There was an error in this gadget

Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Links



If you don't have peace with God, this is a good website to check out.






I don't do much linking, because I hadn't figured out how to get the logo thing up here. Yes, I am that technically deficient.

But here (below) is a good website I browse - I went to college with Courtney and I know you will find good marriage, parenting, cooking ideas here!











Here are all the other blogs I'm linked at/to:










A Critical Eye

Last night Caleb was whining about Timo not pulling his window shade down. Nothing unusual - the normal sorts of bickering, arguing and annoyances of sharing a room with your little brother. He was rather pouty and I told him to point his finger at Timo and tell me the thing he did wrong. He did - pointed his finger and said he didn't listen and do what Caleb had asked. I said, 'Okay, now tell me how many fingers are pointing at you.' He said, 'None.' I said, 'No, look carefully.' He looked. 'None,' he said.

So I pointed to the three fingers curled up underneath the one he was pointing at Timo. I then said, 'Please tell me three things you are doing wrong.' I showed him how the three fingers were pointing back at himself. And that whenever you are about to criticize and find fault with others, just be sure to name at least three of your own for every one you spot in someone else. "Be completely humble and gentle." I said that if you practice this habit - when you spot a 'wrong' in someone else - immediately ask yourself how you do the same things - then you will grow in being humble.

Romans 2:1 says:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

I thought I'd share these thoughts with you just in case you too struggle with a critical eye.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Your God is near

I follow on this journey
The love that drew me in
To churn my life
By mills of pain
That faith might grow,
flourish and sink
Deeper roots into riches of grace -

Whose supply is greater
than the senses can bear.
Be hushed my soul,
Your God is near!

Hear Him now, His love pursues
It wins and fills the empty place
And compasses me 'round with grace.

Let sorrow fill His bitter cup
Let mercy flow to bind me up
Let peace be mine where questions lie
Let me not His joy deny.

In our work and in our play

A children's hymn for you today:

In our work and in our play, Jesus, ever with us stay;
May we always strive to be true and faithful unto Thee.
Then we truthfully can sing, we are children of the King.

My we in Thy strength subdue evil tempers, words untrue,
Thoughts impure, and deeds unkind, all things hateful to Thy mind.
Then we truthfully can sing, we are children of the King.

Children of the King are we! May we loyal to Him be;
Try to please Him every day, in our work and in our play.
Then we truthfully can sing, we are children of the King.

by Whitfield, G. Wills 1841-1891

Now, a disclaimer. I do love hymns and I do love theology. I understand the words of this may muddy the waters of theology - because even if we fail to strive or fail to try to please our King, we are still His children. But the concepts are good - that we carry His presence with us in all we do throughout the day, and this reality should certainly affect the things we do, the thoughts we think and the way we go about life. So, even though it is from a Methodist hymnal, and I may not agree with every nuance of their theology, I'll share it anyway.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hospitality Tips

I got asked this question recently on Facebook so I'm posting it here with my answer:


Hi Sarah! I'm helping with a ladies' event at church about simple, heartfelt hospitality. We're trying to put together a list of ideas to get people thinking. So do you have any ideas that have worked well for you--could be anything from meal ideas to activities you have for the kids or whatever. I'm sure you have people in often so thought I'd ask you.


Yes, I do - biggest tip is DO NOT STRESS! Stress makes disasters of our best efforts.

Focus on people, not the stuff you serve them. Focussing on the food, temp of the tea, amount of sugar/milk in the tea makes guests wonder what all the fuss is about. You're there to open your heart to people - more than serving them. Talk talk talk, until they follow you into your messy kitchen. If you're at ease, they might be too.


I remember someone hosting us on short notice for lunch. She threw together a salad and a pasta with no topping - just garlic salt, olive oil and parsely. Most people have those ingredients on hand! Doesn't take much time! It's a skill you can grow in. I even dare to invite people over now when I have no clue what we have available or what I'm planning to serve. I dig through cupboards and usually come up with something. Or, KFC is just around the corner! Keep $20 handy for any surprises and run out and pick up stuff on your way home from Church or whatever.


I've had plenty of hospitality blunders. But no-one except me cared really. Planning does help, but don't let that be the big obstacle! I'm so scatterbrained but usually things just come together. Always have onions and bacon on hand and you can make just about anything. A dozen eggs? Make an omelette! Tomato soup in the cupboard? Add a can of diced tomatoes, a can of evap milk, saute onions in olive oil and add garlic and mix it all and call it some fancy name like tomato bisque. Throw a bag of croutons on the table and if you have salad greens you're good to go!

Stews are easily stretchable! I can feed a crowd so cheaply you'd be amazed. At our local thrift store they often have free bread. I stock my freezer with it and along with a soup or pasta dish I always have what I need for company. Just thaw briefly in the microwave, set the oven to broil and voila - bread with your soup. I also make killer garlic bread by melting the butter on the stovetop, throwing in the minced garlic and any herbs I'm in the mood for, add a tsp of lemon juice (turns the garlic green but tastes oh so good), and dip pieces of french bread or sourdough into it and lay on a baking tray. Stick under the broiler 3-4 mins and you're done - much quicker than buttering each piece!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 10

I went to bed and couldn't wrap my mind around what was happening. I had broken all of my own little 'rules' - like no dating, no physical contact with the male species... oh my, I was in over my head as far as rule-breaking goes.

I had a day or two off from school and Sam had invited me to come to visit anytime, so I took the opportunity the following Tuesday to go and scope out the land where he was working in China. I was a bit unprepared for the opulent luxury he lived in.

I was met at the train station on the China side by Sam's personal driver. I got in the van and we drove for an hour, finally arriving outside the big city of Shen Zhen in a smaller town where the factory was. Sam was working for Graco as a liason with their manufacturer in China - mostly strollers and playyards and such.

We entered the compound which had beautiful grounds - like entering a golf-course. For you in the west this is hard to imagine - but just picture riding in a Mercedes Van - sometimes going the opposite direction of traffic (the driver artfully weaves around oncoming vehicles), sometimes driving up and around alleys when there are blockages of traffic, people biking everywhere, sometimes stray dogs meandering and kids playing in the side puddles of the road - poverty and industry all around. Then you drive into the palace compound, complete with green, lush lawns, flowers, security guard posts, tennis courts and polished chrome details everywhere... the difference is striking.

Sam met me and started to show me around. Let me describe his apartment.

I think it was about 2000 square feet - larger than our current 3-bedroom house. It had 3 bedrooms, huge walk-in closets, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen the size of four of our current kitchens! There were polished marble floors throughout and a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. They had fixed everything up so that there were American outlets so transformers weren't necessary and specially filtered, drinkable water.

It seemed like an awful lot of space for one lonesome guy.

How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 9

That evening we decided to really be disciplined and not stay up late talking. Sam didn't want to be tired going to Church the next day. Fair enough. If I had been paying attention I would have learned a lot about Sam from this - that he is intentional and thoughtful about all of life and prioritizes the things that matter to him. I suppose we all prioritize, just I do it very sloppily - unthinkingly and unaware. God knew I needed someone like Sam in my life!

So far, we were hand-holding friends who really liked each other. Nothing more was clarified. I thought I was in a dream. I figured it was pretty significant for Sam to say something about marriage (like that he would have to be willing to ask me to marry him if he tells me he loves me...). But it was all so new - could he really be thinking this?! Of course I, being the romantic, far-fetched idealist that I was, could only think of marriage from the beginning - because half-hearted romantic involvements were definitely NOT on my to-do list in life.

That evening we were brushing our teeth together before retiring for the night and it was really a rather intimate moment. I'd like to tell you that we planned our first kiss or that we waited 'til we walked down the aisle before our first kiss, but it didn't happen that way. It happened after we brushed our teeth that night, right there in the bathroom. And I think we were both just a little surprised. I'm just glad my parents didn't walk up the stairs at that moment. That would have been embarrassing!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Daily Devotions

I met God in the afternoon
when the day was at its best for me -
For the kids were all now settled
and I had some time for tea.

My Bible opened, Hannah kicking nearby -
I trusted this quiet to last with no cries!
For the morning is busy and giving up sleep
to nurture my soul still leaves me weak -
Fatigue makes the challenge for the Spirit's control
Greater and trying, and I certainly know
That Jesus walks with me through each of my hours
When kids are contented, or I'm covered with flour!

When chaos ensues and my attitude fails
Or when it's smooth sailing - the absence of wails!
By formally meeting with Him or not,
I know He is with me and I am not fraught
With worry or fear for I'm not alone,
I talk to Him often - His peace I own.

For you and the season of life you now walk -
Morn, noon or sunset - any time on the clock -
It may be the best to meet God other times,
But remember He's with you - seek and you'll find.

Meet Him because your soul hungers and thirsts -
Not out of guilt, pretending 'God's first!.'
Put off lesser things - internet or T.V.-
And seek God instead - with your calm cup of tea!

And know that He listens to your heart all the time -
No murmur or sighing escapes His vast mind.
Meet with Him - Yes! - but walk with Him too -
For nothing is worth it, unless He walks with YOU.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Meet Priscilla

Priscilla likes to write, so I am introducing her to what a blog is. Here is my interview with her:

M (for Mommy): Tell me something about yourself Priscilla.

P: I'm eight years old...no, I mean, nine years old. I like to hula-hoop and I like my teacher.

M: What are some of your hobbies, other than hula-hoop?

P: Playing with paper dolls, gymnastics, reading, running, crochet and knitting, and pretending to be Mommy (when I'm not supposed to).

M: What do you think about home-schooling next year?

P: I think it will be fun to learn to cook, and doing crafts together.

M: You know, we will be doing things like reading, writing and math and science too, right?

P: MM..hmmm. Right. I might miss school a little bit.

M: Why are you always happy and cheerful?

P: 'Cuz God makes me happy and fills me with His love.

M: I like to hear you say that Priscilla. What makes you sad?

P: When Timothy hurts me.

M: What's your favourite day of the week?

P: Umm. Friday - 'cuz we have family night. When we have family night it's really fun 'cuz we get to watch movies together and sometimes play games like potato-sack races.

M: Aren't you glad it's Friday today!?

P: Yup.

M: What happened today?

P: I lost a tooth at school while we were finding information on Poland. We're learning about Poland in school. It's been surprising to learn different things about Poland like how many different things they eat and how they serve a meal. First they serve soup and then the main course and at the very end they have sweet coffee or tea.

M: What happened when you lost your tooth?

P: I got to go to the nurse and she gave me a treasure chest (tooth-sized) and wrote my name on the chart of all the kids who lost teeth this year at school.

M: Would you like to learn Polish and visit Poland someday?

P: I sure would enjoy that!

M: You know, Mommy and Daddy went to Poland when Caleb was inside me!

P: No, I never knew that.

M: Thanks for chatting with me Priscilla!

P: It was fun. Thanks Mommy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving and Financial Planning

We were discussing the book 'The Treasure Principle' at Church the other night (by Randy Alcorn). I had banned Sam from ever reading it since I felt he needed no encouragement in that department (encouraging generosity), but since it had been recommended by our pastor, well, I had to concede and let him read it. Thankfully we haven't sold everything and become homeless just yet.

During the discussion the matter of financial planning came up.

I was going to save this part 'til I got to the end of telling the story of how I met and eventually married Sam, because early in our marriage these things did come up (as they are bound to eventually). I entered marriage with a Larry Burkett manual in one hand and a few dollars in the other. And Sam, well, he entered marriage with a heart full of generosity and an outlook on financial matters that blew my mind. He even questioned whether we should have health insurance, but decided that it might be a good idea.

I have often said if you don't believe in reincarnation just look at Sam and you will see George Meuller (and his faith!) (Please know I am joking - for the record - I don't believe in reincarnation).

So our views on financial planning were vastly different. And my views have changed and so have his.

But I did learn a many good things in the discussions we had. I learned that my instinct to plan was based on insecurity and a lack of faith. And I wonder if Sam learned that sometimes God provides what we will need later, now, and good stewardship may involve saving some. And yet, on the flip side, if we give it away now, is God so small He cannot meet my future needs...in the FUTURE? Because in the Lord's prayer we are taught to ask for our daily bread - no mention of tomorrow's bread (including a nest-egg).

So, if we live by faith that includes the money we have today, tomorrow and in the bank. That includes the money we spend, give and save. And whatever doesn't come from faith is sin.

SO - if you are saving because of fear, not in faith you may need to consider why you are saving. But, you may be saving because you feel confidently led to, knowing and trusting that if your investments dry up, it is all God's money anyways, and you won't be sitting there wringing your hands with a furrowed brow saying, 'Oh dear, what will we do now?'

And if you are spending, buying up all the canned goods you can because you think the apocalypse is around the corner and you'll starve, your spending comes from fear - not faith! (And I'd rather die quickly and be in heaven with Jesus so I'm not stock piling). But if you hoard because you feel led of the Spirit and you are confident that if a tornado came and wiped it all out you would still be confident in the sovereign goodness of God to provide all you need, then I say, go ahead and hoard.

And if you are not giving generously because of fear of giving too much (that would be me, and most of us probably), then your lack of generosity is driven by fear, not faith.

Ouch. Did I just say that?

Concluding, then, is that ALL we do must be of faith.

Give by faith, Spend by faith, Save by faith.

But ultimately, live your entire life trusting that God is good, and will meet every need you have.




Who Says Happiness Can't Be Bought? Part 2

A month ago I wrote a blog about generosity. I still have more to say on that.

Would you say you want more joy in your life? That you want to be refreshed? That you want something bubbling over within your soul? I say YES to all these!

In our family we have noticed frequently a lack of joy. There are whiners, complainers, contenders, nit-pickers, fit-throwers...to name a few, and they are not always the little ones. Adults pitch fits too. Like the other day when I dumped a jug of milk into my soon-to-become mashed potatoes. Only someone had filled the sugar-water-syrup jug with milk, not noticing the clear, sticky liquid inside. And when I dumped that into the mashed potatoes, a woeful, anguished regret swept over me and the frustration boiled over. If I were Timo I would have thrown myself on the floor screaming 'Nooooooooooooo!' Instead, I said, 'Nooooooooooooo! No, no, no, no!' with Priscilla watching from the side of the kitchen wondering what was wrong with me. I would say that qualified as a joyless moment.

So we have been praying that our home would be generally more joyful. I suppose it is a good thing to pray for this - and I don't want to belittle prayer for joy - I mean, I agreed to pray with the family because, well, I am attempting to be supportive of the spiritual endeavours of our family, even if it wouldn't be my first choice. You see, I would rather study joy in Scripture and see where it comes from. Praying for it is a good start, but not good enough.

But I am sometimes quite lazy about Bible study (*gasp*) and fail to do what I think should be done, so I give in and say, 'We'll just pray for more joy.' Which falls far short of what I shoot for.

Because what good is prayer if I am not willing to DO the things I am seeking to be done for me? In later reflecting on the mashed potato incident, I realized at that moment they had become an idol and that I had put more stock in perfect potatoes than in the joyful atmosphere of our home. And steal our joy it DID. I had been aiming to have a happy disposition when Sam walked in. Instead he found me in a pile in the recliner, fuming and trying to recover from the injustice of sugar in my potatoes. He took it well, but the burden fell on everyone else to allow me that time to recover and not allow it to ruin our evening.

So where am I going with this? We have sung the little tune: "This is my commandment that you love one another, that your joy may be full." hundreds of times over. In fact, it is so familiar to me, I almost missed the last line: 'that your JOY may be FULL.' If we look at these thoughts in context we find that this is a condensed version of John 15:9-17.

How to have Joy:
Love one another. What does loving one another look like? See 1 Corinthians 13 to start with, then Romans 12: 9-21. And what does loving others bring us? JOY. And yet it isn't as straightforward as that, because in context it is not OUR joy, but Jesus' joy in US that brings us a fullness of joy. So joy is directly linked to HIS joy in US.

At the price of effort, love, kindness, generosity and losing ourselves in giving of ourselves to others, joy can be bought. But it comes through Jesus whose joy is filled up in our lives of giving.

Proverbs 11:25
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Too important to ignore.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Education Dilemmas

I try to keep my blog from anything too controversial - but I feel the need to vent on this matter...so here goes.

I have decided, for various reasons to homeschool Priscilla (9) next year. Last year we decided to send Caleb (10) to a Christian Classical School (Clapham School). Up until that time they had always been in the public school which offered a Dual Language program, enabling them to become mostly fluent in Spanish.

I realize that doing school differently year by year strikes some as odd and a bit non-committal. For us, we figure we will evaluate the needs of each child and the benefits offered by each method and the pros and cons and adjust accordingly. It doesn't seem to me to be such a bad idea. Kids change, character issues arise and certain educational choices may not fit as they once had.

I guess sometimes I sense (for probably no apparent reason) that people look on me as an oddity - choosing different methods for my kids - now even venturing into homeschooling which some would label as an extreme measure!

In this case, I had not seriously considered homeschooling Priscilla. She is popular, happy, easy-going and generally well-suited to any classroom environment. But she initiated the idea - requesting it more than once. Now, I know - kids will ask for candy constantly but we do not give it merely because they ask. But in this case I had to pause to consider. At the heart of her request (after some querying and investigation) was her desire to spend time with me, and for me to share more of my life with her and for her to learn and study within our home - by my side. She even said, 'Mommy, we could have breakfast together and then read our Bibles together before we start school each day!' I couldn't have scripted that for her! When she said that I realized I may be wasting a precious opportunity for deepened fellowship and bonding with her. Yes, fellowship and bonding can take a great many other forms than homeschooling, but I felt this was as close to a calling as I was going to get. That and that my heart was actually open to the idea.

As far as bonding goes - it's a long story - but suffice it to say that I did not bond much with my first two kids when they were babies (-I made up for it in later years :) -) because I was simply overwhelmed at mommyhood at the time.

Now, it could be a total flop. I could fail in this endeavour to educate her at home. I could attempt it only to discover it was a bad decision. But since she is bright and intelligent I figure we wouldn't have lost much that a little time and effort couldn't remedy. And I feel I will never regret the time I invest in her little life, shaping her little heart and growing in joyful discovery of God's world together.

I can sense all the criticism there may be - like: the public school will miss you and your wonderful child! You lose an opportunity to shine brightly there! Or, 'You know what you're signing up for - homeschooling is a lot of work!' Or, 'Don't you think you have enough on your plate with 5 kids - and you're going to start homeschooling...now?!'

Oh well. There is truth to all of that. But God will give me grace as I start this journey - and maybe He will show me it was a nice idea for one year and we'll reconsider.

Either way, each step must be taken by faith, and that is what I am attempting to do.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Hannah Smiling!

video

How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 8

Sam had not yet had dinner. I can't remember how we remedied that, but I think we were both being fed on adrenaline. Someone mentioned how well I remember these things. Keep in mind that adrenaline imprints the brain to make memories stick. I had an adrenaline high coming off of the burglary - it took weeks to dissipate. Then the emotional roller-coaster of this new relationship, and my memories seem crystal clear!

We spent that evening talking into the wee hours. Still no 'relationship defining talk' yet. He didn't even fill me in on the talk with Mom and Dad. That's okay, though I was dying to hear about it...I just held my peace. I knew this was delicate territory and to tread lightly.

The next day we just hung out doing whatever - I remember we went somewhere on a double-decker bus. I'm not sure if it was an errand we were asked to run or if I was just taking him somewhere to show him the sights. We sat on the top deck, first row to get a good view of everything and at each turn to hope we didn't tip over (which is what you think will happen each time the bus takes a turn). At one point in the ride, he reached out and grabbed my hand and din't let go. I felt like I was along for the ride.

That evening we went on our first proper 'date'. He didn't ask and I didn't initiate - we just figured it was supper time and he asked where we might go. We went to the Riverside hotel near our house and ate in their little cafe there. I remember what I ate - a chef salad, which whenever I eat one, brings back fond memories of this time. It makes me nostaligic to eat a proper chef salad (it has to have thousand island dressing, and ideally a sprinkling of white pepper, but I digress).

We had a camera and a waiter took our picture. This is the first picture of us together - I'll find and post it here, eventually.

We walked home and I was SO happy. And yet it was still so nebulous. And I knew I couldn't push to define things. It just takes patience, prayer and a work of the Lord to bring about what we experienced!

On the walk home I remember him saying something that stuck in my head. He had told me of his affections in that email, but he hadn't spoken a word about it to me yet. I didn't query him, but he must have felt the need to address it. He said, 'I want to tell you I love you. But I've told myself I will only tell a girl I love her if the next thing I say is, 'will you marry me?' and I don't know that I can say that yet. ' I knew there was a lot going on in his head - some pretty heavy decisions.

Remember, we had known each other just 3 weeks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 7

That weekend when Sam came I had a feeling things would be different.

He arrived, and asked if he could spend some time with my parents - ALONE.

Now, let me tell you what my plan all along had been regarding finding a life mate.

I did not have the best relationship with my parents. I don't need to go into it all here (out of honour to them and to me!) But suffice it to say, I wanted to keep my personal life entirely private from them. (I know this hurt their feelings, but that's just the way it was). My plan had been to be single forever. But IF Mr. Right were to come along, I had it all worked out. I would develop this friendship entirely apart from their input. I would secretly become engaged and then 'go in the back door' so to speak and get their approval after it was all said and done. Nice, tidy, no involvement on their part and entirely in MY control. Well, as you can see, none of this story was in my control - a lesson I guess we all need to learn at some point or another. I certainly had NEVER entertained the idea of 'courting' under our own roof, with my parents looking on as chaperones and advisers.

One evening I did have a conversation with my Mom and she said, 'Do you think he likes you? More than a friend?' 'No, of course not Mom. He's pretty much said so in not so many words.' 'Because if he does, I hope you don't lead him on. I would hate to see him get hurt - he's a really nice guy.' I assured her there would be nothing of the sort. I wasn't very fond of admitting my personal, private longing for Sam already. I tried to keep mum to her about it. But I think she knew all along.

Well, that evening, Sam sat down with my parents. Unbeknownst to them, I sat the entire 2 hours listening as best I could at the door. I couldn't make out everything that was said - basically Sam was asking what their feelings were about pursuing a deeper friendship with me. They gave the okay (I know they were thinking, 'good luck buddy.'). My heart was racing the whole time. After this LONG conversation, and my sweaty palms, knees tucked under my chin, sitting on the cold floor as quiet as a mouse, I heard the conclusion and raced upstairs to pretend I was doing something of consequence.

Sam called me downstairs - my parents acted busy with something else. We went in the kitchen and he gave me a bear hug.


How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 6

The long 24-hour email fast was over! I probably should have held back a bit more, but I had exercised such great patience and now the floodgates were opened. We continued our email dialogues and that evening he even called me. At $1-2 a minute, this is no small endeavour! We had about a 5-8 minute, very awkward conversation. It seemed we were better in person or in writing.

But there was no more relational talk. Just talking about our lives, who we were, our thoughts, ideas, opinions (in no short supply on my end!) and our aspirations for the future. We both had a desire to live in non-Western cultures and mostly desired to give our lives fully to whatever God had in store for us. At the time I think we assumed this would be for us to be missionaries. I think God smiled at that, whether it was His plan or not. And God was in this, from the very beginning. We prayed fervently for each other. I think my prayers were a bit more honest than Sam's - more like, 'Let him fall in love with me God!' 'I don't know what I'll do if I ever have to let go of this friendship.' Whereas Sam's were more like, 'Help Sarah to sleep better. Make her more like You.' I don't know if I ever prayed such noble things for him at the time (of course I do now because Sam being shaped into Christ's image also has lots of perks for me...and yes, I am just a wee bit narcissistic).

That weekend when Sam was travelling to Hong Kong he thought to himself how much he was looking forward to seeing me. Then he caught himself, mid-thought and said, 'You are such a muffin Sam, to be this hyped-up about meeting a girl.' He relayed these thoughts to me, and I have called him a muffin ever since.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 5

He picked up on the lack of my enthusiasm in communicating. And I think my 'absence' (albeit for such a brief period), awoke in him a sense of the truth of the feelings of his own heart. At the same time we were still only 2 weeks into really getting to know each other.

I remember being at the British Council where I was taking classes towards certification in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). I decided to check my email during a break and the most beautiful words danced across the scene at me. I wanted to jump up and scream - but composed myself. Instead I just smiled and smiled and could not hold back the tears.

I know it sounds terribly unromantic for a dashingly handsome young man to declare his love for you via email. In fact, I don't think he even did such a thing - but that is what my heart read into it, and for a brief moment I indulged the impulse. Looking back I realize that it was his uncouth, direct confession of affection towards me and nothing more. It was not a declaration on intent. In fact, it could even have been read quite simply as an opening of loving friendship - but an honest declaration at that - that he loved me (without qualifying this exactly). When I read the word 'love' on the screen, with my name in the same sentence I practically melted in a puddle right there in that studious environment.

His words were merely the overflow of his longing heart - that he had longed for a friend and found one, and he was loving it - every minute of it. And I was the recipient of such love.

But it was still quite premature at this point. There wasn't much clarifying or describing or discussion. I knew it was best to just enjoy the process and not push for discussions. As far as I understood, men hate to define relational things. It just seems cumbersome. So I waited, and enjoyed.


Thy Way is Perfect

Here is one of my favourite poems by Amy Carmichael:


Long is the way, and very steep the slope -
Strengthen me once again, O God of hope.

Far, very far, the summit doth appear -
But Thou art near my God, but Thou art near.

And Thou wilt give me, with my daily food
Pow'rs of endurance - courage, fortitude.

Thy way is perfect, only let that way
Be clear before my feet from day to day.

Thou art my portion, saith my soul to Thee -
Oh, what a portion, is my God to me!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How I Met Sam - Our first 'dates' 4

Sorry to have left the story for so long. It being Valentines day, I think I'll get a move on since I am still only 2 weeks or so into the story. Maybe I can aim to get two more weeks done by the time the year is over...



So there we were on our walk home with Sam telling me his life story. I was going to digress and tell his life story here, but I'll leave that for now and maybe revisit it some time. A few highlights were: him growing up in Zambia, heading off to boarding school at age 5 - away from home for 3 months at a time! But he had 3 older sisters who doted on him so it sounds like he did okay. (Side note: when considering marrying someone, do observe if it is a younger brother with 3 older sisters - the kind a fellow this turns out to be can be very interesting, having had the love heaped on him since infancy! :) ) He spent time in the U.S. throughout his childhood/growing up years. His Dad had his first brain tumour when Sam was only 10 or so. Throughout the next 12 years his Dad continued to have brain tumours that would receive treatment/surgeries. When Sam was 22 years old, his Dad had his 4th brain tumour, which is what took his life. Sam spent his last term of college in Zambia at his Dad's bedside. After Sam was done with college he took a trip with his best friend on motorcycles from Israel to South Africa over an 8 month time span. He told me many stories from this time. Then he had found a job with GRACO a baby -products company and had ended up in China overseeing production there. And that is how he came to be in our neck of the woods just then.

Needless to say, I listened with rapt attention. This was my kind of guy. Full of adventure, excitement, daring and yet with rich life experiences. I so badly wished we were more than just friends.

Sam remembers that night too - our long walk and the one time I let him talk without interruption. Still working on that.


That evening we sat on the roof and shared the nutshell of our life stories. At somewhere around midnight we got up to go in as it was a bit cool and we were tired. So far we were just a couple of lonesome souls getting to know each other and there was purely platonic intentions on...HIS part. (Hee hee). Just before going inside he said, 'Can I give you a hug?' I said, 'Sure' and he warmly bear-hugged me. I think we were both starved for physical affection, and yet we weren't in a romantic relationship as of yet. This is something I think is a thorn in the flesh for people who are single. Physical affection is a human need - and as a side note - if you don't have it coming from close relationships, get a pet, babysit, work in the nursery with toddlers to sit on your lap and receive hugs from little children. We all need a human embrace from time to time.


The following day was uneventful and he returned to work in China and we had to wait a whole week longer to see each other. At least that's what I was thinking. I figured he was still like, 'Oh, yeah, Sarah. She's nice. Enough. Back to work.'

But by Tuesday I think he had a change of heart.

What brought about that fateful day, I am not quite sure - probably God.

We were writing back and forth via email which I've posted some of them here - and we would just talk like the way people text now I suppose. But at one point he said something that I got irritated about. I can't remember exactly what it was and can't look it up just now - but it hinted that he had a lot to do and I could just wait around until he answered - assuming I was just sitting on pins and needles to hear from him. Well, he was right, but I wasn't about to admit it. So I quit replying. I knew it was a critical moment to do this. Because I had read The Rules and knew it was really bad if he thought he could just write whenever and I'd be there. I willed myself very strongly, and exercised every force of my effort to withhold communicating - I think I gave myself like a 24 hour 'fast' from emails and such. It was unbearable.

But it worked.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Child's Poem

I don't know when this was written - but I found it tucked in my 'archives' (actual paper you can touch and feel). Transferring it here to my blog for my kids someday.

_______________________________________________

I am a Christian, though I'm small;
Jesus does not care at all
If I'm three years old, or four;
Or if I am fifty more!

If I come to Him and say,
"Will you wash my sins away?"
And His Word I then believe,
Sarah, He gladly will receive.

Friendship

I wrote this poem when I was in high school. (That's 20 years ago :) )

Friendship

Friendship is a common bond
Shared by two
Who are bound by a single
Spirit.

Friendship is a state of mind
Between two hearts who
Share an art
Of care.

True friends find
A selfless love which
Binds
Two hearts,
Two souls,
Into One.