Friday, July 31, 2009

Blind Spot

“It’s a test.”

My co-worker’s eyebrows lifted with utter assurance when she said this statement to me. Later I thought of watching television as a child. Always on Saturday morning in the middle of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids the TV screen would change and a man’s nasally voice would state, “This is a test. This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.”

On June 1st my daughter traveled across the equator. She traveled a distance of over 5,000 miles to serve for almost two months in a Hospital of Hope near Cochabamba, Bolivia. During those two months we communicated a couple of times a week through Skype, Facebook and Gmail. During the entire length of her stay I rarely ever worried or was concerned about her safety. (Though I learned later there was reason to be.)

At noon this past Sunday she was scheduled to fly out of Bolivia and arrive in Kentucky in the early afternoon on Monday. After Saturday morning all communication was gone.

On Sunday I began to think about all of her connections and layovers. Every time slot was crucial. If she missed one connector then she would miss another one. I thought that most likely she was traveling alone. And her phone was turned off.

Monday morning my heart was uneasy. Scenarios began to parade around in my head. I was concerned. I talked with her father (he was going to pick her up at the airport); I asked him to contact me as soon as he touched her. I was teaching a creative writing class and kept my phone close to me—with the volume turned as loud as possible.

Friends were praying.

This is when my co-worker said, “It’s a test.”

My mind was a frantic mess. One minute I was calm, reasonable and logical. The next I was fretting. Every time I was anxious I attempted to immediately let her go back into the hands of the Father. My daughter belonged to him. I kept trying to remind myself of this truth.

I had entered a blind spot.

I couldn’t see or hear Katherine.

Twenty-four hours of silence.

I didn’t know whether she had made her connectors or how long her layovers were.

My phone rang during class—ten minutes before her flight was due to land—her father said, “I have her!”

“How does she look?” I asked.

“Beautiful!”

I stopped in the middle of my class and took a few moments of silence. I needed to pray and thank my Father.

Later that night we were all sitting around a table on the porch listening to Katherine’s stories. She began to tell us about everything that happened when she left Bolivia. (Remember my concerns from earlier in the day.)

She went to church; she planned to leave quietly from there to catch her first flight. When she got up to leave the congregation realized she was leaving for the United States. They dismissed church and most of them went with her to the airport. A tradition had been started earlier in the summer—the remaining volunteers would go to the airport to see the others off and to pray for their return trip. When the group circled to pray for Katherine the entire airport lobby was filled.

And she had another volunteer traveling with her for part of the trip.

When they got to their next connection, two missionary families met them at the airport. They ate lunch together and stayed with the girls for the entire duration of the layover including the two hour delay! At last she boarded the plane for Miami and was able to make her connector for home despite the two hour delay.

While Katherine was sharing, I began to cry.

All I could hear was the Lord’s voice:

Tamera, I am in control. Nothing is beyond me. I took care of Katherine—better than you even imagined. You must learn to trust me in the blind spots. Trust me with the places you can’t see. Trust me when you are thrust into the darkness and your vision is gone and your hearing is impaired. Know that I am good and faithful. Let this experience be a reminder for you to trust me.

This was a test.

Only a test.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

William

For we walk by faith, not by sight. II Corinthians 5:7

Jesus said, “When he [the shepherd] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4

Recently William came to see me.

I glanced up as he was approaching the counter.

“Hey, William!”

“Hello, Tamera. How are you today?” he responded quickly. (I broke into a smile; he is one of my favorites.)

We chatted for a couple more minutes. He and his wife wished me a great day. As he walked away I was very aware I had just experienced something quite extraordinary.

William cannot see. Glasses do not aid him. Laser surgery will not help him. There is no cure.

William is blind.

William recognizes me by my voice. I only have to speak a few words, and he discerns who I am. Even though I am invisible to him, he knows me. He has memorized the sound of my voice. He knows its accent, dialect, and its cadence. Often he will even recognize my voice on the phone.

Sadly, William is blind. Someday he shall see, but in this here and in this now he is blind.

William, however, has honed his other senses. His hearing is acute, keen, sensitive, and very discerning.

It has to be.

Sometimes William will walk places alone—with only his cane and his shadowy, murky vision to aid him. He can do this because his hearing has been honed. He hears what most of us miss. He hears the layers of sound and the meshed symphony of noise and is able to quickly discern and select what he needs to hear.

William is only concerned about the immediate space around him—the reach of his cane. In the radius of his cane he listens and discerns voices, activities, instructions, dangers, warnings and greetings. He registers sounds far beyond him, but he doesn't attempt to navigate the corner that is twenty feet ahead of him. William takes one step at a time.

For now, in this world, I am blind. My Father is invisible to me. I cannot see his form; I cannot see his figure.

But I can hear his voice. I can recognize and select his voice from the chaos and din around me. It is possible.

William has learned to walk by faith.

I want to be like William.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mercies

Good Morning.

Thank you, Father, that your mercies are new every morning.

They are inexhaustible.
They are fresh.
They do not have to be portioned or rationed.

Your mercies are like the little boy's fish and loaves. There will be some left over when everyone is full.

Your mercies extend to the cracks, niches, and corners of me that I have forgotten.

Your mercies are not dependent on me. Glory!

Your mercies penetrate the cemented parts of my heart.

Your mercies are like oil poured out and it moves along the rivets and ruts of me and softens as it runs.

I am anointed by your mercy.

I am a recipient this morning of your unending, unfathomable mercies.

I don't understand this kind of mercy.

Thank you.

Even now I can feel them soaking into the crusty edges of my attitude.
Even now I can feel your mercies anointing my weakened heart.
Even now I can feel your mercies soothing the rough places of my soul.

I need to go and gather my baskets.
There will be leftovers today.

ButI won't need them.

You will send me fresh mercies in the morning.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Phenomenal Women

Phenomenal Women

What a summer!

On June 1st my second daughter traveled over 5500 miles to Bolivia. She is spending her summer working in a Hospital of Hope. This morning my oldest daughter flew to a major city to work in inner city missions work through the July 4th weekend. And Monday my two youngest daughters will travel to my Alma Mater for a week-long teen convention.

My daughters. I have written about them before; I have talked about them frequently. They are incredible women. Actually they are phenomenal women.

Recently I discovered Maya Angelou’s piece Phenomenal Woman. Then shortly after I stumbled across a random CD of Ruthie Foster. Foster recorded Maya’s poetry as a song, and it has played quite loudly in my car many times since. (Luckily when I sing the car is empty!) I saw and heard my daughters in its voice.

(If you would like to read the poem, follow this link: www.poemhunter.com/poem/phenomenal-woman/ )

My heavenly Father has transformed, conformed, and formed incredibly phenomenal women in my four daughters. I see his handiwork and fingerprints all over them and it expands my heart. They are such wonderful, lovely and gracious blends of their father and me—but, and even more, they are all unique.

Phenomenal is defined as something or someone who is highly extraordinary. Very early on the girls’ father and I strove (and still do) to instill independence and strength and compassion in our daughters (there are times when I laugh and think we might be guilty of overkill).

We wanted them to be phenomenal—extraordinary.

Maya speaks of the “inner mystery of a woman and that it is to be found in the arch of her back, the sun of her smile, the grace of her style, the fire of her eyes, and the flash of her teeth.”

So today I was thinking about my daughters. And on the back of my eyelids, clips and movies were rolling—power points of each of them. For a split second I could see the sun of Anna’s smile, the flash of Katherine’s teeth, the fire of Abby’s eyes, the arch of Olivia’s back.

I am blessed. Utterly blessed.

This week, Katherine will pull a Bolivian child into her arms and make him not only smile, but laugh. And she will splint a broken leg with cardboard. This week, Anna will hand food to a homeless woman and look her in the eye. And Anna will never forget her face. This week Olivia and Abby will attend a conference, but more importantly they will participate and be involved in a community. They will laugh, cry, encourage, and pray with this community and begin to learn what it means to be an integral part of God’s Body.

And Momma?

Momma will pray.