Starting small

Just a bit ago, I Facebooked/Twittered the following status:

“I want to write more, and establish a non-profit, and help people who are hurting, and maybe somehow change the world.”

A few days ago, a tiny inquiry began to roll around in my head. I have started wondering and hoping and praying over the simple question: Do the small things really make a difference?

And then pondering: What if I lived as though the small things made a difference? What if there were small things I did daily that could, somehow, change things…change a person?

So I decided to do something tonight. I decided to take a small step, and write a small blog post, and go from there.

Let’s see if it makes a difference.

So much on my mind…

It’s fair to say I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think about the difficult last week I went through, with stress and hurt and painful decisions. I think about a relationship I had to lose. Most of all I think about all the staff and children around me who are dealing with the most painful loss of a relationship–the death of a loved one.

It’s been hard to know how to help right now. I’m a newcomer to the children’s home: I have only worked here a year while most have been here for many years, several over a decade. I grieve Malinda’s death, as little as I knew her–how much more must everyone else? And how can I be there for them, to help the staff and house parents in their responsibilities, to love the children and offer comfort? I wish I knew better.

I have hugged some of the girls while they’ve cried. I’ve heard several of them talk about what a great example Malinda was and how she helped them become who they are today. One girl wrote an especially poignant note about her “mother.” She said that her mother was supposed to help her pick out her wedding dress, to make her wedding cake for her. She wasn’t ready for her mother to be taken from her, she wrote, and now she feels lost. Pray I know how to love these girls who have truly lost a mother. I have found this situation pushing me back to the priorities and focuses I know I need to have in order to make a difference in these girls’ lives.

After my difficult day on Tuesday, I’ve gone back to sleepless nights. Hopefully I can reclaim a good sleep schedule soon. Tuesday night I fell asleep at 4 AM, and the following night I didn’t sleep till 6 AM. Last night I finally did sleep at 11, but I woke up off and on after 3 AM. So much keeps running through my mind:decisions made, losses, memories… Finally last night was I able to break down and truly cry about all that has happened the last several days. Fortunately I have also had the uplifting music of Hillsong United in their new album A_Cross//the_Earth: Tear Down the Walls. It’s a pretty-much-amazing album.

But I did have a good day today. I cleaned my apartment, got to chill watching TV, take a nap, and then spend six hours with very dear friends. I haven’t connected with several of them lately, and they truly are some of my closest friends. It was a fun evening with lots of laughing and making fun of each other because we were all so goofy. It was good for my heart.

Please pray: house mother died suddenly

I’m asking for your prayers for the children’s home I work at. It houses almost 30 children who, for one reason or another, cannot live at home with their families (neglect, parent in jail, etc). We have about five different houses, two boys houses and three girls houses. Each has 2-8 kids who live with house parents.

Today one of our house mothers died suddenly. She had gone to the hospital yesterday with some flu-like symptoms. She had had some heart problems in the past, and this morning her heart simply gave out. She died at 6:30 am.

Needless to say this was very unexpected. She left behind her husband; they have two sons, one married with a baby. She also left behind the seven girls she is currently a house mother to today, aged 7-16–as well as dozens of other girls she had been a mother-figure to during her 10 years at the children’s home.

I don’t have to tell you how much these girls are hurting right now. The children’s home as a whole–kids, staff, and house parents–are all in shock. Please pray for everyone as we deal with the grief, especially her husband, biological children, and the girls who have become her children. Pray especially for me and the other staff that we will be able to minister to, comfort, and love the girls and other children who will be grieving.

Thank you so much for praying. If you know of others who would pray for this, please share this with them as well.
Thanks again.

Wasting (?) a day

Hello friends. Guess what? I am sick today. It’s a lovely experience. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat but figured a good night’s rest would clear it up. Well, I woke up several times anyway, and then woke up feeling worse than before. I’m pretty sure I have a sinus infection. Still hoping it will go away on its own.

Being sick, I had decided to skip Tae Kwon Do. Granted, I have been skipping for a while, something I feel increasingly guilty over. Last week I had almost passed out in class on Monday, so I took off Tuesday to rest. Wednesday-Friday I was serving as a house-mother for seven girls, so of course I didn’t have time then. Monday I was visiting with my parents (a wonderful trip), so I did not have time then. I was up too late Monday night, so Tuesday was no time to go–better to sleep in and make sure I was rested. Yesterday I had the afore-mentioned sore throat, and today I felt worse than yesterday. All that to say–I had better pull things together and get into TKD! I’m trying to reclaim it and not let it become a stressor. I will do it for my reasons, and those alone.

Since I have been sick, I have rested on my couch most of the day. I did have lunch with a dear friend, a lady who knows my parents well. She and I used to meet regularly in a mentoring relationship but had not connected much this semester. It was good to catch up. After that, I have been on my couch, resting and surfing through my computer/the internet. I have spent lots of time trying to beat a skateboarding online game (yes, crazy). I have looked through Twitter updates and messaged people on Facebook. I have perused blogs and left comments. And now I have work in 40 minutes, and I wonder…have I wasted my day?

Yes and no. I do think I needed to rest, and this day that I’ve had all to myself has been nice (especially since tomorrow involves child-care behavior management training which I will attend from 9am-2pm). I do tend to push myself, and sometimes when I get sick it’s my body’s way of telling me to slow it down. And while all those things listed above are not necessarily bad to do, and are probably even good to do, I feel that I could have added in a couple of more things that were slightly more productive (especially than the skateboarding game).

Have I really spent time in the Word today? No, not really. Have I spent time in prayer today? No, not really. Have I really lived with consciousness in The Presence? Only a little. Have I really taken time to love people? Some. Have I contemplated “what really matters?” For a bit. Not that life is all about those things, and I have far too long lived in the deep, serious recesses of life without playing those online skateboarding games. But in the good things in life, I do not want to forget the best.

I want to learn to waste some days healthily, and yet to never really waste a day in the ways that matter.

Those are my thoughts for today.

To see some more of my thoughts, glance at my poem The Word: Hear and Obey on my writing blog.

Today: disappointing people, TKD, iPod lessons, God, and a bunny

I’m going to tell you a little bit about today.

First, I had a lovely sleep-in. Like till 11 AM. Many of you will be so proud of me that I got up at that time, since fairly recently my sleeping problems involved a 4 AM bedtime and a 2 PM rising. But yes, I went to bed at a decent hour and woke up at an (almost) ok hour. I pulled out the Word and made sure I spent time in that before I even got up. (Lest you be in awe of my personal spiritual level, I must confess I do not always do that before anything else on most days. I am, however, trying to make it a strong priority.)

I grabbed lunch in the kitchen from work and spent some time online. Yes, I am getting sucked back more and more into the online world, which I enjoy. I like connecting with people and expressing myself online. So I spent a while on my laptop, walking off to do random things throughout the hours or answering the phone. Then I spent some time taking care of things at the Home that needed to be done. Somewhere in there, I managed to disappoint several people, mostly from something I was not able to do and then something else I did not remember to do. Confession: I hate disappointing people. When I think someone is upset with me, it gets me down. I most likely read too much into things, but I start imagining how I have disappointed them and what they must now think of me. Three of these incidents happened right in a row, and I must admit I fought off tears on the last one. So I did what any sensible person would: I ate a large bowl of Lucky Charms and decided I needed a nap.

Well, I’m not sure I really took much of a nap. Someone called, and my mind didn’t seem to turn off. Anyway, soon it came time for the beginners’ class at the Tae Kwon Do center. I’m only an orange belt (third belt up), so that qualifies me. The fact that I’m just getting back in to it after a year extra-qualifies me. I was tired and honestly a little depressed, which meant I didn’t really feel like going. But I knew that I really wanted to, and I needed to because it would help my mood and I’m aiming at 3x a week to get back into things. So I went. We started minutes after I got there (mostly because I arrived minutes before class, not because they were waiting for me to start–in case there was any confusion). During the stretching, I focused on trying to dispel my darker mood. I’ve often heard and seen how thankfulness can break through spiritual/emotional/mental barriers when you’re struggling, so I started thanking God as we stretched, anything I could think of. Thank you that I have muscles. Thank you \for skin that holds all those muscles in place. Thank you that I can do Tae Kwon Do. Soon the workout picked up till I was mostly focused on yelling and kicking (with some punches and forms put in). Somewhere half way into the workout, in the 10-second rests we had before going back down the mats yelling and kicking again, I started realizing I was feeling more than just winded. My head was buzzing, my eyes were getting black dots in front of them, I started feeling nauseous. Being brilliant (or, rather, just acquainted with these symptoms), I knew I was over-doing it a bit and getting close to passing out. Being brilliant (or, rather, silly or stubborn), I kept going. The second 10-second break felt the same. The third break I seriously knew I might pass out. I began trying to figure out how to inform the instructor. There are rules and certain kinds of etiquette in TKD, especially in addressing your instructor, so I was at a loss for the proper way to say “I’m about to faint.” But at some point, without real conscious thought, I think I decided to go until I actually fell over. Fortunately, my instructor noticed at the fourth break the complete lack of color in my face (which is normally bright red in workouts) and asked how I was feeling. I think I said something about feeling sick, but the end result was she had me sit out the last 10 min of class. I ended by bowing out with the others, and then I left.

So I made it. I went. I didn’t give up or quit. I’m not sure if I should have pushed not-so-hard or if I had simply not eaten enough that day. Either way, I made it through the class, my fourth one since I started back into TKD. I took that as a victory.

I came home in time for my iPod to teach me a lesson. I had left it playing on shuffle, and I walked back in on a sermon from David McQueen, Beltway Park‘s pastor. It was about extreme faith. It was about half-way through, and the part I walked in on really spoke to me. I’m not completely sure why, since it was not really something on my mind–or maybe it was, and I just didn’t know it. But somehow, the following quote reached out and grabbed me:

If, because of my weakness and immaturity, [I assume] God is all the time mad or sad, what do I do? Do I not make myself scarce?

And I cannot tell you why that made me sit down and cry a little, but it did. Another confession: I have often struggled to understand the goodness of God. I know He is good; I know it with all my heart. But I think there may be some part of me that has not fully grasped it, that struggles to believe it. I could blame it on the years of depression, on the years of difficulties and hardships. But it comes down to something more personal, so I’m still working through that. Two other quotes from that message that were very good for me:

You will not follow God at an extreme level unless deep within you know his heart and how good he is.

It’s amazing how the enemy has convinced us that God is all-powerful but not all-good.

And of course, right after the message, two songs came on that were worshipful and wonderful for me to hear.

So I took a shower, got on my laptop, and wrote this blog. Now I need to go find a late supper.

By the way, along with the lessons God gave me from my iPod, I found this picture and it made me smile very much. 🙂
Bunny hugs