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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emails from the week after the burglary 3

Regarding giving Sam advice on girls, I was actually quite annoyed with his methodical approach. I had stirring passions and strong opinions on the subject, as I tend to do on almost every subject that crosses my path. Perhaps it was God Who helped me not say what I thought the moment I thought it, but to write it down for him to digest on his own.

From: Sarah Crutchfield
Monday October 11, 1999
Subject: a thought for you

I wrote this on the bus to school this morning, you can take it or leave it:
Sam, don't pursue marriage because you want to get married and there's a nice girl that wants to marry you. Get married someday because there is a girl so precious to you that you can't imagine life without her. You, as a man, must be fully convinced of your love for her - it is even more essential than she being fully convinced of her love for you. You must be confident and know that you love her, without a doubt in your mind. Your heart will bear witness and give you assurance or not. I don't mean to say 'let your heart guide you' and throw caution and rationality to the wind. I'm just saying that you should really know and be sure of your love for her. Love is a choice I believe, but in my experience, it is a choice that cannot help but to be made. A parent cannot help but to love his/her child. Yes, he chooses to love the child, but instinct and whatever else there might be, dictates that this choice ought to be made. I challenge you to be patient and wait until you know you love a woman. You will need to make such a woman to be secure in your love. In order to do this, you must be fully convinced yourself that you do love her.
There you have it. Hey, I said something in less than five minutes. And you didn't think that was possible!


Sam to me, discussing girl issues...

I've known you such a short time, but you are such a great friend already. (For the record, this was about 1 week after the burglary, after the first weekend when I threw up). That may sound like such a hackneyed (that's the biggest word you'll get out of me today, but it is probably spelled wrong) sentence, but I really mean that.

I said that I probably wouldn't email you much because of being so busy with other things like work or Chinese, or emails to other friends. But I want to email you back. Things may get really busy in our lives, but we always make room for the things we want to do. I don't know why you are taking the time to write me and tell me about your thoughts on relationships, but I want to say thanks, I want to say thanks for giving me advice.

Looking back at friends who have gotten married, I have seen some who have been so madly in love with each other. I told myself that I wanted to do the same thing. I was going to give my all to my girl and love her with all my heart. I wasn't going to have some half hearted relationship with her.

Why do I talk about pursuing marriage when my heart isn't in it? I guess because I told God to take away my desire for marriage, and now that desire has come back first time this trong in the last several years, so I thought that now was the time in my life to get married. I was never ready to get married before. I was either in school, on a motorcycle trip, or waiting from God to show me what He wants me to do with my life. Now all those are done, and it is the first time I feel ready...

I was so glad to be able to help you Sunday morning. I felt so helpless, wishing I could do more for you. It was wonderful to kind of return your help to me exactly one week before that.

Are you going to be busy next Saturday afternoon or evening. It's great talking with you, but not so good getting to bed at 4:30 Sunday morning. I'll come down earlier on Saturday or stay later Sunday afternoon depending on when you are free. Let me know. Also, I could give you the couple hour version of the motorcycle trip with pictures if you wanted.

(Then he throws in a bit about another girl he was hoping to hear from... - of course I'm leaving that out!)

I need to read your emails from today again. I'm sure I'll have more comments.

Oh, I want you to give me a verse each day that jumps out at you. You said you were reading in Neh. I love that book. I was impressed this morning with Ex. 14:14: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." So hard to be still. I always want to be busy and running hard, not sitting still with God.

Thanks again friend.


To Sam, after he stayed with me when I was throwing up:
Subject: Thank you
Dear Sam,
I want to thank you for staying with me last night when I was feeling so wretched. You didn't have to, but you did and I think it helped calm me down a little. I very much appreciate you Sam, and I hope you know that, even if I do tease you about fixing strollers...

If you don't want to email much that is fine. Please know that I am completely confident that God 'gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him' (to quote a cliche - which I hate to do, but in this case, so true!) I do not doubt that He has His best in store for both you and me, so lets not jump ahead of ourselves and continue to trust Him to show us His way, okay?

I had two songs come to mind. One is a children's song. Cathy and I sang this when we were 6 and 8 at a meeting. I have the tape somewhere. The words come back to me now and again and bring me comfort and encouragement, perhaps they will do the same for you?

Did you ever talk to God above? Tell Him that you need a friend to love!
Pray in Jesus name believing that God answers prayer.
Have you told Him all your cares and woes - every tiny little fear He knows -
You can know He'll always hear, and He will answer prayer.
You can whisper in a crowd to Him, You can cry when you're alone to Him,
You don't have to pray out loud to Him - He knows your thoughts!
On a lofty mountain peak He's there - in a meadow by a stream He's there,
Anywhere on earth you go - He's been there from the start.
Find the answer in His Word - it's True! You'll be strong because He walks with you!
By His faithfulness He'll change you too - God answers prayer!

The other song I thought of when discussing these things was:
"God is too wise to be mistaken! God is too good to be unkind! So if you don't understand, if you can't see His plan - if you can't trace His hand, trust His heart."

I'm reading Neh. about rebuilding walls.

I enjoyed talking with you last night, even if you had lots of questions. There are still a million thoughts darting around my brain but I don't know whether to share 1 or 99,999 with you :) So for now I'll just keep processing what I'm thinking and if any seem particularly enlightening, I'll be sure to let you know.

I queried my Mom last night about her 'matchmaking' and she explained herself. I don't think she's matchmaking, she says she knows I'm lonely and don't have many friends here my age, and that you are in a similar situation and so it would be good for us to spend time together. She's certainly not thinking romantic stuff, so I think everything's fine.


(Comment: ha ha, yeah right, whatever!)

More Correspondence - the NEXT Chapter!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Psalm 119 Study

I just did a quick study through Psalm 119. I was looking specifically for places that it would highlight how God's Word is more important than other things. I like the way David writes Psalms so personally - expressing his own feelings, desires, requests, hopes, beliefs, confidences or lack thereof. I hope to go through this study with our kids (writing it here will make me accountable I assume!). There are probably many more topics, but I came up with 14:

God's Word is More important to me than:

I suppose that's obvious! But for those of us who are well acquainted with our struggles and personal failings, this is more than obvious - it is difficult. What I mean is, I feel God's Word is important to me - more than anything - at least that's what my heart would tell me. But when it comes to losing my temper, wasting time, or any other sin that trips me up... is God's Word, and obedience to it, more important to me? For my kids, is God's Word more important to them than the sin they are tempted in - taunting one's sibling, lording it over each other, provoking, slowness to obey...?
Vs. 11: I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
Vs. 101: I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey Your Word.
Vs. 133: Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me.

-Desire for other things
I was surprised to find mention of this throughout the Psalm. Do I desire God's Word more than other things in life? This, admittedly, is broad and vague. Here are the verses that allude to this:
Vs. 20: My soul is consumed with longing for Your laws at all times.
Vs. 175: I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight.

-Focussing on my own misery and rejection
Sometimes it is easy to wallow in our own misery. There are many Psalms where we can sort of see David doing this. These are desperate prayers to God for help, and rightly so! However, in this Psalm, he is dedicating his thoughts, his writings to God's Word. He is thinking of God's Word in every context he experiences, past, present and future. Instead of just dwelling on his own pain, he paints it all in the light of God's Word. How easy it is for me to slide down the slope of despair and forget to attend to the truths God gives me in His Word. How easy to dismiss God's Word and feel justified pondering, musing, worrying, mulling over and ruminating on all my own pain. This is the opposite of what David does in this Psalm:
Verses: 23, 69, 70, 75, 87, 95, 107, 108, 141, 143, 157, 161
I will only put a few here - you should read them all though to get a full picture!

23: Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.
69: Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
95: The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.
(Paraphrase: though people who are over me, who command my respect, who are esteemed in society, are nasty to me, I won't allow that to ruffle my feathers - I won't cry and bemoan my sad lot in life, no, I will remember firstly that I am your servant - not theirs, and I will discipline my mind to focus on your truth).

107-8: I have suffered much; preserve my life, O Lord, according to Your Word. Accept O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me Your laws.
(Paraphrase: I am miserable - I do know pain and difficulty in my life. I'm asking you to take hold of me, take the reins of my life - do this by teaching me the things in Your Word! Not by compulsion, or duty or by regimented discipline will I praise You - no, but with a willing heart - I will speak praise to You - and my heart is open, ready and willing to be taught by You.)

-Other Sources of Counsel
This is a hard one for me - because I love to read any and everything out there! I like to tackle my problems with the best of wisdom and insight from all the educated gurus this world can afford! David, on the other hand, makes it clear that God's Word is the best counsellor.
Vs. 24: Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors.

-Selfish Gain, Wealth, Money, Worthless Things
I guess I don't need to comment on this:
Verses: 36, 37, 72, 127, 162
"Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.
The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Because I love Your commands more than gold, more than pure gold, and because I consider all Your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.
I rejoice in Your promise like one who finds great spoil."

-Other uses of 'free time'
Ouch! This includes, time on the internet, time putzing around in the yard, time reading other things, time that is mine to use however I want!
Verses 55, 97, 164
"In the night I remember Your name, O Lord, and I will keep Your law.
Oh how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Paraphrase: when I'm sweeping, changing diapers, washing dishes, doing laundry, all day long Your thoughts are filling my mind).
Seven times a day I praise You for Your righteous laws."

-My miserable situation
Similar to the one above about misery and rejection.
Verses: 61, 69, 70, 75, 83, 143
"Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget Your law.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in Your law.
I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your decrees.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, but Your commands are my delight."

Ouch, again! I can't say I have done much sleep deprivation in order to feed on God's Word. I'm not proposing we neglect the real needs of our bodies. I'm pointing out that David expresses his hunger for God's Word as meaning more to him than his need for sleep.
Verses: 62, 147, 148
"At midnight I rise to give You thanks for Your righteous laws.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in Your Word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your Promises."

-My Choice of Friends
This will be a good one for our kids, as they grow and make friends and choose their companions.
Verses: 63, 74, 79, 113, 115, 139, 158
"I am a friend to all who fear You, to all who follow Your precepts.
May those who fear You rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in Your Word.
May those who fear You turn to me, those who understand Your statutes.
I hate double-minded men, but I love Your law.
Away from me, You evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore Your words.
I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey Your Word."

-Other sources of love
It is tempting to want to find love in relationships - marriage, children, friends etc. These, I believe are right, good and natural. At the same time, God's Word, His expression of love to us, should become increasingly treasured over all other sources of love. My heart should delight to be near Him and to receive the love He gives - more than all other sources of love!
Verses: 64, 76, 124
"The earth is filled with Your love, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.
May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant.
Deal with Your servant according to Your love and teach me Your decrees."

-My comfort
Just admit it: we live cushy lives. I appreciate the cushiness of my life actually. I love that we have air-conditioning, soft beds, hospitals with anaesthesia, cars to take us places, gardens to grow food and flowers in, electricity and running (clean) water. The list is endless of all our creature comforts. At the same time, we do, on occasion, or more regularly for some, experience affliction - discomfort - pain, suffering - and even at the hand of God.
Now let's see what David said about his own comfort:
Verses: 67, 71, 75
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your Word.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.
I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me."

-Other sources of wisdom
Again, a rebuke to me when I seek wisdom in every place but the Bible. Understand I am not knocking the pursuit of wisdom and insight from those God gives His great wisdom to (and that includes those who don't know Him!) I guess it is just tempting to run to the self-help books and minimize the truths of Scripture.
Verses: 98,99, 100, 125, 130, 144, 169
"Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers for I meditate on Your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts."

-Good Food (!)
Verse 103: How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

-Family Heritage/Loyalty
Verse 111: Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How I Met Sam Part 32

The second weekend when we met up to go to the Barbeque etc. Sam and I had begun to talk about relationship issues. He was asking me certain 'inquiry' questions about friends who are girls - kind of using me as a reference as in 'I don't know what girls think when I am their friend...' type of thing. Being the engineer that he is, he just figured that you just pick one of your girl friends (not girlfriends) and pursue and jump through certain relational hoops and voila! you get married... It sounded very dry and mechanical and deeply unromantic to me. Who am I to talk, I suppose, since I wasn't enthralled with the idea of romance myself. I should have just agreed with him and his methodical approach to relationships. No, on the other hand, if I had agreed we'd never be where we are today...and I must believe that it was good I didn't agree. So for all my protesting (inwardly, to myself and others...) I think I was disingenuous to remark I had no place for romance. I couldn't probably admit it to myself, that there was something to the idea that chemistry happens, that circumstances orchestrate in such a way that... in some situations, at certain times, and in the providential plan of God, people do connect in a way that defies description and to put it on paper makes it sound dry and ordinary. And for outsiders looking in, it is entirely ordinary. People find romance every day. Sounds quite basic. But for those who find themselves in it, it seems unique and most EXTRA-ordinary!

Some correspondence from that time is linked HERE  (I'm disorganized, so just call that the next chapter :) )

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Emails from the week after the burglary 2

Let me preface this by saying I am copying into here some emails as we began to interact entirely in writing, since phone costs were so high at the time, and though I edit inconsequential (read: boring) stuff I am leaving in many of the more personal things I was thinking/feeling at the time. I have no problem being so open about my heart, my life, the inner goings on of my thoughts at the time. It may go against some people's nature, and I thought of keeping some of these things private, but on second thought, I thought, no, maybe others struggle in the same way I did/do. Maybe reading and hearing how I worked through my fears, loneliness, struggles to find wholeness - maybe someone can benefit from it. I do not feel I need to hide any of it. But if it makes you uncomfortable to read it, I won't mind at all. That is just my disclaimer.

Thursday Oct 7, 99

Dear Samuel,
I do appreciate your words of comfort and encouragement...I was sure I would sleep alright last night in my own bed, but ended up not being able to. However, I don't want to discourage you by my 'sleeping progress'. I wish I could go with my parents tomorrow to visit you, but I have obligations here...

Your friend Dorothy is really quite sweet. She sent me another email. It's funny, the people you expect will respond to something like this don't, and the people you don't expect to respond do.

I take stock in what you've written...I am usually quite strong emotionally and don't find it so easy to share my fears. My heart has been closed to all around me for so long and I feel it bursting open - and don't know what to make of all the mess! Actually, you'd be surprised. I wrote a prayer a few nights before this happened and all I asked of God was that He would heal my heart and make me capable of love - HIS love I mean. Hearts were made to love, and when I don't I feel quite empty inside. Our Father gave us the perfect example of love and by living in Him, I too can be filled with His love. You know I don't mean romantic love when I'm talking here. Loving means sacrifice, selflessness, godliness. "Take my love, my Lord I pour, at Thy feet it's treasure store, take myself and I will be, ever only all for Thee."
When this event occurred and I began to come unglued, and feel utterly vulnerable I was uncomfortable with it all - I am really not used to either experience (trauma or becoming unglued!) In hiding from others I've hidden from myself in in communing with our Father I can find who I am in Him. His love can make me whole - and His plan for me is to love Him with all that I am.
I have been quite isolated relationally for a few years, and it has become very easy for me to close off from people. I feel a sort of sticky feeling about this whole ordeal because I am vulnerable. I almost don't want to say that I can't sleep because I feel weak about admitting it.
Thank you so much for bringing me before the Father. After I got to sleep the second time last night I slept well. I went to sleep around midnight, woke up at two and got nervous and couldn't fall asleep again... The lineup went okay - it also made me a bit nervous. I could only identify one guy. It wasn't too bad. (Note: I'll fill in more about the identifying lineup in the next post)...

Don't worry too much about me Sam. I am safe in our Father's hands, and I know He hears me. Though I firmly believe these things I need for them to be a reality in my heart. I think then I will sleep better.
Thank you for being a friend to me in this. You are dear.


Hey Sarah,

Had a good time with your parents today. It is always good to show people around my home here and introduce them to my friends here. When they found out that your dad was a teacher they all lit up with joy, when he said that he was an English teacher, they literally started to clap. They were so glad to hear he was an English teacher. Inside all of them is this incredible passion to learn English. It came out today so much in their cheers and their words.

Sarah, so sorry to hear you didn't sleep well last night. I wish so bad I could change that somehow. I've been talking to Dad about you lots, asking him to help you. He can make you sleep soundly just like that. he is hearing so many people asking Him to do that, but He is waiting just now. Why, because he is refining you. How can He refine you by doing that, I have no idea.

I hope this will be the first time you have heard this story. I was struck so hard by it the first time.

One day a guy went to visit a silver smith. he had the silver in the pot and put the pot on the fire. Why are you putting the pot on the fire? Because the silver needs to be refined. How is the silver refined? The heat will cause the impurities to come to the surface where I can pick it off. How do you know how long to put it on the fire? When I look down in the pot and I can see my reflection clearly in the silver.
Isn't that awesome. What could be better Sarah? You are certainly on the fire: worried about your apartment back in the US, getting behind in school, not sleeping...He is waiting for the impurities to come out, He will take them away, and then He can see Himself in you. Wow Sarah - I'm really excited for you. I really mean that. I'm excited that He loves you so much that He will put you on the fire until you are more like Him. Others will be able to see Him in you...Think of a little kid being spanked. His dad does it because he knows that it will shape him for the future. It hurts the dad to know his son is hurting, but he knows it will be for his good. I'm sure your Dad above is hurting because you are hurting. He loves you so so much. Job 23.10 - When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. The fire hurts though, doesn't it? It's painful, you want to get out of it. Remember He is right there with you every moment...
Thanks so much for your letter. It will be good to see you.


Dear Samuel,

I read the silver story - I'm not sure how I feel about being refined. I am not sure exactly what God is doing in me right now. He is awakening my heart more and more to Him - which is significant for many reasons but specifically because I have that written in the prayer I wrote few days before this weekend. It said, 'awaken my heart to You.' The story does put things in perspective though. I had not heard it before. I've been lying awake and thinking a lot about everything. I awoke at 5 this morning (went to bed at 2) and haven't been able to get back to sleep. Just pray for strength for the day. I have much to do, and much to get done both for today and tomorrow.
I think I will begin to write my prayers down more often. I used to all the time...

Have a good day at work - don't sweat too hard, I know life is tough there! From what I hear, you're living like a king in a palace.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Emails from the week after the burglary

Again, apologies for the lack of blogging - computer keyboard was sprayed by a certain two-year old making it only type certain letters - most frustrating! Took a while to get a new keyboard hooked up. The joys and sacrifices of parenting.

Here are a few funny and interesting emails from the week following the burglary. It is just ironic what is said in a couple of them!

Monday Oct 4, 1999

From someone named Anne (who I've never met, but knew Sam):

"one of the techie's here pulled the news item off the net from the S China morning post. So, is it true? Is Sam Sarah's beau or is it another blooper from the media? love, anne"

From me:
"This is Sarah. No, it's not true. That was a media blooper."

From Dorothy (who I've never met):
"hi sarah- this is dorothy - annes daughter and samuel's friend. it was one of my friends who pulled the article off the web...he knows sam from philly. we are all praising the Lord for this miracle and your being able to get help.
anyway I just wanted to say that I am good friends with joy logan beer and that samuel is a wonderful young man so i would definitely send american recommendations for him in case any interest does spark in the future. he is Godly, comes from a great family, fun loving and smart;) after all, you saved his life...
i know this must be traumatic for you and you probably can't sleep. did you respond to this email at 3 am or so? i will keep you in prayer that the peace of God will preserve you...
i send my love and remind you of His - He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us shall he not with Him freely give us all things? - Romans 8:32

From me:
"Hi Dorothy,
Though I don't know you I thank you for your note - I don't know Anne (or don't think I do) so I don't get how you guys know us. But that's okay. You're right, I can't sleep - I lay awake for hours and even when I get sleepy I keep waking myself up before I fall asleep cuz I'm so afraid. Other incidents have happened in this past month such as: spraining my ankle and using crutches for 3 weeks, food poisoning the following week, a direct hit hurricane/typhoon in which our neighbours blocked the drain and they got mad with me for removing the blockage and hit me on the head with a brick. All these have happened about a week apart. Most didn't shake me up too badly. After this incident I feel I will never be the same. I am God's child and need not be afraid, what can man do to me?
And yet I am still fearful - that or traumatized. I can't get Sam's screams out of my head - they were so piercing and desperate. I thought he was dying and so helpless as to stopping the men with the knives - even as I saw them hurting him.
As for romance, well, I don't believe in such silliness :) What I mean is, I'm afraid to love. (You're gonna think I'm a big 'fraidy cat!) I've been hurt before and don't care for any more such experiences. So I don't allow myself the luxury of considering possibilities. It was a nice thought though. I've only known Sam for one week, but I stayed with him at hospital and watched the guy stitch him up. That was very difficult for me, but he had wanted me to go in with him. he was covered in blood and smelled like a butcher's shop. He was also in a lot of pain. When my siblings and I were little and one of them was getting spanked, sometimes I couldn't help myself but to grab my dad or mom's arm to sop them - so you can guess how I felt when I saw the guys beating him up. I can't bear to see people in pain.
Well, this is it. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I can't say how much we need them.
love, sarah"

From Dorothy:
" you don't know me but I will be spending eternity with you and maybe if you come to the states you will visit your sister dorothy...
I can definitely understand why you are shook up. you have had quite a month. however did you climb out of the 2nd story window onto the car with a bad ankle???? I understand about the screams of sam shaking you up. when I read the emails I could hear sam screaming. I love sam but I couldn't help but be thankful that he was there that night. i couldn't help but think that the attack on him woke you up and prevented them from going to your room directly after your parents. i think you must be an agile girl but i don't think you could fight off 3 men...
i also understand your views on love...i wasn't trying to push sam on you. I was just letting you know that he is every bit as nice as he seems. I also hate violence. I used to tremble when my dad spanked me and my sibs too. i think i would be in shock if this happened in my household too...sarah I want to encourage you to "let the peace of God reign in your heart." i send you my love and remind you of His...dorothy"

Dorothy was like an instant friend to me that first week or two - she encouraged me in the Lord about fear, sleeping peacefully and just hashing through the events and being an email 'sounding board' for me. I guess I never thanked her. Wherever she is now...