Sunday, November 29, 2009

Touched by the Healer, Touched by You

Thank you so much to all of you who have tirelessly been praying for me!  It is so touching to be so loved by each one of you.

I wanted to let you know that I am indeed seeing some improvement in my vision.  On Tuesday, I was completely blind in my left eye.  Today, I can see some shadows and shades of gray at short distances.  The team of doctors treating me were very encouraged on Friday when they saw the rapid progress I had made. 

I thank God that today is my last intravenous treatment, and that I will now be taking three weeks of a much lower dose oral treatment which should have very few side effects.  We are looking forward to getting home sometime this coming week but will return in a few weeks to see the Dr. 

If you would like to pray for me specifically today, you can ask our loving and gracious Father to help me focus on each day as it comes.  Right now, two weeks from now, or even tomorrow is just too overwhelming to think about.  One thing I do know is that His grace is sufficient FOR TODAY!  So pray I will dwell there. 

You can also pray for the process of regaining sight.  We are so thankful for any improvement, but it seems like the more I see out of that left eye, the more disoriented I become.  Pray that I will slow down, be gracious with myself and not expect too much and also that I will not be fearful in public when there is much noise and activity surrounding me. 

God is so gracious and kind, and His love has been poured out upon us.  We are truly grateful to Him and to each one of you for your part in carrying us through this journey.  You are very loved. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Gift of Lost Sight

Last Thursday, I began to lose sight in my left eye.  It just so happened an eye doctor was in our little town for three days.  I saw him that day.  And then the next day, when my sight deteriorated further.  And again the next day when the darkness continued to creep in.  It was nothing to worry about…just a little inflammation.  No work was allowed, just rest and a drop in the eye. 
Somewhere in one of the quiet moments of rest, the Lord planted a seed in my heart.  “This is a gift,” was all He said.  No explanation.  No pretty package portraying what kind of flower would bloom from this seed He had carefully buried  in my heart.
And then, the gift was everywhere.  It was the sweet things I saw with my right eye.  A smile.  My husband working tirelessly.  My sister-in-love laying on the bed with me to talk.  It was the sweet things I heard.  The laugh of two sweet redheaded boys, a prayer said over me, text messages pouring in from concerned friends.  And it was what I felt.  Blessed for the chance to slow down and appreciate all I have been given.  
By Sunday afternoon, my eye sight had continued to deteriorate.  We packed up the house and prepared to head to the capital for a second opinion.  Friends were already praying, making appointments, and providing a safe and loving place for my children to land. 
And the gift was love.  Always much love. 
Monday.  Oh, how long ago it seems.  We arrived to the capital in amazing time considering the fact that the drive shaft dropped out of our car a short way into the journey.  A friend quickly loaned us his car and we arrived, dropped the kids off to a saint of a woman, and made our way to the clinic. 
The appointment with the ophthalmologist led to an MRI.  What at first seemed like wild video game noises, led to a migraine and tears, but still…this was a gift, right?
Yesterday, how strange it seems to type that word for it could have as well been a year ago, I awoke to complete loss of vision in my left eye.  I noticed that when the light flicked off, a strange desperation filled my heart to flick it back on as soon as possible.  A bit of fear finally settled in my heart.  Tears waiting to fall, I opened to the Words of Life.  “For when our sufferings increase, so does our consolation.” 
This time the gift looked a bit less becoming, more foreign to my eyes, for the gift was suffering, a greater chance to know the immeasurable depth of His consolation. 
Calmed, we headed out for another day of pokes and prods and questions.  Our attending physician speaks perfect English, strange comfort since I feel at home in Spanish, and the other is a world-renowned Retinologist. 
“I can’t promise you that you will regain any sight, but we must act quickly to protect the other eye,” they warned stoically.  Prepared to receive a diagnosis of a virus or even MS, I had not allowed myself to entertain the notion of the permanent loss of my sight. 
That of course, is still to be determined.  The door is not shut.  For in these days, the Lord God of the universe has at His step another persistent widow.  She bears the face and speaks with the voice of a thousand friends around the world, unceasingly begging for grace and peace and if it would please Him, the restoration of sight. 
I too pray.  Mostly, mostly for the ability to see the Gift.  To accept whatever should fall from His hand as something beautiful and perfectly chosen for me, be it blindness total or partial, be it complete healing and a life much unchanged.  And I pray that this tender green shoot of faith, which I hold onto for dear life, will be a gift back to Him as well.   For there is no offering too large to be placed on His altar, especially the altar that birthed the Gospel, of which we came to speak. 
Currently, I am undergoing a series of high dose intravenous treatments.  After but one night hospitalized, I was allowed to come to be with my family, to wade through these murky waters together.  I would be a fool to deny that we feel the threat of flood, but we are not afraid for we hear His voice echoing, even in the unknown closets of our hearts, “when you walk through the flood, I will be there.”
And that, for today, is the gift
I will likely be unable to post regularly for some time.  Even now, this is a stolen moment, a forbidden one, but I had words which needed escape.  I hope God will speak to you through them and that you too will take on the face and the voice of the persistent widow on my behalf!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dressing Your Thanksgiving Table

Are you a busy mom who needs some simple and doable ideas for making your Thanksgiving Table beautiful?  Head here to check out a few of my favorites!   


Monday, November 16, 2009

He’s My Home

We had just moved again. Tearfully saying goodbye to a beautiful season of ministry, I was propelled into another unwelcomed one. For the first time in my life, I was somewhere I didn’t want to be. I was hanging onto my calling to missions, but only loosely. My hand limp, I cried weakly, “God, I can’t do this. It’s too much, this missionary life; this inevitable, unstoppable series of moves from one place to another.”

In the darkest and loneliest season of my life, I wanted only one thing. I wanted to go home. Except we couldn’t. So my cries of inadequacy were quieted only when I sat down with my Bible. One day in that fleeting quietness, I reached Psalm 90: 1, “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” Tears streaming down my face, dotting the page, I could not move my eyes from that word. Home. It wasn’t a place 3,000 miles away, it was a person. It was Him.

Slowly over the course of the next few days, I was able to identify what home meant to me, release it and delight in the perfection of my new Home.

I started out by declaring that I wanted to live in the same house on the same street for the rest of my life. No more moves. No more suitcases. 

He gently corrected me.  What I really wanted wasn’t a white house on Main Street, but Him. “Child, the stability you crave is only found in me! I am the eternal, incorruptible Lord. I do not change! I’m the same yesterday, today and forever. I am your home.”

Then I explained that I wanted to be one of the belongers, to have my name written in the collective story, the shared history of a people. No more wondering how I fit. No more being an outsider.

He spoke back, “Have you forgotten? You are already one of the belongers. I chose you before the foundation of the earth. I wrote your name in the epic of the redeemed with My own Son’s blood. You’re not an outsider! You’re accepted in the Beloved and seated at My right hand forever. I am your home.”

Finally, I confessed my longing for deep, meaningful relationships. Friendships that would allow me to barge through the front door with barely a knock, plop down on the couch and tell my truth without fear. Ties unthreatened by the brokenness of my humanity, ties unadulterated by judgment. No more being weighed in the balance. No more exhausting guardedness.

This time He whispered. “Child,” he said, “this freedom to barge into an earthly den and be met with open arms? It’s only a shadow. I am the fulfillment, the One casting that shadow. You have free access to Me through the Spirit! I welcome you to pour out your heart boldly and frankly, though you are broken and naked and lacking. There is no condemnation for you at this throne. Only grace. I am your home.”

It’s been seven years (and as many moves) since the light of Home shined hope into that dark season of my life. Still, I have much to learn about this exchange of temporal for eternal, of seen for unseen, of the shadow for the fulfillment. How thankful I am that the Spirit faithfully directs me Home to the One who satisfies my every longing.

“That something we long for, whether it be an island in the west or the other side of a mountain or perhaps a schooner yacht, long for it in the belief that it will mean joy, which it never fully does, because what we are really longing for is God.” --Sheldon VanAuken, A Severe Mercy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus and Nothing Else


"Looking Unto Jesus

and at nothing else,

to fix our gaze upon Him,

and to turn it away from everything else."  

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis
Photo: TouTouke

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What’s Different – They Ride Bicycles

One of the things that makes my new home so charming, is that elderly people (and people of all ages) ride their bicycles around town. 

Every time I see that one of them meandering along, I’m transported to a more wholesome era.  An era when people took time to enjoy enjoy a scenic ride to the grocery store, to wave and call out a greeting to their neighbor.  It’s very Old Europe and I love it!  

And yes, they do have baskets on their bikes.  Is it strange that I love that so much?  :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Looking Unto Jesus – the Author and the Finisher

1212536_open_bible nathanpaw

“Looking unto Jesus,

the author and the Finisher of our faith:

He Who is its pattern and its source,

even as He is its object;

so that by Him our faith may be inspired,



and led on to its supreme consummation.”


If you haven’t already, be sure to enter the My Two Favorite Things Giveaway by tonight! 

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis

Photo: nathanpaw

Friday, November 6, 2009

An Empty Shampoo Bottle

It might not mean that much to you, an empty shampoo bottle.  To me, it’s a sweet comfort.  A little reminder that we’ve been in ONE place for three and a half months now.

Before we arrived to the Chaco of Paraguay, we had lived in five different locations in the course of 14 months.  Most of those places kept with them a partially used shampoo bottle, evidence that we had passed through.     

Don’t feel sorry for me though.  While I would PREFER to live in the same house for the rest of my life, it’s not an all consuming desire like it used to be.  Now I know that my Home travels with me, or I should say, I travel with Him. 

Still, I thank God for the small comforts He offers me in my flawed humanity, things like squeezing that last little bit of shampoo out for one more wash. 

Don’t miss My Two Favorite Things Giveaway!  You have until Sunday night to enter!
Photo: contrapart

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two of My Favorite Things for You!

I'm excited to share two of my favorite things with one blessed reader through a little giveaway!  Unlike many giveaways, this one IS OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL READERS as a shout out to all my missionary sisters around the world!     

One pound of coffee beans


a digital subscription to Country Living Magazine through Zinio.
I was thrilled to find Zinio since I was unable to afford the overseas subscription to my magazine!  I hope you will enjoy it too!  

The giveaway is open until Sunday night, November 15th at midnight PST.  You can win one entry for each of the following:
1.  Leaving a lovely comment telling me what you are most thankful for today
2.  Becoming a follower or subscribing in a reader OR already being a follower/subscriber.  
3. Posting about the Two of My Favorite Things Giveaway on your blog

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  Good luck everyone and thanks for being such wonderful readers!  Hugs from Paraguay!

****If you have a mailing address in the continental US, you can choose to forgo the coffee beans for the paper version of Country Living if you prefer.****   

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What’s Different – The Food’s From Around Here

One of the neat benefits of living here in Paraguay is that we live very close to our food source.  Everything from our milk products, to our peanut butter, to our dried beans, to our bread and even some of our fruits and vegetables come from within a half hour drive of our house.  Our supermarket also sells homemade pasta, home canned pickles and locally made pastries.   

Small local foods

My eggs come from a neighbor down the road and it floors me how H.U.G.E. they are! 

caanan land eggs

We eat quite healthy when we are living abroad because we don’t eat pre-packaged, processed, preservative laden foods.  Convenience foods are virtually non existent and canned foods are very expensive.  A can of tuna, for instance, can cost you $2.00 (as compared to 33 cents in the US).  A small 8 oz can of black beans costs $1.50 here (as compared to $.49 for a 16 oz can in the US).  So we cook the old fashioned way, which I enjoy and which really tastes amazing, even though it takes a lot more planning ahead!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Living Without Target


Living without Target and JoAnn's Fabric can be a good thing.  Don't believe it?  Head over to Missionary Moms and read about how it changed me. 

Photo: Pottery Barn

Looking Unto Jesus to Forget Ourselves

"Looking unto Jesus 
to go forth from ourselves 
and to forget ourselves; 

so that our darkness may flee away
before the brightness of His face."

Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monrod by Helen Willis
Photo: jazza


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