Thursday, July 31, 2008
I will also continue with just the one blog for now because I do not agree with the humanistic concept of dichotomy. God is not just a part of my life but He is my life and I can not segregate Him to only one aspect of my life. Part of what I would like to convey to my readers here is that living a life of service to God and sharing my faith with others is anything but boring.
I will continue with my US political rants on occasion because I do feel that our country is at a cross roads and I have a duty to warn and beseech my fellow citizens to be aware of the traps we have allowed ourselves to walk into! I have lived under socialism and a form of tyranny, I see the democratic candidate sounding an awful lot like Chavez in the early years. I will speak out. I am observing as a lot of younger Americans are acting upon the years of political correctness which they have been indoctrinated on in their education and I have a responsibility to point this out. I may not make a difference, but I will know I have tried. My main warning to these people is 'TANSTAAFL"!
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch! If you want the government to provide and do for you, prepare to surrender all your personal rights as that is always the cost of socialism and will continue to be so. It has all been tried before and history has proven it to be ineffective. And as for voting, I see people here doing just as the Venezuelans did when electing Chavez, voting for 'change' without a clear picture of what that actually meant.
In regards to Chavismo, I do not worry too much now that I am no longer in Venezuela. We used to have a lot of 'code' names and such to refer to him while living there. I remember referring to him as 'HHH' ( His Highness Hugo!) while posting from there. My chavista trolls have dropped off considerably since I left the country.
I had a few nasty trolls last summer who threatened me and my daughters, but the ones I am deleting now are merely annoying. I get some homosexual trolls attacking me which I find intriguing. I do not recall ever having posted about homosexuality here at all.
As to being anonymous online, I do not feel it is feasible for us as we have already been in newspapers, magazines and on several web sites since our problems in Venezuela. Sometimes I feel being transparent is in itself a bit of protection.
In regards to Islam, I do get angry commenters on occasion and suppose I am a bit sensitive to threats after all we went through in the jungle of Venezuela. Paraguay is a different place and I will not be in direct contact with Muslims for a few years at least and will need to re- evaluate at that time. In the mean time, I may do a bit of editing here of previous posts and will try to always report, with sources, anything I might say about Islam on this blog.
I feel great compassion for the individual Muslim but am appalled by the religion itself as it seems to promote terror and violence and has done so for centuries. That I can not deny.
Finally, my family does not want me to change anything here and feel that we are at a time in history when each of us must stand up and speak the truth even when it is inconvenient. I wonder where they got that attitude from???
One of the most interesting things in regards to this blog, for me at least, is the great variety of regular readers! I have mostly self proclaimed Christians reading, the majority being Baptist. This is expected. I have several other denominations represented here, I know of Methodists, Lutherans, Nazarene, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, as well as Mormons, and even Jehovah's Witness'. I suppose that is also understandable. Several Jews also read my blog. I presume they found me via my pro-Israel posts.
Among my regular readers I also count a Buddhist ! Even a few atheists and several agnostics. I even have a self proclaimed 'pagan'! I am often wondering what they find of interest here at my obviously Christian blog which expresses my Judeo-Christian world view, but I am glad to have them reading!
I get quite a few readers who are involved in survivalism and am curious what brought them to my blog...maybe the fact that I 'survived' the Amazon Jungle?
Again, thanks for your input! And if anyone would like to share with me how you came by my blog, and what is it that keeps you coming, now would be a good time to de-lurk!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Maybe it is time for something other than 'The jungle Hut' and 'Jungle Mom' since I am no longer there? But, I have a small but loyal following here and 'Jungle Mom' is known in certain, very small, blogging circles. I would not want to lose those readers who are following me.
I have at times been criticized for having too strong of political views for a Christian missionary. I am thinking that perhaps I should have one blog for politics, under another name, and keep this blog for personal and mission related posts. This goes against my grain as I feel all of these facets are a projection of who I am, a complete person. I feel Christians should have as much right to express their political view points as any other citizen. but, I do not want to needlessly offend readers.
Another area I need to consider is limiting my commentary against Islam as I will be in an area with a Muslim population and would not want my children harmed or endangered. But again, I hate to give into these extremists!
So, what do you all think?
Monday, July 28, 2008
I am sharing a few of the stories my oldest daughter has written about growing up in the jungle. Jackie is now a married woman with two children. She and her husband are serving as missionaries in Paraguay and we will be joining them in less than two weeks. As my schedule is very full with the final preparations of packing up for the move, I have less time to write so am stealing her stories!
In my family there is always something in any given conversation that will spark a memory. Many memories, memories of trees, mud huts, rivers, monkeys, illness, rainbows and Indians. Pretty soon you’ll here the infamous words, “Remember when…?” followed by a story. “Remember when Mom got stuck in the outhouse for three hours and we didn’t think to look for her till lunchtime?” “Remember when Jewel started drifting off down river on the washboard and Mom had doggie paddle out to get her?” “Remember when the fridge lit on fire and Dad bounced around in front of it before he went to turn off the gas?” Memory after memory will come pouring out of our mouths and hearts, before long it’s late at night (or early in the morning) and we all trudge off to bed with weary bodies but busy minds. Even more memories are still bouncing around in our heads as we lay down to sleep. Many times as I’ve laid down to rest I feel as if I could still hear them. I can still hear the drums, the toads, the birds, the motors, the dogs, the crickets, the children. The sounds of the Amazon still echo in my head. Why, I ask myself, should they stay in my head? Why not spill them onto paper? These memories are too adventurous, too exciting, too funny, to precious to be just memories. They should be stories, told to many people, for all to enjoy. So here goes, the stories of the Vernoy Family living in a small Ye’Kuana Indian village in the Venezuelan rainforest.
The baby of the family, Jayde Louise, better known by her Indian nickname Tudiacama or Tudiaca, loves animals. No, she LOVES, adores, reveres, and relates to animals. Life for Tudiaca would not be worth living without animals. That is why when my mother decided to raise chickens Tudiaca was ecstatic. The day the chickens arrived, the way everything else arrived by MAF plane of course, was a day she awaited anxiously. We could here the plane buzzing in the distance. As soon as you could hear the plane that was the signal to make the slippery muddy trip down the trail to the river. We used our toes as grappling hooks to ease (or should I say, slip with style) down to the wobbly canoe that awaited in the glistening river. Going to the airstrip was a treat. Mom really loved it because it meant all the kids would be gone for at least two hours and the house would be hers!! Down into the canoe we went, Dad, Josh, me, Jewel and Jayde, along with what seemed to be about 200 giggling Ye’Kuana children. There were also the things we were to send out like a bag of mail full of letters to Grandma, an empty gas bombona, and maybe a Tupperware of brownies we made for the “uncle” flying the plane.
Off we were to the airstrip to pick up the chickens. The canoe ride is always fun, especially if there is a motor on the end of it. We would sit on the edge and dangle our feet over the sides while we skimmed along over the great Chajura. This of course was only allowed because Mom wasn’t there! Once we arrived the unloading of the canoe was the same as the loading, just backwards of course. It always gave us white folks great pleasure when an Indian slipped on the muddy banks for we finally had a chance to laugh at them for a change. We would run up to the airstrip hoping to get there before the plane landed so that we could wave at it as it landed. The plane would arrive, we chat with the pilot, get the bag mail and clutch to our bodies as if it were gold, or better yet a package from Grandma in Florida! That the day the chickens came to us. Poor things, they should have run for their lives. Jayde loved them from the first time she laid eyes on them. They were promptly named, Rosie, Pepper, Annie, Louisa, etc. One of the Indian men carried it down to the canoe and we huddled around them on the trip back. Jayde was of course telling us the whole time, “That one is shy, this one over here likes me a lot, but the black one looks scared!” and things of the sort. We believed her, for if anyone could understand a chicken it would be Jayde.
The canoe bumped back into our port and we rushed up to the house excitedly yelling things out for Mom to hear. “Mom, the chickens are here! One is named Rosie!” “Aunt Tracy sent out zuchinni bread!” “The mail is here!” Plane days were always a thrill.
The chickens were taken out to the chicken coop where Jayde showed them their new house and took them for a tour of the area.
The chickens lasted for several weeks. Long enough for Jayde to fall madly in love with each and every one. Every morning after breakfast and before school, she would rush out with her bucket of chicken food and feed her lovely pets. “Here Rosie you can have some extra for sharing, Louisa don’t peck at Pepper it isn’t nice!” You get the picture. Those were the Glory Days for the chickens.
One dark night, when there was no moon a visitor came to “visit” the chickens. This visitor was a vampire bat. Now the chickens were small egg laying chickens (although only one laid eggs and she only laid one a day, it was a week before we could all have one egg apiece for breakfast) and the vampire bats of the amazon are quite vicious. While we all laid asleep in our hammocks the chickens (bless their hearts) were, well, attacked. We did not hear anything and had no idea what had happened.
The next morning, as usual, after breakfast but before school, Mom sent Jayde out with her bucket of food to feed the chickens. Jayde skipped off to the coop, bucket swinging on one arm and blonde curls bouncing off her neck. She was quite…devastated to see what she saw. All her dear little friends laying on the ground shriveled up (the bat had sucked out their blood) and the heads laying on the ground next to their bodies. With a blood curtling scream Jayde threw her bucket on the ground and ran as fast her chubby toddler legs could carry her. Throwing herself into my mother’s arms we all gathered around to try and decipher her sobs. Upon further examination of the ‘crime scene’ Dad told us all what had happened. Poor little Jayde not knowing what a bat was asked, “what would do such a thing?” My brother answered, as any decent brother would, “Whatever it was it’s coming after YOU!”
This may seem as a very sad story, but trust me, it’s hilarious.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I must reach my God! I must see His face, hear His voice. He dwells upon the mount. The mount that looms above me. I am here below, in a deep, dark chasm, a pit. Yet, I know the way to Him lies above and I must go.
The path leading up is steep and dark. Treacherous, but I must risk it, for He has placed with in my soul a need to see Him , face to face. And so, I reach upwards, searching for a hand hold. First one hand, then the other, and with stumbling feet, I try to find a path to God.
I gain a bit, a foothold here, then stretching forth my hand, I slip! Slip backward and lose my ground! Striving, grasping, but I seem to not advance at all, and yet, with the weakening of my flesh, my soul does strive still!
My very heart cries out to climb to God, but I do not seem to progress. I know He resides above and that is where I must go. There is no other place of peace. I must go! Upward, upward! Go!
At that moment, I feel the strength of my arm falter, at that very moment, I lose my grip...and fall. Down, down...I fall to the lowest place. It is as if I had not attempted the climb at all. I am filled with despair knowing I had given it my all. I can not climb to my God. There is no hope for me. I am to die and forever be here in the depths of darkness.
And as I lay there, waiting for death, broken and afraid, I hear a sound upon the path. The sound of footsteps coming down the very way I had trod. The path that led to my fall. To where I now lay dismayed. Hearing the footsteps, I feel a glimmer of hope rekindled in my soul. Upon opening my eyes, I see my God, coming down for me! He reaches out His nail scared hand for me, He lifts me up, in His strong embrace, and all my fears dissolve.
Lovingly, He carries me to the mountain top. He places me upon my feet to stand in that blessed spot. And what a view I now behold as I stand atop the Mount of God!
I feel as if sunlight is in my soul, even as I hear the thunder of a storm below. I am calm on this height where I stand beside my God, for no storm or cloud can reach me. I am under clear, blue skies that reach for all eternity. I am strong in this place! No one can harm me. I am secure, at peace with all.
This is life! This is joy! My God has found me! He lifted me up to see His face! To hear His voice!
And now, His love I know!
I John 4:19
We love him, because he first loved us.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.
( These are thoughts I write down in my devotional journal. I rarely share them with anyone, but decided to do so today.)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
These particular photos are from a major event. I'm sorry you missed it! We had been watching a lot of the old musicals and the children decided to write and perform one for us. This was during the time Aunt Beth was with us, so she was the producer of this musical.
( Quite hilarious! They wrote a rap incorporating all the facts from their latest history unit. We decided we were not very good at rapping.)
( a quote from 'Casablanca')
You seemed so interested in the photos of the tarantulas, I thought I would share this one with you as well.
We had many run ins with the tarantulas, sometimes my children would keep them for a few days to play around with, one was so large, my son shot it.
Some of the tribes in Venezuela eat tarantulas. A missionary kid told me that the legs taste like shrimp!
Cocktail sauce anyone?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sometimes blogging gets to be very intense! At times everything you see or hear is inspected for possible 'blogability'. You know who you are! Admit it ! You have thought about blogging on some pretty lame topics, considered blogging about down right embarrassing happenings...even the mundane can be a possible blog topic, if you have a picture to post with it! Right???
So, is this just me, or are you guilty on occasion as well ??? Or maybe you know someone who is like this!
Stopped the car to take a picture of something for the express purpose of blogging about it?
Or worse, driven out of your way to take the picture?
Talked to someone on the phone for hours, someone you have never met, but knew all about them, via their blog?You no longer fuss over inconveniences in life because now they are blogging material?
Been introduced by your screen name?
Had your husband referred to publicly as 'Jungle Mom's husband'?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Packing involves boxes for now, boxes for suitcases, boxes for shipping next week. Whew! Remembering to buy everything we will want to have down there, like enough cans of cranberry sauce to last four Thanksgivings and Christmases. A four year supply of my favorite mascara, oh! and harina pan for making arepas!
I am very much ready to move on to the next phase of our life and yet that has created a lot of questions as well. We left Venezuela with a few books, Indians baskets and my husbands hand made table from the jungle. Now we are starting over.
Our supporting churches have been very generous in helping us replace house hold goods such as pots and pans and bedding, which we are shipping, but we still have no appliances or furniture. Or vehicle.
BUT ... my son in law and daughter were able to find an incredible offer on a house for us which comes with all the appliances and is even furnished. We can use the next year or two to slowly buy our own things. I can't tell you what a tremendous blessing this will be to us.
If any of you have lived in South America, you will know that rentals rarely include appliances. This house has stove, refrigerator, stand up freezer, washer, four air conditioners and....a BATH TUB! Tubs are usually only found in expensive homes and luxury hotels! And ceiling fans as well!!
The house owners are Spanish and own a lumber business in Paraguay and he harvests wood form his own land, but they are returning to Europe. So we get hardwood floors!
We are always anxious about a safe and secure home for the girls and this home is well protected with walls around the yard and special locks that read your fingerprints rather than keys.
But... the best of all is...we get internet!!! I will be able to continue blogging uninterrupted!!!In Paraguay this can cost up to $200.00 a month alone! The rent includes all utilities and the internet is included!!!! Woo Hoo!
I feel like God is blessing us above and beyond anything we deserve! I almost feel guilty! I don't really need all these things..but they sure would be nice! And the price is right! So...ok, I'll mange to live the good life for a few years! LOL!
Having the housing arranged and knowing we can arrive and spend the very first night in our own home is an incredible blessing. It has made the move so much less daunting. It was feeling as if a big dark cloud was blocking the view of the future, but now, I am excited to begin the adventure!!!
So, Jungle Mom is ready for Paraguay...the question is, "Is Paraguay ready for Jungle Mom?"
We are making a quick trip to visit with my in-laws.My MIL fell and broke her femur and required surgery, this will be our last visit with them before our move to Paraguay.
Keep us all on your prayers!
I should be back to posting tomorrow night if all goes well.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Here are the rules of this meme:
1) Link to the person who tagged me.
2) Mention the rules.
3) Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about myself.
4) Tag 6 other blogger´s by linking to them.
5) Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment that lets them know they’ve been tagged.
1) I love sci-fi, especially Star Trek. I used to read the Star Trek novels over and over again, alas, they had to remain in the jungle upon our unplanned departure. We had a cousin who would video 'The Next Generation' series and send them out to the jungle for us. We would watch them using a battery powered TV/VCR. One night we were in a small tent and watched the video for 8 hours, until the 12 volt battery died!
2) I have to read something every night. When I go to bed, no matter how sleepy or exhausted, I must spend a few minutes with a book before I fall asleep. In the jungle, we all had small book battery lights to read by.
3) I must wear mascara and eyebrow powder EVERYDAY! No matter where I may be, or what else I must do without, these two items are not optional!!!
4)I prefer to read the Old Testament in Spanish and the New Testament in English! I have no idea why this is.
5) I can not stand repetitive noises! Pen clicking, finger drumming...AARRGGHH! My kids would do these things and bet each other on how long it would take for me to respond. ANNOYING!!!
6) I talk to myself ...a lot! But not as much as my daughter, Jackie! I think I started doing this when we were newly arrived in the jungle and trying to learn the language. I had no one else to talk to!
And now I get to tag 6 bloggers. I decided to introduce you to some of my ex-pat friends spread around the world. I find all their blogs to be very interesting and educational about life in the countries where they live.
Building 68 (Ukraine)
Brendas Blog (Paraguay)
Thursday's Musings (Kuwait)
A Home Away From Home(Croatia)
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Olive Riley wrote 74 entries in her blogs, firstly www.allaboutolive.com.au and later www.worldsoldestblogger.blogspot.com. A friend introduced Riley to blogging early in 2007, and was hooked.
Riley "passed away peacefully on Saturday, July 12," a posting on her Web site said. No cause of death was given. "She will be mourned by thousands of Internet friends and hundreds of descendants and other relatives."
Born in the remote mining town of Broken Hill in 1899, Riley blogged regularly in the last year of her life about growing up in the Outback, raising three children and working as a farm cook and bartender earlier in her life.
I found this article to be inspiring. What a treasure she has left for her family, and others, to be able to read about her life. I often wonder if my great grand children may one day be interested in reading my blog and stories of my life.
I have recently been able to see photographs of my own great grand parents thanks to the help of an online friend and the Internet. It would be so wonderful to be able to read a bit about their day to day lives and to know what was happening politically during their life time! What fun it would be to know how they felt about issues of their day.
I want to continue to blog so that one day anyone who cares to may be able to know me through my writings.
Meet my great grandparents, Clara and Robert Riffe. I know Robert Riffe was a Baptist minister in West Virginia for many years. He was the father of my Dad's dad, 'old man Booker' as he was lovingly referred to by all in the community. Booker was also a Baptist minister, as well as his son, my Dad. But wouldn't it be wonderful if I could read his sermon outlines?
Monday, July 14, 2008
While living in the jungle, we found it very difficult to keep dry. Perspiration is a constant problem. You are living in a steam room. Without electricity, there are no fans or AC to keep you cool. My husband found it necessary to change his shirt several times a day to try and keep dry. Since I had to do all my laundry by hand in the river at the time, I was always looking for a new super-duper antiperspirant to try.
I ordered a "deodorant stone" from a health magazine. We had to wait a few months for it to finally get to us in the jungle. On the flight day, the Missionary Aviation plane arrived with our supplies and mail. Flight day was always exciting! Not just for us but for the entire village! It was a window to the outside world.
We had not made the new airstrip in the village yet, so we had to canoe up river to the airstrip to meet the plane. The Indians were always glad to help us carry our stuff down to the canoe and then back up to the house. We always shared goodies with them. And then they would sit and watch as we put our supplies away. This way, they knew what we had and what they could ask for!!!
On this flight day, a group of men were sitting and chatting as I went through the mail bag. I was so excited to see the order had arrived with the deodorant stone!
I pulled it out. It came in a small velvet pouch with a drawstring. I pulled out the stone. It is basically a compressed deodorant that you use as a soap. Very little goes a long way. It looks like an egg size crystal stone.
So I pulled the pouch out and began to pull the stone itself out. I noticed the men on the bench became very antsy. One man asked, loudly, "What is that?".
Ok, how do you explain deodorant to an Indian from the Amazon? I tried explaining it was a soap, but the men were already wearing terrified looks and had begun to leave ...QUICKLY!!!
I didn't know what I had done to run them off. I kept on unpacking, but had left the stone lying on the table. Shortly, one of the men returned, timidly. He asked me to hide the stone. I could see his fear was real so I took the stone to another room.
He was so relieved. He began to explain to me why everyone had run away. And then he wanted to know where I had gotten the stone.
The Ye'kwanas have a legend of a "death stone". The witch doctors travel to a certain mountain where there is a type of crystal which they believe has special powers. It is called the death stone. The witch doctors have to keep it under wraps, because of its power. The witch doctor will keep it in a small pouch.
You use the stone ONLY for killing your enemies. To use the stone, you pull it out of its covering and point it at those you wish to die.
Well, I had inadvertently tried to kill off half the male population that morning by showing them my deodorant stone!!
I ended up having to meet with the men and explain my stupidity and swear I had no intentions of harming anyone!!! Very humbling experience for me and frightening for them!!! Later on we could all have a good laugh about it! And I count these men as my friends!
So, a little known fact about me...I almost massacred an entire village!! Single handedly!!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
"Cancer's Unexpected Blessings "
When you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change.
By Tony Snow July 20, 2007
(Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23 Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced that the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen—leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but resigned August 31. CT asked Snow what spiritual lessons he has been learning through the ordeal.)
Blessings arrive in unexpected packages—in my case, cancer.
Those of us with potentially fatal diseases—and there are millions in America today—find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.
The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
'You Have Been Called'
Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter—and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our "normal time."
There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue—for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us—that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us partway there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two people's worries and fears.
Learning How to Live
Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.
I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was a humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. "I'm going to try to beat [this cancer]," he told me several months before he died. "But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side."
His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity—filled with life and love we cannot comprehend—and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.
It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up—to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God's hand.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Just women, being women.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
My husband once made a flight out to visit a Pemon Indian village and ended up stranded in a village without any radio to call for a plane. Each day he would walk out to the air srtip and use a hand mirror to try and signal the mining planes that occasionally (once every day.. or two) flew over the village. The Pemons had pity on him and brought him what they referred to as 'a bigger radio'. It was a larger mirror!
But that day a pilot did land and offered to fly him back to Ciudad Bolivar. The pilot was on his way to a mining town but left my husband to wait for him in Canaima, at the base of the very mountain of this beautiful fall, the highest in the world!
This is now a resort tourist area and he wandered around in his jungle missionary attire and actually discovered a satellite phone booth! So he called me.
I was in our small house in town and at that time there was still no land line phone service in that part of the town. We did have an ancient cell phone which my husband had attached a double size battery to. However, the only place to get a signal was by climbing up on a ladder under a palm tree in our back yard. Very interesting in rainy season!
Since I was anxious for my husband's well being, I left the phone up on the ladder to catch any call! It rang and he tells me he is calling from Canaima and Angel Falls.
He is in the middle of the jungle using a high tech satellite phone!
I am in a town, civilization! I am climbing up a ladder, holding a cell phone the size of a brick, which weighed three lbs., perching under an umbrella, wearing a rain coat praying not to get struck by lightning!
The things we do for love!!!!
I thought I should tell you all to go check it out!