Monday, December 19, 2011

From death to life-life's too short for worries

This morning a friend texted me canceling our lunch plans because she had a stomach bug. My first reaction was to think how long is she going to live? Is it deadly? Then I remembered I wasn't in Laos. Relieved that death was no longer an issue I texted her back offering to help out in anyway I could if possible. She told me she might have me get her some food later.

You see one of my Lao teachers taught me that there are four basic resources food/water (these were one), shelter, clothing and medicine. I knew my friend had all of these. She has an air conditioner she can sit under and not worry in ((Lao weather)70-120 degree heat) that it will rack up the bill if she dare turns it on or heat in this cold (shelter), a television and movies that work(shelter), food in her fridge or the resources to go buy what she needs(food), access to a bed to sleep in where karaoking neighbors don't deafen your ears(medicine), a shower with clean water and her own bathroom. I have all of these too. If we need to we can go to clean hospitals, doctors no matter the time day or night, etc. In America we are also given the luxury of privacy. It's not a bad thing just as long as we sometimes let people in. You see when I went to drop off the food I was secretly pleased that she didn't invite me in. I like to be alone most of the time when I am sick, unless it is a migraine (some people don't some people do). I don't mind taking care of others but sometimes it is nice just to help from a far, way less stress. Besides I have an irrational fear of getting infected and infecting someone else who then in turn dies. Being responsible for something, blaming myself when it is not my burden to carry. Anyways, I like my privacy and that is one part of Laos I don't miss.

I miss Laos so much but I don't miss the ever present reminder of death. A team member once talked about how he wanted to put a little piece of heaven inside of others. It reminded me that life is short. You see in Lao culture if someone is sick you bungyang (watch everything about them) or hacksa(slowly love them). So many people from many walks of life and varying degrees of friendship I sat with while they were sick and they sat with me. Why? Because there if someone is sick they might not be here tomorrow. Some of the most gentle souls I have known have been a heart beat away from death and others didn't make it. It broke my heart, still does. Yet we are not meant to carry the pain only the faith. While I love my privacy I also love this sense of community, loving others and just being the being and not just the human. Was it worth the embarrassing awkwardness? Yes! Would I do it if it didn't mean so much to others? No. However, there understanding of faith, hope and love blows me away. Father you bless us all in different ways.

You don't ask us to do or be anything but your children yet sin was/is our sickness. It's the virus all human beings carry, yet we all gave you all our different strains to bear and you took them willingly. You knew death was inevitable. You died so we might have life.Your power cleansed us yet we run back to each other infected for more infection only for you to heal us once more. How does this connect? We have resources and we need to share them. I'm not meaning letting people in when you are sick instead of resting either. You follow? Slowing loving others to faith, taking the time out for one another no matter how busy our schedule, doing the things that make others have a little taste of heaven in them. It's not just about doing but being, being yours Father, being completely present wherever we are. Trusting you and not carrying burdens we are not meant to.

Thank you for the gift of life after death. You know it is hard for me sometimes because of the greed people seem to have here, they have so much and they still aren't content. We'll one of my Lao friends told me there are greedy people everywhere I just might not see it as much there. Anyways, Father please teach people how to remember it's about giving because we have been given so much(not because we think it will get us in better standing or feel entitled) and receiving because we love one another despite our viruses and were loved first(not because we are worthy ourselves but because you make us worthy.) Thanks for being the reason for my season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A picture of A picture

I feel like I remember so much about my grandparents but especially him because he was around the longest. He was the humblest man I think I will ever meet. A wise friend (Ian Dierden)once said " You may spend a lot of time listening but how much time do you spend just being. God calls us to camp before we move on as individuals or a family." Papa was the best example of being. Lao people do this well too but us Americans are so busy I find most people forget to. He waited 10 years without his wife so that he could bless us unselfishly and see us grow. The night before he died he was talking to my cousin Christy who was pregnant and said " I really want to live to see my great grand baby but I miss your Grandma too." He had quotes everywhere but rarely spoke but wrote reminders on the backs of so many things. Two of my favorites that my dad read at his funeral are

1.From Patrick Henry Last Will and Testament "I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them one shilling, they would be rich. And if I had not given them that, and had given them all the world they would be poor indeed.

2.On Papa's office wall there was the quote "Jesus paid a debt He didn't owe- because we had a debt we couldn't pay." Below it he had typed using his keyboard "He paid a debt he didn't owe, I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song -Amazing Grace- Christ paid a debt that I could never pay."

This poem I wrote the day Papa after Papa died.
Papa's gone to heaven
To be where the angels sing
Nana's waiting by his side
Wearing his golden ring
She smacks him on the back and loudly says "I've been waiting for you Eugene."
With that he chuckles
Oh Martha we all know the things we've both seen
But those don't even begin to describe this celestial peace
From physical to spiritual being
Those on earth sit back and dream
But little do they know
That diamond in the rough
That ended years ago
That jewel that sparkled
Never forgotten
If only they had gotten
If only they had known
And then he paused
With that the teacher then replied "The earth is not our home."
Our ways may change
Our abilities
But the love we leave behind is our truest legacy
Then the postman responded
Knowing that the heart does not ache
Due to ones fate
But knows what is right, just, honorable and does accordingly
Living under God's rules
On heaven or on earth
That is what makes
Life have value
Life have worth
And with that they grasped arms
Walking into God's gate of light
His presence their coat of arms that penetrated them through
With that Martha set her head on his shoulder and replied
Oh Eugene I love you, always have, always will
Oh you don't know how I've been waiting for you
And with that Papa replied
"Oh but I do
My prayers are no longer postage stamps
Sent through heavenly mail
But once again they rest on my shoulder
Thanks to all of Gods love, grace and care
This retired postman sits with his postmaster
And the greatest invitation from disaster
With that she kissed him
And they were off
No more did I see
But I could hear the angels sing the words "Glory, Glory"
Before I drifted back to reality

I'm not sure where this was taken but I found this picture of us the other day. Yesterday I carried it with me and probably will today too. Yes it is a picture of a picture, but if you read below that is what I hope to be to you. Last night at BSF I thought I had lost it and ran back inside as they were locking up. A lady was so kind as to ask if everything was okay I began to cry and said I lost the picture of my grandfather who died for years ago around today. She helped me look and even went back to me to my car to look through all my stuff. We didn't find it. Then I opened my notes notebook and there it was. I ran back inside to show her and she was so sweet about it. She had taken my group leaders and my name. She never treated me like it was stupid and although we were strangers she treated me with dignity. When someone had asked what is going on she replied "She lost something important to her and we are trying to find it." This is just one of the reasons I love BSF. Last night as the speaker spoke all of this is what was on my mind but I am so thankful for a place to go where no matter your background you are accepted and can learn more. For while it gives me great knowledge their is compassion met too and grace. Then she waited as I walked back to my car and made sure I got in safely. A stranger cared for me.

Why do you say all this? Well, because no matter where you are you can be a picture of a picture of Christ to others. You see?

A glimpse of Christ in me or at least that is what I hope it to be

Yesterday I pondered the lives of my grandparents. God chose to take 3 of the 4 of them away on the same day different years. You guessed it December 7th. Grandfather Hogan (Robert Edward Hogan) was the first to go in 1996. I was 13. Then three years later in 1999 He took Nana(( Martha Elizabeth (Hamill) English)). I was 16. He graced me with the presence of Papa ( Eugene Wesley English) for another 7 years before he too went to be with the Lord. The date of Papa's death is debated because he died in the night alone. I will swear till my dieing day that it is December 7th because that night( guess earlier that morning) while taking a study break from my Arkansas history test at 2:37 am a feeling of grief overwhelmed me and I remember saying out load to myself "Someone is dead." I went to bed and woke up a few hours later to review before taking a test I would thankfully ace. Anyways, 19 missed calls later my dad shared the news. My dad and I had been both been given a peace when we saw him around Thanksgiving that that might be the last time we saw him. In the chaos of finals I hadn't put together two and two.

Last night I wrote 8 pages honoring their history. Reading the Old Testament reminds one of the importance of those names and Papa had such a love for history.I also talked about how their legacy, temperaments were passed down to us and my parents too I know they are also in my cousins but I focused mainly on the attributes in my immediately family and how all of us reflect one or another of them somehow. In BSF all I could think about was how humble Papa was and what a great earthly example of Christ He was and his sacrifice. The last thing I ever said to each of them was "I love you! I love you! I love you!" I want to share the last page with you.

Papa once said that he may have taught his grandchildren a many things, but an important lesson his grandchildren taught him was the importance of saying "I love you!" Father you said I love you through your sons death on the cross in a way we never could have. We don't suffer because we are unworthy but because we are worthy we suffer for you. Just like my family and I are glimpses of our grandparents. We are all a glimpse of you. This shadowed effect- you have to have the light and the object before creating the shadow a friend shared tonight. You are the light may I be the object and your grace the shadow I show the world too. Just like we are all like each other but not by our own means or choice. We didn't earn our temperaments/personalities we were just given them before we were born so we cannot lose them. Salvation is the same way sin our debt but blood freely given to take it away. Thank you that I cannot earn forgiveness so I cannot lose it. Help me to be a picture of a picture that says "Jesus I love you." I write this history today for their legacy thinking of Papa and his love for history. Oh how I miss them all (( I wrote about my Gran, Gran (Bette Elizabeth Hogan) too)) , but Father they are with you and in us live on. Someday I only hope others will look back and see what you oh sovereign Father have meant to me and turn to you and say " I love you! I love you! I love you." Thanks for redeeming me Father, Son, Spirit, Almighty King. Help me to prolong this history whether through family or friends be my means to the ends. If you ever gift me with a family of my own may my legacy, parents, and grandparents live on or in those friends of mine of mine and the children of thee for we are all adopted in your eyes, come from the same genealogy. Thanks for loving me.