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Monday, January 31, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 21

So they stitch Sam up, we get back home and it is now about 6:30 or so. The house is quiet. All four of us are 'okay' - Sam had the worst of it with attempted strangulation, stabbing, and stomping on his head. The rest of us were just in a daze.

Actually, the strangulation part is a bit interesting. Sam's sister, Rebecca, had once taken an Israeli martial arts class for some odd reason (she's known to try to learn all sorts of strange and interesting things). In her enthusiasm she had explained to Sam that if you are ever being strangled you should turn your head to the side which moves your windpipe over making it harder to cut off your air. When they were in the middle of strangling him he suddenly remembered this trick and did it and was able to continue to breath - that's when they decided to stomp on his head instead. So, her interesting, random piece of advice DID come in handy - though we would never have expected this!

We all gathered in the living room and watched the sun rise. Dad suggested we pray together and thank God for protecting our lives. That's when Sam offered to read the Bible together. He said, 'I'll just pick up where I left off yesterday - Psalm 56.'


Link to Part 22

How I Met Sam Part 20

I accompanied Samuel to the Emergency Room and we sat for many hours while his tests came through and his injuries assessed. So it was suddenly very awkward.

I'm sitting next to a shirtless wounded man with gaping wounds - major stab wounds to the chest and side.


What do you say to your houseguest who gets beaten and stabbed his first night there? I didn’t know what to say. We were both stunned.
He was in shock - thus the irrationality of not feeling he 'needed' to go to the hospital. We started to talk while we waited for them to set up for the stitches. I say how sorry I am that all this has happened and Hong Kong is usually a very safe place with very little crime. He says that his Dad had died in '96 and he had been sure he was going to see him again that night! We talked through some of our impressions, initial shock about the whole thing.

Then they asked him to come to the cold metal table for the stitching part.

Now, when I had had my stitches a month before they had my Dad stay outside - so I had lain on the cold table alone while they shaved a part of my head and stuck the needle in for numbing (the worst part). I just assumed that Sam would go in alone, but they asked if I wanted to come too. I looked at Sam and he said, 'I'd like that.' Now, I'm not really good with blood and needles and such.

Sam, on the other hand, asked if there was a mirror so he could watch! Too bad there wasn't one.

I stood next to his shoulder while they prepped the chest wound - the biggest - an inch away from his heart. They took the needle and dug it right in the middle and twisted it around until the needle was actually bent at a right angle - just making sure it was all numb and everything. At this my colour began to fade and the Dr. grabbed me a chair and asked if I was alright.

I thought I was alright. I took a gulp and they proceeded to stitch Sam up. Only three of the wounds needed stitching. The other 68 cuts or so were minor little knicks that would just have to heal on their own.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Acronym for Caleb

Christ be in me

All on the altar

Living for Jesus

Exalt Him every day

Bearing the Light

Preaching the Word

Attitude of humility

Understanding what is right

Learning to trust God

Love God

Others first

Grow in grace

Apply God’s truth

Never forget His promises

How I Met Sam Part 19

Esther and I approached the house just as Sam was being brought out. I had thought that he surely must be dead by the fight that I witnessed - but he was still in one piece, albeit covered in blood. I will never forget the smell. When violent injuries occur and there is a lot of blood - well, our house smelled like a butcher's for days. Upon entering the house, I was sure to find someone, if not everyone dead or severely wounded. I smelled blood and saw blood stains on the carpet and walls. Then I saw our houseguest, Sam. He was shirtless and his whole torso was bright red and blood was oozing out of the three stab wounds on his chest. He was frightfully pale, but conscious and alert. The paramedics began to treat him. My parents were okay - just shook up.

I'll tell what happened from Sam's perspective.

So he came to our house intending to get a good night's sleep. At 3 a.m. he heard some noise but didn't open his eyes in case the Crutchfield's just happened to be needing to get something from his room in the middle of the night. A few moments later, he felt 3 hands on his chest and opened his eyes to three men standing above him with knives raised. "They're here to kill me" he thought and so he put up a struggle. After wrestling with them quite a bit Sam put his hand to his neck and saw that it was bloody - thinking they had sliced his jugular he began to feel weaker and weaker. But he kept fighting. When they got his head on the concrete floor (with a thin carpet on it) and started stomping on it with their boots he saw lights with every blow. Finally they picked up the huge fax machine and dropped it on his head. Then he thought, 'This is what it is like to die.' As he describes it, suddenly everything started closing in and the circle of vision just got smaller and smaller and when everything went black he thought he had just died. During the last few moments he was thinking about his family and how they might be so shocked and sad to think he had died so tragically, but how he had a sure and solid peace that he knew he'd be in heaven shortly. The verse, 'Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me...' was in his mind.

But a little while later he came to, with a bad headache of course and that's when he found out they only wanted money.

A little while later the police came and were trying to chase and find the burglars. Sam was aware of what was going on and was still tied up. He went to any policeman he could find and showed him his hands tied up with a request to be untied, and they looked at him, figured he wasn't the criminal they were searching for and left him tied up! Finally, someone had pity and untied him. I came inside and almost threw up from the smell of fresh blood. We decided to go outside for the paramedics to see him when they arrived and to get some fresh air.

Sam sat down on the ground, bleeding from multiple stab wounds and knicks and cuts all over his body. The ambulance couldn't fit it's bulk up our winding street and so they asked if Sam 'wanted' to go to the hospital. Of course he said that if they're asking I must not need to, so no. Of course all the rest of us said, 'That's crazy, of course you need to go.' Mom said, 'Sarah you go with him, you know the ropes there at the hospital now that you were there for your sprained ankle and head stitches.' So I accompanied Sam in the ambulance to the now, very familiar, hospital.


Click here for Part 20

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Forgiveness

Sometimes we think we have more to forgive than we really do. And in the self-nobility of forgiving we forget the true nobility of the One Who paid even for the sins committed against us. True forgiveness recognizes that before I begin to offer my forgiveness, Jesus already paid that debt.

I am reminded that Jesus did say in teaching His disciples to pray, "Forgive us our sins as we also forgive those who sin against us." This is a stinging reminder that Jesus does expect something of us. This flies in the face of grace-abuse which says Jesus loves me, I'm okay, I'm forgiven and now I can go on and treat my fellow travellers in life with contempt, unforgiveness and scorn. I, of all people, run towards grace. But how can I appreciate it unless I know the great sacrifice involved in bringing it to me?

I used to think I had done so much good internal work on forgiving. That I had so much hurt and wrongs done against me that it was the mature thing to work through forgiveness issues. I suppose it is good and true - we do need to grow in forgiveness. But as I ponder the cross, and the message of Jesus, and the challenge He lays before us, I am blown away. Yes, I must forgive when others wrong me. But I think an overemphasis on my need to forgive can often mean I am nursing the wounds, glorifying myself and seeking sympathy for my hurts. I love to dwell on the fact that Jesus died for me and paid for my sins. When I think that He died to pay for the sins of others - including the sins others do that hurt me - I am even more humbled.

Maybe deep down we think God almost owes it to us to forgive us and that there must be some virtue that merits it. I shun the thought, but if I struggle with unforgiveness towards others, then I must boldly say, I wonder if that isn't at the root of it. That I was good enough to forgive, but you, my dear who has hurt me, are not!? May it never be!

None of us had any good to merit forgiveness. And if we believe that we will be humble enough to release others from the burden to do penance for their wrongs towards us. And if we can recognize our great need of forgiveness and how much it blesses us to receive it, we will long to bless others with the same taste of freedom from the debt of sin.

Just a few thoughts for today.

Leave comments if you have them!

Eternity


Eternity is a lot to risk

For pride, doubt, pleasure –

For arrogance, fear of faith –

Eternity is forever.

Too great a thing to ignore,

Eternity is real, and I implore

That you think upon that time

When life’s days have passed and gone,

And the door of time has shut,

Where, my friend, do you think you’ll be –

Forever,

In Eternity?

How I Met Sam Part 18

I called up to Dad from below: "It's okay Dad, I'm here - you can go in now!" Thankfully he did and a few minutes later we were able to re-connect after this harrowing ordeal.

Turns out they had only bound and gagged Mom and Dad, and because Sam had put up a fight they wrestled, stabbed, strangled, beat up, stomped on his head, finally dropping an old fax machine (the huge bulky kind) on his head. This caused him to pass out, and he thought he was dying.

When Sam had come to, he found himself tied up and there was a lot of commotion. Next to where he was lying - right by his head - was the big meat cleaver. Sam thought they were about to behead him! A few minutes later when they realised he was 'awake' - they gathered 'round him and made the hand motion for money - since they couldn't speak English. At this Sam realised they hadn't come to kill him, only rob him. Sam gave them what he had and they ferretted around and found his camera and any other valuables and by this time the police were entering so they scurried off.


Link to Part 19

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Father’s Will


‘I want to do my Father’s will,’ I oft so glibly say.

‘As long as it’s not hard for me, I’ll follow in His way.’

Each day the struggle starts again: Whose Will shall I obey?

Will I follow Jesus my Lord? Or walk in my own way?

I often miss the point and ask, ‘Please Father, let this be!

I’ll follow You and do Your will, the while it pleases me.’

He gently chides and softly speaks, ‘My child, I love you so!

Fear keeps your heart from following the way you ought to go.

My perfect love casts out all fear, and in Me you find peace.

My will is not something to fear but in it find release.’

So much I want to change God’s will, and make it just like mine.

But recalling Christ’s words in prayer, ‘Lord, not my will, but Thine.’

And so with heart and mind refreshed from truths God spoke to me,

I start anew and pray again, ‘Lord, do Your will through me.’

Resurgence

Resurgence


When on the anvil

Of doubt and despair

There is a will beyond my own

Presenting to me hope and life:

The choice is mine – the path I take

Though steep it winds, this choice I make.

When on the journey

My delicate strength

Depletes and I am left alone.

But God is greater than my fault:

He chides, He speaks and leads me on

Though I am weak and the path long.

And upward I go

Though my heart be faint

There is reborn in the ashes

A hope restored to the dying.

And joy is real, it springs anew

True life revealed in morning dew.

************

“His mercies are new every morning” – Lamentations 3

How I Met Sam Part 17

My apologies to Dad for this post, but it is too funny to overlook.

So, they caught the one guy with Esther's help, and then they head off to chase the other three who were by this time scampering up the mountain behind our house. Esther and I walk up the hill to the front of our house where we wonder what we'll find. We aren't allowed to enter the house yet. I'm in my t-shirt and shorts that I'd happened to sleep in that night. Unfortunately, Dad's pj's aren't so modest.

Now, keep in mind there are like 20 camera media people standing out front of our house. Apparently a few police had taken the time to untie my Dad, who wasn't dead after all. Dad went straight to my room, hoping I was okay, only to find I was gone! With great anxiety he stepped out onto the balcony (still in his undershirt and tighty-whiteys) and starts yelling to the crowd below: "Where's Sarah!? She isn't here!" The media thought this was a sight to behold - foreign man in his underwear shouting from the balcony at 3 a.m. and started flashing away.

I had just been through one of the most horrifying experiences of my life and now my Dad is standing in his underwear with the media flashing shouting MY name.


Now for a part I didn't write - a commentary by my friend Lauran Harrison:

"This father's heart must have been dealing with incredible panic and fear for the previous hour or more.

Mr Crutchfield heard Sam screaming, his own wife was bound and gagged, and this kind, strong, wise man was absolutely powerless to help. He also knew that his attractive young daughter-- the miracle baby they had longed for for years before God finally gave them a child-- was in her bedroom, in all likelihood being stabbed herself.
When Mr. Crutchfield was freed and knew his wife was alive, he ran to his precious daughter's bedroom to find out if Sarah was all right, but she was gone, as were three of the attackers. Mr. Crutchfield had every reason to think Sarah had been hurt and abducted. Not one of us would have stopped to look for a bathrobe. (And the night of Sarah’s birth he had almost run off to the hospital in the same garb as in this incident!) Like every other one of us, he was searching and calling and trying to find his baby, no matter how grown up she was.
I can't help but cry at the shameful, disrespectful behavior of the Hong Kong press toward Sarah's wonderful father. He is an old man worthy of respect. May none of us ever have to walk in the shoes Mr. and Mrs. Crutchfield wore that night, eleven years ago."



Alphabet

Alphabet for Little Ones...Growing in the Lord

…by Sarah Logan (written for my kids)

A is for Adam, the first man that God made

B is for Believer – all those that are saved

C is for Confess – agreeing with what God says

D is for Delighting in Him – and all you do is blessed.

E is for Eternity – for time will never end

F is for Forgiven; knowing God is our Friend

G is for His Goodness, and Grace and Greatness too

H is for Heaven, where things are always new!

I is for Immortal – men’s souls shall never die

J is for Jesus – for my sins He died

K is for Kingdom – for Christ shall come to reign

L is for Living, as Jesus is today

M is for His mercy – my punishment He took.

N is for my Name, now written in His book.

O is for Offering – my thanks to Him I bring

P is for Praising Him, in thoughts and words I sing

Q is for Quitters, who don’t continue on

R is for Redemption – for those with sin now gone

S is for our Saviour, Who gave His life for me

T is for Truth – His Truth has set me free

U is for the Urgent – the choice of destiny

V is for the Vain ones – those who won’t believe

W is for Waiting – God longs to see men come

X is for eXciting – when one lost soul is won.

Y is for Yearning – a longing in each soul

Z is for Zealous – the joy of those who know:

They know where they are going, When time has passed and gone –

They know the love of Jesus, That with Him they can’t go wrong!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 16

As the guy sprinted towards us, Esther is estimating the best time to step out and clobber him. The police were losing ground and as he approached she jumped out and whacked him on the back with her handy toy rifle (which she had grabbed for 'protection' - probably more a psychological safety blanket than anything).

The rifle shattered into plastic pieces and the man fell to the ground and the police who were chasing dog-piled him and cuffed him and dragged him to the police car.

On a side note, the Hong Kong media must be linked into the police radios because they all were showing up around this time. I'd say there were 20 + media people gathered around our house - flashing cameras and notebooks handy.


Link to Part 17

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 15

Okay, so we're in the bushes and Esther is with me and the police enter the house. There sounds like quite a scuffle going on and we are anxiously watching - wondering what's going on inside. I keep saying, 'They've killed my parents, Sam is dying. They've probably killed him by now.' Remember, I had seen them beating him up and watched the knives flying and the scuffle going on - to my horror!

Suddenly we see a few men come scuttling down the drain pipe of the house over the roof! Then another one shoots through the front door in an effort to escape.


Esther and I were cowering in the bushes as this was all unfolding. The guy who came out the front door, in a panic starts sprinting towards us as it seemed the best escape route. Of course he didn't see us behind the foliage.

The police started to chase him, but they were cloddy and clumsy with all their extra gadgets and knicknacks. The guy was getting away!

Esther - meek, humble, house-wife lady - says, 'I'm not letting him get away!'

Enter the oh, so handy toy rifle.


Part 16

How I Met Sam Part 14

So we got the police to come and met them at the bottom of the hill/entrance to our village. As we were leaving the neighbours house to meet the police, Esther, the wife/mom said, 'Oh, let me grab something while we go watch...oh, here's a toy rifle, that'll do.' I guess she wanted something for protection. Surprisingly, it DID come in handy later.

The police, Esther, Lincoln and I started walking up the hill towards our house. The police had brought everyone with them and all their gadgets and tools. Just about 15 yards from our front door they told Esther and I to stand back in the bushes while they entered the house. I don't think any of us were thinking about what exactly to do - just to go in quickly and stop the whole ordeal.

Esther and I stood together in some bushes watching them enter the house.


Link to Part 15

How I Met Sam Part 13

I got to the neighbours house, winded and scared that the men were on my heels. The distance was about a block - but up a bunch of stairs and a hill. Once at their door I tried the doorbell but it didn't seem to work. I started banging on the metal frame door. I was trying to not be too loud cuz I was sure the thieves were following me, but since I didn't see them I just kept banging. After what seemed like an eternity (probably 3 minutes or so), finally the Mrs. came down in p'js and groggily answered the door.
It was a amazing they even heard me!

"Hurry! Call the police! They've broken in! They're killing Sam. They've probably killed my parents! They have knives! Quick!"

"Oh, hi Sarah. Now, what's going on? Are you sure you're not having a bad dream? You want us to do what? Do you know it's 3 a.m.?" she said.

"C'mon! Quick! Get the phone!" I said.

"Okay, here - Lincoln [her husband] - call the police."

Lincoln: 'It's busy - why's it busy at 3 a.m.?!'
Sarah: 'No, silly, this is Hong Kong - it's not 911 here! - You've got to dial 999!'
Lincoln: 'Oh, okay, now it's working.' 

How I Met Sam Part 12

I was in shock (and horror) at what was happening before my eyes. Watching violence live is most unappealing. Okay, that's an understatement - it is gut-wrenching. You want to scream, throw something, go in and grab the guys and fight them off. But somehow God took control of me and kept me from doing what my impusles demanded.

I shut the door. My heart was racing - I was beginning to panic. 'Call the police.' I thought. No, the phones are in their bedrooms - not mine! 'Run downstairs to that phone.' - No, I'd have to pass those two rooms again. My room was the next one they would be heading towards I assumed. 'Wait, this can't really be happening - is this happening?' So I opened the guest room door again to verify what my mind couldn't believe. 'Think think think!' No, this can't be happening! A third time (no comments on my stupidity please) I opened the door where the men were beating up Sam. This time all three men heard it, stopped, looked up at me, then went back to the fighting. Sam was still screaming his ranting prayers! By now they had wrestled him off the bed and were attempting to subdue him. It sounded like he was beginning to lose the fight.
I stood in the hallway, perplexed and stunned. I was not able to think, pray or reason – it was as if my mind had completely stopped and was incapable of thought.
I believe God clearly gave me His direction in these stunning moments.
Immediately the thought came into my head, ‘You must LEAVE! Now! Get out! Run for help!’
When I heard Sam screaming my heart went dead and cold and I said ‘I won’t grieve for someone I didn’t even know.’
I was sure they were killing him. My heart began to race.
Now for a little personal history: I had had quite a tumultuous teenage-hood and had often run away. I would do this when I was locked in my room for some reason or another - I would go out on our balcony, and either jump off of the car parked below (sorry, car) - or climb down a drain pipe attached to the outside of the building. I say this to show I was already experienced in escape from the first floor balcony :)
Without hesitation, I quickly ran through my room, locked it (to delay their pursuit which I felt would be imminent since they had all seemed to 'see' me), went to the balcony and jumped off onto the car, hopped down, praying my newly healed ankle would survive this abuse, and went running with every ounce of adrenaline rushing through my veins and carrying my bare feet over the ground without hardly even touching it!. Had I not known where they lived I would have had to try explaining to Chinese speaking neighbours the dire situation and convince them to let me phone the police. 

The Tool Box Church


Down on the corner of Hardware Street and Artist Road sat the little ToolBox Church. It was a nice little place, full of bustling, joyful activity. ToolBox Church could boast a congregation full of useful tools. Mr. Hammer served his part by making sure no nails were sticking out. Then there was Sir Paintbrush who added aesthetic little touches here and there. Mrs. Sandpaper kept the pews from splintering and Mr. Screwdriver made sure things didn’t fall apart. Level was a newcomer and was vigilant about precision. All in all, ToolBox Church was and ideal place to be, to serve and to fellowship.

The Head of ToolBox Church, Mr. Construction Worker, was very pleased with His group. They worked in harmony, each complementing the other. Together they made sure ToolBox Church was a warm, welcoming place where any new tools could jump right in using their particular skills to advance the beauty and functionality of the Church. Things seemed to be going well until one day…

“Mr. Hammer, don’t you think you’ve done enough pounding around here? You know, you do make an awful lot of noise! And I think you are just a little too picky about that tiny nail sticking out! We need some peace and quiet around here,” said Sir Paintbrush. Mr. Hammer, hurt and wounded and somewhat perplexed quit his hammering. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to pound even louder after that! But out of respect for Sir Paintbrush, he quietly took himself home and after quite some time decided to leave the toolbox altogether. Sadly, Mr. Hammer developed rust from lack of use.

Without Mr. Hammer a few nails did stick out a little, but at least there was quiet in the place now. Maybe Mr. Hammer wasn’t needed after all. Besides, Sir Paintbrush was then able to work harder and longer at prettying the place, without all that bothersome noise. Sir Paintbrush forgot that Mr. Construction Worker got pleasure out of hearing Mr. Hammer serve Him so faithfully. Sir Paintbrush thought he knew the best way to please Mr. Construction Worker, and decided after his success with Mr. Hammer that he would now ‘fix’ ToolBox Church to be all he envisioned it could be.

One day Mrs. Sandpaper was discreetly smoothing out a rough patch on one of the pews when in walked Sir Paintbrush. “You know, you’re taking off the paint I put on there a month ago! How am I supposed to do my job if you come around messing it up all the time? And look at that sawdust on the floor! That makes this place look ugly!” said Sir Paintbrush. Now Mrs. Sandpaper was a tender soul, but she recalled what had happened to Mr. Hammer and was not about to let Sir Paintbrush walk all over her. “Now look here, Sir P. I am doing MY job, you can do your job and leave me alone and maybe we can get some work done around here!” And she walked off in a huff.

Mr. Construction Worker breathed a sigh and said to Himself, “When will my tools quit focussing on what each other is doing wrong and just try looking to me to use them to build this Church?” He looked over at rusty Mr. Hammer, sad to see his wounds and carefully he dusted him off. Mr. Hammer was consoled and went in search of a new place to serve. Just down the street he found a great little place with a sign out front: “Noise welcome here!” “This is just the place for me!” thought Mr. Hammer and in he walked. Sure enough, milling about in the narthex were plenty of other hammers just like himself. There was no paint anywhere and splinters abounded on the pews, but no nails stuck out and everyone was busy pounding! “Welcome to hammer Church” said a deacon. “We’re all about noise and hammering here! We’re so glad you’ve come. I’m sure you’ll feel very at home here.” And he did.

Back at ToolBox Church Mrs. Sandpaper was getting frustrated. She started chatting to one of her neighbours over the fence and found out about their church. “Oh I just love our Church,” boasted Sally Smallgrain. “There are so few rough patches and we don’t have to sand all day the way we did in our old Church. Most of us are different varieties of sandpaper and we all get along so well.” Mrs. Sandpaper thought she’d give her neighbours’ church a try. Sure enough, Smooth Going Fellowship turned out to be just right for Mrs. Sandpaper. There was no paint there and nails stuck out everywhere. But not a splinter in sight! Mrs. Sandpaper was very comfortable in her new Church. Sure, she missed the variety of ToolBox Church but figured it was just unrealistic to expect all those different tools to come together without fighting. “I guess this is just the way it has to be,” she sighed.

As ToolBox Church dwindled Mr. Construction Worker became more and more concerned. He decided to tweak Level with some ideas and see if that might induce change. Level came to the overseer (otherwise known as the Clasp – it kept the Box contained) and said, “I’ve noticed we have some nails sticking out and some splinters forming. I wonder if I could perhaps bang myself on the nails to keep them in place.” The Clasp gasped in dismay. “But you were not made to do that, and in our blueprints we have no instructions about Levels’ doing such things. We don’t see this as a good fit for you. Just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s the way we’ve always done things.”

As Level walked away with a glum look on his face he bumped into Mr. Screwdriver. “Hey, why are you so down today?” said Mr. Screwdriver. Level shared his recent experience with the Clasp and Screwdriver, wisely, but with dismay, replied: “I realise that Clasp is looking out for your best interest. Do you know what would happen to your usefulness as a Level if you damaged your bubble? But, their response to you is disturbing – that they would push you aside so quickly and without ongoing dialogue.” “I’m not sure what to do next,” said Level. “I wonder if Construction Worker has a different Box for me to be used in,” said Level. “But then it’ll just be me and Mr. Paintbrush!” said Mr. Screwdriver.

As time passed it seemed every tool that crossed paths with Mr. Paintbrush and Clasp had their usefulness squelched or their ideas tossed. Toolbox Church became a lifeless, but beautiful structure. Paintbrush tried to cover up everything. Any nail that stuck out he’d cover with a new layer of paint. Any splinters? A little paint helped keep those down. All in all, Mr. P and Clasp felt very smug and self-satisfied, even though Mr. Construction Worker was finding it difficult to use Toolbox Church for anything but a negative example for others not to follow. Construction Worker was sad that His tools could not work together and ended up in places full of others just like themselves. His own mansion in the sky functioned beautifully, perfectly with each retired tool serving in its own way. Diversity was everywhere in His Mansion – and it was joyfully celebrated.

It is a sad story, but true, since ToolBox Church eventually closed down. Clasp ended up a bitter old man who refused to fellowship anywhere else. Paintbrush meanwhile spent the rest of his days painting at home and remembering the ‘good ol’ days.’ Unfortunately in his memories he didn’t recall the loud hammering, or the times he had to paint over a freshly sanded spot. His memories were coloured by his own opinion of how things should be. And His memories failed to center on Mr. Construction Worker Whose hand held and used each tool for His purposes.

Mr. Construction Worker grieved to see His little ToolBox Church close its doors. But He did continue to use those tools that were willing – Mrs. Sandpaper introduced the idea of diversity to her new Church. And Hammer eventually realised the need for a paintbrush or two and recruited some – in hopes that there were those out there who could tolerate the noise of the hammers. Those Churches that initially had formed from their commonalities eventually had to adapt or shut down. They could not exist without the cooperative efforts of a variety of tools. And Mr. Construction Worker was pleased with the progress He saw in His tools and ToolBoxes.

The End.

How I Met Sam Part 11

The man with the knife turned and looked in my direction. I thought our eyes met and wondered why he didn't come after me. He was about 3 feet away from where I was standing. I don't always include this part of the story because it was so confusing to me and I am not sure what to make of the 'miraculous' - or 'out of the ordinary'. In my shock I didn't move and he turned back to his digging.

I began to think my parents weren't alive. I couldn't fathom that.
There was a lot of noise and commotion going on in the room across the hall. Without thinking about the man in my parents room I turned and opened the sliding door to the guest room.
The noise from the sliding door caused the three men inside to stop and look up and me. Again, they made no response to my presence and continued to wrestle with our houseguest, beating him again and again on the head. They were on top of the bed, on top of our guest. I noticed they also had knives – one a large Chinese meat cleaver.
There were knives and fist fighting – other than the Asian meat cleaver, a long carving knife. Sam was fighting against them. I wanted to stop them. I wanted to scream. I was frozen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 10

I entered the hallway and saw lights on in my parents bedroom and the door wide open. I went to the door and saw a Chinese man with a long knife, and my parents on their stomachs with their hands tied behind them. I could not see their faces, and they weren’t moving. The Chinese man looked at me, and our eyes locked. I wondered why he did not respond to me in any way. Perhaps I really was dreaming. Perhaps I had died and these were my last visions on earth. Either way, I was glad he did not respond to my presence! (Later, I realised this was God’s protection of me – it was as if He blinded their eyes to my presence). The cries continued and I turned to the next room, where I knew I would find out what was happening.

How I Met Sam - Part 11

How I Met Sam Part 9

So I got the spare key. Got the room ready. Met the dashingly handsome Mr. Sam Logan himself. Talked for a brief time before heading to bed. The content of that conversation?
"Here's your room, it doubles as the library and office."
"Oh, thanks. So, what kind of books do you like to read?"
"Russian History and Poetry."
[thinks to himself: 'Hmmm. We have nothing in common.']
[thinks to herself: 'Hmmm. I didn't think an engineer would have any interest in history or literature.']
And he didn't. And as far as reading interests, it seemed we DIDN'T have much in common.

We said good night and went to bed. My room was just down the hall from his, and my parents room was opposite his room.

At three a.m. I was awoken from my sleep - and I happen to be a deep sleeper. I heard shouts, screams, commotion. I tried to go back to sleep. I didn't want to have to get up. I heard words such as, "God send your angels!" "Lord, get these men away!" “
God, HELP ME! I am ready to die!”Could it be our houseguest was particularly devoted to prayer to be praying this early in the morning? It sounded like he was dramatically reading the imprecatory Psalms. But it was more than dramatic. It was chilling. My second thought was that maybe it was a nightmare.
I rolled over and tried to dismiss it and go back to sleep. But the cries continued. This time I got up.

"Okay," I mused, "I'll see what's going on..."

So I did. And to my shock I saw lights on in my parents’ room. I went over to their open door and saw they were lying on their stomachs with their hands tied behind them. They weren't moving and their faces were away from me. There was a man with a knife digging through the drawers. I stood at their door and gaped.


How I Met Sam Part 8

So there I was, locked out at 9 p.m. on October 2nd. I was able to reach my mother on a cell phone and ask what I should do. ‘Our neighbours have keys,’ she said, ‘they live in another row of houses nearby – call them to find out where to go.’ I quickly found their house and got a spare key. Sam had asked Bas if he could come on Saturday evening so as not to travel so far on Sunday morning. Bas thought that was a good idea but then told him he had guests already and no room for him to stay. He gave him my parents phone number and said they would probably have room. I was told to get the guest room ready.
The funny thing is, I had specifically laid out my keys next to my bag and made a mental note 'Don't forget your keys, Sarah.' I couldn't figure out how I could've left them when I had been so careful about it. But God was proving Himself even in this small detail. You see, finding the neighbours at that specific time - neighbours who were American and could speak English - was going to prove to be very helpful come 3 a.m

My Book List

What I'm reading:

1. Plan B by Pete Wilson
2. Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer
3. Hitler's Cross by Erwin Lutzer
4. The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders
5. 12 "Christian" Beliefs that can drive you crazy by Cloud and Townsend
6. The Key to Your Child's Heart by Gary Smalley
7. The Blessing
8. The Original Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy
9. Stop Walking on Eggshells
10. Guilt and Grace by Tournier

There are more, but 10 is enough to list here.
You can see they are random and varied.

Recently Finished:

Going Solo by Roald Dahl (I especially liked his description of the dotty British Empire overseas dwellers with idiosyncrasies that were somewhat familiar to my experience of this rare breed, so much so that it was uncanny.)
The Twits
The BFG
(also by Roald Dahl)
The latter two were read out loud to the kids, with them often in stitches rolling on the floor. I write that in full text because it isn't a figure of speech, but an actual fact.

As you can see, I don't finish books frequently. But I do read a lot.


How I Met Sam Part 7

Let's back up a little.

I had been out of college two years. I had little or no direction in my life. I was basically putzing around working to feed myself and staying out of trouble. I had done a variety of jobs, and was pursuing further education. It was sort of a plateau in my life where I felt nothing was moving forward.

As for romance - I stayed far, far away. I had dated before, found it distasteful - someone always getting hurt - halfhearted commitments (on my part and others), treacherous, painful, ick! I gave up on that and said to God, 'I know dating is the way people do things these days, but it doesn't seem to fit my style very well. My ideal situation is that You would bring the man into my life, we would get to know each other a little - and we'd start from engagement and go from there. Since that is totally unrealistic God, and I see no way that could happen, I will just take it from You that You want me single the rest of my life. If, however, You have other plans, I'm still open to that, but it just seems impossible to me. And, as a side note, by staying single forever, I'm probably sparing the world of great misery.' - or something like that.

So that was before heading to Hong Kong. When I did go to Hong Kong I imagined that there would be no one I would meet in Hong Kong who would be a good fit for me as far as romance goes. I don't know why I thought that. Now all you Hong Kongers out there, don't take offense. It was just that I couldn't see that I'd be meeting anyone new etc. I'd be in classes most of the time and working the rest of the time and at home the rest of the rest of the time. If that makes sense. Which it probably doesn't so I'll proceed.

Anyways, so you have the brick clobbering incident. Then I had to wear an unsightly scarf all the time because of the nasty bald patch and the healing of my head which was really quite painful.

After the bad typhoon that cancelled church when Sam and I had that conversation in the kitchen, Sam decided to come to Church again, the following week, even though it was a 2 hour trip for him. The area he was in in China didn’t have any English speaking Church to attend and he didn’t know anywhere else to go. Someone in the U.S. had given him the name of our fellowship in Hong Kong and Bas’s contact details and that is how he had come in the first place.
"Hi, this is Sam Logan, and I was going to spend the night at Bas's house but he has guests and said you might have an empty bed..." And so at 9 p.m. on a Saturday Mom called me on my cell-phone telling me to get the room ready. That would've been fine if I hadn't been locked out of our house.

Follow this link to Part 8:

Monday, January 24, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 6

Sam did not return to our fellowship until four weeks later after he resolved some visa problems. There was an interesting turn of events that brought our paths much closer than I’d ever imagined was possible. My Dad had been on a trip to Vietnam and so it was just my Mom and me, and he was due to return Sunday after Church. Early that morning, we heard on the news that the latest typhoon was so severe that Hong Kong was closing all public transport. We had to cancel Church because of this. Bas phoned us and explained that Sam was on his way from China where the news had not reached and would be arriving on the last train running. He was coming for the Church service that was not to be! Bas asked us to pick both he and Sam up and we arranged to have a small Breaking of Bread service in our living room, just the four of us. After that, my Mom began lunch preparations and told me what she wanted me to do for lunch. She needed to pick up my Dad at the airport and invited Bas to go and help carry the luggage. Suddenly I felt I was in a very awkward position.
I was in our house with Sam who had come for Church and no one else was there. I felt it was inappropriate, but I was stuck! I busied myself in the kitchen vowing to talk to him as little as possible. He followed me in the kitchen and asked to help. I tried to get him to sit on the couch and read or something, but he was persistent and so finally I just let him stay in the kitchen with me. We talked and I found out about him and his life. He had grown up in Zambia, the son of missionary parents. His experience was vastly different to mine, but we had both struggled to adjust to the U.S. I found out that before he had moved to China he had been involved in teaching Sunday School and leading kids clubs. I began to feel that there was a lot we had in common, but still tried to hold him at arms length.

Follow this link to Part 7:

Hummus

I hear that for some people, eating peanut butter out of the jar is a weakness. Guess I can't relate. But I do have that kind of weakness for hummus. Let me clarify - never store bought hummus (just seems not right to have not seen everything that went in there - of course for me this thinking only applies to hummus and a few other things), but homemade, straight from the blender.

You probably want an exact recipe or something. Well, I don't tend to do things that way. We could title my blog 'The Sloppy Housewife' or something like that. Here is hummus my way:

A can of Garbanzo beans (drain if you like, then dump contents into blender).

Tahini (if you want to get it cheaper, go to an Indian store or middle eastern, it's cheaper there).
I use about 4 or 5 soup spoon dollops into the blender. You can use more or less, depending what you like.

Real Lemons (in a pinch, use the bottle stuff - just pour some in) (Squeezed, I use a lot - like 2-4 lemons).

Salt (little or a lot, you decide)

Olive oil (I use about 2-3 Tablespoons - of course I don't measure, I just guess at it).

1 or more cloves of garlic

Dump it all in the blender. Blend until creamy smooth. My earlier mistakes had been not blending long enough and it was kind of chunky, or not using enough liquid (lemon juice, olive oil) so it was too thick and killing the blender.

Learn from my mistakes and go make perfect hummus.

You can eat it with a spoon if you like, or drizzle on salads, sandwiches or crackers.


How I Met Sam Part 5

I knew nothing about this Sam Logan, but had been impressed with what he shared at the Breaking of Bread and how joyful he seemed. I could tell he had a genuine desire to please God and demonstrated a sincere love for Him. I thought he would not be returning to our small fellowship, since usually Bas has out-of-town guests who only stay a week or two. I did not know that he was living and working just north of the Hong Kong border in China, and was planning to stay for a year or more.
I began my classes and adjusted to Hong Kong living once again. Two weeks after arriving in Hong Kong we had a severe typhoon. The neighbours whose house was attached and adjacent to ours were hostile and more than unfriendly. They accused my parents of polluting their outside drain as it ran behind both our houses. My parents tried their best to keep a clear distance, but in typhoon situations, when the neighbours blocked the drain, it would cause flooding and damage to our house. It was the peak of the storm and the water was backing up and beginning to come into our house. My Dad was about to go out in the back of our house and remove the bricks that the neighbours had put to block the drain. I told him I could go instead, and I did. I hoped the neighbours would not be home or would not see me as I wanted no conflict. I only wanted to prevent flood damage. Unfortunately, they were home and when they saw what I was doing became angry and hostile. They came out their back door and began yelling at me in whatever English they could muster – mostly swear words. I was a bit nervous and so turned to leave when I felt a blow to the back of my head. I found myself a few minutes later on the wet ground, a bit dazed. I don’t know how long I was ‘out’ – to me it seemed like seconds. I picked myself up off the ground and went back inside, not knowing what had happened except my head hurt. When my Dad saw me covered in blood and drenching my shirt he was visibly upset. Apparently, in anger, the neighbours had clobbered me on the head with a brick causing a thick gash in my head. We called the police and they were arrested for questioning. I went to the hospital where I was laid on a cold metal table and told to be still while a needle was inserted into the open wound on the back of my head. A part was shaved and then stitched up. I am not sure what was worse – the stitches or the shaving. I can’t explain the humiliation of having a bald patch on the back of my head – thankfully my hair was long enough to pull back where it wouldn’t be seen, but I couldn’t do this initially as the wound was too painful. After questioning, the neighbours were released until a trial could be arranged.

Follow this link to Part 6:

How I Met Sam Part 4

It was at the peak of summer, late August, 1999 when I arrived in Hong Kong. My luggage had been lost, and I had only the clothes I was wearing and my crutches. When I arrived we went first to the Emergency Room where I was able to have my ankle examined and x-rayed. This was my first Emergency Room visit at the nearby hospital during my stay. I would make two more in the coming month, though I didn’t know it at the time.
The day after I arrived I attended our small church which my parents had helped to start a number of years before. It met in a school, on the fourth floor. Climbing up so many stairs on crutches was exhausting, and the sweltering heat didn’t help either! When I stopped to catch my breath at the top of the stairs, my eye caught sight of a few guys up ahead standing near the outside of the meeting room. One was Bas, a Dutch missionary from Canada (try to figure that out!). I had known him since he had been in Hong Kong since I was a child. He often had groups from Canada coming to visit and help with his ventures into China. So I was not surprised to see him with a young man who looked American. I happened to think the young man was quite handsome, but told myself, ‘I’m in Hong Kong to study. Don’t get distracted.’ With that bit of self-advice I proceeded to enter the room and get settled for the morning when we would be Breaking Bread and later a sermon. Since there were only about 8 of us, it was hard to avoid talking to everyone. Somehow I managed since I was the lone pianist available, and excused myself from introductions. I briefly met Sam Logan, the friend of Bas and before any further conversation withdrew to the piano. Perhaps I was a bit cold and abrupt. Okay, more than a bit.

Follow this link to Part 5:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Interrupting

To all you who thought this would be a nicey-nice blog, my apologies, because I do have a bee in my bonnet. I think I should use this blog to publicly confess one of my sharper rough edges, namely interrupting. Let me apologize to all who know me for this glaring fault - well, you'd say it's a fault if you're a non-interrupter type. For once and for all, I'm truly sorry.

I must also say I totally cannot understand you non-interrupters. Either you have tonnes of self-control or you are passionless. How do you do it? My way is to talk until someone else jumps in, and jump in when I disagree! If the rules of conversation don't allow for interrupting then conversations end up looking like high school debate team scenarios. Now, when people interrupt me, I am not bothered, judging or angry. I don't take it personally. I am not offended. To me, that is dialogue.

What am I missing here? Please, if you are a non-interrupter, help me understand! And please know I DO mean well if I interrupt. This is what I DON'T mean by interrupting (but may be your wrong interpretation of my motives):
I do not mean:
1. That your thoughts are less important than mine.
2. That I don't like you.
3. That I don't respect you.
4. That I don't want to hear you.
5. That I think I'm better than you.

Maybe at the root of this is how I view silence. It has taken me a long time to figure out that not everyone interprets silence as agreement. It really fires me up if I hear something I really disagree with. If it's the radio I'll usually yell back, "You're wrong!" or switch it off. That's not intolerance - it's disagreement and irritation. Maybe I AM a kid stuck in an adult body because kids can't stand someone saying things that aren't true.

For example, one time Priscilla was crying hysterically. "Why are you crying Priscilla?" I asked. "Because Caleb said I owe him a million dollars and I don't have that much money!" For her, saying something made it so, and it traumatized her.

I guess I haven't entirely grown out of this stage of juvenile thinking. So please, forgive me.

And I'll work on not interrupting. So much.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 3

A year after moving to Wheaton and working as a piano teacher and other part-time work, I began to evaluate where I was heading in life, and discovered real lack of direction. I decided to go back to school to try for a teaching degree. This was mostly from the encouragement of my parents. It wasn’t a bad idea actually. While I took some classes to transfer when I found a program to become certified in, I became quite interested in Chinese and Russian History. I then concocted a plan to become a teacher, then take evening classes to get a master’s degree in either Russian or Chinese History and then attempt to study in either of these two countries. I liked academia, finally. And I was a much better student when I chose to go to school, than when I was told I must. I got high grades and felt I could excel in higher education, and perhaps be a college professor one day.
During the summer of 1999 my parents phoned me from Hong Kong and told me there was a program offered in Hong Kong to be certified in Teaching English as a Second Language. It was offered through the prestigious Cambridge University in the British Council of Hong Kong. In a short 10 weeks of intensive study and training, I could be certified in TESL. I thought it might be a good idea, and I missed Hong Kong. I felt for some reason that God wanted me to go. I also thought that I might end up staying there and finding another direction in life and maybe this was the next step in God’s direction for me. It was with a bit of trepidation that I made the trip. Especially since 3 days before leaving I had badly sprained my ankle and would have to travel in a wheelchair and walk on crutches. Hong Kong is not a great place to navigate with crutches. There is lots of walking, stairs, hills and the like. But I set my face to the wind and went forward.

Follow this link to Part 4: