Friday, August 13, 2010

Lessons from a Turtle

The following is a story that happened to us a week ago with C.J.'s turtle "Tortilla" (Tor-til-a) (A combination of tortoise and tortilla!) Oh, and a big praise that our school books came in this week! Thanks for all who were praying for that!

The sermon really touched my heart that Sunday - what I could understand of it. The pastor talked pretty fast, and since it was in Indonesian, I could pick up about half of what he said. But one thing I got as he read the parables of Jesus from Luke 15: God's heart is broken over sin and for the lost. He longs for them to repent and return to Him, like the Prodigal son.

It was such a good reminder. You would think that serving overseas like we do, the lost would always be our chief concern, but having children, being involved in a technical ministry, and sometimes just growing preoccuppied with the things of our own life, sometimes I can just plain forget about the lost. Can you relate?

Since it was such a stirring reminder, that next morning, I read our boys the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15 so they could understand the pastor's message. Then we prayed and asked God to give us hearts like His.

Later that mornign, I asked C.J. to take his turtle outside to get some sun. I got busy doing other things and so did C.J. We can both get distracted rather easily. About a half-hour later I asked, "Where's Tortilla?" "I dont' know," was C.J.'s reply.

"What do you mean you don't know? Weren't you keeping an eye on her?"

"She was right over there." He pointed to a place in the grass no longer occuppied by the turtle. Frustration brewed up in me. I had to run an errand and I didn't have time to look for a turtle!

Distraught, C.J. meandered around the yard, poking in corners and looking under coverings of dried-up bamboo leaves - but no Tortilla. Soon, he gave up and I found him sobbing in his room. "I've failed Tortilla!" he sobbed. "I lost her."

As I tried to negotiate the line between my parental irritation at his negligence, my disbelief that such a slow creature could completely disappear from our yard, and my frustration at needing to be somewhere else, my heart was touched by C.J.'s absolute brokenness over his lost turtle. I felt the Lord whisper, "Just stay with him for a while." After asking internally for God's direction, I urged C.J. to not be too hard on himself, but to call his friend who knew a lot about turtles, and ask him if he had any advice about where to look, and to pray that he could find Tortilla.

While C.J. was doing that, I grabbed a flashlight and decided to try my luck (even though it's not luck) at looking underneath the house. Logically, it's the only place she could have gotten to in the amount of time that C.J. had left her on the grass. I headed down the cement steps that went to the carport below the house. From there I could shine the light into the dark crevace taht was underneath the house. And there, sure enough, though I only swher because she stuck her head out, was Tortilla, the now naughty turtle who had run away.

"C.J.!" I cried excitedly, loud enough so he would hear me from the house, "I found her!" C.J. tore out of the house and down the stiars - smiling from ear to ear. We rejoiced together. It was only then that our prayer from that morning rushed back into my mind. "C.J.," I said thoughtfully, "I think God just gave us an object lesson so we could experience how it feels for him to miss the lost like in those parables of Jesus."

"C.J. thought for a moment. "Maybe so, Mom."

"Are you glad to have your turtle back?"

"Oh, yeah!"

Once Tortilla was returned to her cage, we had a new appreciation for the silly creature, and a gentle reminder from the Lord about his love for the lost.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hannah's Anniversary

Hey there everyone! Thank you SO much for all of your prayers and thoughts on Hannah's anniversary. I just know it makes a huge difference in our ability to make it through the hard things and even find joy in them to by thinking about the future that all of us who follow Jesus have in heaven! I think it just feels good to make it through August 2 - especially this year being here in Indonesia.

It was a busy weekend because we celebrated Dave's birthday on Saturday, and then Hannah's anniversary on Sunday. I think having things planned really helps because it gives us a sense of "control" in some ways that we're not completely at the whim of the day. After praying about it, we decided to ask our friends the Holstens if they wanted to come over and celebrate Hannah's anniversary with us. David and Natalie were here back when we were here before (back in the day!) and have been serving here ever since. So they knew Hannah, and their son Carter was a good friend with Hannah. Now they have four children (Carter, Grace, Luke and Zoe).

David and Natalie brought over some pictures of Hannah that they had from back around 2001 or so. It was neat to see them, and to talk and share about our memories. We remembered how Hannah and Carter used to play "brother and sister", and how Hannah became very interested in amphibians because Carter was. I am amazed sometimes at how many things I have forgotten. So it was special to remember together. Dave and I were reminiscing how Hannah used to not want to kiss him goodbye in the mornings so she would run and hide in the rolled up tikar (bamboo mat), right in the middle of it! Funny.
After sharing memories, the kids colored pictures in honor of Hannah (we ended up with a lot of butterflies) and then we went outside and released balloons together. I love doing that on her anniversary. It's so simple, yet there's something very symbolic about letting the balloon go and watching it go up to heaven. Dave reminded us that all of us who are in Christ will get to be together again someday. Some days I can live in that as a reality, and other days I find myself dwelling in my sadness. I know I'm only human. I do ask God to increase my faith so that I can live more days walking as if it were reality that I will see Hannah again. Not that I don't need to be sad - I think it's a fine line to balance our grief and be honest about it, but temper it with the hope that we have in Christ. For when I am really believing that this life isn't all there is, I find I am much more full of joy and confidence in the Lord.
One other thing I enjoyed doing was going down to MAF on her actual anniversary and sitting in the airplane that's dedicated to Hannah. (see picture above) It is special to me to have something that actually represents her here. I wondered how many stories have taken place in that airplane and how many people have been helped by it. It was special to have a tangible place to go to and something to touch that represents her here in Indonesia.
So, be encouraged everyone! This life isn't the end - someday we will get to be with our King, the Lord Jesus. But until then, I am so thankful for all of you and your prayers and your friendship. God bless you.