What I Gave Up for Lent…Every Lent

(warning:  mildly graphic)

With everything in me, I knew I was pregnant.  My body screamed it to me.  I was late, my breasts ached, I was nauseous.  Pregnant.

The urine test said “no.”  The first one I had taken with Chris was negative, too.  I’d had an ectopic pregnancy six months ago, so they ordered a blood test, to be safe.  There was HCG.  Yep.  The one next week didn’t go up as much as it should’ve, but it was up.  Same with the next week.  In the ultrasound, the baby was clearly in the uterus, but it was too small to make out a heartbeat.  “It’s early.”  The doctor said.  “We’ll try next week.”  That was Monday.

The bleeding started Wednesday afternoon…it was light.  Rest.  Maybe that’s what I needed.  We’d already lost one baby.  After that, innocence is lost.  Until you see that heartbeat, anything can happen.  No heartbeat… Rest.  I’ll rest.  Chris and I will stay home from church.

Ash Wednesday.

Jeff left to go prepare for the service. He was a fresh-faced young pastor.  He kissed me and then kissed Christopher before he walked out the door.

It wasn’t long after that the contractions started and the bleeding increased.  I tried calling the doctor.  Got the answering service.

I was upset.  Upset with a toddler…that always works out well. A toddler who isn’t weaned and wants to nurse.  Nursing while in labor intensifies contractions.  Did you know that?  I’d read it before.  By the way, if you’re curious, it’s true.

I could already hear the inner critic – maybe my doctor when she called, or her nurse, or a faceless someone, maybe you.  “What are you doing?  You could make it worse!  You might make yourself miscarry if you breastfeed him.”  Even in the midst of all of this, a young mother is surrounded with critics in her head and without.

What was the other option?  On top of this hell, I could spend the next several hours pushing my 1 year old son away from me while he screamed and I bawled, or I could give him what he needed.   I was alone.  I was miscarrying.  It wasn’t going to stop. There was one thing I had control over.  I could comfort my son.  Nursing him wouldn’t have stopped it, I told myself.  It certainly made it more intense.  I could feel my uterus clench into a fist as he latched on.  But holding him was real.  A comfort. It was right.

The doctor called back.  I told her I was having contractions and bleeding is getting worse.  She said to just let it all play out, since I wasn’t hemorrhaging.  There is nothing that could be done.  She also wasn’t surprised.  The heartbeat wasn’t there.    God, I wanted Jeff.

Most of the evening I spent wailing on the toilet, nursing my upset toddler, feeling my body dilate and push.  I didn’t think I would labor this early.  I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.  Honestly, I was beyond thinking anything besides “Please God, no.”

Eventually, I laid down on the bed and Chris fell asleep.  I left the room and laid on my side on the couch.  I willed the contractions to stop, every breath a conscious effort designed to calm my body.  It seemed to work, or more likely, the work was done.

By the time Jeff got home all there was to do is hold me while I cried.  For all I know, Jessica might never have been alive, but either way, she was gone.

2015 Reading List

A good portion of this year’s reading list are books that I have on hand, but have never finished.  So, it’s kind of a way to wrap a lot of things up and dive into things I’ve wanted to for a long, long time.  It’s the first year I’ve worked with a reading list.  It will be interesting to see how it goes.

Do you have any plans or lists?  Anything on this list?  Anything along these topics that stands out to you?

Missions/Theology/Counseling

  1. African Friends and Money Matters
  2. Cross-Cultural Servanthood – Elmer
  3. Cross-Cultural Connections – Elmer
  4. Mission From the Cross – Schultz
  5. All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes – Ken Myers
  6. Everywhere and No Where: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile
  7. Third Culture Kids – David Pollock and Ruth van Reken
  8. Freedom of the Will – Erasmus
  9. Bondage of the Will – Luther
  10. On the Incarnation – Athanasius
  11. Life Together – Bonhoeffer
  12. Proper Distinction of Law and Gospel – Walther
  13. Attachments – Clinton and Sibcy
  14. Culture Shock Tool Kit – Silver
  15. Big Balls Better – Essays on Culture Shock – Axelrod
  16. Psychological Birth of the Human Infant – Mahler
  17. Motivational Interviewing
  18. Happiness Project
  19. A Primer on Rational Emotive Therapy – Bryden, et al.
  20. What is Marriage – a Primer
  21. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Faillure
  22. Law, Life, and the Living God – Murray
  23. The Lord’s Prayer – Chemnitz
  24. The Way of Transition – Bridges
  25. The Child in the Family – Belsky
  26. Getting Unstuck – Timothy Butler
  27. Gaslight Effect – Stern
  28. Leading with Questions –Marquardt
  29. To Rule the Waves – Herman
  30. The Absentee American – Smith
  31. Passionate Minds – Bodanis
  32. The World Until Yesterday – Diamond
  33. Who Moved My Choose? Kintz
  34. Multicultural Manners – Dresser
  35. The Power of Habit – Duhigg
  36. On Being a Therapist – Kottler
  37. Psychology of Culture Shock – Ward, et al
  38. 1001 Solution Focused Questions – Bannick
  39. Burnout for Experts – Kohler
  40. Burnout: The Cost of Caring – Maslach
  41. Banishing Burnout: 6 Strategies – Leiter and Maslach
  42. Joy of Burnout – Glouberman

Literature

  1. Love in the Time of Cholera – Marquez
  2. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  3. Grapes of Wrath – Steinbeck
  4. Lolita – Nabakov
  5. Great Expectations – Dickens
  6. Sherlock Holmes – Complete Works – Doyle
  7. Winters Tales – Isak Dinesen
  8. As I Lay Dying – Faulkner
  9. The Sun Also Rises – Hemingway
  10. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  11. Shakespeare – 5 plays
  12. Beowulf – Tolkien
  13. 500 Best Poems – anthology
  14. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  15. Catch 22 – Heller
  16. O Pioneers – Cather
  17. Blue Highways – Heat Moon
  18. Slaughterhouse Five – Vonnegut
  19. Dead Poet’s Society
  20. Robinson Crusoe – DeFoe
  21. Life of Pi –
  22. The Art of Racing in the Rain – Stein
  23. Eragon
  24. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Nafisi
  25. Around the World in 72 Days – Bly
  26. The Splendid Outcast – Markham
  27. Poetry of John Donne
  28. Poetry of Christina Rosetti
  29. Poetry of Keats
  30. Poetry of Shelley

Philosophy

  1. Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
  2. Heretics – GK Chesterton
  3. Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
  4. Ethics – Aristotle
  5. The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes – Mortimer Adler
  6. Road to Serfdom – Hayek
  7. The Great Conversation – Hutchins

Self-Improvement/Home

  1. Cooked – Pollan
  2. How to Save Money – Lynch
  3. The Writers Adventure Guide
  4. Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Kondo
  5. Essays in the Art of Writing – Stevenson
  6. History of the Medieval World – Wise Bauer
  7. History of the Renaissance World – Wise Bauer
  8. Book of Tea – Okakura
  9. Keeping House – Peterson
  10. Bird by Bird – Lamott
  11. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  12. Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel – Smiley
  13. On Writing Well – Zinnser
  14. The Well-Fed Writer – Bowerman
  15. Writing Away: Journal Writing Traveler – Spalding
  16. A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad
  17. 48 Days to the Work You Love – Miller

Reread

  1. Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald
  2. Mere Christianity – Lewis
  3. Orthodoxy – GK Chesterton
  4. 1984 – Orwell
  5. Metamorphoses – Ovid

Who Am I?

Who Am I? by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

What Might be Eating Me

When we were asked to come to Papua New Guinea, one of my first concerns was “what is the diet?”  I have celiac disease, and I didn’t want to come into the country and have to refuse everything my hosts presented in good hospitality.  I already dealt with that often enough in the U.S.  To not be able to eat the food offered, feels separating, not joining – which is what feasting together is supposed to be.

I was very relieved to find out that the traditional feast was pork and sweet potatoes (kau kau), and daily food was often vegetables and kumu (greens).   That would be easy.

It wasn’t exactly as easy as I thought.  Junk food has infiltrated.  People here like scones (really, rolls), and often cook their vegetables in Maggi cubes (a boullion mix that has dairy, as well as a ton of preservatives).  They will put ramen noodles in with the kumu, too.

Still, it hasn’t been terrible.  I’ve been able to avoid many of these things without a problem.  However, after a couple of months here, my legs started to itch.  They had bumps which looked somewhat like flea bites.  I figured that’s what they were.  But they seemed to appear overnight, and Jeff didn’t have any bites. This went on week after week and got worse.  My rosacea got worse as well.

After we went to Lae last December, we were sidelined at the New Tribes mission at Lapilo for a couple of weeks.  I started showing symptoms of a urinary tract infection.  As quickly as those go up to my kidneys, I made sure to get into the clinic.  The doctor looked at my butterfly rash on my face, asked me some more questions and then asked if I’d ever been tested for lupus.  The test had to go to Australia, and he figured that I might find a place closer to have the blood taken.  He did do a SED rate, which showed that I had a high rate of inflammation going on.  He put me on Cipro for the symptoms but the itching got worse, so I went back to Keflex (which isn’t the best choice, but Cipro is super-strong and can mess up a lot of other things besides bacteria).

We ended up going back to Lapilo for the test.  They were the only one who could send the blood samples to Australia.  The doctor put me on 50 mg. of Prednisone for a week, to arrest the symptoms, but when I tried to go down, according to his instructions, my symptoms got worse, and my joints ached terribly.  It would have to be slower.  The tests came back negative, but the doctor wasn’t convinced.  The samples could not be kept refrigerated all the way to Australia, so he was worried it was a false negative and sent me home.

On the plane, the itching stopped.  The fatigue and the joint pain took a while.  And they returned every time I went down a few milligrams on the Prednisone.  The tests were negative again.  My Functional Medicine rheumatologist also put me on a regimen to treat for leaky gut, tested for wheat cross-reactivity, and kept an eye on me.  I was staying with my inlaws, which was great. It was peaceful, but it was difficult to cook in another person’s kitchen day in and day out.  So Maggie and I started eating out a lot.  We lived at In-n-Out (lettuce wraps) and Chipotle.  And I started feeling A LOT better.  I really didn’t attribute it to the diet, because when I did cook, the food was incredibly healthy – grass fed and pastured meat, organic fruits and vegetables.

My SED rates dropped down when I stayed at Concordia Irvine for a month, leaving us to think that it was probably simply being exposed to wheat.  I felt good.  Really good.  And there had to have been some gut healing, because the one time I got glutened, I didn’t even react.

A week back in PNG, and I was itching again.  My joints ached.  I wasn’t having the tea that we thought had wheat glue in the tea bags.  No idea what could be causing it.  It was after I had bacon, so I had bacon again…nothing.  It was after I had eggs, so we tried eggs again, nothing.  But the next time, yeah.  But the time after that, nope.  It was like that with everything.  Mostly, we were eating stews – lamb meat, onions, garlic, carrots, sweet potato, potato, and squash.  Nothing really allergenic in any of those things, and again, it didn’t seem to happen every time.

We went to Australia, where again, we were eating out, or cooking smaller amounts of food at a time.  All the symptoms disappeared.  Except – when I cut up a squash, my hands burned.  The squash.  I checked out squash allergy, and while it is rare, the symptoms were pretty right on.   For the rest of the time in Brisbane, I felt pretty good, except the time I had risotto with eggplant.    But even when I got glutened, I felt pretty good.

Now we are back in PNG, and while things are a lot better, the bumps, itching, joint pain, are back.  I was reading about FODMAPS (a type of food sensitivity that includes a lot of foods, including gluten), and the article mentioned “low histamine tolerance.”  I clicked on the link.

Histamine is contained in many foods – especially tropical fruits (!), berries (!), tomatoes (!), and while meats do not have them when they are killed, they start building immediately, even in the refrigerator or when canned.  Bone broth is high in histamines (!)  Tomatoes (!), anything fermented like soy sauce (!), wine/beer(!), vinegar, sauerkraut (!), kombucha (!) and tea (!!!) sauces such as tomato based sauces and curries(!), pork – including bacon (!), egg whites (!), teas (!), and sodas (!).  Most vegetables don’t have histamine, but spinach, eggplant (!), and pumpkin/winter squash(!) do.

Just having one thing with histamine in them may not cause a problem, but several things together might, depending on the tolerance level.  Histamine levels might already be high during seasonal allergies, and so a reaction might be easier when that is already going on.

The symptoms are itchy skin and rashes, hives, diarrhea/cramping, headaches, joint pain, rosacea-flushing- acne, anxiety/panic, and foggy thinking.  Unlike allergies, they don’t necessarily start up immediately after exposure, but the histamines build up in your system, and a reaction might happen hours later.  This is a decent summary of everything I’ve read, with a link to an even better one:  “Headaches, Hives, and Heartburn:  Could Histamine be the Cause?”  

When I was in the U.S. and eating out all the time, I was having none of these things, except tea.  When I was in Australia, I was having very little of these things, except tea.  But in Papua New Guinea, we had a lot of tropical fruits, and because of our power situation, we would make big pots of stew that would stay out on the stove (why put it in the fridge when the fridge didn’t have enough power to cool it down?).  We would reheat it thoroughly, but it would be building up histamines all the same, probably a LOT of histamines.

It does seem to be the case. I’ve now made myself react a couple of times.  And two day old stew does make me react much more strongly than the first night.

It’s another one of those syndromes that many doctors don’t have enough proof that it exists, though documentation is building, especially under the term Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

This makes it difficult.  I don’t even know HOW to start eating differently here.  All of those exclamation points are foods that we eat.  There really is very little that we don’t.  Not sure what to do.

A Day Like Any Other Day

The rain is falling for the third or fourth time today.  Some days, I can’t keep track.  The dog is hiding under the house and the cats are cuddled up on the porch.  It’s a night like any other here in the Papua New Guinea Highlands.

We don’t know how many we’ll have left.

I lead devotions on Tuesday night, because it is the night for our regional conference call.  Tonight we prayed the Litany —

“To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living;

To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived;

To beat down Satan under our feet, to send faithful laborers into Your harvest, and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit. —

We implore you to hear us, Good Lord.”                                           (Lutheran Service Book, p. 288)

And we sang “The Church’s One Foundation” –

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, Her Lord;
She is His new creation, by water and The Word.
From heav’n He came and sought her, to be His holy Bride;
With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.   (Lutheran Service Book, p. 644)

That got me to thinking about Donna.  Donna is an incredibly special woman who has been a missionary for several years.  She retired from being a teacher and then went and served in Guinea.  After her term in Guinea, she signed up again and went to Indonesia.  At the school in Indonesia, someone accused them of evangelizing, and they were deported, and then she was sent to New Guinea, where I met her.  She hugged me with great energy the first time we met.  Donna equals warmth and comfort.

Our first weeks, we were neighbors with Donna.  She would sit on the porch swing every morning, singing hymns.  Often, Jeff and I were still lying in bed, trying to process this amazing place before we were inundated with it again.  Donna told us that before she was deported from Indonesia, she sat and sang hymns while she waited alone to find out what was going to happen to her.

I’ve been singing a lot more hymns lately — either out loud or in my head.

This morning, Anton sent me a picture of the latest article in the paper, accusing us of not even being missionaries and being criminals (who, us?  really???) and I’ve been thinking that it might be time to start getting a suitcase ready.  We have not been served any papers, and if we get deported, I am not sure that the laws will be followed – they certainly haven’t been thus far.

Tonight, the thought popped into my head:  “If I were to need to put my whole life into a suitcase, what would I pick?”  Thus far, I have my favorite mauve vest.  I don’t wear it here.  It’s usually too warm or too cold.  I’m not sure it even fits anymore. Without hesitation, I grabbed our Advent wreath, then our wedding picture and the kids’ baptismal portraits. I probably will try to cram in our Christmas ornaments — all of them were picked each year and commemorate something that happened in the year.  I will miss my Mexican blankets.  I haven’t used them here, but I’ve had them since before I was married, and they are still warm and soft.  I will also miss the spice houses my mother bought me as a wedding present.  Maybe if there is room somewhere.  It seems like a weird list of things.

The Christmas things have a particular value.  Our stuff hadn’t arrived yet last Christmas.  We had been traveling in early December and very eager to get home to Timothy so that we could be at church again.  Culture shock slammed into us as we sat in church on that 3rd Sunday of Advent, and they sang the exact same songs they’d sung since we arrived, and the exact same songs they’ve sung ever since.  The bush is the same, the weather is the same, the roads are the same.  Nothing was different.  I don’t want to feel that way again at Christmas.

There is a pervading sense of calm.  The newspapers may attack or defend, but here,  the rain falls, the cats cry on the porch as if I hadn’t just given them a pile of bacon rinds ten minutes ago, and the day just kind of meanders to night, like every other day.

Whatever happens, God is good.

Sinners in the Hands of a Merciful God

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,

So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Just as a father has compassion on his children,

So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

For He Himself knows our frame;

He is mindful that we are but dust.

(Psalm 103:10-14)

Psalm 103:1-13 was the text today for Bishop Joshua Morai’s funeral.  He died of liver cancer at 41 years old.  He faithfully served a region that was not his home, caring for the pastors under him.  He left behind a beautiful wife, and five strong children, and many who grieve his death.

Still, plenty of people said that Bishop Joshua must have done something evil in order to be punished by God this way, ignoring the proof of all that God has blessed him with.

This kind of thinking isn’t unusual to Papua New Guinea.  We see it in the United States as well.  When we suffer, like Job, we cry out “Why did God do this to me?”

Then there is the other side of the coin – The Prosperity Gospel.  The religion of America – “God helps those who help themselves,” Ben Franklin proclaimed.  The chief agents of this message today are Rick Warren, Beth Moore, and Joel Osteen, to name a few.  They create their own lists of commandments and state boldly that if you do these things, God will reward you.

Before we went out into the mission field, I was finishing my training as a Mental Health Counselor.  Several people came into my office who had trusted in these false prophets, but could not see that they were false.  God must be false.  They did what was right, so God must not be just.  They were suffering, hurting, and angry.

But as the Psalm says “God does not deal with us according to our sins, he does not reward us according to our iniquity.”   The person that believes in God has His compassion.  He doesn’t reward the believer who sins the least with the most good stuff, and He doesn’t punish the believer who sins the most with the worst punishments.

Our reaction to suffering tends to be anger.  And it is anger because we do not have a concept of how sinful we are.

We forget that Christ promised that we would suffer because we belong to Him and instead we imagined that we would be prosperous, because we are on the winning side.  Satan wants us to be angry with God and to walk away from Him.

When you ask most people, even Christians, why they should go to heaven, the response is “because I’m basically a good person.”  I have heard this statement from child abusers, drug addicts, and adulterers.  We forget that Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating a piece of fruit.  They chose to listen to the serpent instead of God.

The punishment was that Adam and Eve, knowing good and evil, would experience pain and death.  All of their descendants, all of us, would deserve pain and death.  When Adam and Eve, the culmination of God’s creation, refused to trust God in a small thing, the whole of creation rebelled against them.  Work would be a struggle, childbirth would have pain, bodies would get sick, sons would murder each other, and death would come.  These are not punishments, but consequences.  A world with sin cannot work the way it should.

But death was not where it would end.  God was “mindful that we are but dust” and had compassion.  Adam and Eve lost their home, for their own good.  God clothed them and still caused the rain to fall and food to grow.  Most of all, He promised Christ, who would take on their punishment, because they could not.  He even tried to be gentle with Cain and gave Him a lifetime to repent.  But Cain would not trust God, he only feared his fate and blamed God.

“God does not deal with us according to our sins, He does not reward us according to our iniquity.”  When we are suffering, we tend to forget the good things we still have.  As the meaning to The First Article says:

…He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.

He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have.  He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.

He defends me from all danger and guards me from all evil.

All this he does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.  For all this, it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.

But how easy to get angry when when one or some of these things are taken away, as if they were not gifts, but entitlements.  We lose a job – “God has abandoned me.”   Our child gets sick — “How dare God allow this to happen!”  A spouse cheats on us–“God must hate me.”

There is one other reaction to suffering, or to lack of suffering.  There is the person who believes they are so evil that they don’t deserve God’s good gifts.  They look at their lives and feel condemned by the fact that they have good things because they had been so bad.  They think “God couldn’t possibly ignore those things.  He couldn’t possibly REALLY forgive me without somehow taking it out on me.”  That person tortures themselves with these thoughts.  They still struggle with certain sins.  How could God ignore that and be good to them?

But this chapter gives them comfort, too.  God doesn’t deal with us according to our sin. He doesn’t reward us according to our iniquity.  He has lovingkindness toward us and compassion.  He removes those sins as far as the East is from the West, as far as the Heavens are from the earth.

He did this by putting them into His Son and letting Jesus take the full brunt of this punishment that we deserved. Jesus, being God and man, and being sinless, took it, surrendered to it, and defeated it so now it is truly gone.

The compassion that the psalmist talks about is shown clearly with Jesus when He became a man and lived among us.  Those who were suffering with blindness, tortured by leprosy, and terrorized by demons, He blessed them.  He forgave their sins.  He healed them.  He had no problem with eating with sinners to lead them to repentance, and to honor that repentance.   He was infinitely patient with the men who witnessed everything when they still forgot what they had seen or misunderstood what they had heard.

Look at how He responded to Peter – when Peter started to sink on the water when he looked away from Christ, Christ reached out and grabbed a hold of Peter; when Peter denied Him three times, He restored Peter, three times.  The only time He was truly stern with Peter, was when Peter confessed that Christ was God, and then turned right around and insisted that Christ must not die.

When Thomas refused to hear the witness of ten or more of his brethren, and insisted that he would not believe that Jesus was alive unless he could put actually touch his wounds, Christ came, and using Thomas’s very words, allowed him to do what he needed in order to believe.

When Lazarus died, He wept.  He knew Lazarus would be coming out of the tomb, but He was brought to tears.

“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

God knows what we are made of and He has compassion on us as we suffer.  He knows it is hard.  He knows it hurts.  He knows we sin and are full of iniquity.  But He removes that from us and loves us.  He blesses us richly, still, in the midst of our suffering, even when it is hard for us to see.  He is with us through it.  “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.”

And when Bishop Joshua met God face to face, He was not accused of His sins, but was welcomed in to heaven, being told “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21),” as will we.

A Bathtub? Inconceivable!

I had a bathtub in Enga…at my foot was the washcloth and bubbles….

While we were in Australia, Harry installed a bathtub in our bathroom.  Our shower needed replaced, so we decided this was a good time to go for a bathtub.  They were for sale in Mt. Hagen.

I view my house in a different light now.  It’s amazing.

I am not a shower person.  I will endure them, but they are a sensory assault.  The water is generally the wrong temperature, at least at first.  Part of my body is cold even if I find a satisfying temperature overall.  Depending on the shower, the spray can be a dribble or a full, pelting assault.  I don’t feel like certain parts of me get truly clean or rinsed.  And besides that, it is almost impossible to read in the shower.  A shower is a terrible way to greet the morning (which I don’t greet enthusiastically anyway) and a totally unrelaxing way to finish a day.

I’m sure many of you don’t agree with me.  But that’s okay.  You’re just wrong.

A bathtub on the other hand, awaits with its clear pool of warmth.  It soothes the skin and envelopes the body.  It invites one to recline.  It allows for contemplation and processing.  As a mom, there have been some times in my life where a bath has been the ONLY place I could think, or read.

Those of you who truly know me know what a big deal this is.  For me, it is the difference between a hostel and a home.  I may stay somewhere many years, but without a bathtub, there is no way it qualifies as home.  It’s simply a place to sleep, a stopping point on the way to a destination…that has a bathtub.

It very possibly is the only bathtub in the whole province.  A year ago, I’d feel very self-conscious about that, but now I know it probably is one of the key things that keeps me happy and helps me do my job (okay, I don’t know what that is, but it helps me do it).   I’m all for things that keep me from going finish or going crazy.  Okay, so some people are happy with a chocolate bar – I am a bit high maintenance.