of Paul, and how Paul said in 2 Cor 11 that he had spent a night and a day in the deep.

I loved this. The day follows the night.

During the night season in the deep, you are crushed by the crashing waves (“all thy waves and billows have gone over me”), the agitated waters, the troubled and discomforting seas. But day comes, as it always must, and you suddenly find yourself in a place where there is an abundant water supply. The desert has yielded its rivers in your life, and where there used to be desolation you find an abundance of growth and blessing that you never thought would be possible.  

This is the duality of the deep. Pain cuts deep, but it also breaks open a wellspring of life if we will invite Jesus into those deep recesses of our hearts to fill it, and eventually flow out to others from it.  

May the daytime come soon.

An old hat post

I wrote this late last Friday. It’s kind of old hat already and I have a new blog post stewing that I will hopefully post this evening. But I thought I’d post it for what it’s worth. Y’all might get two posts out of me in one day. 🙂

Since it is already past my bedtime, I should have no business sitting here bloggin’. But I decided to listen to Bob James’ Roberta on my iTunes library and so here I sit, unable to tear myself away from the mellow paino sounds of perhaps one of my favorite compositions ever. A boyfriend in my final year of high school introduced me to this instrumental piano piece, and I still love it.

I had a music-filled day. On a whim, I played the piano for a while today. It’s worth a mention since I have been playing so few and far between lately. Man, I love that instrument. I love just letting my fingers go and finding new combinations of sounds. I am sadly quite limited since I have not ever been a faithful piano student. When I play like I did today, I am always cognisant of wasted time and opportunities. A pianist I admire greatly recently told his family that I play the piano beautifully. I ruefully thought to myself that he’s probably heard all of my very limited repertoire, and doesn’t realise that it doesn’t go any further than that. 🙂

We had a concert at church tonight by one of the musicians that pioneered the Jesus Movement here in America.  Paul Clark is a contemporary of christian music legends like Larry Norman, Keith Green, Abe Laboriel and Phil Keaggy. The latter is still one of his closest friends. I am flabbergasted at the sounds one guy can coax out of an acoustic guitar. I still have strands of guitar music weaving through my head. The last time guitar music played around in my head like this was after seeing the movie August Rush. I heard the same dancing, lilting, vibrantly alive guitar sounds tonight. Loved it.

We had dinner with Paul Clark the night before last, and he told us a story that tickled my funny bone. I have to share it with my South African friends. He first visited the country in the early eighties when the SABC only had two tv channels, one in English, and one in Afrikaans. So he sings his songs and they are recorded for a tv show. The first night, he sees himself performing on tv. It is heavily edited as things were in SA at that time. The next night he is surprised to see himself again on tv. This time however, the SABC had taken the footage of him and dubbed Afrikaans lyrics over his song. LOL! I don’t think he knew that he could sing in Afrikaans. 🙂

Anyhow, here I am tonight, still praising the God who can put songs on our lips no matter where we find ourselves.  Rejoicing in his song, which goes on.

I have a page in my bible where Jenna scribbled one day with a yellow highligher. I have stuck a note into my bible at that spot, so that I can find it easily when I want to. I was looking at that sweet little reminder of my muffin the other day, tracing her scribble with my finger, when my eye caught the underlined verse on that page. I had underlined it some time before Jenna left us:

Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. Gen 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

As I read those words they jumped out at me. It was as if Jenna herself was speaking to us and saying: It’s OK. There’s a reason I had to go before you. God has an inheritance here on the earth for you, and he is going to do something mighty in you.

I could say much more about this. It sparked a search to find the passages in Genesis and in Deuteronomy where Jacob and Moses blessed the tribes of Israel, to see what they said to Joseph. Did you know that the name Joseph means “to add”? I found out also, that Joseph’s two sons were Ephraim, which means “doubly fruitful” and Manasseh, which means “causing to forget”.

It reminds me again, of my friend Phyllis’ words: God did not take Jenna from me to rob me, but to add something to my life. My prayer is that I will be ‘doubly fruitful’ for the kingdom’s sake, and that somehow there will be blessings that will help me to forget my pain (even for a moment) and embrace the joys of having had Jenna with us for a season.

my best

Happy weekend!

I went out with some girl friends from church this morning. We had breakfast, and went for a pedicure and manicure afterwards. I am typing this out with really spiffy looking nails. They scare me every now and then, though, since I am not used to seeing the flash of white that have been painted on the tips of my nails. 🙂 My toe-sies look really cute too, I will definitely be wearing sandals for the next few days. If you’ve got it you might as well flaunt it, right?

At one point during our visit at the salon, I blurted out that I have realised recently that I am disappointed with God. (And true to nature, I promptly started crying.) I explained to my friends that I had such high hopes for personal change after Jenna died, and yet here I am, still the same old Sumi in the same old rut. I am disappointed because real change has been so slow.

Yes, there has been change. If it weren’t for the events that were set in motion on Feb 17 this year, my life would look very different, my blog would have a different flavor and have less readers, I would most likely not be teaching right now. In some ways I do feel stronger. I know God has done things through me the past few months that He has not done before.

Yet…it is not enough for me. The price I have paid is so painfully high, that I have hoped that it would effect a proportionate amount of change in me. I want to carry Jesus to the world. I want to be a vessel that is so full of his living water that I may bring a drink to those who are thirsty. I want to have the tongue of a ready writer, so that I may speak a word in season to him that is weary. I want Jesus. All of Him. 

I was chatting with a friend the other day and mentioned, in passing, what a people pleaser I am. You know when you say something and later your words come back and haunt you? Newsflash! I am a people pleaser. I am constantly trying to get my pastor’s approval, I am trying so hard to prove my worth on the worship team, I am trying to impress at school. I have been asked to do some advertisements on the homeschool support group’s website, and my own perfectionism (because what will people think if I do anything less than perfect? ) is kicking my butt. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent on the thing, only to find out today that I will probably have to redo it all.

Jesus told Martha: one thing is needful. Thankfully, he only puts his finger on one thing in our lives at a time. I realise he is encouraging me to let go of my people-pleasing tendencies and turn my heart to honoring him instead. There is such a sense of freedom in doing that. When I please him he endues me with his life-giving power to do the best that I can, with the right motives. Trying to please the whole world is way too stressful.

Soooo…change is slow. Maddeningly slow for me sometimes. But as someone mentioned to me this morning, I will look back one day and see fruit. I know that my desire for all of Jesus is in line with his heart for me, so my prayers shall be answered. One day. For now, I will just plod on, and try to do the one needful thing that Jesus has placed before me.

Highlights of the week(end)

I just started this post telling you all what a whirlwind this weekend has been but I deleted it. I would seriously bore you all. More ‘n likely put you to sleep.

Since it is a bit early for that (in my house anyway), I’m going to use immense self-restraint and stop telling you how busy my weekend was. Just so you know: it was busy. 🙂

Highlights of the past few days:

Hubby and I visited a friend who has been housebound due to illness. I don’t know if our visit was a catalyst or not, but the next day she was in church and we had a lovely lunch together afterwards. It’s soooo good to see her up and about again.

A sweet friend at church is such a blessing to hubby and I because she always initiates conversations about Jenna and how much she appreciated her. We had another one of our sweet conversations with her yesterday. Hubby is particularly blessed by it because I have more friends that will talk to me about Jenna than he does. (It is just not a male thing, ya know?)

After a confrontation with someone that left me a blubbering baby for much of Friday and Saturday, and made me apprehensive of how others would feel about my handling of the matter, it was so reassuring to find out today that I had complete understanding and support from the others involved. Sigh of relief.

After my post about the toddler on my hip on friday and the conversation about Jenna with the lady at church, I realised something. I pictured Jenna on my hip, with her brothers popping in and out of sight to make her laugh. I remembered how exuberant she always was. How, when she laughed, it was loud and free and infectious. When she pouted, it was with gusto. She lived life so largely. Her presence was felt wherever she went. I miss that presence sorely, but I am glad that I can remember a little girly that graced our lives and the lives of others so fully.

I realise that I am truly happy to be teaching. I earn peanuts – honestly. After all the boys’ school fees are paid there is not even enough left to cover gas. But I do it gladly. The boys are all doing so well. I am loving every aspect of the job – well, almost every aspect.

My sweet sister-in-law has hired someone to clean my house for me every Monday. I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to drag my tired self into the house on a Monday afternoon and find a fragrant, clean house. Suzy – bless you! (Now if someone could just find a magic cure for the clutter that seems to prolifigate in my house. I swear, the stuff grows when you are not looking!)

The boys all had haircuts today. They look so cute. (Don’t tell my teenager I said that.)

A girl in my bible class wrote me the sweetest note today. It was precious, and it came so deeply from her heart that it is almost too sacred to write about. I am honored to have received it.

I’m looking forward to a Feast of Tabernacles conference that we will be having at church week after next. OK…so that is not a highlight. I am running out of highlights.

I will leave you with this tidbit from the life of an (ahem) professional teacher…

Last week, at our staff meeting, I realised (wishful thinking?) that I must be coming across looking very dignified. I rubbed my chin pensively as I listened to my superiors discuss this ‘n that. I even thought I caught one person mimicking my very professional looking chin rub. Hah! Little did my colleagues know, that as soon as I got home that afternoon, I made a beeline for the bathroom – and my tweezers. Yes, friends, the entirely professional posture I assumed while listening to the meeting had everything to do with facial hair.

I will never forget the quip one of my friends used to have about his attempt to grow a beard – he always told everyone that he had had crop failure. I wish I could say the same thing. 🙂

And it hits…again

I am having a missing moment. Park days on Fridays don’t really get any easier. In fact, innitially, when Jenna was newly gone and it seemed like she would just pop out from behind the playground equipment and come running to me for a handful of goldfish, it was not as hard as it is now. She has been gone so long that her presence in all our old haunts is not as tangible anymore. But little girls and little boys her size, even her old friends, are still there, running and laughing and playing and reminding me of Jenna’s absence.

I carried a little two year old to his mom’s car today. Jenna was such a petite little muffin, and this little boy weighed exactly as much as I remember Jenna weighing. He sat comfortably on my hip, his hand resting on my back like Jenna’s used to, and my younger boys kept up with us, ducking out of his sight and then popping up to make him laugh just like they used to do with their little sister.

I kept my face averted for the most part. I wanted to pretend that I was still holding Jenna. Part of me always wants to go back, ever so foolishly, and feel what it felt like (just for the briefest of moments) to have Jenna here, and to relish in the joy she brought us.

Such a sad post – I know.

Please realise, if you are reading this, that this is not all there is to me. The times of sadness are actually much less than the times of normalcy. And when they come, I have experienced them enough to know that they come…and then they go. They do not define me. They do not rule me. But they do visit every now and then.

A friend of mine asked how I was doing today, and I answered as best I could. I told her we are all fine, but that being at the park isn’t easy because it reminds me of Jenna. She asked me (and I suppose I received her question with a sense of incredulity) whether I think of Jenna every day. Part of me wanted to shake her. Excuse me? How can she think otherwise?

The missing doesn’t hit me every day. But every day holds a myriad of thoughts about Jenna. I can think about her without being consumed with sadness. It helps to mentally release her to Jesus in heaven every now and then. I picture her there, joyously happy with Him, and I whisper: “She is yours, Jesus.” I always feel such a sense of peace when I do that.

But think of her is something I absolutely do every day, and it is something I welcome. It doesn’t always hurt.

Hello Blogland!

It’s been a while. I have been consumed, for at least the past week, with getting our school newspaper published. Who knew that doing layout was so much work? I tried to get my class involved as much as possible in doing it. However, with a scatterling of computers, each with different things installed on them, and a three-day-a-week class schedule, there wasn’t much time to teach layout, nevermind delegating the task.

The kids played around with fonts, graphics, and with the heading of the paper, and worked on tweaking their articles for publication, but layout was largely my job – this time. And since I had never done it before, it was a time consuming learn-as-you-go process. Next publication will be better. I should have some computers by then, and we can use this edition’s layout as a foundation for the next one. Plus, I hope to have given my class the skills to handle much of the process by themselves.

The newspaper’s release was somewhat chaotic. My kids begged me to be able to personally hand the newsletters to the students when school got out. They announced it over the microphone (yes, we have a microphone, not an intercom system – long story) with much cheering and excitement. I felt a bit out of control, with so much happening at once. I was scurrying around, trying to get some last minute items to some of my history students, my journalism class was bouncing around my ears with excitement, gushing over how wonderful it was to see the whole school enjoy their hard work. Parents were coming up to me asking about a pending field trip, teachers were asking whether I would be willing to handle their class’ field trip RSVP’s and finances as well (the field trip was my idea). All in the space of ten minutes. And I was HUNGRY. I had only eaten half a bagle in that perpetual motion day. Whew!

Yesterday was a great feedback day. I had several parents tell me how much their children love my classes.  And the newspaper had a great reception. I tend to see my failures much more clearly, and am so aware that I could be more organised, or that this and that could have been done differently. I am on a major learning curve. But the positive feedback is a wonderful encouragement, and I am grateful for all the encouragement I get. 🙂 

I am glad that yesterday is over though, and today I can slow down a bit and breathe. Still, there is much to do, but the pace neededn’t be as frenetic as it has been.

Since work has taken up so much of my time, I (sadly) feel a bit out of touch with what’s happening at bible school. I have been going to only one class a week, or two at most. Bible school has been incredible. I have never sat under such a combination of solid bible teaching and anointed worship. It is deepening all the time, and we feel that God is about to do something very fresh and new in our midst. I do not want to be so consumed with work that I miss my “day of visitation”, and I know that Jesus, first and foremost, needs to come first.

I have taught my bible class out of John 1 that since Jesus is the Word of God, that is where we will find him, and it has made a great impression on them. Still, I myself have not given myself to reading God’s word and spending time in worship like I know I need to. I realise that Jesus is the fountain out of whom all things flow, and yet I can stop up that fountain with my crazy busyness.  I still have a yearning to worship him on an instrument, and still, I am not in the place where I am comfortable enough on either the piano or the guitar to do so. It all takes time. And using my time wisely is one of my biggest learning curves right now. Y’all can pray for me in that area.

I love the scripture in Psalm 110: “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion”. This scripture tells me that all my strength, everything I need to face my day, is found in God. We have been taught that Zion is not only a physical place in Israel, but it is also a spiritual principle. It is the place where Jesus is enthroned in my heart. It is the secret place where I meet with him who is the fountain of life. This is the place, God says in Psalm 132, where he longs to dwell and make his habitation: in the hearts of a people who have placed him above everything else in their lives.

This is what I want – for my strength to flow from that deep place of fellowship with Jesus. There really is no other way for me. I don’t just want to teach my bible students a dry word but I want it to be permeated with a life-changing anointing. I can’t give what I don’t have. Which means I have to make the time to drink from the fountain of God myself, so that I can then in turn pour some of that life-giving water over others.

Our pastor has given us warning that a month from now, he is going to start calling on us during any meeting to give a twenty minute talk about something that God has been speaking to us through his word. He’s told us to prepare and be ready at all times. Challenging, huh?

Anyhow, kudos if you have made it thus far through my not-as-rushed-as-usual-so-I-can-blah-blah-blah ramble. 🙂 It is sooooo good to be here, just blabbing.