Don’t you know?

Don’t you know there are consequences to every choice you make? If you choose to eat junk food all the time you will find your energy level and your weight will bear the consequences of that choice. If you choose to love alcohol, your liver will show it. If you choose to smoke, your lungs will show the results.

I see a couple men who are reaping the results of their life choices. One is dying slowly of AIDS. He is not at death’s door yet, but his energy and strength are low and he cannot do a whole lot. He made many bad choices in life. One choice was to marry a second wife whose first husband had died of AIDS.  What was he thinking?  Now his family is suffering taking care of him. He is not worth a whole lot to anyone right now because he cannot work and needs people to give him food to eat.

Another man left his wife and kids for another woman. She was young a beautiful. They decided not to have kids since he already had children from his first marriage. Now he is at death’s door and the kids whom he left are leery to help him. His wife will be alone and her step-kids are loyal to their mother. Some may visit but not often.

Another man decided to love alcohol and came home daily drunk. He began to abuse his wife and kids. He quit working and would steal food from the house which his wife and children had gathered in order to buy more drink.  Eventually his wife had enough of the abuse and left. His kids talk to him only cordially, but he has no one and no home. He is living on the floor at a friend’s home but he has nothing to call his own.

These men had some years of joy, but in the end what do they have. They are cared for by those they hurt because these loved ones are obeying God. But they made wrong choices and they eventually caught up to them.

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In her shoes…

If I were in her shoes, I doubt I’d do the same. 

My background is so different, my customs not the same.

If I were in her shoes, I would just call the law, to help with the abuse, the crime, the polygamy, and loss.

But culture has no limits for on how many wives one has

or on the way he beats them and steals food to feed his habit.

The family elders call them and sit them down to talk,

but not too long after that chat, he starts again to hit her.

She runs away to family, in nearby villages

yet, always he will find her and persuade her to return to him.

Her family, though they love her, will also send her back,

for the bride-price has been paid and she belongs to them.

She farms alone to feed her kids, and works a job to help with costs.

He sneaks into the store room and sells flour for but another cup.

There is not punishment for him as he chooses how he lives,

but for her and all their children, the burden is so great.

 

Fast forward several years, to find when he left home,

in search of wealth and fun, while the family enjoyed the calm.

Word came through village gossip, as fast as a wildfire,

he took another wife, who ran a bar and fed him well.

This new wife, was a widow, and her story was well-known.

The deceased has died a long, slow death of AIDS a year ago.

What was he thinking, that new husband?

Why take a wife with AIDS?

Do you not know the consequences of such a choice you’ve made?

 

Meanwhile at home, the peace was nice, no fighting or abuse.

But as the word spread of the choice, my friend began to dread.

When he comes home, what will I do? I do not want him in my bed.

I must refuse and lock him out, no matter what will surely be said.

And after more than two years passed, he did return to his first wife.

He tried to sleep again with her, but she refused completely.

This began more fights and fights, until one dreadful night.

He trapped her in the kitchen and threatened her life with an axe,

not once , nor twice but thrice!

The next day they called the government leaders to help with the abuse.

Their answer: you must divorce him, we cannot do anything else.

So the process began of divorce and no one knew how it would end.

Finally, she had freedom to not be his wife, but the fight began over the land.

she built the house, she farmed the land, she raised the kids, and she fed him.

So they both became stubborn and fought for the land,

he slept in the kitchen and she in the bed.

Finally, he grew tired of the fight and moved back to the second wife

Where he stayed for a couple more years.

Again those at home, were relieved that he’d gone

as peace once again was now known.

 

Fast forward again to not long ago. When the man returned back home.

His second wife grew tired of his laziness and bickering, and kicked him out of her home.

With no place to turn, this parasite returned to his family whom he never cared for.

Wife One, feeds him food, but makes him sleep in a different house.

His kids all have grown and taken over the jobs that a man of the house should do. 

This time now is different, for he is quite sick. In fact there is little hope.

Each month passes by and he grows weaker and weaker. As he sits there, waiting to die.

His “ex” is compassionate, as our Lord would be. And never refuses him food. She cares for him as she would a close relative, and the kids are all there with her too.

He knows that his body is weak and won’t last,

he tells everyone who visits that He made a bad choice

No longer will he drink or abuse them or wander. His choices have come to fruition. 

While he nears his death bed, she continues to serve him

food and a blanket and clean clothes.

Yet, I often wonder, if I were in her shoes

would I have compassion or hatred.

Don’t you know?

Don’t you know there are consequences to every choice you make? If you choose to eat junk food all the time you will find your energy level and your weight will bear the consequences of that choice. If you choose to love alcohol, your liver will show it. If you choose to smoke, your lungs will show the results.

I see a couple men who are reaping the results of their life choices. One is dying slowly of AIDS. He is not at death’s door yet, but his energy and strength are low and he cannot do a whole lot. He made many bad choices in life. One choice was to marry a second wife whose first husband had died of AIDS.  What was he thinking?  Now his family is suffering taking care of him. He is not worth a whole lot to anyone right now because he cannot work and needs people to give him food to eat.

Another man left his wife and kids for another woman. She was young a beautiful. They decided not to have kids since he already had children from his first marriage. Now he is at death’s door and the kids whom he left are leery to help him. His wife will be alone and her step-kids are loyal to their mother. Some may visit but not often.

Another man decided to love alcohol and came home daily drunk. He began to abuse his wife and kids. He quit working and would steal food from the house which his wife and children had gathered in order to buy more drink.  Eventually his wife had enough of the abuse and left. His kids talk to him only cordially, but he has no one and no home. He is living on the floor at a friend’s home but he has nothing to call his own.

These men had some years of joy, but in the end what do they have. They are cared for by those they hurt because these loved ones are obeying God. But they made wrong choices and they eventually caught up to them.

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How to celebrate when it hurts?

I don’t know the answer, I just see the difficulty for so many right now.  Somehow I have not been as sensitive to this in past years as I am this year. I know of many people who are celebrating their first Christmases without loved ones.  A husband, wife, grandparent, daughter, son, or friend have passed away this year.  Christmas is a time full of memories and traditions for most of us. We remember Christmas how it used to be and try to imitate the best of those memories. But that is hard to do when our loved one isn’t around.

That first holiday alone is hard for the widows. Who will they have their morning coffee with this year? Why even cook a special meal?  The widowers didn’t even take time to pull out the decorations because their loved ones aren’t around to care.  Or the grandma in the nursing home how is very forgetful, somehow knows that her kids didn’t take time this year to visit and she tries hard to hold her head high.

We must celebrate at Christmas because it isn’t about us or traditions, it’s about our Saviour being born in fulfillment of God’s plan made so long ago. He set in motion this segment of His great design so that Christ would humble himself and come to live as a man for 33 year so that he might die to save you and I.

We must celebrate Jesus’ birthday, yet many will mourn and remember their loved ones. Those who died in Christ will be mourned in a hopeful way and that should bring comfort.  But wounds of love take time to heal and we must allow the tears of healing to flow and the memories to wash over us as treasures from the past.

Thus as we celebrate our Saviour, we must be sensitive to many in pain.

When love mourns

My mind is running 100 miles an hour as I process my thoughts on some recent people I’ve met.  Their situations are heart-breaking. Their love is tender and long-suffering.  Their hearts are hurting.

When we get married we vow, “’til death do us part.”  What does that mean? I have friends facing the situation where their spouse has AIDS after a long absence away for work.  Do they kill themselves by sleeping with their spouse?  Do they separate completely or partially? Do they care for them until they pass away or do they send them home to their family to deal with?

I’m not here to tell you the answer. I’m here to share the story, to open the eyes of many who are sheltered, and to remind us all that love is hard and God is good.

My other friend has been caring for their spouse for several years during a long and difficult illness.  They loved their spouse to the end and when the Lord called their loved one home, they rejoiced that they were no longer suffering and yet mourned for the loss in their own life.  Now they must try to live life alone. To take care of things in the house that they never worried about before because their marriage had been a team working together.  But now, how will they survive the holidays? How will they survive the long evenings alone? How will they cherish the memory and not grow bitter?

Yet another friend is struggling to care for their children while their spouse is in the hospital suffering. Any chance they get, they sit at the bedside and hold the hand of their loved one. But there are still kids to take to school and a job to work and bills to pay and a house to clean and food to be made and ….  Life can’t be put on pause for us.  It must go on.  

I have seen the wounded eyes of the elderly as they realize that their family never came to visit them on the holiday. They shuffle around in their wheel chair to the dinner table alongside many people in the “home”. Most of their dinner companions don’t have the wherewithal to recall that it is a holiday and when reminded soon forget.  But the precious few are wounded deeply to know that the family never showed, not even for a five minute hello.

I see the pain as they care for their loved one with Alzheimer. So young and yet they aren’t there anymore.  A daily routine of caring for someone who cannot even pronounce more than 2 words before they forget what they wanted to say. To watch the decline helplessly and know that there may be many more years left in the body while the mind has already gone away. The loneliness for conversation, the pain of losing someone even though they are right beside you, the stress of paying bills and caring for someone full time.

The spouse who sits alone at night because his beloved walked out the door. No one knows if there is hope or not. How can they put one foot in front of the other let alone work or go to church. The shame to face friends and family. The fear of losing your children. The brokenness of a heart that still very much loves their spouse. The tears and prayers and patience and hope. 

Love is opening up your heart to the joy of the relationship with someone. It is letting them into your life and sharing the deepest and most intimate secrets and dreams with them. Love is vulnerable. Love is tender. Love can be hurt and will mourn sometime. 

Facebook friends, and then some

fcSo a few years ago it was recommended that we allow people from supporting churches to follow us on facebook. I agree it helps people know how to pray better for us.

But it has also hampered some things that I may say on facebook. Don’t take me the wrong way. I don’t want to swear or talk about my latest fling on facebook. But I have to realize that people of all ages and backgrounds are watching me.  I have hundreds of friends but only know about 1/2-3/4 of them.  But sometimes I get a message from a stranger talking about how they are praying for my ministry.  It is a blessing and yet sometimes frustrating.

One example is a woman from a church I’ve never visited. She gets my prayer letters because they support the mission I work with as a whole.  She shares my ministry with their mission board and they really do pray.  In a facebook post, I was asking for prayer for a long trip I was taking.  Many friends and supporters hit the “like” button and I know they prayed. She too prayed but also commented on whether I was travelling with my husband or not.  LOL!!!!!!!!!   I’m single, never been married. Yet she is a prayer warrior who doesn’t know even that about me.  I’m thankful for the prayers.  But how weird is it to be so exposed to the public who doesn’t really know me?

I have also befriended some people based on their requests and seeing that they are friends with many other people in a certain church.  It doesn’t take long to see that they are not living their faith outside of church.  I find their comments and pictures appalling and quickly block them.

I have also struggled with whether or not to let my national friends be my friends on facebook.  In the end, I opened up a new account where they can be my friends without having access to all my friends.  The struggle is rooted not in what I talk about, but what others may say on my page.  It is also rooted in the limitations of pictures which I can post. In a very conservative culture, I cannot have my national friends see me in shorts, or short-skirts, or swimming suits that I may wear in my home culture or on vacations.

Recently I saw on facebook that someone from a supporting church has passed away.  I don’t know if I ever met this woman, but I know her pastor’s family and a couple others in the church.  I also “saw” her often on facebook and she would like my posts, etc…  I don’t even know what she looks like without first looking up her homepage, yet how do I mourn this passing?   Romans 12:15 tells us: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.    So I can weep with the members of the church who I know that have lost a friend. 

What has social media done for missionaries?   Are we just putting on a mask and not really showing the real us?