Defusing the Time-Bomb of an Overstuffed Heart

Day 3, Five Minute Prompt: WARDROBE

I live in a country where closets are not the norm. I count my blessings that my children will not be able to terrorize each other by jumping out and screaming like my brother used to do. In lieu of closets, we have giant eye-sore wardrobes.

My wardrobe contains anything from imported candies to hand-crafted wrapping paper but mainly holds my clothes. I’ve tried adding baskets for storage, but it is a mess despite my best efforts. My husband has all but given up trying to put any clean laundry away for fear of what will fly out when he opens the door.

This is so often the condition of my heart: overstuffed with burdens I haven’t dealt with or put in their proper place (those nail-scarred hands). An explosion of hurts and words blows upon those nearest to me.

I would want someone to prevent me getting my face ripped off, if possible, right?

Living the Golden Rule means getting down to the nitty-gritty with God and dealing with it all before anyone is close enough to be affected by the bomb blast. Some days, it will detonate, and there is clean-up for such messes. But, for now, regular maintenance sounds like a good plan.

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How do you see the condition of your heart affecting those around you?
Do you need to do some maintenance with God?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee (Psalm 51:10-13).

 

Five Year Olds Speak Boldly about Race

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“I know why her name is Nicky Brown, mom,” I stated confidently.

“Oh yeah?” she inquired.

“Yeah, because her skin is brown.”

I thought for sure I was on to something. Of course, I wasn’t. I didn’t understand the complexity of race in American culture or the history that hadn’t yet been covered in my kindergarten classroom. The beauty of five year young innocence is things are really that simple.

This morning, my kids were dancing to Nepali music videos in the living room. Their daddy and I laughed and commented on how they dance just like the heroes in the Youtube clips.

Keeping up the cultural theme, speaking Nepali, Daddy asked our kurtha surwal clad daughter who is running her fifth year if she was Nepali.

She quickly replied, “Yes,” then, “No. Because my face isn’t black!” Raising her arms, she added, “And neither are my hands!” (which were the only parts of her showing in this ethnic outfit).

Simple.

I didn’t care about the color of my little kindergartner friend’s skin. We liked to sit together, color, and giggle. A lot.

My daughter isn’t oblivious to the fact that she is a fluorescent fish in a school of brown swimmers. She knows she’s different and that her classmates think she’s a little goofy. After all, she’s the only one who eats a peanut butter sandwich instead of dal bhat every day.

But she loves her classmates. She comes home babbling about her new best friend every day and the drama of Saisha not loving her anymore, but if she apologizes she can come spend the night.

Simple. And beautiful.

I hope her thoughts on race remain this way. That she will continue seeing different colors, appreciating different cultures, and loving the people represented by each.

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Linking up with:

This post is part of Five Minute Friday where many writers join together each week to write for freely Five Minutes on the same prompt and encourage each other along the way. This week, our prompt is FIVE. Join the fun!

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Key:

*running her fifth year- closer to 5 years old than 4; how Nepalis describe age
*kurtha surwal- traditional dress consisting of shirt dress and what we Americans call hammer pants
*heroes- movie/music video stars
*dal bhat- lentils and rice, generally eaten twice a day by Nepali families
*Saisha- my daughters BFF who actually does love her

Freedom, Fruitfulness, and…Fertilizer

2 days into my first week of “freedom” from language school, and I am laughing at myself.

Reality checks are always fun, right?

I had been feeling pretty anxious about this transition in our life and ministry. I wanted to stay busy. I wanted to keep learning, growing. I wanted to be fruitful.

HAHA. Oh, Amber, you’re too funny.

The first day I succumbed to a sinus infection after a week long battle with a cold the doctor says just comes with the territory of Nepal (thanks for your help, doc, I see why they pay you the big bucks). In true sickly stay-at-home-mom fashion I let my overly healthy toddler climb over my head while watching Baby Einstein on repeat until nap time finally graced us, and I joined the babe in sweet slumber. Judging from the snot+tear accumulation on his face versus the joy/elation/relief/um…drool…on mine, I was way more pumped about it than he was.

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I figured I would get out after our naps, but the beating in my brain and the heat unabated by the drizzle of rain that broke through for a moment breathed a seemingly audible, “Yeah, right.” Maybe that was just my sigh.

I got language practice, sure. I got to talk to plumbers about the septic system that was rather non-skillfully pieced back together after the landslide last year. They assumed I didn’t understand Nepali when I answered their question regarding the location of our main line (in Nepali) with an I don’t know (diddly squat about plumbing). In any language.

Today was immensely better in terms of intensity of pain in my temples but not so much in terms of things accomplished, though I did whine enough to the plumbers that they agreed to come a day earlier than promised, so that’s something. Also something I would NEVER do in English or in America, for that matter.. When in Nepal, I guess.

I’ve collapsed in bed alone at 7:30 after coaxing my children to sleep and watched the videos my husband wouldn’t watch with me on YouTube if he were here in the bed with me. I’m missing him tonight, and feeling like I’m also missing out (he went to India without me, please give him a guilt trip about this. I don’t think I’m allowed).

I’m guessing this feeling won’t be foreign to me as I navigate home and ministry as a helper to my husband here. As I stumble over syllables and mispronounce my neighbor’s name for the 13th time since this morning. Humbled doesn’t even cover what I feel like at the end of these two days where nearly everything in my home was either lost or broken and every family member had something decent to complain about (and they did).

Oh, and the whole house smelled like a day old diaper. Thankfully, my nose is all blocked up. My 4 year old tells me it’s rotten as I search for my last candle which turns up broken. No one will ‘fess up.

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God, you gave me these draining, disappointing days, and I know you will use them to grow me, teach me, and make me fruitful, though I can’t imagine how. My trials are so small when placed on a scale I didn’t forge from my Facebook feed. If I would have been less of a baby about sweat stains and sunburns, I could have glimpsed just how minuscule they are compared to those I decided not to face today.

So, the transition wasn’t smooth, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be redeemed. Fruitful days will follow because that’s just who You are, a good and gracious Master. Working through the sighs of a stressed out servant is not beyond your capabilities. I’ll try to remember that if carrying a cross was not beneath You, humbling at the hands of an overflowing toilet and a champion sleep refuser is something I can certainly deal with. Especially knowing the price paid for the peace that resides within me somewhere beneath the junk I’ve covered it with.

After all, blessed blooms of hard-fought-for fruit is often fertilized by a whole lot of…well…

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How is the Lord humbling you now and preparing you for future fruitfulness?
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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Just a Tonka Truck

It was just a Tonka truck. Tucked into a 50 pound duffle bag of garage-sale gathered toddler clothes and toys.

It was thrown under a plane in Cincinnati, in Chicago, and again in Abu-Dabi along with other travelers’ jet-setting necessities and relocating families’ most prized possessions. It arrived in the back of our little Maruti Suzuki bursting with the gifts of doting grandparents finally arriving for a 10 day stay.

The next morning, it spilled out among the spoils spread out upon our marble floor. I nearly gasped at the sight! The previous Christmas, I had placed a Tonka truck on my Amazon wish list, not thinking much how unlikely and inconvenient this request was for a family living in a foreign land.

But leave it to Grandma to fulfill these crazy notions bound by far more than my imagination. She revealed to me that she had searched and even prayed while scavenging yard sales in my home town to find one of these golden vehicles of destructive delight.

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It was just a Tonka truck. But to me, it was so much more. It was a glowing, gleaming expression of an indestructible force- love. Though this tough love is threatened by thousands of miles, it plows and plunders through every obstacle and runs down each hill heaped up by hundreds of hardships.

Its work is HARD, and it is quietly admired by those privileged to behold its wonder. Its work is worth doing. Its work challenges and encourages me, though it is most often done without applause or praise.

Not many volunteer to take part in the cause. Most cringe a little at the mention at such a tedious, difficult task.

It speaks to me of a Savior that gives good gifts, no matter the cost. That toils to soften hard and frozen ground, to love those that are incapable of extending anything worth offering.

And it challenges me to love and give beyond myself. When it’s not quite cute and cozy and capable of being captured in a filtered photograph. I’ll roll up my sleeves and do the hard work of loving other people.

Across seas. Across cultures. Across the dining room table and down the hall.

Across the yellow-tape of my own comfort zone.

So thanks, MiMi, for the Tonka truck. Every time Shep vrooms it around the house or throws it down the stairs, I think of you (usually fondly, less so on the latter act). But mostly, I think of the hard work you’re doing.

And I thank God for a little boy so loved…

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…even if he doesn’t seem to appreciate it like I do.

 

 

Beauty in an Overgrown Rose Bush

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She was sweat and tear soaked. The sidewalk had claimed her knees and hands once again. I was encumbered by her big-for-his-age brother and had one hand free to help her up the steep hill ahead.

She had suddenly become a baby again. The pain she felt lit her instinct to crumple in my arms and be carried back home. Naturally.

Since my arms were currently occupied, she reluctantly (and slooooowly) dragged her feet step by torturous step towards home. We passed the overgrown yard she can’t walk by without commenting on, but instead of all the weeds, this time, she noticed the rose bush spilling over the front gate.

“Mom,” sob…sob…sob…”The flowers…they’re so…beautiful!” sobby sob sob.

And there I was, my own eyes misty, full of pride and moved by a four year old’s appreciation of beauty there by the old abandoned home.

Through her tears, in the middle of her pain, dragging her tired tootsies, she saw beauty in an overgrown rose bush nearly choked out by weeds. And I was thankful. Because I wouldn’t have noticed until she graciously gave me the opportunity to see through eyes that had only witnessed a few seasons of bloom.

I slid her brother over to the hip made for baby-load-bearing, and I summoned my mommy super powers to pull her up on the other. She cradled her chin into my neck as she had done so many times before. Together, we pointed out all of the small sources of delight all the way home.

I thought of all the weeds that life has sown in my life over the last few years. Great changes, great losses that have yielded an overgrowing faith in an even greater God. And though my perspective has been often clouded by scraped knees doled out by scathing sidewalks, there has been observable beauty in the tiresome journey. So often I have missed it.

I’m on that long walk home. There is pain aplenty but there is also beauty here. It’s crafted by the same hands that spoke immeasurable majesty of an untainted world into existence. And it’s for me.

When I’d rather embrace the pain and crumple into a Father whose arms never get full and whose load is never too heavy, I know I’m welcome there. As we go, He will ever so gently nudge me, encouraging me to lift my head every so often for a peek at the rose bushes along the way.

One day, I’ll open my eyes to see the gold streets lighting the way to where the pain won’t touch me again and my eyes will forever be wide open to beauty which makes the wonders of the world mere piles of rubble in comparison.

What scraped knees? It’s popsicles and praise from here on out.

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